Zeng Fanren, King of Car Racing in Asia
Aman jumps from a speeding car, leaping through three rings of fire and continuing his stride–that’s a notable action made by Spider Man. A man makes an aggressive gear shift and narrowly escapes head-on collision with another car– that’s a classic scene in Die Another Day, a James Bond movie.
Stunts like these have surely impressed fans of Spider Man and James Bond. Yet probably few of them know that the stunt performer that substitutes for the super stars in these Hollywood movies comes from Wuhan, China. For a long time, this man has been the only Asian face on the Hollywood stunt actor scene.
This man is Zeng Fanren, born in Jiangxia District, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, in 1962.
The First Impression
On March 31st, we drove to his home in Jiangxia District to visit him and found out more about this legendary car-racing driver and stuntman.
When we reached Jiangxia District, we turned off the main street on to a muddy country road. We passed several blocks and several lines of houses, and finally approached a slightly worn house. We were perplexed where to go next when we suddenly heard dogs barking from the yard of this house. Zeng Fanren, in a racing suit, emerged from behind a door, smiling and waving to us.
Entering the yard, we looked around. It is an age-old yard, with a two-story house in the middle. In front of the house, there are several custom vehicles. On the wall of the yard, there are various license plates and photos of car races. The decor serves as a record of the glory of the owner of the house in his car-racing career. Over thirties years ago in 1981, Zeng Fanren placed sixth in the Asian Motorcar Cross-country Championship in Japan. In 2005, he became the champion of China Circuit Championship. In 2013, he got the gold medal in the Miracle Oil Cup Automobile Rally Race in Korea.
“I have rebuilt the house by myself.” Zeng Fanren told us. Several years ago, he came across this place and felt a strong attachment to it on first sight, so he bought it and moved here. Together with his two pupils, they spent a whole week redecorating it. This simple home has hosted many great figures in the motorsports circle, Michael Schumacher, Chinese car racer Han Han, Jimmy Lin, to name just a few.
As we were talking, a train came rambling behind the house. He explained the house was located near the Beijing- Guangdong Railway, so there were regular roaring trains passing by. We wondered that as Zeng Fanren had accumulated great wealth as well as fame, he would afford an expensive house in a downtown area or a luxurious estate in the countryside, but why did he prefer such a humble location?
Zeng Fanren didn’t respond to our question immediately, instead, he showed us his private collections. Among them, there were the helmet sent by Li Ming, a popular Hong
2017 年3月 31日下午，记者根据车神曾凡仁提供的地址，驱车前往武汉江夏，专程拜访这位赛车界的传奇人物。
进入院子，记者仔细端详四周：这是一个古朴的院子，一座两层的木质小楼略显破旧，院里停放着几辆改装过的汽车；两旁的墙上挂满了各式车牌、赛事现场的照片。这一切，都默默地记载着房屋主人曾经的辉煌：1981年，曾凡仁在日本 获得亚洲摩托车越野锦标赛第六名； 2005年，获厦门全国场地锦标赛冠军；2013年，他在韩国奇迹润滑油杯汽车拉力赛揽冠军奖杯入怀……
Kong singer, as a token of friendship; an F1 racing suit signed by Michael Schumacher; a Spiderman suit, a James Bond suit, and so on. Each piece of the collection had a memorable story behind it.
The First Man Ever Driving through Kekexili
In 1978, when he was 16 years old, he joined an automobile platoon in the army on the Qinghai-Tibet Road. Quickly he fell in love with the automobile. One year later, he was recommended by the army to learn advanced motorcar driving in Japan because of his excellent performance in the army. He began to learn car stunt skills and became crazy about it.
In 1981, there were some Chinese people who attempted to drift by canoe from the origin of Changjiang River (in the Three–River-Source Region of Qinghai) down to the sea. Among them, some were army soldiers and some were the local residents—some of them died due to a lack of protective equipment and the rescue teams even couldn’t find their bodies. Their bold and brave actions had greatly inspired Zeng Fanren. He understood, they did it because they wanted to conquer the origin of the Changjiang River before foreign expedition teams did so and set the records. In the same province, there was another place that had not yet been conquered by any human being—Kekexili, or Hoh Xil—which then became Zeng’s target.
