The man standing dead center of Graveyard Carz is Mark Worman, CEO of Welby's Car Care.
is a lifelong Mopar enthusiast.
In layman's terms, this means he's
a diehard Chrysler
guy - Mopar is the service arm of Chrysler, making hardware for Dodge, Plymouth and, of particular interest to Worman
, those elegant Barracudas that embody the American ideal of a whiplash-fast dream machine.
"I grew up on car magazines," Worman
says, noting that over the course of his
been reading about cars "to the point where all that geekedness pays off."
Born in 1962 at Eugene's
Sacred Heart Hospital, Worman
"was raised in Springfield and never left.
attended Yolanda Elementary and St. Alice School
, but then dropped out just halfway through his
ninth-grade year at Springfield Jr. High.
"I hated school," Worman tells me. Having lost his
father to cancer at 12 and battling serious health issues of his
own, young Mark
mother's trust to the test.
"My mom toiled over the idea for weeks," Worman
says, "but ultimately decided that if she
forced me to go out the door and to school, there was a chance I'd start skipping and get in the wrong crowd."
It was a risky move, but mother's intuition paid off, largely due to Worman's interest in rebuilding small motors of all kinds.
"If I was in the carport where she
could keep an eye on me," Worman
says, "then how bad could it be?"
Through a program at Lane Community College, he earned his high school diploma at 16.
"Twenty-two As, one B and one C," Worman
"Not bad, I reckon.
also worked during his
mid-teens at Wonder Bread in Springfield.
"When I would be cleaning the shop as a kid," Worman recalls, "I remember thinking how cool of a hot-rod shop this would make."
After spending years working in various local garages and rising from pump jockey to mechanic to a position in management, Worman in 1985 started his own business, opening Welby's Car Care Center.
"It was a small, three-bay shop that ultimately launched my business to where I am today," he
is today is like déjà vu all over again.
Just a few years back, he
relocated - or returned, perhaps - to the stomping grounds of his
"It was just a big open shell," Worman
says of the former Wonder Bread building.
"When we tore it down, we had enough lumber to build a house.
By installing, among other amenities, "ten big doors, drains in the floor, a truck loading dock," Worman
finally brought to fruition, 35 years later, the cool garage he'd dreamed about as a teenager.
"And here I am," Worman
says, "full circle."
"The dumb leading the dumb" is how Worman
As both real-life and TV boss, Worman's role is a cross between Ahab and Moe Howard - the beleaguered boss and top Stooge.
also produces the series and is involved every step of the way, from storyboarding to directing and editing, to making sure everything revs along at a good pace.
Only the coldest shiver of professional envy could prevent a person from feeling profound admiration - if not awe - for Worman's accomplishments.
This not-so-average mechanic has become a cinematic autodidact, creating his
own crash course on the filmmaking process.
at the point where restoring a car to original manufacturer condition is "fairly simple" compared to producing television.
"Making a reality series is far more challenging to me," he
says, noting that with restoration, "it's done when I say it's done.
Every episode of the show, on the other hand, "has to be viewed by everyone here, and is at risk of constant input and change."
To learn this new trade, Worman
immersed himself in reality TV, "watching as many shows as I could to gain a feel for pacing, content, timing.
paid particular attention to Discovery's American Chopper, mostly to absorb and analyze the style of the program's executive producer, Craig Paligian
"Probably the single most valuable knowledge I walked away with from that series is the importance of character interaction, conflict and drama," Worman
adds that a lot of early character conflict in American Chopper was inorganic and had to be extracted by Paligian.
"In GYC," Worman
says, "Daren and I, as you saw, have a natural bicker-conflict going on, and I think it comes across more realistically."
At the lead is Worman
, who might be described, paradoxically, as an ethical bully - the faux-grumpy boss with heart-valves of gold who can take it as well as dish it out.
As much as anybody is in charge, Worman
Rose, who often parrots his father-in-law's sentences back at him in a constipated, high-pitched cartoon voice, refers to Worman
as "vertically challenged" and then observes, à la that old Randy Newman song, that short people always seem to be untalented and unattractive.