- Published: Monday, 11 January 2016 03:50
The precision driver tells us about the unique challenge of performing in Singapore, how he often gets it embarrassingly wrong, and what he really thinks of Lewis Hamilton…
SINGAPORE — If you’re a Singapore Motorshow regular who’s been lucky enough to score a ticket to the Russ Swift stunt show, then you’re definitely familiar with his feats of driving precision. Feats like this parallel parking stunt:
Be honest, you wish you could do that.
Anyway, the 64 year-old Brit returns this year to perform his merry antics in a fleet of Subaru cars again. We caught up with him by e-mail to get his thoughts on what it’s like to perform at Suntec, and what the secret of his success is.
CarBuyer: What's it like performing in Singapore? There must be extra pressure from the fact that the cars here cost so much!
Russ Swift: I love performing in Singapore, my first visit was here in 1989, I fell in love with it and its people then. This is also the home of MotorImage with whom I have built up an extremely personal bond. It is now 14 years since I first performed for them at The Singapore Motorshow and it is an honour to be invited back.
CB: Does the Singapore venue must provide any special challenges? You have to do it all in a cramped loading area, after all.
RS: The Suntec loading bay does present me with a unique challenge, I am very limited by the width of the area but I think people understand this and are impressed by what can be done in such a confined space. The surface is extremely treacherous when wet as the area is only partly enclosed. Heavy rain can blow in from the side and make things extremely tricky.
"Things go embarrassingly wrong on almost every show..."
CB: What is the most technically challenging stunt you've pulled off?
RS: Driving a 17-tonne truck on two wheels took a full week to master and made me quite ill with the worry of things going wrong.
CB: Which one of your many accomplishments are you most proud of?
RS: My Swift parking manoeuvre is the one I am most proud of. I came up with it for a TV commercial in 1988 and it really captured everyone’s imagination. It was this commercial that first brought me to the attention of people in Asia. It is now imitated all over the world.
CB: Looking at your routine, it seems like so many skills are vital: car control, a sense of timing, situational awareness... What particular skill is most important to develop?
RS: My skills are based on techniques mastered becoming the UK Autotest champion. The sport is very popular and hotly contested in UK. It was my enthusiasm for this sport that allowed me to perfect techniques that I could use as a form of entertainment.
CB: Has it ever gone embarrassingly wrong during a live show?
RS: Things go embarrassingly wrong on almost every show. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entered the car by the passenger door on a left hand drive car. Fortunately you drive on the right side of the road in Singapore.
CB: Driving on two wheels: I have to ask, but how on Earth does anyone pick up this ability? And how many cars were sacrificed before you finally got the hang of it (to say nothing of the lorries)?
RS: I rolled hundreds of times mastering this technique but since mastering it over 30 years ago I have never ended up the wrong way up.
CB: I saw a picture of you with Lewis Hamilton on your website. What was that about, and is the lad any good?
RS: Lewis Hamilton is currently the best at what he does. The picture on my web site was taken near the airport in Singapore during a promotion for a drinks company. The idea was for him to sign a pact to never drink and drive. This signature was to be written using skid marks. I spent a day working out how it could be done then he turned up for half an hour, I passed on what I had learnt and he did it for the press/media.
CB: Do you have any 'tricks of the trade' you'd like to pass on to a potential stunt driver?
Enthusiasm is the key to my success, I love what I do and spent years perfecting manoeuvres. I still have the same enthusiasm I had when I did my first motorsport event over 45 years ago.
Five things to expect at this year's Singapore Motorshow
Six Japanese cars we can't wait to see
Your essential guide to the Motorshow — with a floorplan to download
|HOW TO SCORE TICKETS TO THE RUSS SWIFT SHOW
How do I get tickets?
In a word: queue. Tickets are given out free (first-come, first-served, of course) when you present a valid Singapore Motorshow ticket. Each ticket is for a specific date and show time.
Where do I get tickets?
Tickets will be given out at the Level 4 "Stunt Performance (Ticket Collection)" counter
When do I start queuing?
They start giving tickets out one hour before each published show time.
When are the show times?
Thursday: 3pm, 6pm, 8pm
Friday, Saturday: 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm
Sunday: 12pm, 2pm, 4pm