When Race 3 hits the big screen later this year, there is going to be plenty of high-octane action involved – on two and four wheels. And during filming in Abu Dhabi, it was a Dubai company that provided those wheels, via a sizeable fleet of motorbikes, exotic cars and highly modified stunt vehicles.
PureDrive Automotive worked for two months on Salman Khan’s forthcoming movie, which was partly filmed at locations across the emirate. According to an estimate from co-founder Theo Measures, vehicles worth more than Dh1 million were wrecked in the process.
“I think there were some members of the stunt team who made it their objective from day one to make sure the crashes and the bangs were as big as possible,” he says with a laugh.
Social-media snippets have provided us with a glimpse of the fanciest cars provided by PureDrive: a Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce Dawn, Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 650S, Lamborghini Huracan, BMW i8 and Mercedes-AMG GT S are among the most expensive metal that will be on show.
Not that the two Britons behind the company are short of experience with fancy rides. PureDrive’s bread-and-butter business includes renting and leasing supercars.
“We had several different roles in Race 3,” says Measures, who set up PureDrive about 18 months ago with business partner Matt Croucher. “Initially, our task was to source stunt vehicles. In total, I think we sourced 22 cars and eight motocross bikes. They were then fabricated to blow up and flip and withstand big impacts. Witnessing it first-hand was pretty cool.
“Our second task was to supply and source luxury vehicles. Some of the scenes had upward of 40 luxury cars involved. The main character cars, which I can’t reveal, are somewhere on that list you mentioned. We also supplied 30 stunt drivers.”
Their debut feature-length project follows work that has included supplying a fleet of Ferraris and shutting down Sheikh Zayed Road for the music video for American indie-rock band Imagine Dragons’ top-10 hit Thunder.
A number of UAE residents will be watching particularly intently when Race 3 is released, because while many of the vehicles used during filming were bought from auctions and vehicle markets around the emirates, a number were sourced from private buyers through the ever-reliable Dubizzle.
“It turned out to be quite a good bargaining tool, particularly for the guys who were selling motocross bikes,” Measures says. “In certain cases, we were able to knock quite a lot off the price, although there were higher offers from other potential buyers, because they loved the idea of their bike being in the film. We managed to save a lot of money by telling them that their car or motorbike might become famous.
“The majority of the stunt vehicles were all fabricated to be as uniform as possible, but with certain owners of certain vehicles, we left little indicators so they could spot their car or bike in the film.”
There were also financial implications when selecting vehicles that were fit for purpose, not least when it came to the Veyron hypercar. “There were occasions where locations were changed based on our thoughts and concerns about the surfaces the stunts would be performed on,” Measures says.
“For example, if they had wanted to do with the Veyron what was done with certain other vehicles we provided, it would have needed a full service afterwards, which is something like $25,000. A new set of tyres is $6,000 a corner. If you want to throw that thing round in a circle, you need to think about the clutch, which costs something like $100,000,” he says. “Within the budget, it would have been achievable, but you have to be mindful of all of those things.”
The whole experience proved physically draining, shooting from 5am to 5pm or 6pm, with debriefs, planning and paperwork taking them past midnight on a daily basis.
“Usually, we were running two different film locations each day,” Measures says. “We’d have a team at each, looking after vehicles, driving, helping to co-ordinate. Sometimes the locations were relatively close together, which made it easier to manage, and sometimes they were hundreds of kilometres apart.”
Race 3 cast in Abu Dhabi: The best pics and videos
Tom Struthers in Abu Dhabi: ‘I had Salman on set today jumping dunes’
Salman Khan reveals first glimpse of 'Race 3' character
Salman Khan's Race 3 to shoot in six Abu Dhabi locations
Measures confirms the filming locations – Emirates Palace, Yas Viceroy, St Regis Abu Dhabi, Adnec, Emirates Steel and the Liwa Desert – but also says there were “a few more than that”, such as one site that was “somewhere between an abandoned military base and a storage facility out in the desert”.
During the course of the two months of filming, Measures and his team met Khan several times, although he says that the Bollywood megastar did not strike him as “a car guy”. “We came into physical contact on several occasions – there seems to be about a billion people who are extremely jealous of that,” he says with a laugh. “But we had a lot of other things to worry about most of the time.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Measures says. “The stunt stuff was phenomenal to watch, and if I could do that all the time and get enough sleep, then I would.”