Life Size S1E3 Script

Loops and Corkscrews: The Hot Wheels Stunt Cars (2020)

(upbeat guitar music)

(car zooming)

You can't think about Hot Wheels without picturing the iconic orange loop, or corkscrew stunt tracks we all used to play with as kids.

Fueling young imaginations with what it would be like to jump their favorite cars and have them perform what seemed to be impossible real life stunts.

But I have exclusive access to two cars that were built for Hot Wheels' Garage of Legends, with the soul purpose of making those wild childhood dreams, come true.

(upbeat guitar music)

(car zooming)

On this episode of Life Size, I've got not one, but two cars we'll be driving.

The Loop Coupe, built off of a Mitsubishi Evo frame, and the Corkscrew Buggy, built from the ground up.

These cars were made for the track, but not just any track.

We're here at Mattel where the magic begins.

Let's go see how these cars come to life.

(upbeat guitar music)

Released the same year as the original Sweet 16 Hot Wheels set, the first Hot Wheels' racing track helped boost these model cars beyond their competitors.

The orange, interchangeable track has stuck with the brand for the last 50 years.

We are here at the design bunker at Hot Wheels.

Look at there.

That's amazing.

(gentle guitar music)

This is Alton Takeyasu.

He is the key principle designer for the Hot Wheels' brand.

And in 2006 became the Chief Designer for their full size concept cars division.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Oh you're welcome.

What do you think has made Hot Wheels so relevant?

Is it the stunt design behind it?

I think a lot of it is the stunts, because that's how Hot Wheels was born.

Because there were dye-cast cars before, but they were just for display or for pushing around, but when they said, why can't we make them go faster and put them on track?

That was the birth of Hot Wheels, the orange track, and the loop and everything. (car zooming)

We've got this amazing stunt track, right here.

Can we pick out a car and let it have it here?

I want to do this. Sure.

I think when you see any child put a car through a loop for the first time, or do one of these things here, that it is magical.

I'll be down here, I'm going to root ya on.

And it does really open up your imagination and captures the thrill.

(car zooming)

(car banging)

(clapping) And then we tried to provide that in real life stunts too.

I know you've designed and built a lot of various life size to actual Hot Wheels Collection cars.

Can you tell me what your favorite would've been?

The Corkscrew Buggy.

Yes. Yes, or the Barrel Roll Buggy.

That's the first time I have to design a car that someone's going to be driving and risking their lives in.

I know you had a lot to do with the loop in that stunt.

Yes.

And we thought that's really cool, this is a really big statement, it'll sell Hot Wheels, and it's going to be at the X-Games, everybody's going to be seeing this.

So I tried to overdo a lot of overlays to hide the donor car, but not mess up Tanner's vision.

His ability to drive the thing.

Engineering wise, what goes behind building a loop for race cars?

Where wind tunnel and where aero is so important, is that the same for building something like the loop?

I think they found out in the real testing, that the cars couldn't go through it as fast as they wanted to.

The cars were bottoming out on the suspensions and damaging the suspensions, because there's too much G-force.

So they had to back of the speed, so you have to, not bottom the car out, but you have to have enough speed to make it all the way around.

So that's real right stuff kind of thing where you've got a guy, telling a guy, "You have to go through this as slow as you can."

That would seem extremely scary. That's physically safe.

It still looks pretty fast when you see it.

That takes a lot of guts to do that.

Thank you so much for your time Alton.

My pleasure.

(upbeat guitar music)

We're in willow springs with two amazing life size cars.

And we have a very special guest here to chat with us about them.

Hey Nicole, how are you?

Hey Tanner.

Yeah, good to see you. Good to see you.

Tanner, thank you so much for being here today.

I know one of these cars, if not both of them, you are familiar with.

Yeah, I mean, I've been around both of them, but certainly spent a lot more time in this Loop Machine that we did the World Record, Double Loop Dare at X-Games. The Loop.

Yes, the Loop.

So I drive drag cars, right?

[Tanner] Yep.

Pro mods, 4500 horsepower people, like you're crazy.

But you're talking to me about a stunt called The Loop.

And suddenly, I'm feeling like, I'm not the crazy one.

Hot Wheels wanted to do a double loop.

So it was two cars that formed into one.

It wasn't good enough just to do one. No.

And then it had to be six stories tall.

Which is like a World Record. Of course.

Yeah. The toy is a circle right?

The loop of the circle.

It's not like a roller coaster, which is like an ellipse, where it goes up shallow and there's a little steep turn at the top, and then comes back down.

