Stina Stunts: Drifting Into the Spotlight
As the 2016 SEMA Show kicked off, there were many mumblings around the show floor about the video that debuted at the Nitto Tire booth, in which the husband-and-wife duo Samuel and Stina Hübinette showcase their skills drifting a Lamborghini around an exotic dealer's parking lot. As a two-time Formula Drift champion and one of the main stunt drivers from the Fast and the Furious franchise, Samuel Hübinette is relatively a household name in the drifting and stunt driving community.
Stina, on the other hand, has been honing her skills as a professional stunt driver for several years now, but has remained largely inconspicuous — that is, until being introduced to the millions of #HuracánDrift video viewers. We took the opportunity to get to know the other half of Hübinette Stunts and her passion for cars.
Driving Line: Who was the crazy person who thought drifting a Lamborghini was a good idea?
Stina Hübinette: The #HuracánDrift concept was Samuel’s crazy idea. Being a stunt driver can have really busy weeks and weeks of downtime as well. When you have some down time, you come up with crazy ideas.
He was thinking, “Nobody has drifted a supercar before, what if we do that?” He looked at it as a way to get some big exposure and grow our business as stunt drivers. I told him “If it makes sense for business, then let’s do it!” The Lamborghini is not necessarily a car we would normally buy, but it felt like a good concept to build some publicity and try to grow our careers, especially my career.
He met with Harry over at Nitto Tire and a few other key partners, who all thought, “Are you crazy? If you’re really doing this, I’m on board.” And that’s basically how everything came together kind of quickly. Incredibly, the only modification is a hydraulic handbrake. We didn't have to make any steering modifications."
DL: Have you always been interested in cars?
SH: I’ve always been interested in cars, racing and motorsports. I had two older brothers growing up in Sweden who were very into go-karts. I didn’t want to be just a passenger; I always wanted to drive cars when we were going to and from activities. I’d known Samuel for 25 years before coming over here when we started to date in 2004, right when drifting was taking off. Samuel was still doing some instructing at performance schools and dealer demo events at the track, and I got a lot of seat time as he was instructing. When he was an instructor at the track days, a lot of his work was with OEMs like BMW or Dodge. There would be tons of cars I could jump into and take a few laps. Over time, Samuel realized that I knew my way around a race track pretty well and was turning some fast times.
DL: How did the idea of getting you involved in stunt driving come together?
SH: When Samuel got into the stunt driving industry through the Fast and Furious movies, he connected with the LA Motorsports Stunt Driving Team. Samuel had been talking about having me drive alongside him at some events, but it seemed like more of a long-term vision than an immediate opportunity for me.
As Samuel was getting busier with stunt driving and drifting, SuperStreet approached us with a Dodge Neon SRT4 to run in Redline Time Attack and NASA. Samuel also had a partnership with Dodge at the time, so driving that car was supporting both of us at the same time. I started driving at track days and competitive events more and more, as I started to build up my reputation as a driver. I was turning fast times and earning podium finishes!
DL: Do you like the competitive motorsports side of driving?
SH: I’m a very competitive person! Competition was always a part of my mind; I wanted to win and podium every time! Overall, I’ve always been competitive with Samuel, from tennis to go-kart racing, I would always look forward to the one out of 10 trips where I would actually beat him. A lot of that also comes from growing up with brothers; I was a bit of a tomboy growing up and wanted to try to beat at least one of them at whatever activity we were doing.
DL: How did you get into stunt driving?
SH: The time attack racing we did with the Neon started to pay off, and we started to get noticed. Samuel was also pushing me with directors he was working with then when they needed a girl driver for a scene. My first gig I got was alongside Samuel, which helped because I was able to ask him questions. There are always questions any time it’s your first day on a job, so it made things a lot easier. From there, I started to get a few more driving gigs here and there with LA Motorsports. The first year was a little slow, but it definitely started picking up quickly after that.
A few years ago we bought a BMW E93 M3, put a hydraulic e-brake in it and started practicing stunts like J-turns and 360s at the Irwindale Speedway parking lot. That day was a lot of fun; we weren’t planning on filming anything really, but we ended up with cool demo video that would help grow my career. It felt kind of like a date again. It was just me and my husband having fun without the kids. We didn’t even have a film crew; we just shot some videos with our iPhone. The best part was a clip of me doing a figure eight and flying past the camera was just us having fun. We didn't expect it to go viral."
DL: What has been your favorite stunt driving experience?
SH: One of my favorite, and also hardest, was a Dodge commercial for The Hunger Games. That was a fun shoot because Samuel and I were the only drivers. That was one of my first shoots I was hired to do drifting and more advanced stunts. Samuel and I would talk on the walkie-talkie before each camera shot and coordinate how we were going to drive. The more I’m able to drive on set with him, the more familiar we get with each other. I think with most commercial shoots, I usually get nervous before I show up to set, just like anyone else. But once I get there, and we start talking about driving, the nerves are gone.
DL: What’s next for you? More car commercials? Competitive motorsports? Maybe even some Pro-Am drifting?
SH: We’re very lucky and blessed to be able to do as much TV and stunt work as we have done. I don’t have any plans to get into drifting competitively, but it’s not something I would say no to. It would take a lot more seat time to get to that level, which I may not be able to do right now with the kids running around the house. Who knows? Maybe I'll drift the Irwindale bank in a Formula Drift competition sometime, but my main focus is stunt driving right now.
Who knows what all of this driving will lead to! I love racing, and I want to be on the track too, but for now, the plan is to build up my reputation as the stunt driver and see where that takes us.
DL: Do you have any words of advice for other girls who may be looking to get involved with either stunt driving or motorsports?
SH: Anything is possible, first of all! If you have the drive to do something, go for it. If it’s go-karts or other motorsports, there’s always a chance that you can turn a passion into a career. I had some great help with Samuel, but even he grew his reputation starting with very little exposure and was able to get into the stunt world. I know it’s hard to be a girl in a man’s world; there will always be stereotypes and people saying that girls can’t drive. I just learned to ignore what they think and do my work to show them what I’m capable of. There’s always some who don’t think you can do it. It’s up to you to prove them wrong.