Welcome to this month’s edition of Ask a Gearhead, our Q&A series with enthusiasts and influencers in the automotive space. Last month we spoke with Driving While Awesome’s Art Cervantes, and this month we are pleased to feature James Pumphrey!
James is Head Writer at Donut Media, an automotive digital media hub on a mission to make car culture pop culture. Donut’s YouTube channel is one of the most popular places on the internet for automotive content that is both entertaining and informative — infotaining, you might say. With four shows a week and many new ones in the works, Donut Media is fast becoming the hottest destination for enthusiasts and mildly-interested-in-cars-people alike.
The most recent episode of Donut’s “The New Car Show,” hosted by James, features an excellent Civic Type R provided by Turo. Be sure to subscribe to their channel to keep up with the latest videos.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAMILY CAR GROWING UP?
My dad had an E28 BMW 535is. I had really bad asthma as a kid, and would get asthma attacks all the time. There was one night my dad had to rush me to the hospital, and my mom swears the tires never touched the ground. So that BMW saved my life. My family has always had a soft spot for Beemers.
WHAT’S THE WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DRIVEN?
Well there’s something cool about every car, even if you think it’s bad. I had a Volkswagen Scirocco Mk1 with a high-compression motor and crazy suspension that I dailied in LA for about a year, during which I sweated a lot and always smelled like gas. It was really fun, but a dumb thing to drive around LA.
IF YOU COULD OWN JUST ONE CAR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
We have a new show coming out soon called “Miracle Whips” that asks that exact question. For me, B5 Audi S4 Avant, that’s the one. In blue.
FAVORITE ROAD TRIP?
I love driving up the California coast. A visit to San Francisco is long enough that it’s a trip, but you can do it in a day and go to dinner that night. It’s not the most original, but cruising up Highway 1 is hard to beat.
WHAT’S IN YOUR NETFLIX QUEUE RIGHT NOW?
Lately I’ve been watching a lot of sports documentaries. I think there are parallels between a football team and an internet video company, insofar as everyone sharing a vision and doing the small things every day to realize that vision. I like watching football coaches to see how they manage their teams and handle situations.
YOU’RE DIRECTING FAST & FURIOUS 9, WHAT’S THE HERO CAR?
An S13 Nissan Silvia would be great. Something super gnarly and Japanese-looking.
WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST ANIMAL TO RIDE IF IT WERE SCALED UP TO THE SIZE OF A HORSE?
A bear. Definitely my favorite animal.
WHAT ACTIVITY ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO DO IN A CAR WHEN SELF DRIVERS ARRIVE?
I can’t wait until augmented reality entertainment becomes a thing. I’m looking forward to looking through a windshield that’s a screen, taking me through interactive worlds. I’m very excited about self-driving cars and the entertainment possibilities that they bring.
WHAT’S YOUR MARIO KART CHARACTER?
Donkey Kong. I feel like I look like Donkey Kong when I drive small cars like the Miata.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN THE BIOPIC OF YOUR LIFE? AND WHAT IS IT CALLED?
Probably Seth Rogen, but in a serious role. This is the one that gets him the Oscar. It would be called “The Man Who Saved the World.” I’ll be doing some special stuff in the future.
IF YOU HAD AN ICE CREAM TRUCK, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU PLAY FROM THE SPEAKER?
“Fantastic Voyage” by Coolio. And I’d drive something not creepy like a Chevy Suburban.
WHAT IS THE VERY LAST CAR YOU RENTED?
A Civic Type R, on Turo. It’s like my favorite car of all time — I guess front-wheel drive cars with too much horsepower remind me of my youth. We featured it on our channel for an episode of “The New Car Show.”