When I Am King...


By Colby Martin


Wouldn’t you be smiling too if you had just punished a Toyota in the Celebrity Race at the Long Beach Grand Prix?
It’s good to be comedian and car aficionado Adam Carolla.

It’s no secret that Adam Carolla is forging his way into automotive royalty. Many are familiar with his name after he helped steer online-based media into a wild success. However, gearheads are becoming aware of the entertainer’s leveraging of showbiz to fuel his long-time four-wheeled passion—to refreshing effect. His personal shop houses a growing array of machines that are sights to behold: vintage racers and classic exotics being prepped for driving duties.

I’ve been a fan since Carolla first made his way into the entertainment industry. From the very beginning 25 years ago, his personality and wit distinctly struck me on the airwaves of morning FM radio. Here was a local guy doing comedic material about the finer points of power tools, nailing schedules, drywall and a host of non-carpentry topics aimed toward adults. My adolescent mind was instantly hooked. However, I was unaware at the time that he was so into cars.

The title of this piece, “When I Am King,” is derived from a recurring segment Carolla performed on TV. The premise of the tongue-in-cheek fantasy was simple: he’d yell humorous new decrees while seated on a throne wearing a crown. Laughter from the audience quickly prompted a mighty “SILENCE!” in return—furthering the comedic effect. Political satire need not be based on reality to be funny.

Imagine yourself being in a position of power. How would you write and/or rewrite the rules if you could directly shape policy? Set the ridiculous aside—this question actually forms the core of democracy. Keep the definition in mind: a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives. That’s right, future leaders are eligible to come from within the ranks of the common folk.

A not-so-obvious connection can be made between his bit and actual life. Carolla is a self-made talent who grasped for years to get in the spotlight and stay there. With a flourishing career, as well as a genuine interest in our hobby, he’s been able to make decisions most can only dream about. How many enthusiasts get themselves to a point where they can build kinships with automotive luminaries and legends, make documentaries about motorsports icons and buy ex-Paul Newman race cars to use in competition? Just by his mere participation, Carolla is influencing the collector car market—without necessarily setting out to do so.

Can members of the car and truck community rise up to become leaders? Yes, the notion of making a difference at home holds widespread appeal and is obtainable. Similar to Carolla, many elected officials have achieved their position by creating unique pathways all their own. Their “keys to the kingdom” were earned—not granted. For those familiar with the SEMA-supported automotive caucuses, legislators at the federal and state levels with an automotive appreciation are not tough to locate. In fact, the first steps are often within reach at the local level first. Case in point is West Virginia Senator Mark Maynard, who is also featured in this newsletter.

Food for thought: might a role in public office be for you someday? Here are accounts of what attracted a few friends of the hobby to service in their state legislature:

State Representative Stan Blake (Wyoming): I originally started in local politics running for a hospital board in Green River, Wyoming. That was unsuccessful. I then ran for the position of legislative representative for my union. After winning that election, I became aware that House District 39 was going to be vacated by the current office holder. I consulted with my wife and we agreed that I should throw my hat into the ring and run. The main attraction to run was that I wanted to try and make a difference in the lives of my constituents and to become a voice for the working people in my area.

State Representative Steven S. Howitt (Massachusetts): I have always been involved in public service. My father instilled in me the desire to not watch from the sidelines, but be involved in one’s community as he was. In 2004, then-Governor Mitt Romney was looking for candidates to run for representative positions. I gave it a try and lost. With perseverance and support from my wife and family, I continued my quest. After two more tries, I was successful.

Former State Representative Josh Byrnes (Iowa): I was not political prior to running for office. In 2009, we had a really bad budget situation where we had an administration spending more money than the state took in. Our state was suffering so I made the decision to act and get involved. I placed my name on the ballot and won! It was a great experience.