In the auto industry, your career path can go in so many different directions. Sometimes, it doesn’t even look like a “path” at all and the twists and turns don’t make total sense when you’re taking them, but looking back, it all does. That’s definitely the case for my latest guest on Service Drive Revolution, Andrew Comrie-Picard, also known as ACP. ACP is a former high-profile lawyer, pro rally car racing champion, Hollywood stunt coordinator, pro drifter, and founder of ZipTire. This guy’s won a lot of races and awards, and I mean a lot: Canadian Rally national champion, North American rally champion, Baja 1000 class winner, Pikes Peak record holder, Formula DRIFT pro drifter, and BFGoodrich official spokesperson, to name a few. I think we could all learn at least a thing or two from him.
ACP’s obsession with cars started at age seven, when his dad owned a trucking and moving company in Canada. At age seven, his job was to back the cars and trucks they were working on into the yard, lining them up like soldiers. ACP ended up rolling one of the trucks and when he told his dad about it, he pointed him in the direction of the welder and told him he better figure out how to fix it…so he did just that. He drove his first semi at the age of eight or nine. The bottom line is…he started to build his expertise really, really early. It’s no surprise that he’s pretty shocked that so many 16-year-olds don’t even want to get their licenses or learn to drive a standard these days (though he drives an automatic in LA, like the rest of us).
Growing up in Canada had a big impact on ACP’s interests. He chose to become a rally driver and an off-road driver because in the Canadian tundra, he was forced to drive in slippery, frozen conditions. He calls this “kinetic friction”–sliding on a road rather than actually driving–and it was the perfect primer for a career in drifting and racing. Living in a rural area, ACP also grew up valuing collaboration and community. The mentality in his town was that everyone lends a hand to one another. It was more communal and less competitive. He’s not sure that’s still the case these days, though he definitely has some strong opinions about Tim Horton’s, which I won’t get into here…you’ll have to listen to the episode for that.
Another important piece of the puzzle for ACP is that his mother was an academic, which was not typical for the farming lifestyle. She was a professor who really valued schooling, so while ACP was learning to fix cars, he was also crushing it academically. He ended up getting five university degrees, including one from Oxford, and eventually landed as an attorney in New York City. All the while, he was racing cars on the side in an amateur capacity. We talked about his experience and came up with some key takeaways for you:
- Always read the contract, no matter how long and boring it is.
- You should have 3 lawyers: One who’s a friend who gives you a lower rate and helps you with most of the smaller things, one that specializes, and another that strikes fear in the opposition, should you ever need that to happen.
ACP also got a graduate degree in Political Economy from Oxford, which he says has given him a certain level of cred in every industry he’s worked in. Sometimes, you’ll make a career move that doesn’t directly relate to your end goal, but if you spin it the right way, it can still make a difference. When it comes down to it, it’s all about branding.
Before he started his work as a lawyer, ACP had a $2000 racecar. Once he started raking in the big bucks, he invested in a $40,000 car. He was racing every weekend and then heading back to New York to hustle as an attorney, working 60 or 70 hours a week, sleeping under his desk, and climbing the ladder. At a certain point, it hit him that the racing was going well enough that he could do it full time. He could feel himself caring less about work and knew that his heart was half in it at most.
ACP realized that he wasn’t looking for work-life balance. If you ask me, there’s really no such thing as work-life balance for people that are obsessed with accomplishing something. He was looking to do what he loved and was good at day in and day out…and that was racing. So he quit his job as a lawyer and became a full-time racecar driver.
At that point, he realized that if this was going to be his full-time gig and livelihood, he really had to commit 100%. That’s where it all came together. Even though making the transition from being an attorney to become a racecar driver might not make sense on its head, it all lines up in ACP’s story. Being an attorney gave him the funds he needed to invest in racing and then, once he started doing it full-time, he brought a lot of his skills with him. He knew how to negotiate his own contracts, he could talk about cars in an elevated way, and he understood the business side of things, which differentiated him from his peers. Here’s how he put it:
“I’d like to think I am the best rally racer in North America, but I’m probably one of 10, 20, 50, 100 guys that are really good drivers. But of those guys, how many of them can also talk about what’s going on or deal with the business [side of things]? That’s a lot fewer guys, so once you take two different areas, disparate areas, and melt them together, then you’re more weaponized, to use the analogy again, but you’re able to get further.”
ACP started competing in the X-Games when it opened in 2006 and went on to compete five times. It was a coveted position to be in–the X-Games only invited 12 drivers to participate and in the first five, which ACP calls “the dream days” it was him, Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, and Tanner Foust. They were doing rally racing and rally cross and the course escalated every year. His stories are pretty epic, out there head-to-head on the course with the best of the best, doing crossover jumps and tricks. He learned how to do a backflip on a motorcycle from Travis, who he considers to be a good friend and who is practically the inventor of backflipping a dirt bike. To do it, you really have to go for it full throttle–you can’t hold back. According to ACP, Travis is missing a “self-preservation gene” that allows him to really go for it on the course. ACP isn’t missing that gene himself, so Travis was able to give him the push that he needed to do the backflip. The story is pretty epic–listen to the episode to hear it in its entirety and get a play-by-play for how it’s done. It was an epic time for racecar driving and ACP’s tales about what the culture was like and being a champion rally pro are well worth a listen.
So, at this point you know that ACP is an award-winning racecar driver, a lawyer, and an all-around badass. But there’s more to his story–he’s also a well-known TV host. It started in 2004 in Canada, when he saw an ad for a reality TV show where guys had to compete to build a car in three days and other similar challenges. He pitched a team of mechanics he knew who’d been crushing it for a long time and when he was in talks with producers, they started to talk about who could host it. ACP himself was an obvious choice, since he wasn’t just a talented racecar driver, but also knew how to talk about cars in a way that was smart and compelling. He auditioned, got the gig, and started as a host on Global TV called on a show called War of the Wheels. He continued to race, got better and better, and was eventually cast on a Discovery show and it all blew up from there. Through that experience, he met the producers of Top Gear. He drove a car with Charlize Theron in the passenger seat in Atomic Blonde, and when she went on to produce a show on Netflix called Hyperdrive, she brought him on as the stunt coordinator.
Would you believe me if I said there’s even more to ACP’s story? Cause there is. He’s the founder of ZipTire, a mobile tire business that comes to you rather than the other way around. The idea came to him after he’d been sent Michelin tires and BFGoodrich tires and realized he’d have to go into a shop to get them put on his car. The idea came to him that there should be a company that comes to you to change your tires. He did some research and found that there were a few companies out there using Sprinters to get tires out to people immediately and he knew that he could use his expertise to build a company that would do it even better. Today, ZipTire is a preferred installer for Tire Rack and they’re working on scaling the business.
Hungry for more of ACP’s story? Makes sense…he’s an interesting and incredibly successful guy. You’ll learn more on his episode of Service Drive Revolution, such as which poem he’s carried in his wallet since age 12 and which dealership ACP thinks of as “the only game in town”? Is it Mitsubishi? Ford? Toyota? Subaru? Place your bets and then listen to the episode to find out.
And one more thing before you go…have you entered the $50,000 Service Manager Challenge yet? In this contest, you’ll literally compete against yourself for the chance to win a fully loaded 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Find out the details are here and get your name in the game before it’s too late.