Sometimes, a person enters your life, and the moment you meet them, there’s a click: a familiarity that is at once both completely new and yet something you’ve always known.
That’s how it felt when I met Maggie during my freshman year at Iowa State University.
Over the course of our formative college years, Maggie became like family to me. Our bond, like any great friendship, was built on shared interests ranging from our penchant for niche Nora Ephron references to a near-encyclopedic knowledge of “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” and, above all else, a diehard fondness for the “Fast & Furious” movie franchise.
Though we each began our foray into the world of fictional street racing on our own, we cemented our friendship (and obsession with the movies) in 2009 with the fourth installment, “Fast & Furious,” which we saw together at the Cinemark Movies 12 in Ames, Iowa.
We were gripped with excitement as we followed the characters Brian and Dom as they raced through Mexico, avenging Letty’s “death.” Then, we gasped aloud at the big reveal. As film fanatics, we knew to stay through the end credits (always). It was great to have a viewing comrade who was still there when the lights finally flicked back on.
We went in different directions after graduation, but since we were each other’s “familia” (just like in the movies) we kept in touch each quarter mile at a time.
Starting a “Fast & Furious” tradition
To our delight, Hollywood kept cranking out new “Fast & Furious” movies, and they became the perfect interval and excuse to see each other.
“Fast Five” had us reuniting in Iowa three years later for an evening of popcorn and squealing tires. When “Fast & Furious 6” came out in 2013, it was just the excuse we needed for a romp around Minneapolis, where I was living at the time.
The highly anticipated and emotional “Furious 7” allowed me to visit Maggie in her new home in Texas. It was a long-awaited reunion that felt especially poignant as we held hands and audibly mourned during Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.”
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Paul Walker had taken his final ride with La Familia, but in new states with new jobs, we knew our friendship would never veer off course.
“The Fate of the Furious” gave us a reason to reunite in North Carolina, where I had started a new adventure.
After the life-changing experience of the pandemic, “F9: The Fast Saga” felt like a blessing, bringing Maggie back to North Carolina to meet my new daughter. It gave us some much-needed solace after too much time apart.
A new “Fast & Furious” adventure courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy Moments
When I saw “The Fast and the Furious” for the first time back in 2001, I had no idea this adrenaline-inducing franchise would also bring a friend into my life forever. Since we started our tradition of seeing every one of the films together, Maggie has become “Mi Familia.” She even officiated my wedding.
So when Marriott Bonvoy Moments approached TPG with an opportunity to experience the thrill, the rush and the sheer joy of the films in real life, I knew I had to jump in the driver’s seat with my ride-or-die at my side.
Once again, “Fast & Furious” was reuniting me with my old friend for yet another adventure in a new location (for us): Los Angeles.
Through the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program, Marriott Bonvoy members can bid on — or outright purchase — unique experiences using their points or sometimes pay in cash. These escapades include private boxes at sold-out concerts, exclusive celebrity chef-led dinners and VIP access to special sporting events, not to mention some multiday itineraries.
To participate, members simply navigate to the Marriott Bonvoy Moments homepage and search for various offerings by interest or location. Then, log into their Marriott Bonvoy account to either redeem points for a flat-rate package or place bids on the auctions (some packages are available just for purchase, too).
Launching today in honor of the premier of the latest film, “Fast X,” the “Fast & Furious” Marriott Bonvoy Moment is officially dubbed, “Cruise Through the Streets of Los Angeles in the Honda S2000 & Enjoy Exclusive Access to the Petersen Automotive Museum.”
As the name implies, the lucky recipient of this package will be treated to a day of automotive lore and living large on the streets of Los Angeles.
The package includes two 30-minute ridealongs in the character Suki’s souped-up Honda S2000, which appeared in the first and second films (don’t expect to jump any drawbridges, though). What’s more, participants get to meet up with an entire crew of “Fast & Furious” devotees and their replica vehicles. The day also includes a private tour of the Petersen Automotive Museum’s exhibits and its exclusive Vault, with over 250 one-of-a-kind vehicles, many of which belonged to heads of state and Hollywood stars, plus lunch at the museum’s Meyers Manx Cafe.
The bidding starts today and runs through Thursday, June 15, at 12 p.m. EST. The starting bid is 50,000 Bonvoy points, and the Moment takes place on Saturday, Aug. 12.
When we read over the details of the day that was to unfold, Maggie and I could barely contain our excitement.
Vrooming through the vehicle Vault
This was Maggie’s first visit to California, so we knew we had to make it extra fast and extra furious. We started our trip by checking into the AC Hotel Beverly Hills, which was perfectly located just a five-minute walk from the Petersen Automotive Museum, where the Moment would take place.
In addition to the Marriott Bonvoy Moment experience, we wanted to immerse ourselves in all things Toretto (a character from the films), so we planned an epic day that hit some of the films’ main locations. That’s when we realized L.A. is far more spread out than you might guess from the movies!
We arrived the morning of our Moment at the Petersen Automotive Museum and were immediately struck by the building’s unique architecture — a gleaming aluminum-and-steel structure with iconic whorls and curves emblematic of the airwaves that stream over a vehicle as it coasts down the road.
One look at the museum, and we were immediately in the mood to cruise.
We met the Petersen’s project coordinator, Daniel Valdez, who would be our guide for the day, and officially began our Marriott Bonvoy Moment.
Our first stop was the museum’s vaunted Vault, a massive underground space housing over 250 very special vehicles, including some owned by Hollywood royalty as well as actual royalty, not to mention a presidential car or two and automobiles that made cameos in various films.
