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Stunt-driving school promises the thrill of screeching tires

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/9/2017 By SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer
This image released by Lionsgate shows a scene from "John Wick: Chapter 2." (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Lionsgate shows a scene from "John Wick: Chapter 2." (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP)

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The tires on Jeremy Fry's Crown Victoria screech as loud as the planes roaring overhead while he tears along the tarmac of a local airport. Whipping around traffic cones until the car starts to drift, he suddenly slides sideways into a parking spot and stops firm, his demeanor as calm as if he had just pulled up to his house.

This image released by Lionsgate shows a car crash scene from "John Wick: Chapter 2." (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Lionsgate shows a car crash scene from "John Wick: Chapter 2." (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP)

Keanu Reeves' driving double in "John Wick" and "John Wick: Chapter 2" is demonstrating some of his standard behind-the-wheel stunts during a visit to Bobby Ore Motorsports , a stunt-driving school where actors, stunt performers and everyday car enthusiasts can indulge their need for speed and experience the thrill of screeching tires.

This image released by Lionsgate shows Keanu Reeves in a scene from, "John Wick: Chapter 2." (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by Lionsgate shows Keanu Reeves in a scene from, "John Wick: Chapter 2." (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP)

Veteran stuntman Jim Wilkey runs the school in Camarillo, California, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and there are also locations in Florida and Georgia.

The orange traffic cones dotting the blacktop are markers for the various tricks in the curriculum, including the slalom, the forward 180 (slamming on the brakes and spinning the car 180 degrees), and the 90 (that perpendicular slide Fry did earlier).

"The techniques we teach out here can pretty much apply to any vehicle — except motorcycles and boats, obviously," said Wilkey, a former rodeo rider who switched to motor vehicles decades ago. He figures his most famous onscreen stunt may be the semi-truck flip in 2008's "The Dark Knight."

"I do a lot of stuff with the big-rig trucks," he said, "and I still apply a lot of the techniques that we teach out here."

Wilkey insists there's nothing special about the cars they use in class— two newer Mustangs and Crown Victoria police cars during a recent session — but movie cars can be modified extensively, from altering the brakes and suspension to outfitting the interior with a crush-proof cage, as in "The Dark Knight" truck flip.

All you really need is a working emergency brake and reliable transmission to pull off simple stunts like the forward 180, said Fry, who taught himself most of the tricks he uses on the job.

For the "John Wick" movies, he worked with stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott — a driver himself, who often practices at Wilkey's school — to come up with the auto antics. They work out their ideas with toy Hot Wheels cars before trying the stunts for real.

Sadly, they totaled — or "wadded up," in stunt parlance — all five 1969 Mustang Fastbacks used during the making of "Chapter 2," Fry said.

He's driven all kinds of cars onscreen, from buses and military vehicles to a vintage milk truck, doing jumps and chases and high-speed drifts. Next, Fry is off to Atlanta soon to do some driving in the "Black Panther" film.

Yet he doesn't hesitate when asked about his favorite driving maneuver: "Driving home at the end of the day," he said.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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