H.B. Halicki, also known as "Toby" to his family and friends, was destined for success at an early age. He was born into a large family with twelve siblings and grew up in Dunkirk, NY. He started driving when his feet could barely touch the pedals and knew all about cars before he was even ten years old. Toby developed his fascination with cars working in the family towing business.
While Toby was still very young, tragedy struck the Halicki family. Two of the Halicki boys passed away. This caused Toby to take a hard look at his own life. At age 15 and unsure of what his future would hold for him, Toby decided to move to California.
Determined to make his own way and on his own terms, Toby never took a cent from his family. Even when his mother would send him checks, he would not cash them. Toby began working at a local gas station in Gardena, where he put his background and knowledge of cars to use. At 17 and still in High School, he signed a contract with an insurance company to detail and do minor repairs on 2,000 new cars at $25.00 a piece.
By 21, Toby owned and operated his own auto salvage company. Long work hours and fulfilling strict time commitments laid the foundation for the sizable empire he created by the time he was 34 years old. In the true spirit of Toby, this was not enough. This is when he created an idea for a movie that would be based on car thieves with a star car named Eleanor. This movie was called "Gone in 60 Seconds".
Halicki, a man accustomed to doing things his own way, wrote, directed, produced and acted in the movie himself. He carried his "Do It Yourself" philosophy over into “Gone in 60 Seconds” and created an instant classic that included an unprecedented 40-minute chase scene with the Star of the movie Eleanor (Fastback Ford Mustang). In 95 minutes of running time 93 cars were destroyed. With his vast knowledge of cars he secured them for stunts that had never been done before. Toby did most of the stunt driving. He even welded camera mounts, coordinated and performed the stunts -- which some professional stuntmen found just too dangerous. One of the most spectacular crash scenes (when "Eleanor" hits the pole on the freeway in Gone in 60 Seconds) was actually accidental and nearly killed Toby, who was driving. His biggest concern after the accident was whether or not it had been captured on film.
"Gone in 60 Seconds" became an international hit literally playing to millions of people around the world and Eleanor became an Icon, with the film grossing more than $40 million dollars. In Toby's words, "My films have no blood, no violence, except mechanical violence and no four letter words. They have the kind of escapism that people are looking for, and a lot of stunts." Toby went on to make two more films, "The Junkman" and "Deadline Auto Theft", with the same pure adrenaline style of action. To the excitement buff, H.B. "Toby" Halicki is the ultimate cult hero.
In 1989 Toby began to make the remake of "Gone in 60 Seconds". It is given to a few of us to have a compelling dream and then be lucky enough to be able to spend our life in its pursuit. Toby was such a man. Making thrilling movies was both his business and his ruling passion. He chased his star with the kind of single-minded obsession, which is one true path to success. Art, it has been said, is, in part, making the difficult seem easy. In that sense, Toby was an artist. His moments of celluloid make-believe had a kind of spectacular realism about them, which was created by his own commitment to excellence.
August 20,1989 H.B. "Toby" Halicki known as the "Car-Crash-King", was killed tragically in an accident on the set, when a 160 foot-tall water tower suddenly toppled unexpectedly. A cable attached to the tower snapped and, then whipped around and sheared off a telephone pole, which fell on him.
His legacy and memory lives on with the Gone in 60 Seconds Franchise that started with a boy’s dream…