If you did that, you could lower the forces on the car at the two fastest points, at the bottom.

And then when you're going the slowest, you can make the tightest little loop.

So that would've been nice, but no, it had to be a circle, which meant when the car hit the loop, it hit 6.8 Gs, right down the driver's seat.

It can pull your hands off the steering wheel, can pull your feel off the pedals, and can make you black out really easily.

Like plane Gs.

That's like fighter jet Gs.

And unlike a plane, it was instantaneous.

So that's a clear way to just instantly drain your brain of blood to the point that your brain just shuts off for a second and you black out.

I mean, why not?

Yeah, which is not good. (laughter)

No. And then, just to mix it up, they put a jump afterwards, just in case you blacked out and made it through the loop.

A little more challenge to the game. Somehow, yeah, you had to clear a jump.

We did the loop, Greg's car broke, he shot springs out of the side.

I saw him going out, I went to the throttle, I didn't have anything, my intake hose had popped off.

And so we barely cleared the jump and, you know, we're hugging each other, tears of joy at the end.

But ultimately, it was good fun.

Are you going to drive my car now?

Yeah.

I am. (laughter)

Is that okay?

Yeah.

I'm not going to do a loop though.

I'll tell ya that.

You what, come on. No, no.

(upbeat guitar music)

Developed by action vehicle engineering, the Corkscrew Buggy, aka Barrel Roll Buggy, was built from the ground up off Alton's stunt car model design.

This monster's got a four cylinder, 220 horsepower engine, Mendeola transmission, method race wheels, and BFGoodrich, mud terrain, 31 inch tires.

This design required plenty of forethought to avoid any elements that could've caused harm to the driver in the event of a crash.

And because the car had to be centrally balanced, Alton designed it to hide some of the required pieces of the build.

Those wings on the back?

Yeah, they're not for aero dynamics.

(upbeat guitar music)

Where as the Loop Coupe, also developed by action vehicle engineering, started it's life as a Mitsubishi Evo.

Hot Wheels added some custom body panels and shortened the front end for better performance.

The throttle has a custom locking mechanism so that the precise speed could be maintained throughout the entire stet.

It's got a four cylinder, turbo engine, that pumps out 155 more horsepower than the Buggy, for a total of 375.

With a six speed transmission in all-wheel drive, The Loop Coupe has specifically designed suspension to withstand 7Gs of force.

(upbeat guitar music)

All right Tanner, I'm in the Loop car.

52.5 baby.

52.5 (laughs), that's all she's got.

I really hope this isn't the actual truck that Brent jumped because this thing is pretty rough.

That's the thing about movie cars and stunt cars, is sometimes they're really not good.

Stunt guys and girls, they just have to deal with anything they're handed.

That exhaust must be right on top of you, 'cause I can barely hear you.

Yeah, this sounds like a Volkswagen Beetle from my high school I think.

(cars zooming)

(upbeat guitar music)

Got to hug those corners, hug those corners.

Yeah, I'm topped out, topped out in this little baby.

That's the thing about stunts and racing, they don't really cross that much.

You know, race cars are built to do a job that lasts a long time, but a stunt car is built to do one thing.

But it's not very good at anything else.

What do you think your friend would think about your driving his old stunt car?

I think he would be glad that somebody appreciates how difficult it was for him to do the stunt in this thing.

You really just got to pony up and get it done, regardless of what you're handed.

(upbeat guitar music)

(cars zooming)

Yeah, these things are pretty scary right?

(laughs) Very scary.

I was hoping I wasn't going to have to hit the loop at any time.

And it gives you an idea of what it's like to strap into these.

I mean, you're not strapping into a Bentley or something super nice when you go do these stunts.

It's just basically about getting it done one time and then throwing it away.

It's an absolute shell is what it is.

And I give you kudos for everything you've done.

Well, that is a luxury machine compared to what Brent Fletcher did in this.

I can't believe he hucked himself into a corkscrew in this thing.

But, you know, it gets around the race track.

Hey, we did it, we accomplished it.

We signed the waiver and we're alive.

(upbeat jazz music)

(cars zooming)

While the tracks of Willow Springs aren't the classic Hot Wheels' orange, I still feel like a little dye-cast car zipping around.

So Hot Wheels?

Next time you want to pull off some crazy stunt?

You know who to call.

(cars zooming)

(intense drumming)

(engine humming)

Carbon monoxide poisoning.

(laughter)

That sucks.

(engine humming)