Stunt Driver: From NASCAR to Hollywood

CLICKON caught up with Danny Bopp, a petrol head who has competed countless laps of racing, smelled the harsh tang of burning rubber and heard the crescendo of engines roaring off the line since the age of eleven. Bopp has since traded one risky profession for another. 

In Motorsport across the world and across paddocks of most Championships, there are racers who possess a personal heritage with Motorsport. Danny Bopp is one of these people. His father, Glenn Bopp, was a staple figure in the auto racing scene in the States. A renowned chassis builder for fourteen years who saw drivers claim over a thousand race wins in his cars.

“I never really fell in love with racing. It was always a part of me, for a lot of people who tell stories about falling in love with racing it’s about a single moment, watching Ayrton Senna race, seeing Dale Earnhardt drive on the track,  but my dad worked with a lot of drivers and there was never a moment where I fell in love with racing, it was literally a part of me from the moment I was born.”

– Danny Bopp

Bopp has converted his passion for racing into another industry that requires expert car control and a cool, collected composure in the helmet – Stunt driving. Alongside the elements required to perform stunts with perfection on demand by Hollywood directors, like racing, timing is critical. Where Bopp raced against the clock at his peak in the ARCA racing series, as a stunt driver, it is a different kind of challenge with time. Hitting your marks is everything. Not only does he have to nail the stunt itself, but it has to be choreographed in sequence to various camera shots and timed to perfection in order for him to do his job properly.

On his role as a stunt driver, Bopp added,

“Having a racing background is an advantage, but being a stunt driver requires you to learn. Throughout the six years that I’ve been here I’ve realised that there are many different forms of stunt driving. I think it’s universally known in racing, the term “hit your marks” in practice, qualifying and racing.

Hitting your marks is making sure that whatever happens to the car, if you hit a good lap, remember those exact points of the track – this translates over into stunt driving.”

– Danny Bopp

There is a great deal of risk involved in stunt driving, and the pressure of nailing something so precise under the spotlight on the time of an entire production team demands practice and exactitude. Danny Bopp’s story is one that is proof of a race driver’s ability to transcend the perimeter of a racetrack and become a vital cog in the mass effort of film production at its most prestigious level.