Cody Walker was a new East Valley resident in December 2021 when he brought “Fast & Furious”-themed FuelFest to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the first time.
It was an enthusiastic welcome to the Grand Canyon State.
“To have all these people come out for our first-ever Phoenix show was just phenomenal,” says Walker, flashing his trademark smile.
“It’s an old venue, but to be there and breathe the life that we breathed into it and have people come out was just something else. It was really fun.”
This year’s incarnation is from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, December 10, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The afterparty features Rick Ross and T-Pain at 9:30 p.m. at the nearby Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino.
Co-founded by Walker and Chris Lee, FuelFest is an automotive celebration that incorporates entertainment and art. FuelFest fulfills the legacy of Paul Walker, Cody’s late brother who starred in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. A portion of the proceeds from every show goes to Reach Out WorldWide.
The nonprofit was founded in 2010 by Paul Walker. After a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, he spontaneously organized a relief team that responded to the disaster.
On the trip, he saw a gap between the availability of skilled resources and the requirement for such personnel in post-disaster situations. Upon returning from Haiti, Paul Walker established ROWW to fulfill this unmet need. Since Paul Walker died, ROWW has remained a platform for like-minded individuals to make a difference in other people’s lives.
“I was thrown into a really weird position, like a really unique position,” Walker says looking down. “I’m just making the best of it and making it positive. FuelFest is also an opportunity for people to come out and enjoy the car culture and enjoy these things in a safe manner.
“We have a responsibility to create a fun, family-friendly environment for fans.”
Last year’s event featured a surprise appearance by Vin Diesel, and a visit from Tyrese. Craig Jackson and Barrett-Jackson sponsored the VIP experience. Walker says coyly he couldn’t confirm who will be in attendance this year.
“We had a great time, and this year is just going to be bigger,” Walker says.
“We have to up the ante every time. This year, we have some pro Formula Drift drivers, including Matt Field, who are going to be there. We’re also going to have a top six team drift competition where they run tandem, side by side. Oh, and we’ll have drag racing.”
Field will be hosting ride-alongs for spectators.
“People have the opportunity to get in a real drift car and go drifting,” Walker says.
Teaming with FuelFest is the adjacent Radford Racing School. The driving and racing training center offers more than 80 performance vehicles, sedans, SUVs, Ligier JS F4 single seaters and gas-powered go-karts.
Walker and a small team organize FuelFests that are held around the world. This year, Walker is encouraging guests to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the event, the seventh this year.
Walker smiles when he talks about the importance of FuelFest to Phoenix.
“Phoenix is underserved,” he says. “We’re big enough to support professional sports, right? Like, where are the cars? I’m glad to be adding to it and contributing to it. There’s an opportunity there, because this is home for me now — and we’re loving living here.”
He chalks up the success of FuelFest to the films and the festival’s accessibility.
“Tyrese actually says it best when he’s at our shows,” Walker recalls. “He’s been a part of the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise since the second installment with my brother, Paul.
“He says, ‘We’re on these closed sets and we make these movies, which then people go and watch at the theater. This is kind of like bringing ‘Fast & Furious’ to life.’ It’s an actual event that ordinary, normal people can go and experience and see screen-used movie cars from some of your favorite films. They can see all the drifting, the tire smoke, the music, some of the actors, some of the ‘Fast’ family from the films. It all comes together at FuelFest.”
WHEN: 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, December 10
WHERE: Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, 20000 S. Maricopa Road, Chandler
COST: Tickets start at $35
FuelFest Afterparty with T-Pain and Rick Ross
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, December 10
WHERE: Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler
COST: Tickets start at $69