You know that car project that has been sitting in your garage waiting for a continuously delayed makeover? Well, for all those mechanics and car enthusiasts who face a similar dilemma, the “Garage Squad” is the real deal. “Garage Squad” is an automotive series that follows a group of experienced and proficient mechanics who rescue and restore cars from other mechanics lacking the time and finances to do so. The squad fixes the cars, adds various new features, and then returns the restored car to the rightful owner. It premiered in 2014, and has been running for eight seasons, amassing a huge fan base. However, the show’s cast consisting of numerous colorful and interesting characters, has changed over the years, some exiting “Garage Squad.” One of those is Heather Storm, whose departure from the show sparked rumors, and prompted fans to invent various theories about her exit. So let’s dive into the real reason she left the show!
About the show
The series is filmed in Chicago, Illinois, and anyone from the area with a car that needs a unique touch can apply. “Garage Squad” initially aired on Velocity network, primarily featuring automotive content. However, in 2018, Discovery bought the majority stake of the magazine’s publisher, and Velocity was rebranded to Motor Trend, a branch extension of the famous American automobile magazine Motor Trend.
The show celebrates car culture, and stars several automotive experts who work round the clock to finish their projects. The show was hosted by Bruno Massel and Heather Storm, and the current cast consists of Joe Zolper, Bruno Massel, Sarah Lateiner, Kingster, Ronnie, and Cy. The lead mechanic is Zoe, while Bruno and Sarah serve as co-hosts, the trio overseeing the work done by the other three mechanics, occasionally lending a hand. If you’ve caught an episode of “Garage Squad,” you know that during every episode, the families of the car’s owner brcome involved in the projects. After the mechanics do their magic, the car is returned to its owner, usually ending in an emotional reunion. Also, for all those interested in applying, the owner of the car chosen for restoration has to work with the crew.
Who is Heather Storm?
Danielle Trotta, better known as Heather Storm, is a model, actress, producer, and host, who has gained popularity through co-hosting “Garage Squad”. She was born on 13 June 1981, in Westchester, Pennsylvania, USA, the only child of parents Dan and Phyllis Trotta. Her father was a mechanic, which explains Heather’s love for cars; in an interview, she said: ‘I had been working on cars with my dad in the garage when I was growing up and helping him remodeling our house too.
Heather grew up in Montana, where she developed an interest in sports and outdoor activities. Her father Dan was a big influence on her, teacing her to shoot, use various tools, and set up camps. She also credited him for being the independent woman she is today, as he always pushed her to be reliable and capable. In addition, growing up in Montana made her fall in love with nature, and prompted her to start thinking about the environment and its preservation.
After matriculating, Heather enrolled at Oregon State University, graduating with a degree in environmental science. She then spent some time living in Puerto Rico, where she enjoyed the beach life, surfed, and worked on sustainable tourism initiatives. On her site, she wrote: ‘Puerto Rico is magical, and although I loved living on the island, I felt compelled towards more, so I moved to Los Angeles and started down the entertainment rabbit hole. In between classes and auditions, I kept my head above water by working my ass off.’
Heather started her career as a model, and later transferred into other areas. At this time, she adopted her professional name, although it is not known from what it’s derived. Heather was discovered by a modeling scout, and signed to a sports modeling agency, doing various promos and ads and appearing in lifestyle/ fitness magazines. She did several advertisements for Nike and Adidas, and has appeared in films and fitness movies worldwide, such as “Nightingale” and “No Bad Days”. Working diligently, over time Heather became a fitness trainer, and stepped into the entrepreneurial waters in 2011, co-founding the company Black Lab. As an individual with a great passion for delicious cocktails and wines, it wasn’t surprising that she launched a company that produces a variety of juices, drinks and cocktails while being eco-friendly. Before she graced the automotive community with her presence in the show, she worked as an interviewer and news correspondent with Fabiano Iha, for My Combat News Channel.
Heather co-hosted the series from 2015 to 2018, proving to be a knowledgeable gearhead. In an interview, she was asked how she became a part of the show, and said: ‘”Garage Squad” was searching for a female host, just at Season 2, and my manager at the time found it, and I submitted a self-tape. So when I applied, I said: ‘I can get in there with the guys and get dirty, I can use those tools, and it will be fun’. Lo and behold, I got the job.’ Even though she is very versed in the automotive industry, she revealed that there is always something new to learn, disclosing: ‘Some things you’ve just never done before, and every brand of car is different, every type and style is different with different parts. So, even though essentially it’s the same machine and the same thing going together, it all goes together differently.’
Why did she leave “Garage Squad”?
When the sixth season premiered, many fans were disappointed to see that Heather wasn’t there hosting the show. However, those who weren’t surprised might have seen the official announcement from Motor Trend, in which they disclosed that motorcyclist Cristy Lee would replace Heather. Many went to social media to share their discontent, as she was very popular among male audiences, and many fans thought her departure was a mistake. However, the reason she left the show is still a mystery.
According to her statements which she posted on Facebook, it seemed that she was let go from the show. She wrote: ‘As a car lover and gearhead, I have had such an amazing experience working on the show for the past four years, helping make car dreams come true for deserving folks. All the car owners I worked with truly have a place in my heart!’ Heather continued: ‘I wish it could have lasted longer, but all good things must come to an end, eventually. “I wish the best of luck to [Cristy Lee] and the entire “Garage Squad” team.
