Fan of the Fast & Furious franchise? You have a 1998 magazine article to thank. As the Washington Post explains, Kenneth Li—then a reporter for the New York Daily News—wrote about the world of street racing in Queens for the paper; he later pitched a more in-depth story about the "underground" culture to Vibe. "I was completely fascinated," explains Li, who had grown up carless. For the first time, Vibe has posted the story online—you can read it in full here.
It focuses on Rafael Estevez, a then-30-year-old drag racer, noting that he and his cronies "wouldn't be caught dead driving the gaudy muscular beasts of yesteryear. Instead, they're tricking out low-buck Japanese imports like Honda Civics and Acura Integras and tattooing them like skateboards with Neuspeed and Greddy car parts stickers." Universal Studios optioned the article for a movie after it was published; three years later, the first Furious flick debuted. Li—who hasn't gotten any compensation since his one-time payment when the movie was optioned—will be featured in a new piece in Vibe next week. (Click to read about the latest film's "anthem" for Paul Walker.)