5 Minutes With Wayne Carini
Wayne Carini is not your typical reality TV star. The New England native has been on reality TV almost as long as the Kardashians, but his continued bucking of the fabricated drama frequently seen on reality shows has made Carini and his show “Chasing Classic Cars” extremely popular with hot rodders and car enthusiasts. His love for cars and his authenticity continues to show through, even after over a decade on reality TV.
“Our show is done really raw, and I think that’s why it’s so popular,” Carini says. “There are no second takes or do-overs. When I was given this opportunity to do this show, I said ‘I’m not an actor. I’m a guy who fixes cars. Don’t ask me to memorize lines, or put on makeup. I’ll just be myself and if it works, it works.”
And it has.
“We are now the longest continuously running car show on the air, aside from ‘Wheeler Dealers,’” Carini said. “We are in 42 countries around the world, and ‘Chasing Classic Cars’ is the most-popular car-related show in Europe, Asia and Africa.”
The impressive 14th season of “Chasing Classic Cars” will premiere this spring, with Carini at the helm. Although he’s busy filming for the new season, running his three car dealerships, and building and driving cool cars, we got Carini to slow down for a few minutes to talk about his life as a reality TV star, the future of “Chasing Classic Cars,” and which classic cars he’ll be chasing next!
Goodguys Gazette: If you weren’t building cars and hosting a reality TV show, what career do you think you’d have right now?
Wayne Carini: I went to college to become an architect, but then I changed my major to art education, so maybe I’d have been an architect or a college art teacher. At the time I was in school I wasn’t willing to give up seven years of my life for education but designing houses and buildings was my dream. I graduated with an art education degree and my ultimate goal was to become a college art teacher but I couldn’t find the right job. I went back to work at my dad’s shop and I found out that what I was supposed to be doing was working with cars.
I’m a big believer in learning and education. I’m still learning every day. I feel like if you don’t learn something every day you’ve wasted your time.
GG: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when building a hot rod?
Carini: Make it your own; don’t copy everyone else’s stuff. Look at everyone’s work and maybe take some ideas from different places and mesh them together to make it your own car. But don’t be set on following the trends.
GG: What’s one thing that “Chasing Classic Cars” viewers would be surprised to learn about the show?
Carini: I think they’d be surprised to see how different the filming of our show is from some of the other car shows. Our show is done with three people: me, a producer and a cameraman. I’ve gone on the set of other shows and watched how production companies do it and there are like 25 people involved in filming the scene.
GG: At what point did you become aware that you were a ‘reality TV star?’
Carini: It was really weird when people I respected and looked up to started to recognize me. They suddenly wanted to meet me, because they had watched the show, and I thought that was the weirdest thing in the world. I remember Don Prudhomme was at a party I was at, and he came over and said he wanted to shake my hand and take a picture with me!
When I first started on the show, I was warned it would happen. I remember the head of programming from Discovery Channel had coffee with me and told me that after the show premiered, my life was going to change and that everyone would know who I was. I was like, ‘Oh sure.’ But within six months, I couldn’t go anywhere – grocery store, airport or car shows – without being recognized. It was surreal.
GG: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure TV show to watch?
Carini: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do watch other car shows, but I won’t name them! My wife and I watch “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” every night with my autistic daughter because that’s her passion. We sit as a family and watch those shows.
GG: On the rare day you’re not working on cars or filming, how do you like to spend your time?
Carini: This is weird but I love mowing my lawn! We have a large farm and I have a big tractor with a mower on the back and I get out there and mow the open fields. When I’m out there it’s just me and my land. I really enjoy it and I can veg out. It takes me mowing 2.5 hours a night for three nights to do all of my grass.
GG: You’ve been doing “Chasing Classic Cars” for 11 years. How many more seasons can we expect?
Carini: You’ll see at least three more seasons. We have a three-year contract right now and we’re starting to negotiate for a couple of years after that. We have been told the new season of 12 episodes will premiere this spring, and the episodes will be one-hour instead of a half-hour.
GG: Other than the new season, what’s next for you?
Carini: We’re going to be starting a podcast! It doesn’t have a name yet but it will have my name in it somehow. There will be two new episodes a month where we talk to car guys and buddies of mine. Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Chip Foose, Chris Jacobs, they’ve all said yes and we’re excited for it. We’ll talk about every type of car. We’ve already been recording and have four episodes under our belt.
GG: Is there a certain car you’ve never worked on but would really like to get your hands on?
Carini: That’s tough because I’ve worked on so many amazing cars, but I always say my favorite car is the next one! You have to have an open mind. I enjoy every project we do in the shop. We’ve been restoring Bugattis now, and I like the challenge. I really want to build more hot rods, but I have a lot of things in front of me. I’m 67 years old, so I need to live to about 115 to finish everything I want to do!