Sure, Frankie Ballard can sing and play the guitar, but he’s also revealed a hidden talent: doing doughnuts that match the best of any stunt-car driver’s.
Yes, that really is Ballard behind the wheel, ripping into the turf and kicking up the dust in his “El Camino” video. The rocking heartbreak song is featured on his new album, El Rio, due out Friday.
His driving skill was developed in his teens, Ballard explained during an interview at Warner Music in Nashville. A standout right-fielder for his Battle Creek, Michigan, high school baseball team, Ballard would arrive at the school parking lot early on away-game days in his red ’91 Thunderbird. The team gathered there to catch the bus.
With rear-wheel drive, the car “would break loose really easily,” Ballard, 33, told PEOPLE. “I’d show up a couple minutes before bus call. I would time it out. I’d pull in and start doing a bunch of doughnuts and burning and smoking the pavement up and get everybody fired up. So I had a lot of practice.”
The motivational tool must have done its work. Ballard’s team won the state championship his junior year.
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For Ballard, “it was old hat” to drive in the video. The hard part was finding an owner of a Chevy El Camino– now a collectible car –who wouldn’t mind the stunt work. Fortunately, an owner came along who got into the spirit of the video. “The guy was like, ‘Burn it up, man!’ ” Ballard recalled, laughing.
The car isn’t Ballard’s only scene-stealing costar in the video. He also gets to share screen time with an adorable little pooch that allows Ballard to show a softer side to his tough-guy rocker image. In fact, just before he breaks loose with his doughnuts, Ballard gingerly deposits his little riding companion on the sidelines so she can watch the show.
“We had [the stunts in the script] and I thought to myself, I don’t know how some people are going to feel about this, throwing her around on the inside because it gets a little violent and with the dust and everything,” Ballard said.
The dog can be seen in the video waiting patiently for her daredevil master. “She did great,” Ballard said. “She was easy to work with.”
The “El Camino” video is one of three that Ballard has released to support El Rio.