To enter the space, we walked past the car that would be our ride for the afternoon, Suki’s supercharged Honda S2000. The glowing pink graphics and smooth design set our “Fast & Furious”-devoted hearts aflutter. The memories associated with this franchise and the sentimentality of the moment came rushing through my veins like a hit of NOS. Maggie and I exchanged teary glances that, without words, mirrored the instant connection we felt over a decade ago.
We would come back to the pink lady later, so we continued into the Vault for a detailed tour of some of its most special treasures (though most people do self-guided Vault visits these days).
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Getting up close to the first Ferrari ever to don the prancing horse emblem and seeing a decommissioned Pope-mobile with a curiously un-ergonomic throne were highlights, as was the 24-karat gold-plated 1981 DeLorean, one of 100 commissioned by American Express for its Gold Card members.
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ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY
Perhaps my personal favorite was a room that housed every Formula 1 livery with cars signed by World Champion drivers. The number of vehicles that were one-of-a-kind or first-ever was astounding. The Vault collection is an awe-inspiring experience where I could have spent 12 more hours perusing every trunk, hood ornament and hubcap.
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RACHEL MALONE-OLSON/THE POINTS GUY
After, we took the elevator to the top floor and worked our way down through the museum’s various galleries, where the exhibits change periodically. When we were there, one of the installations was a celebration of Porsche’s 75th anniversary, with 40 curvaceous vehicles on display from the automaker’s storied past.
“The Cars of Film and Television” exhibit included singular conveyances like the 1989 Batmobile and the 1959 Cadillac from “Ghostbusters.”
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ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY
There was also an exhibit on Tesla’s various ventures and an art exhibit on the theme of time and decay by Daniel Arsham, with stunning cars created from materials like quartz and selenite.
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ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY
We had worked up quite an automotive appetite by then, so we visited the museum’s Meyers Manx Cafe for a casual lunch of shrimp tacos and a fried-chicken sandwich with gochujang slaw and Kewpie mayonnaise before our ride. Once we were fueled up, it was time for the next scene in our afternoon adventure.
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Fast, furious and phenomenal
My heart pounded as we walked out to our chariot: The cotton candy-pink Honda S2000. With Daniel as our chauffeur, I would take the first half-hour shift as the passenger and after a fuel stop in Hollywood, Maggie would switch places with me to enjoy the second half-hour of the ride.
As Daniel drove me up the parking ramp to begin our journey, I thought the roar of the engine beneath our seats would be the main thrill of my day. However, there was one more surprise that would catapult this experience into the “F9” stratosphere.
At the top of the ramp, we were greeted by a rally of five “Fast & Furious” cars: Dom’s Mazda RX-7, Brian’s Mitsubishi Eclipse, Vince’s Nissan Maxima, a second edition of Suki’s Honda S2000 and, of course, Dom’s signature Dodge Charger R/T.
A group of local car aficionados has become famous for their meticulous recreations of the notorious film fleet. Having built over 20 replicas from scratch over the last five years, the folks at the Petersen Automotive Museum knew they would make the occasion that much more memorable.
Almost as soon as we met the crew, we felt like we’d found our “Familia.” We recited lines from the movies and shared our excitement over seeing each of the cars together, then hopped back into the cars to get out on the road.
We were a sight to behold as we took off down the streets of Los Angeles, a veritable cavalcade of “Fast & Furious” fanfare.
From the convertible, I was able to hear all the hoots and hollers of folks on the sidewalk and in other cars, as we were recognized around every turn and down every avenue. It was a gloriously sunny L.A. day and the velvety interior of Suki’s speedster provided the perfect perch to feel the wind in my hair as we sped down the streets of Hollywood.
When a stoplight halted our procession on Hollywood Boulevard, where tourists were posing with characters from movies and admiring the stars on the Walk of Fame, our crew revved their engines and rallied the entire neighborhood. Phones and cameras were up as people took in the sight, and when passing a huge “Furious X” billboard on Sunset Boulevard, I couldn’t help but giggle at the pure joy of it all.
After a jaunt along tony Rodeo Drive and down Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, we eventually made it back to the garage where we said our farewells and thanked the Petersen staff – not just for a mere moment, but for a day that will live in our memories forever.
Still, we had two more homages to pay before heading back to the hotel.
One last drive
If you’re a fan, or even vaguely aware of, the movies, you know we had to visit Echo Park near downtown Los Angeles. Pulling up to Kensington Road, we found the iconic Toretto House, the home of Dominic and Mia Torretto and the landmark location that introduced audiences to so many of the franchise’s main characters. Now surrounded by high fences and numerous signs to respect the privacy of the homeowner, it was still a thrill to see in real life.
Then we reached the site of Toretto’s Market down the street, which is an actual functioning bodega. We walked in and purchased a pack of Coronas, almost as if we’d walked off the screen of one of the movies ourselves. We cracked open an ice-cold bottle on the sidewalk outside and cheered to a decade of fandom, friendship and family. It was the perfect finish line to the day.
Now that we have traveled to our fifth state because of the Fast and the Furious, Maggie and I decided we can’t stop there. We made plans to head to Boston for “Fast X” and made a pact that each new movie must be viewed in a new state.
Getting the chance to step inside Suki’s car and experience the thrill of the ride was an unforgettable moment. It gave us yet another chance to see each other and added some much-needed fuel to our long-running friendship, and that felt like a true win.
Ask any racer — any real racer. It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.