Who is David Freiburger?

Boasting almost a million followers across various social media platforms, David Freiburger is undoubtedly a big name in the automotive industry. The talented writer and producer is best known for his work on “Roadkill”, “Engine Masters”, “Hot Rod Garage”, and “Roadkill Garage”, although he has also been hard at work creating entertaining content for his fans on YouTube since 2010.

Describing himself as a “horsepower junkie” and “Jeep guy”, David is surprisingly humble despite being a successful millionaire with various professional feats under his belt. Immediately after graduating from high school in the 1980s, the hardworking host began his career as a spare parts seller at a Dodge dealership, and would go on to become editor-in-chief of Hot Rod Magazine, one of the most popular car publications around the world. founded by Robert Petersen in 1948.

Apparently, David’s father Jim Freiburger is to thank for his interest in both entertainment and automobiles. There’s not much available information about Jim, who was a theatre major student at the University of Tulsa, or his anonymous wife, but we do know that David grew up alongside his brother John, who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Similarly, little is known regarding David’s wife and children, if he has any.

Hot Rod Magazine

David was involved with the illustrious Hot Rod Magazine for over three decades, holding different positions such as TV and radio show host before proving himself through continuous hard work and eventually becoming Chief Editor. The monthly car magazine contains a wealth of information on drag racing, muscle cars, and hot-rodding, and is the oldest hot-rodding magazine in the world, making it a must-read for hundreds of thousands of gearheads across the globe.

Founded by Robert E. Petersen and the Petersen Publishing Company, the first editor of Hot Rod, Wally Parks, later founded the National Hot Rod Association. In 1998, Petersen Publishing was sold to EMAP, and as of 2022, the magazine is published by TEN: The Enthusiast Network (formerly known as Source Interlink Media). Interestingly, the magazine is sponsored by Universal Technical Institute, a private for-profit system of technical colleges across the States, which offers specialized technical education programs.

Between 1961 and 1969, the publication hosted the Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drag Races – considered amongst the most significant events of the type in the era – at Riverside Raceway. The championship offered a staggering $37,000 prize – even more money than the National Hot Rod Association national event was offering at the time – which helped boost its popularity somewhat.

As of 2022, the magazine no longer sponsors drag races, but does organize a yearly “Hot Rod Power Tour”, which began in 1995 when various staff members took their project cars on a cross-country drive from California to Ohio. Although there were thousands of participants, only seven (excluding staff members) completed the arduous journey, and were inducted into the original “Long Hauler Gang”.

Steadily gaining popularity year after year, the Power Tour is now one of the most anticipated automotive events, typically lasting between six and eight days in late May or early June. The pre-planned tour has since evolved to become a continuous trek around the US, beginning in or near the location where it ended the previous year. Each stop comes with its own events and activities, and often feature celebrities, games, contests, and a plethora of entertainment.

This 1970 Dodge Challenger was found stuffed away in a North Carolina shed. Nearly rust free and up on jack stands, this Mopar was saved and put back on the road!

Posted by Hot Rod Magazine on Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Hot Rod Magazine also licensed its own videogame (Burnout: Championship Drag Racing) in 1998. ValuSoft, a leading global publisher and distributor of productivity and entertainment software, has also published Hot Rod: American Street Drag and Hot Rod: Garage to Glory, in which the player’s ultimate goal is to win the cover feature of Hot Rod Magazine.

David’s final editorial column for the magazine was written in February 2022, the year he celebrated his 30th anniversary at the publication; the car expert also held an editorial position at Rod & Custom magazine for several years.

“Roadkill”

Described by fans as the show that “puts the ‘real’ in ‘reality TV’, the first episode of “Roadkill” was filmed by Mike Finnegan and David way back in 2012, while both were working for Hot Rod Magazine. The magazine’s close affiliation with MotorTrend Network helped enormously in the show’s inception, which David and Mike posted on the MotorTrend YouTube channel.

Although David and Mike only intended to film one of their low-budget road trips, and post it on the video streaming platform for fun, viewers began demanding more. Soon, “Roadkill” became a fully fleshed-out show, in which each episode contained an entertaining challenge, and plenty of lighthearted banter between the dynamic duo.

The show’s simple but effective formula made it a smash hit, full of fantastic teaching moments; it also helps that David and Mike are willing to do just about anything when it comes to cars. In one particularly famous episode, the pair documented their hilarious off-road journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in a Monte Carlo lowrider. As a popular car magazine wrote, “Seeing a Chevy Monte Carlo leaning on 3 wheels with mud tires is exactly why millions tune in [to the show] every month”.

“Roadkill” is also relatively pure and unfiltered compared to other similar programs; with cable and network shows, almost 100% of the content is written and planned beforehand, whereas almost all the drama in car reality TV is scripted for the sake of entertainment. On the other hand, “Roadkill” is described by many as the “realest reality show of all time” thanks to its small camera and production crew, and the authenticity of the show’s stars. In fact, the show’s 30th episode saw David and Mike visit racing analyst Rutledge Wood, who said to the camera: “If you’re looking for an actual car show and reality show, ‘Roadkill’ is the only one.”

With an average viewer rating of 8 out of 10, “Roadkill” has stood the test of time, and boasts 11 seasons as of 2022. Semi-recurring cast members include Steve Dulcich, Tony Angelo, Lucky Costa and David Newbern, who have appeared in a combined 60 episodes. Episode lengths may vary, but typically last around 20 minutes.

