• Wayne Carini is a car restorer and reality TV star, made famous by his work on “Chasing Classic Cars”
• He was originally pursuing an architectural degree, but changed his plans after being inspired by his father, Bob Carini, who ran a collision repair and auto restoration business
• Wayne has been featured in many TV shows and documentaries, including “The Art of the Automobile”, “Overhaulin’”, and “Driving Amelia”
• He owns a 2.5-acre compound known as F40 Motorsports, with a showroom of 25 vehicles, including a Volvo 960 wagon built by Paul Newman
• Wayne is supported by Roger Barr, a family friend and car expert, and Jim Austrasky, the writer and producer who created CCC
Who is Wayne Carini?
Wayne is a well-known car restorer and reality TV star, who shot to fame thanks to his work on “Chasing Classic Cars”. Born in 1951 in Portland, Connecticut, Wayne began his career in his father’s collision repair and auto restoration business. Wayne’s father, Robert “Bob” Carini, would later leave his son half of the family business as a gift. Together, the duo worked on a plethora of classic cars, such as Lincolns, Packards, and Duesenbergs, thus sparking Wayne’s interest in the lucrative industry.
Surprisingly, Wayne originally dreamed of becoming an art teacher, and even studied at New Britain’s Central Connecticut State University. Upon graduating, he realized that art teachers were underpaid and overworked, and that jobs in the field were scarce anyway, and instead began studying Ferrari restoration with help from Francois Sicard (not to be confused with the 19th-century French sculptor of the same name). Other sources claim that Wayne was actually pursuing an architectural degree.
To date, Wayne has appeared in almost a dozen TV documentaries and shows, including “The Art of the Automobile”, “Driving Amelia”, and “Overhaulin’”. His talent and passion for the auto world led to him becoming the host and leading man of “Chasing Classic Cars”, his own show for MotorTrend channel which premiered in 2008.
Despite not reaching his son’s level of fame, Bob – who passed away in 2016 – was also something of a big shot in the car industry, and earned an illustrious lifetime achievement award from the Antique Automobile Club of America. The collector and restorer of motorcycles led a pretty low-key life, but is remembered for his work ethic, and credited with molding his son into the popular TV personality he is today.
Described as “a true representative of the ‘Greatest Generation’”, Bob was also a World War II veteran, who received a Purple Heart following an injury in service. While owning and operation Continental Auto in Glastonbury until his retirement, Bob tirelessly taught his son every aspect of car restoration – cleaning, sanding, and pounding metal with young Wayne every day after school. Thanks to his father, by third grade Wayne knew how to take apart a Model A engine and put it back together.
Father and son spent many a weekend traveling to car shows, to show off some of their project vehicles. These meetups were fondly remembered by both as family events, with games, races, and picnic lunches being enjoyed by the car owners. During a family vacation in 1960, Wayne was offered the chance to ride in a beautiful 1960 Rosso Chiaro Ferrari 250 SWB, and soon fell in love with the luxury car brand. Always one to nurture his son’s interests, Bob would occasionally take his son to the nearest Ferrari showroom, to just admire the vehicles together. It’s also possible that he helped pull some strings for Wayne to be mentored by Ferrari experts such as Luigi Chinetti Jr.
The Carini family patriarch’s gift to his son of half the family business was particularly touching, because Bob started from scratch. During his upbringing on a small farm during the 1920s, the restoration expert didn’t get to see many cars, and his own father chose to work in a granite quarry instead of pursuing a job in the constantly growing automobile industry. Nevertheless, young Bob soon got permission from a neighbor to work on his three defunct Ford Model As, and was eventually gifted the cars after getting them up and running again, following months of dedication.
Partly thanks to that experience, Bob fell in love with cars, and would eventually oversee the establishment of a Model A museum. In 1950, he also founded the Model A Restorers Club alongside Bill Hall, a collector from West Hartford. Sources claim that Bob earned so many awards and accolades that he began giving his trophies away at various car shows; it’s little surprise that Wayne eventually changed his plans, and followed in his father’s footsteps.
“Chasing Classic Cars”
“Chasing Classic Cars” is a beloved documentary series produced by Clint Stinchcomb, in which Wayne searches for and restores vehicles from different eras. Although not all of Wayne’s projects are successful or turn a profit, this refreshing touch of realism sets CCC apart from rival shows, and the series also documents each car’s painstaking restoration and subsequent auction process. Some of the vehicles haven’t been spotted in public for decades, which adds an interesting touch to filming, as viewers never know what car they’ll see next.
To date, 17 seasons of CCC have aired since 2008. Despite the show’s repetitive formula, Wayne’s affable and unassuming personality make him a secret weapon, and keep viewers coming back for more year after year. CCC is also appropriate for newbies and experts alike, thanks to the simple language the reality TV star uses, so can be viewed for both educational and entertainment purposes.
Originally, CCC was intended to be a documentary, and there was no mention of Wayne being paid for his work. However, everything changed thanks to the show’s success, although Wayne’s estimated salary per season varies wildly. Roger Barr, a longtime family friend of the car enthusiast, does most of the restoration work on the show; he previously owned the local foreign car repair shop in Wayne’s hometown.
Despite finding rare vehicles such as the 1952 Muntz Jet and 1964 Shelby Cobra USRCC Roadster, Wayne’s ultimate goal was to acquire the 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB he rode in for the first time as a youngster. The persistent automotive expert spent over thirty years hunting down the elusive Hudson Italia and saving money up to purchase one – this search is what initially got him noticed by Jim Austrasky, the writer and producer who created CCC, and placed Wayne at the forefront, after reading a New York Times article about Wayne and his endeavors.