Checking out all the cars at the LA Auto show…here's a few of my faves, round 2.
She didn’t specify the reason for her departure, or give much information in her statement. However, fans came up with their own theories; some wrote that there was a possibility that her contract was ending, and the show’s producers chose to hire someone new and fresh. Another approach is that she wanted to pursue other goals, such as her own show.
Where is she now?
After she left the show, she expanded her horizons, and ventured into various projects. In 2018, she began hosting her own YouTube series, “Drive Yourself Local,” which follows Heather driving across US in her famous 1965 Ford Mustang, sharing interesting bits of local culture. In 2019, she became the executive producer and co-host of “Awesome Autos,” the automotive series which follows her and Jim Cunningham as they explore and visit car shows in various cities across the US. In the show, the duo interview the car owner, and feature some memories and information relevant to the car, while educating viewers on the history of the automotive industry.
During the same year, she appeared in several commercials and campaigns. Furthermore, she served as a promoter for the 2019 SEMA event – Specialty Equipment Market Association – and in numerous ads and videos pertaining to lifestyle, cooking, plant-based nutrition, and wine tasting and pairing.
Heather also launched several other projects, including the podcast entitled “Man Seeks Adventure “. This project was a collaboration with Brad Fanshaw from “Car Warrior”, and Dave Marek, ACURA executive creative director. The podcast features the trio discussing travel, food, wine, and cars, with Heather often stepping in to display her abilities in mixing cocktails.
Her YouTube Channel
Heather is active on her YouTube Channel, which she created in 2010. It mainly features her videos from “Garage Squad,” commercials, and SEMA Shows. She was pretty active until 2018 when she left the show, and hopped on numerous other projects. Since 2021, she’s been active again, occasionally posting videos such as “How to Jump Start a Car on Home & Family” and “Driving Tips for Winter Road Conditions.” In December 2021, she launched her newest show, “Heather Storm Off Road” – the show’s second episode entitled “Motor City and Muddin’ was posted in May 2022.
In addition to all these, she also runs her official website, which is a sort of travel blog on which Heather discusses numerous topics relating to cars and road trips. On her site, she wrote: ‘For most of my road trips across America, I drive my 1965 Ford Mustang. Driving a classic isn’t the same as a modern car; it requires more preparation and a lot more letting go. Exploring America in a classic car brings many lessons along with it, the biggest being “go with the flow”. Heather recently flaunted her newest car addition on Instagram; after much effort, she bought a Ford Branco Badlands.
Independence Pass summits at 12,095 feet and is the second highest paved state highway. The steep, windy drive to the top is thrilling in itself, but the views from the summit are magnificent. @Bestop_Team @BajaDesigns @Ford #fordbronco #TravelTuesday @Colorado pic.twitter.com/wVXkM1fyMd
— Heather Storm (@HeatherStormTV) July 19, 2022
Who replaced Heather Storm on “Garage Squad”?
After Heather departed the show in 2018, she was replaced by another famous face in the automotive industry, Cristy Lee. The vice-president of production of MotorTrend TV released a statement announcing the sixth season premiere, saying: ‘Entering Season 6 is exciting, especially with the addition of Cristy. Her years of in-depth, ‘how-to’ automotive experience coupled with expertise as an interviewer/commentator in the automotive genre only stands to enhance the ‘Garage Squad’ format.”
True vehicle enthusiasts, Christy gained popularity for hosting “All Girls Garage,” a series that follows three women working behind the gear in a shop, and later “Garage Squad.”
Kinda missin these goobers 🤪 Getting back to shooting new GS very soon – what rides do you hope to see this season??? #garagesquad
Why did Cristy leave the show?
However, Christy didn’t stay long on the show, featuring in 20 episodes of the sixth and seventh seasons. She left the series in 2020, which alerted the fans, who began wondering what happened after such a successful sting on the show. Similar to Heather Storm, the reason for her departure is a bit unclear. According to TopSpeed, the production wrote her out because they wanted to cut costs of the show. Other rumors suggested that she wanted to take a break from work and focus on herself.
However, in March 2020, she underwent an appendectomy, which coincided with the date she stopped filming, so it’s quite plausible that her health issues might have played a part in her leaving. Following the operation, she posted on her Twitter account: ‘Just over a week out of surgery, and I’m feeling good. Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone. Back to you 100 soon!’ However, in an interview, she explained that her departure was influenced by numerous difficulties posed by COVID-19, regarding production and filming. After a period of continuous delays, when they finally managed to set a date for filming, the date clashed with her new project, “Joyride” with Ant Anstead.
After Christy left the show, another popular automobile mechanic and expert, Sarah Lateiner, known as Bogi, replaced Christy for the eighth season.
Who pays for the car’s parts?
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding the show is: ‘who pays for the car parts?‘ The audience and automotive fans know that any restoration and flipping project is a challenge, which requires patience, expertise, and a lot of dough. If you consider that the crew often repairs rare and expensive cars, whose parts aren’t cheap and easy to find, it’s natural to wonder how the squad pulls it off and who pays for everything. Well, given that this question has come up million times, the team chose to address it on their official site, saying that the sponsors take care of these costs, while the show’s production covers other expenses.
Heather Storm’s career was defined by her role as a co-host in the “Garage Squad,” catapulting her into stardom. The entertainment industry is very volatile, and a cast member often gets replaced. Regardless of her exit, her long-time presence as a squad member garnered her numerous fans, and laid the ground for her countless other projects.