Auto Collection

Any self-respecting fan of David is aware of the TV personality’s love for vintage and classic cars. Having owned close to 200 vehicles in his lifetime, his first purchase was a Dodge Super Bee which he bought at the tender age of 17, and has lovingly maintained throughout the decades, even changing its engine five times. In one social media post, David shared with fans that the oldest car he’d ever owned was a ‘42 Ford CPW Green.

With impressive additions to his garage such as a ’69 Ford Mustang, a ’95 Chevrolet Camaro, and a ’73 Pontiac Venture, David’s auto collection accounts for a large part of his fortune. The producer also lives comfortably thanks to his car restoration projects and the rarity and market value of the vintage cars he works on. For the past few decades, David has specialized in restoring and selling classic vehicles, as well as modifying cars and preparing them for competitions.

Here's all the cars I have owned. Do you own one of my former cars?'68 AMC Javelin '75 AMC Gremlin '59 Buick…

Posted by David Freiburger on Saturday, April 21, 2018

Associated Acts

Thanks to his decades of experience in the auto world, David has forged close working relationships with talented household names such as Tony Angelo and Steve Dulcich.

Tony was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1978, and began building and modifying his own cars in his hometown during his teenage years. In the late 90s, he was influenced by Japanese videos and magazines to start drifting, and began organizing East Coast grassroots drifting events, alongside his close friend and future pro-driver Chris Forsberg.

In 2003, when drifting was becoming hugely popular amongst all ages, an article published in Wired Magazine helped Tony gain national exposure, and begin racing in the pro series. He began racing professionally in Formula Drift’s first year in 2004, and was soon described as a “force on the track”, earning his D1 license after placing first in a national driver’s search.

After years of competing in FD, Tony took a break from professional driving in 2009 and became a judge who is credited to this day with having changed FD’s judging and scoring format for the better. Following a three-year break, the Pennsylvania native was back on the scene, competing with Scion Racing.

Image source

Other impressive feats include Tony’s 2013 purchase of a Scion FR-S that was severely damaged during the devastating Hurricane Sandy; in just over two months, the drift racer and stunt driver transformed the vehicle into his 750hp racecar.

Between competitions, Tony has also done stunt work, and driven in ads for Chevrolet, Audi and Nissan, and hosted “Hot Rod Garage” for six seasons, before moving on to bigger and better things in March 2022.

In an interview, Tony kept things short and sweet and said of his decision to leave: “It’s been a great run at MotorTrend… We’ve made over 90 episodes of Hot Rod Garage over the past 6 years, and I’m ready for a new challenge.”

Meanwhile, Mike Finnegan is a respected TV host, writer, producer, and content creator, who is best known for hosting popular shows on Discovery’s MotorTrend TV network including “Faster with Finnegan” and “Hot Rod Garage”. Along with other cast members in the shows, Mike specializes in repairing a variety of cars, both new and classic.

Proving himself to be a multifaceted individual, Mike also has his own YouTube channel named “Finnegan’s Garage”, onto which he uploads car repair and garage videos, and dabbles in creating short reels. The car expert was born in early 1978, and now has a loyal fanbase of over 800,000 devoted followers, who regularly tune in and support his projects and other professional ventures. With over 762,000 Instagram followers, Mike has also garnered lucrative endorsement deals, and works with various online brands.

Little is known about Mike’s personal life, although we can confirm that he grew up in a two-parent household alongside his brother and sister, and discovered his passion for cars at a young age. A September 2020 Instagram post reveals that very same month is when he celebrated his 15-year wedding anniversary to wife Jessa Finnegan, with whom he shares two sons – for now, Mike and Jessa try to keep them out of the public eye, so that they can lead as normal of a life as possible.

It’s important to note that Jessa isn’t active on social media either, although she makes the occasional appearance in Mike’s posts. For example, Mike sang his wife’s praises in January 2020, after she lovingly planned a 45th birthday party for him, which was attended by dozens of friends and family members. The Vibrolas, Mike’s favorite band, also gave an energetic live performance in his backyard, something which he’d apparently been wanting to make happen for years.

It’s unknown where exactly the couple met, but some fans think that the future lovebirds first crossed paths while studying at Orange Coast College. Mike graduated with an Associate Arts degree from the institution and also holds a master’s degree in Art, meaning that he has a back-up plan in case he ever wants to stop working with cars. Upon graduating, Mike began writing articles for lesser-known automobile magazines, including “Drugboat”, “Mini Truckin”, and “Truckin”. Soon he also pursued a garage job in California, where he worked at several auto shops over the years, until making it big with “Roadkill”.

Mike’s YouTube channel was created in January 2016, with the first episode (“Finnegan’s Garage Ep.1: Check out Finnegan’s Junk”) being uploaded three months later. Thanks to his creativity and consistency, Mike has connected to the younger generation of gearheads and helped expand his brand into the digital world.

Following the success of “Roadkill” and “Hot Rod Garage”, Mike’s show “Faster with Finnegan” premiered in 2020. The TV host and his sidekicks keep fans entertained by repairing and modifying various cars for competition or personal purposes; other cast members include Mike Cotton and David Newbern. Mike’s net worth is estimate to be over $2 million.

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