The 1964 USRRC Cobra Roadster CSX2431 is housed at the Shelby American Collection in Colorado. This Cobra is currently in the shop of Bill Murray with Murray Racing, but will be back in the museum later this year.#shelbycobra #kenmiles #cobra pic.twitter.com/RSjW7AxQum
— Shelby Am Collection (@ShelbyAmCollect) October 3, 2019
Fans love Wayne’s no-nonsense attitude, and the show’s lack of scripted drama… but if online sources are to be believed, CCC is full of “dark secrets”, with the show appearing far more innocent than it really is. According to said sources, buyers on the show often end up paying more than they should due to hidden fees and premium percentages. Car auctions have also been criticized for their lack of regulation, despite being popular for over two decades. Nevertheless, this isn’t Wayne’s fault, but rather part of a larger problem.
As is the case with many TV stars, Wayne’s reputation has also been marred by rumors of his financial and legal troubles over the years. With that said, there’s no concrete evidence that the restoration expert, who is said to be worth millions of dollars, is struggling to make ends meet.
It’s important to note that Wayne doesn’t auction all the cars he restores. Instead, some are added to his personal collection, which numbers around 25 vehicles at any given time. Although the TV host doesn’t share much information about his personal collection, he’s more than happy for people to view his Portland-based shop, F40 Motorsports, which is a “2.5-acre compound dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and storage of some of the world’s rarest and most coveted classic cars”.
In a recent YouTube video, Dennis Collins – a Texan entrepreneur, car fiend, and friend of the controversial TV personality Richard Rawlings – visited F40 Motorsports to purchase a rare Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren convertible, and made the most of his trip to go on a tour of the facilities. The tour began with Dennis documenting Wayne’s stunning showroom, which includes a GT40 race car driven by the legendary racers Jack Brabham, George Follmer, and Peter Revson to name a few.
From rare Studebakers to gorgeous 1972 Porsche 911 Coupes, and original 1961 Cadillacs, Wayne’s showroom is a treasure trove of possibilities for any car lover. In the next building, Dennis saw with his own eyes a 1949 Buick Convertible driven by Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in the movie “Rain Man”, and currently owned by the award-winning movie director Barry Levinson. However, the most impressive addition is perhaps a Volvo 960 wagon built by the actor and racetrack legend Paul Newman, and known as “one of the greatest sleeper cars ever built”.
There’s little doubt that each of Wayne’s cars boasts a rich history, and Dennis was praised for his lengthy but informative video which has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Wayne is the undisputed showman and motor of CCC, but it’s important to note the parts played by Roger and Jim, given that the successful series wouldn’t have been possible without them.
A car expert born in 1936 in Staten Island, Roger’s lifelong interest in engineering and desire to become an aviation engineer guided him to the US Air Force after studying at high school. While stationed in Germany, Roger earned his Aviation Engineering license, and started from the bottom by working as a mechanic. He was also introduced to motorsport racing while in the country, and became a back-up driver for several teams.
After completing his service with the Air Force, Roger returned to the US, going from one workshop to another before opening the Foreign Car Shop in Connecticut, and teaching engineering at the University of Hartford, and Brown College. Prior to his retirement from the racing world, the engineer won championships in the Formula-V and Formula-A Continental Championships with household names of the era.
When Wayne approached Roger in 2008 and offered him the chance to appear on CCC, Roger didn’t think twice before accepting. According to Wayne, he considered Roger the most suitable person for the job, thanks to his expertise and working relationship with Bob. Sadly, Roger was forced to go on hiatus in 2017, after suffering a knee injury and undergoing surgery. This, along with another mystery illness which was never confirmed, alarmed fans of the then-81-year-old engineer, and their relief didn’t last long when the Staten Island native returned to the show.
This time, Roger dropped out following a second hospitalization caused by an accident at Wayne’s workshop. Although his family kept fans informed via Roger’s Facebook group, viewers were left on the edge of their seats for months, until learning that the former racecar driver had miraculously recovered. Roger’s family went through a rough patch with the second hospitalization, and were forced to turn to GoFundMe to help pay the medical bills; thankfully, fans of the engineer raised a cool $20,000 to help out. It was also revealed that Roger, described in GoFundMe as a semi-retired mechanic, didn’t earn any money from his appearances on CCC, which angered many people.
Right now, Roger lives in New England with his loyal wife, and works at The Paddock Classic Cars, mentoring the younger guys at the workshop, and lending his expertise whenever necessary. For now, he’s also in great health, and doesn’t plan on retiring completely anytime soon.
Meanwhile, James Lewis “Jim” Austrasky was born in 1953 in New Haven, Connecticut, and although his death in 2017 didn’t mean much to the average Joe, those in the TV and car industries alike mourned his untimely departure, and wrote a glowing obituary honoring his decades of hard work and dedication.
Jim passed away at home surrounded by loved ones, survived by his wife of 38 years, Holly, the family dog Enzo, his sister Sandol, and his many nieces and nephews. As a founding partner of the Essex Television Group, Jim was dubbed the creative force behind TV documentaries which included “My Classic Car”, “Drive Like Hell”, and “St. Bernard Parish: After the Flood”.
Despite work forcing him to leave home for weeks and months at a time, traveling the globe in search of interesting stories, the self-proclaimed gearhead was always eager to return and spend as much time as possible with his nearest and dearest. In lieu of flowers, family members asked that fans donate to The Connecticut Hospice Inc., or the Sarcoma Foundation of America in support of liposarcoma research.