The Driving Life
Meet stunt car driver Tony Brakohiapa.
Jay Canter Photography
If your palms get sweaty watching Tom Cruise zoom around oncoming cars in the newly released action flick Jack Reacher, imagine how Tony Brakohiapa felt.
“I had this scene where I was in a little Honda Civic going head-on with Tom, and I had to swerve out of the way at the last second,” recalls Brakohiapa, a stunt driver from Point Richmond. “I just remember thinking, ‘I really don’t want to screw this up and be the guy to collide with Tom Cruise.’ ”
It all worked out just fine. “I gave him the thumbs-up afterward and told him, ‘Nice job,’ and he said, ‘No, nice job to you, man.’ He’s a really nice guy.”
Brakohiapa has been racing cars professionally since 2001, gravitating early on toward drifting, a distinct style in which cars “drift” through tight corners at high speeds. That helped him land his first movie gig, 2006’s The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, in which he doubled for rapper–actor Bow Wow. Since then, Brakohiapa has found a niche as one of Hollywood’s go-to black stunt drivers. In Jack Reacher, he doubles for actor David Oyelowo.
Between racing, stunt driving, and instructing at Sonoma’s Audi Sportscar Experience, Brakohiapa has found a happy equilibrium, making a living in a profession most only dream about. In fact, these days, there has been just one thing on the recently married car enthusiast’s wish list. “We’re just about to move into a place with a two-car garage,” he says, wistfully. “I’ve always dreamed about having a garage.”