The New Paper
Monday, Aug 29, 2016
Bobby Tonelli has crashed cars in his reckless youth, but was lucky enough to escape unscathed.
"In my late teens and 20s, I was in two major accidents (in the US)," the Singapore-based US actor and host told TNP at last week's press conference of reality TV show Celebrity Car Wars, which Tonelli hosts.
"Once, I was hit broadside by a truck going about 80kmh and didn't have a seatbelt on. Another time, I rear-ended an SUV and my airbags came on. The front of my car was just smashed."
Both times, Tonelli, 40, said he was "very, very lucky" not to be hurt and he now drives more carefully to avoid more accidents.
"Nowadays, I just want to get home for dinner."
In Celebrity Car Wars, celebrities vie with each other in driving challenges, such as drifting and racing through an obstacle course set in a mall.
"It got pretty competitive," said Tonelli. "Since I was the host, they kept trying to find out details about the challenges from me beforehand and peppered me with questions. I felt like a school teacher."
ROMANTIC ROAD TRIPS
Tonelli enjoyed test driving cars on the show, including a snazzy Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 sports car and a run-down Jeepney, a colourful Jeep commonly used for public transportation in the Philippines, where Celebrity Car Wars was filmed.
He also expressed admiration for the female contestants, cautioning that they were not to be underestimated.
"Andrea (Fonseka) had never driven a stick shift before the show, but she really grew within the series. And Joey (Mead King) was really tough too. It doesn't matter if you're male or female. Anyone can be good at driving."
Tonelli said his Indonesian girlfriend of three years, Ms Tata Cahyani (above), 40, is also a pretty good driver. A single mother of two, she works in the jewellery industry.
The couple have been on several romantic road trips together, such as trips across the Causeway to Johor, and a driving holiday in Tuscany, Italy, last year.
"I was so excited to rent a car and drive through the Tuscan countryside at night. I told her to talk to me and keep me awake while I was driving... She ended up falling asleep in the car five minutes later," he said with a laugh.
Does Tonelli, who used to date local actress Joanne Peh - now married to China-born actor Qi Yuwu and with a year-old daughter - see himself settling down and having children any time soon?
He said: "I thought I was going to be engaged or married by 40, but that was a goal I didn't quite hit. I'm turning 41 soon. Time just flies by so quickly. But we are working on it. Things are going good, and we are talking about marriage and kids."
Tonelli mused that starting a family shows a sense of progression in life.
"I'm lucky enough to have a job where I do cool things like drive nice cars, and it would be nice to have kids to share these experiences with," he said.
This article was first published on Aug 29.
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