However, Kekexili is a world famous area for its wretched weather and harsh environment unfit for survival. There is a saying, “In Budongquan (Non-Freezing Spring) region (in Kekexili), one can see hail in the morning, lightning in the evening, and snow and storms even in the sunshine.” It is a vivid description of Kekexili’s dangerous geological conditions.
The annual average temperature is 4-10 degrees Celsius below zero, the lowest recorded temperature is 46 degrees below zero. Before Zeng Fanren, no one had conquered the Kekexili. However facing such terrifying conditions, Zeng Fanren had a simple plan, “I will bring five tanks of gasoline, each bucket will last 400 kilometers, five buckets will make 2000 kilometers, on the condition that the car is still working, with sufficient supplies, I will make it.”
In 1986, Zeng Fanren started his journey to conquer Kekexili at the age of 24. His equipment included four barrels of gasoline, four boxes of tools, clothing, two clocks, a shotgun and compressed biscuits. Because of the high altitude in Kekexili, the lack of oxygen in the air, the car can’t be left not running too long, otherwise it won’t start again. Due to the lack of oxygen, the motorcar seemed much heavier than usual, and it would be hard to lift the motorcar if it were to fall in a ditch. There was one time, when going through the swamp, the motorcar stalled and fell in the mud. He narrowly escaped the death. There were other dangers like threats from Tibetan antelopes, bears, wolves, and so on. At night, he could not sleep too long, because if he did, the lack of oxygen might make him unable to wake up, so he set two clocks to wake himself up after 20 minutes’ nap.
After five nights and six days of trekking, he had succeeded in
可可西里的年均温度零下 4 ～ 10℃，最低温度零下46℃。恶劣的环境让人望而生畏，可曾凡仁的计划却简单得惊人：“我带五箱油，一箱能跑400多公里，这就是2000多公里；只要方向不错、车不坏，带足物资，就一定能穿越。”
1986 年，24岁的曾凡仁带上四桶汽油、四个工具箱、衣服、两个闹钟、一把猎枪和压缩饼干就出发了。由于可可西里无人区海拔高，氧气稀少，车子不能熄火太长时间， 在缺氧的环境下，车子显得很重，车子倒下后一个人很难扶起来。在过一个沼泽地时，摩托车倒下熄火了，使他面临很大的危险。还要面临藏羚羊、熊和狼等动物的威胁。第一个晚上，他有点害怕，又不能睡太长时间，因极度缺氧，睡长后就起不来了。困了，他就用两个闹钟定时，一般只休息20分钟。
passing through Kekexili. When he showed up at the exit of Kekexili, the awaiting media cheered welcome. Zeng Fanren was very proud to be the first recorded human to conquer the forbidden area of Kekexili, home or abroad.
Since then, Zeng Fanren has become known for his courage. In 2006, when the Beijing Olympic Games selected mascots, the Qinghai Provincial Government wanted to arrange a group of journalists to take photos of a Tibetan antelope in Kekexili. As a guide to the group, Zeng Fanren escorted the 70 journalists into Kekexili, to start a shooting journey of Tibetan antelope, which lasted 19 days. After the shooting, he escorted the journalists out safely.
Asian Motor Racer in Hollywood
Opportunity is always reserved for those who are prepared. In 2006, the Hollywood Fermat Stunt Team came to China to give a show—people were fascinated by the performance. After Zeng Fanren watched the show, he realized he could also do these stunts. He went to the team manager and expressed his willingness to join the team. The manager wasn’t impressed by his plain appearance and questioned him: “What can you do?”
“I can do all the stunts I saw in the show,” his answer surprised the team manager. He proved himself with a 540-degree high-speed drift in a car that silenced the stunt team. Thus, he joined the Hollywood stunt team.
