More than 600 fast and furious cars will descend in West Palm Beach, FL for “FuelFest” on Feb. 25, and few are more excited than one of the events’ pioneers, Cody Walker.
FuelFest has been a labor of love for Cody, who is continuing his late brother Paul’s legacy of raising money for charity while sharing a passion for automobiles.
M&F sat down with the youngest Walker brother to find out why a passion for cars runs in his blood, and why driving has given him a valuable mental and physical outlet.
The Walker family is widely known for much-missed Paul’s star turns in the Fast & Furious franchise. After his untimely death in 2013, Cody helped to complete Paul’s character Brian O’Conner’s final touching scenes but a love of cars, however, goes back generations in this sporty bloodline.
Cody’s grandfather was the Pacific middleweight champion in the Navy, during World War II, and even fought in Madison Square Garden. Cody’s father was also a boxer, and a two-time Golden Gloves champion. His grandfather, on the mother’s side, worked on and raced with cars for Ford in the 60s. A competitive spirit and passion for cars is undeniable for the Walkers.
“He had some records back in the day,” says Cody of his grandfather.. “He worked and built transmissions, and my dad loves cars too, so we always had something cool around the house.” It was inevitable then, that the Walker kids would grow up wanting to know how things worked under the hood. Still, FuelFest isn’t just for the technically minded. Anyone who appreciates the beauty of a well-designed car or the noise of a powerful engine can get on board. “I wanted to create something that was very inclusive of everybody,” says Cody. “We’re not genre specific. Whether you’re a gearhead, or not, even if you just have the slightest interest in cars, we wanted to create a cool, fun, environment for people.”
FuelFest Continues the Legacy of the Reach Out Worldwide Charity
Automotive fans can expect an epic experience filled with appearances by Fast & Furious stars like Cody and Tyrese Gibson, along with the usual surprise celebrity sightings and a stacked program of entertainment and drifting; featuring professional Formula Drift Driver Chelsea Denofa. There’s everything from American muscle cars to exotic cars and the day is a chance to enjoy some incredible machines with a backdrop of music and excitement. “We always want to make every show bigger and better,” says Cody.
FuelFest is also a great way to honor Paul’s legacy of raising money for disaster relief, something that means everything to Cody, since a portion of the proceeds from these events go to the charity that his older brother started. “We often say that ‘Reach Out Worldwide’ (ROWW) was a piece of Paul that he left behind,” says Cody. “It was something that he created, it was something that he funded all on his own, and obviously he was the beating heart and soul of the whole thing, so losing him was devastating for a thousand reasons, but we really cherish ROWW and the work he started there, so it’s been an honor and a huge responsibility to help continue that organization. They say, ‘Figure out a way to do what you love.’ We’ve donated about $300,000 to ROWW, through FuelFest. So, to be able to create an event that is so much fun, that I know Paul would very much approve of because of his love of cars, with a special meaning behind it, is a win-win scenario, and I’m so grateful to have the support of everyone, from all over.”
There’s no doubt that Paul is still very much with Cody in everything that he does. “This November will mark 10 years since he left us, and it really doesn’t feel like ten years has gone by,” says Cody. “Here we are 10 years on and people still care, and people still support and honor his memory and the incredible person that he was, and the work that he did.”
In addition to entertaining thousands of revelers around the world, with stops in Japan, Germany, and Abu Dhabi already on the calendar and a return to the UK in the works, Cody also derives a great deal of positive mental and physical benefit from getting behind the wheel.
Driving gives Cody Walker a physical and mental boost
“It’s therapy,” says Cody. “It’s therapy for a lot of people, I think. There’s just something about getting in the car, and I’m not saying driving spiritedly or fast, it’s just going on a cruise, on your favorite road. Whether that includes listening to music or not, often for me there isn’t even any music playing, I’m just listening to the car and enjoying the drive. The same could be said for washing the car. I like washing my own cars. We get caught up on the physical aspect all the time, but mental health is so important.”
When it comes to staying in shape, Cody loves functional training. “I work on flexibility. I don’t do a lot of heavy weights,” he says. “I like HIIT training. My body responds really well to that.” Cody devotes a lot of time to working his core, something that comes in handy when he’s kept busy with two children. The notion that Cody would gain pleasure from helping others is no surprise. He was a paramedic in his youth and recently fronted “Fast: Home Rescue” with his wife Felicia on The Weather Channel. In conjunction with the ROWW charity, they travelled thousands of miles to help those with storm damaged homes. “We renovated one home per week, for 12 weeks,” he beams.
Cody is not a professional racer, but he loves to stay physically fit, and appreciates the commitment that it takes to turn pro. “I follow motorsports, the drivers are in incredible shape,” he says. “Think about the G-forces that they have to withstand—the muscles, even in their neck, their coordination and reflexes. If you watch Formula 1, what are they doing? They’re doing reflex workouts with the light machine, and they are smacking the lights. I think it was Schumacher, who back in the day was really ahead of his time with fitness being such a pivotal part of motorsport.”
To see some of the world’s leading drivers and most stunning cars, check out the FuelFest website for and locations and tickets.