Phil “The Gift” Heath
- Started bodybuilding in 2002 and won his first amateur competition in 2003
- Wonseveral International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness Pro Competition titles, including the 2011 Mr. Olympia title, the 2011 and 2012 Sheru Classic (1st place), the 2008 IFBB Iron Man Pro (1st place), and the 2006 IFBB New York Pro (1st place)
- Competing for the Mr. Olympia title at the 2013 Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend, Sept. 26-29 in Las Vegas
- Stars in the new docu-drama flick, Generation Iron, which examines the professional sport of bodybuilding.
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Phil “The Gift” Heath hopes to one day top Arnold Schwarzenegger’s achievement.
Heath is trying to win his third consecutive Mr. Olympia title at the Super Bowl of bodybuilding championships in Las Vegas later this month. Schwarzenegger won the title in six consecutive years from 1970 to 1975 and again in 1980, while Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman have each won the title eight times.
And if Heath succeeds and wins the $250,000 prize, he may just treat himself to another gift – a fourth car. He already owns a 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, a Mercedes-Benz S550 and a 2010 Bentley Continental Supersports.
What’s your favourite ride?
The big bad one is the 2010 Bentley Continental Supersports. It comes equipped with 621 horsepower and I actually tuned it to 650.
It’s the fastest Bentley production car they’ve made yet. It actually holds the world record for riding on ice on the Baltic at 205.48 miles/hour. And it goes up to speeds close to 218. But I haven’t driven it that fast. I’ve only got it up to 178 miles. The Bentley is a track car – no question about it.
But it also has luxury to cruise around. And it’s not obnoxious like some other cars that are very high-rev like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. This car is more of a sleeper because they think of Bentley as an old-man car, but in actuality this vehicle is very well-equipped to challenge anything on the road.
I think my most obnoxious vehicle is the truck [Escalade EXT]. Some of the things I’ve put inside it are most impressive. I actually beefed up the engine so I have it supercharged along with a full intercooler, long tube headers, and a customized exhaust. I’ve added about 150 horsepower to it. So it’s around 550 horsepower – up from 400.
In addition, I’ve got around 5,000 watts of stereo equipment. It’s pretty incredible. I’ve got four 12-inch subwoofers – it’s pretty crazy. I’ve got dual screens in the console – instead of the normal OnStar I actually ripped that out and put two screens in one. It’s just a TV screen so you can set the navigation. The one that’s lower is a CD with a seven-inch touch screen, so I can watch a movie on it while I drive, which is not smart. The possibilities are endless with this system.
On the outside I’ve got 26-inch tires on it. I actually took them off recently to get them repaired, but that’s what I normally drive with.
It’s very loud. It makes your eyeballs shake – it’s crazy. If you stood outside the vehicle you would be able to feel it in your chest.
If I want to drive fast in that truck I can. If I want to zone out and think about training for the Olympia or decompressing after a long trip overseas I can go for a ride in that. It has the power to get me there fast.
One of my other daily drivers is a Mercedes-Benz S550. It’s a 4Matic for the snow. I didn’t do anything crazy to it. But I did put custom wheels on that one. I have 22-inch Asanti wheels. On the front, they have a two-inch lift. On the rear, they have a four- inch lift. The lifts are actually white and the spokes are actually black. It matches the roof on the top of the car and the white matches the exterior of the car. I didn’t do anything else to it.
Why do you need all that speed – you can’t use it in North America?
I need it because I’m a big guy. I’m Mr. Olympia, best body builder in the world. I love power. Big boys need big boy toys. I wanted to have cars that show some style and elegance. And I work very hard at the gym and play hard outside of it and obviously I want to enjoy myself.
Have you had any speeding tickets?
I’ve had one speeding ticket in the past three years. That was about a month after I got my Bentley. I still keep the actual ticket inside the glove box as a friendly reminder that I must obey the law and ensure I’m being safe.
When you change lanes in this car it goes. Any time you have a car that goes from 0 to 60 [mph] in three-and-a-half seconds, you got to be careful. You can get on the gas and I can go from 30 to 65 [mph] within a second. It’s not that hard.
I’m sure I’m going to get another ticket. At some point some guy is going to make an example out of me. But I’m not going to pull the celebrity card to get out of a ticket – do you know who I am? That’s not the right way to do it – you’ve got to obey the law as much as possible. If you’re going to drive crazy don’t be mad if you get pulled over.
Have you always been a car guy?
Ever since I was a child I always liked cars. It was a dream of mine to be able to own the cars I have. This is a reflection of my hard work and dedication to what I’ve done in my life. That’s how I look at it. Some people might interpret it however they want.
Anything I’ve purchased it’s not to one-up another person or say, ‘Hey, look at me.’ It’s just to remind myself – look I’ve set a goal and I’m able to achieve it. This is the fruits of my labour.
What was your first car?
The first car I ever got was a 1982 Volvo DL. It was yellow and it was my mother’s. For my 16th birthday, right before getting my licence my stepfather painted it black. I probably would have gotten beat up at school driving a yellow banana car.
In the first six months of driving that car, I upgraded the tape player in it. I put a subwoofer and speakers in it. I was saving all my money for the upgrades. It was pretty cool.
The first car I bought was a 2001 Lincoln V-8 sedan. I bought it two weeks before I won my professional status at the NPC [National Physique Committee] USA competition and two-and-a-half hours after I purchased the car I got rear-ended.
Here I am wearing shorts, a tank top and a bandana. I’m shredded like the Incredible Hulk and I get out of the car, coming after you, asking for your information. The guy didn’t want to get out of the car.
He didn’t even have insurance – that’s what sucked the most. I can’t lie – I actually hunted the guy down and said, ‘Do right by this and pay out of pocket.’ And he did.
It took about six months for him to pay me back. I ended up tricking that car out, putting speakers in it and a body kit on it. I drove that car for about two years. It had sentimental value because it was the first time I went to a dealership by myself and bought something.
What car would you buy if you win the Mr. Olympia title again?
If money was no object I would definitely drive a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport. Something more realistic is a Lamborghini Aventador LP700.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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