In Jackie Chan’s movie Rush Hour III, there is one scene where he is fighting against an opponent in a car sliding along the ground on its side. It was Zeng Fanren who was driving that car. Because of this, he won the title of “King of car racing in Asia.”
One of his friends told us, when he was in Hollywood, his superb stunt skills aroused many fans’ attention, and some asked him: “Are you Japanese or Korean?” Zeng Fanren explained politely each time: “I am Chinese. I am from China.”
He grew tired of explaining again and again, so he coordinated a stunt performance where he jumped out of a moving car holding the national flag of China in his hands. In this way, he was telling the world “I am from China.”
Even though he only studied in primary school for three years, Zeng Fanren has been to over 70 countries and he is capable of speaking five foreign languages. He shows profound love for his motherland of China.
On the top of his trophy shelf, there is a small worn flag that Zeng Fanren cherishes dearly. “This is the very flag I had on my car, when I was on my Silk Road Journey three years ago.” This journey traversed the entire ancient Silk Road and took two months. After the journey, he took it from the car and put it here, as a reminder of
the good memory.” He said proudly.
In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Culture launched the One Silk Road One Economic Belt Expedition.” It was sponsored by the Chinese Society of Social Art, CCTV, Central New Group, the Devon Lida Group, and the Belt and Road Construction and Cooperation Committee. It is the largest and most influential cultural exchange and economic and trade promotion activity covering the most countries and lasting longer than any other event of its kind, and involves almost every aspect of life in the countries along the Silk Road.
On August 8th, Zeng Fanren, leading the team, started the expedition from Shanghai, left China from Horgos, passed through over ten nations, such as Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Greece, and others. After 73 days, covering 16,000 kilometers, they reached the Milan World Expo on October 19th, the final destination of the journey.
With racing suits, car models, calligraphy scrolls, paintings, and various tea sets collected from all over the world, Zeng Fanren’s house is like a small museum, packed with precious treasures and fascinating stories, arousing our curiosity and attention, so much so that we completely lost track of time...
At sunset, we bid our farewells. A train was roaring through. Zeng Fanren explained finally, “When I was young, I lived by the railroad, at that time, I lived a very poor life, starving everyday. Now, I am rich, but I will not forget my past life. So living by the railroad reminds me of the past constantly.”
Zeng Fanren said this peacefully, but with great force.
The road ahead is long and has no ending, yet Zeng Fanren will persue his passion for car racing with an unbending will. Now, he is engaging himself in turning his car racing career into a business model and establishing a club named Celebrity Car Racing (Hubei). It is a cultural and tourism investment club. In combination with many top sportsmen, celebrities, and car racing fans from all walks of life, Zeng Fangren wants to share his love for cars, his car racing stories, and explore car racing with more enthusiasts.
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2015年，由中国文化部主管，中国社会艺术协会、中央电视台中央新影集团、德丰利达集团、“一带一路”项目建设合作跨国圆桌会组委会共同举办“一带一路”万里行。这是国家“一带一路”建设倡议下行程最长、跨度最大、涉及领域最广的一项大型丝绸之路沿线文化交流经贸推广活动。作为领队，曾凡仁带领队友于8月8日从上海出发，经霍尔果斯出关，途经格鲁吉亚、俄罗斯、土耳其、希腊等十余个国家，历经73天，行程逾16000 公里，于10 月 19日到达米兰世博会。
夕阳西下。临别时，又一辆火车呼啸而过。伴着列车的轰鸣，曾凡仁终于向记者揭开那个关于铁路的谜底： “我小时候家就住在铁路旁。那个时候家里穷，连饭都吃不饱，现在条件富裕了，但我不能忘记自己的根本。所以，我特地选了这个靠近铁路的地方，让轰鸣的火车 声时刻提醒我，不能忘本。”曾凡仁的话很朴实，但铿锵有力。