It’s a grueling, intense, 72-hour, no-holds-barred car customizing build-off, in which the challengers—if they win—drive off in both completed custom vehicles.
But the All-Stars aren’t called that for nothing. In every episode they try to school the challengers in hard knocks by bringing their talent, drive, and creativity to a new level.
Needless to say, it’s a death match of egos, ideas, and energy, with a good amount of over-the-top diva behavior tempered by the occasional hissy fit. And we’re not just talking about the guys here.
Their creations are judged by a panel of top custom-car experts, including the famed “King of Kustomizers” George Barris, hot-rod craftsman and TV host Jimmy Shine and auto-electronics wizard Mad Mike Martin.
Autobody News’ long-time Custom Corner columnist, Rich Evans, is the leader of the All Star build team. After completing nine straight weeks of taping as a participant in Car Warriors, Rich Evans gave us an inside look at what it’s like on the set of this one-hour reality show.
Q: Now that viewers have seen three episodes of Car Warriors, what are you hearing from friends and fans? What does it take to create these phenomenal vehicles?
RE: The feedback we’re getting is that people love it. Viewers seem to like it because it shows them everything it takes to build a car. Trying to get a team together on the same page; working without sleep; your biggest enemy is the clock. You have to devise a process that will get the car done within 72 hours. If you want to do something on the build, you’d better be able to come up with a process to beat that clock, because otherwise it doesn’t matter. As the All-Star Team Leader, the most weight is on my shoulders. I have to get everybody to agree and buy in for the entire build. Some people have to make compromises and they don’t like it. My main job is to have everyone on the team focused on their particular set of skills. And in the end, we have to come up with an original looking product. So, that means the paint by itself is not going to win the deal at the end of the day, because the judges are looking at the entire car. We know going into each build that the body modifications, the interior, the audio system and the mechanics of the vehicle are going to be a big part of the overall final product—not just a good-looking paint job. It has to be a team effort, because my attitude is if anyone else on our team isn’t making it, I’m going to step in there and get it done, because I hate losing. Everyone has a different approach, but we have to figure out a way to work as a team and it’s tough with that 72-hour clock hanging over you.
Q: Right now your record is three wins and one loss. After losing the first build-off (the1966 Mustang challenge) you won the next three (the 1999 Ford F-150, 1986 El Camino challenges, and the 240Z build.) Tell us about the process of filming Car Warriors.
RE: Each build starts on Tuesday and ends on Friday. We just got done taping nine weeks in a row. To put together one hour show, they shoot 380 hours of tape. It’s a large production on a huge set located on the grounds of Ted Moser’s famous Picture Car Warehouse in Northridge (Calif.). They have two cameras on the challenger’s side; two cameras on our side; one boom camera and one time lapse camera. And they also add other handheld cameras randomly from time to time. Both teams have their own producers on the set all the time, and sometimes they pull you away from the build to do on-camera interviews. It’s always go, go, go! I was averaging 6-8 hours of sleep on each build. On the El Camino build, for example, I didn’t even get to sleep until around 45 hours into it.
Q: I heard that you were working at your shop (Huntington Beach Bodyworks) close to 40 hours per week while taping Car Warriors for nine straight weeks. Did you ever hit the wall? How did you survive this crazy schedule?
RE: I guess I became immune to it after the first episode. After that, I fell into a type of a rhythm, plus I love to work. I’m used to doing long builds at my shop, so I’m not afraid to work 18-20 hours in a row if I need to. I’ve done it for many years, so I think I’m basically primed for those types of conditions. I don’t really look at the clock when I’m working; I’m more into working toward getting the next phase of the project done, like getting the vehicle into the paint booth, for example.
Q: I noticed certain members of your All-Star Team standing around quite a bit and talking while others are doing most of the work, is that what happened?
RE: Absolutely. I’m doing the majority of the bondo work and shaping, disassembling the cars and then putting them back together. When I’m done with that, I’ll help the interior department, and then I’ll go into the paint department and do what I need to do. Scott (Owens) has asked me for help several times and I’ll do it every time. I’ve been in business for 18 years and I’ve never considered myself the boss. I’m a team player but I’m also the team leader, so people take shots at me all day. I’m the punching bag and I’ll take the shots, because I’m surely not here to make friends. I’m here to do a job and to compete. My favorite saying is ‘the proof is in the footage.’ Some guys got really tired and started talking about quitting, but I’m not about that. I believe that if we put 100% into a build and you keep going, you’ll get it done.
One of the big problems in our work is time management. It’s a skill and the only way to learn it is by doing it repeatedly. It’s learning how to make deadlines. But someone has to take the responsibility and make the decisions; otherwise we’re standing around looking silly. I have a process that works for me and I’m bringing it to this show and to the team, and if anyone else wants to be the team leader, they can just step up and we’ll follow their process.
Q: How much of this reality television is actually real, based on your experience with this show?
RE: On Car Warriors, I can honestly tell you that reality television is 100% real and everything you’re seeing is exactly what’s happening. This show is as real as it gets and it depicts daily life in a shop. The only differences are the 72-hour deadline and the fact that there are cameras all over the place, but otherwise it’s 100% accurate.
Q: I’m going to toss out names for some of your All-Star Team members. Tell me the first thing that comes to mind about them.
Ryan “Ryno” Templeton (paint, airbrush, pinstriping): He was on Trick My Truck and he knows his paint.
Ian Roussel (fabrication, engines, paint, interior): A genius and an amazing fabricator. He’s from the series Monster Nation.
Tommy “The Itch” Otis (pinstriping): A pain in my ass. He’s become the comedy relief on the show, but he’s a good pinstriper.
Nicole Lyons (engines & mechanics): She’s a NHRA and NASCAR race driver and she’s got her own shop (Cole Muscle Cars in Sylmar, CA), so she knows her stuff.
Tina Sharpe (interior & upholstery): She’s done work for Gene Winfield and the owner of Ames Sharpe Design that does car interiors.
Scott Owens (interior & car audio): He’s the best audio guy I’ve seen.
Dave Cooke (engines & mechanics): He specializes in imported engines and owns a performance shop in Southern California called Well Oiled.
And the judges: “Mad Mike” Martin: I may not agree with all of the judges all the time, but they’re definitely all impressive. He made his name on Pimp My Ride. Mike has 25 years experience and he’s an incredible genius when it comes to electronics.
George Barris: How can you argue with an icon? They don’t call him the King of Customizers for nothing.
Jimmy Shine: He is very educated and knows his stuff big-time. He’s from the show Hard Shine and one of the top guys at So-Cal Speed Shop. All three judges are more than capable to judge these builds.
Q: What’s in the future for Car Warriors?
RE: I’ve heard through the grapevine that the show is being sold overseas and the reviews have been very positive. Tune in each week, because it gets better and better. You will see some amazing builds coming up and the vehicles are more and more over the top every week.
To keep up on Car Warriors news, visit the show’s Facebook fan page and for breaking news about Rich Evans, visit Rich’s updated Web site at: www.richevansdesigns.com or the new Rich Evans Designs Facebook fan page.