HomeCar CultureLifestyleVintage racing is no joke for comedian Adam Carolla

Vintage racing is no joke for comedian Adam Carolla


Editor’s note: Follow all of the action and updates on our special Monterey Car Week page.

Crew maneuvers Nissan racer owned by Adam Carolla and formerly driven by Paul Newman | Larry Edsall photos
Adam Carolla talks in the Laguna Seca paddock with Kate Weed and Larry Edsall of ClassicCars.com Journal | Rebecca Nguyen photo

When he was a teenager working construction, Adam Carolla — yes, the now well-known comedian / TV and radio personality / documentary producer — drove a Datsun pickup truck because “you could work on it yourself,” and “you could install a lumber rack, and even with a load of wood heavy enough to have the rear bumper dragging,” the truck remained “bulletproof.”

Carolla’s statements were not jokes. He drove a couple of those Datsun pickups, and then he bought a 240Z, though “not new; I never got new cars.”

AS his entertainment career bloomed, Carolla could become a collector of not-new cars, aka collector cars, and especially those that had been successful in sports car racing. 

“As you go down this road, you might become a Mopar guy or a Nissan guy,” he said Saturday afternoon in the paddock of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “I became the Nissan/Datsun guy.”

Indeed. Carolla has assembled probably the best collection of noteworthy Datsun and Nissan racing cars. 

It started from his appreciation for cars like the Datsun 2000 roadster and the 240Z, he said, and it really accelerated when Carolla added his passion for cars to his passion for things touched by Paul Newman, an actor who raced (or was he a racer who acted?).

Car raced then and now by Steve Millen is prepped between on-track sessions

Several of Carolla’s cars were on display in the Laguna Seca paddock, where Nissan/Datsun is the first Japanese brand to be the featured marque at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Two were among the more than 50 Datsun or Nissan cars entered in the vintage races at the track this week.

Steve Millen is driving in Group 7B — 1981-91 IMSA GTU, GTO and Trans Am — in the same 1990 Nissan 300Z Twin Turbo that he raced back in the day, while Carolla is in Group 5A — 1973-81 FIA/IMSA GT, GTZ, GTU, AAGT —  in the 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo formerly raced by Newman. 

During one of Carolla’s runs at Laguna Seca, another driver suddenly cut in front of him, causing Carolla to wave his arms in a startled response. But in the process, one of his hands hit his car’s ignition switch and shut off the engine. Back in the paddock, Carolla’s crew came up with a solution — it relocated the switch in case something similar happened during a later race.

Carolla launching his own channel

Carolla likes racing but admitted he’s not as skilled as he might like.

“I only race about four times a year,” he said of the demands of his busy and multi-faceted work schedule, “and I’m usually in different cars (each race) so I never get dialed in.”

Speaking of his busy schedule, Carolla’s Chassy Media has just launched a motorsports channel on Pluto TV 

“Being a vintage racer and lifelong car guy, I wanted to really make sure we were getting great content out to as many gearheads and enthusiasts as possible,” Carolla recently told Variety. “Launching an entire channel on a free streaming service like Pluto TV, to a built-in audience, is a win on every level.” 

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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