We at MAMA are proud to have Zack Pradel among us and he’s the perfect choice for our quarterly Member Spotlight. Zack is a relatively new member of MAMA, but his energy and enthusiasm help make us what we are. You may have met Zack at the Spring Rally, but if you didn’t, or if you want to know him a little better, we’ve got you covered.
MAMA: How did you get started in the automotive media industry?
Zack: I always had a love for cars from a very young age. My dad also loved filmmaking as a hobby, so there was always a camera in the house. When I became a teenager, I managed to pair my interests together, making videos about cars. I then attended Aurora University and got a degree in Communication, doubling down on my career path.
MAMA: How did you find MAMA?
Zack: One day, a handsome fellow named Robby DeGraff followed me on Twitter. We started chatting about the industry, and he recommended that I check out MAMA. I wanted to wait until I was 25, and on my 25th birthday I applied!
MAMA: What’s been your favorite vehicle you’ve reviewed?
ZACK: It’s a tough choice since I have reviewed 1,200+ cars. I tend to lean towards cars from the 1980s and 1990s. If I had to pick, it would be the 1993 Nissan Skyline GTS25t. I filmed it around sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Safe to say it was pure bliss.
MAMA: What do your friends and family say about your job?
Zack: At first, my family was very hesitant. Which totally makes sense. I was earning pennies doing what was essentially a hobby. Now, they understand and are proud of me, although I still don’t think they know how it works. It clicked for my Mom when I got recognized in public in front of her!
MAMA:What are your long-term career goals?
Zack: Do the same thing but… More. I love reviewing cars and I don’t see myself stopping. I just want to expand my reach, and expand my collection of reviews. Spending a month in a different country to review their cars we never got here is the ultimate goal. Holdens? Peugeots? Tatras? Sign me up!
MAMA: What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
Zack: The honest truth is that car reviews are still my hobby. I feel weird if I go more than two or three days without driving a new (to me) car. But when I do take time off, my girlfriend and I are trying to visit as many National Parks as we can. It’s her long time passion that I have fallen in love with over the last three years. We’ve done 18 so far, with an Acadia visit planned in September.
MAMA: Any advice to those looking to break into the auto industry?
Zack: Just make the thing. Whether it’s a blog post, video, podcast, or any other form of media, just make something. Your first one is going to be terrible. Your second one won’t be great. But your third one will be better, and your fourth will be even better than that. The best lessons I’ve learned have been from making the things I want to make, and slowly honing my skills over weeks, not minutes. There will always be things to learn and skills you can improve!
MAMA: What was your first car?
Zack: The first car I purchased myself was a 1985 Mazda RX-7 the week I turned 18. I loved that car and it was the catalyst for me to start my YouTube channel. Six months later, I blew up the engine, and decided to swap it with a newer, fuel-injected rotary engine. Without any instructions, it was a trial-by-fire learning experience, but it worked! I owned that car for five more years after that.
MAMA: What is your dream car?
Zack: What day of the week is it? I can’t stick to one car. One day I want an E30 M3, one day I want a Mustang Shelby GT350. But one constant seems to be an old air cooled Porsche 911. A 930 Turbo would be lovely.
MAMA: Tell us about something adventurous you have done.
Zack: Last fall I took my 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback down a “4x4 Only” trail. I ended up 3-wheeling it and fording a small river, but the thing did it all easier than I expected. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t smart to do so with no support vehicle and two hours from any kind of cell service, but hey, it all worked out, right? (Minus the 4-foot gouge on the bottom of my Mazda from a particular boulder on the trail.)
Here’s a link to one of Zack’s most favorite recent reviews on his YouTube channel: 2007 Lotus Exige S Review - I Found The PERFECT Sports Car!