27 July 2016

Roger & Me

The Man Behind The Curtain

You wouldn’t believe how many people walk up to me and start a conversation by asking, “Is Roger here?” It sure keeps me humble that the first thing on a person’s mind isn’t how I am, how I got started or which car I'm after. No, what they want to know is whether they will get a chance to meet Roger Barr, the crotchety old master mechanic whom I’ve known most of my life.

I first met Roger when I was about 10 years old. We lived in Glastonbury, Connecticut, where my father ran a body shop and Roger ran the local foreign car repair shop. If Dad was fixing an imported car that needed mechanical work he’d take it to Roger, and if a car at Roger’s shop needed body repairs, it would always end up at Dad’s. Dad would take me along on the weekends, and I loved going to Roger’s shop because of the great cars he always had there. Inside, I’d see his race cars, which he’d let me sit in, while customer cars often included Maseratis, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos, along with more common marques like Saab, Volvo and MG. He also had a sign hung in front that read, “No French cars allowed.”

Roger and Dad were never really close friends, but they had great respect for each other as colleagues — they shared projects and clients for years. Roger did owe my father something of a debt, though; Dad once sent him a customer who worked out so well that Roger married her!

A lot of Roger’s skill was learned as a mechanic in the Air Force while stationed in Germany, where he also had the chance to drive for the Porsche factory sports car team in a backup capacity. When he returned to the United States, Roger opened his own shop and raced — very successfully — on weekends, eventually winning Formula Vee and Formula B national championships.

That shop of Roger’s was in the center of town, not far from the high school. Sometimes I’d even swing by there to look at the cars before school. Early one morning — it must have been around 6 a.m. — I was looking at the great cars in the parking lot and I noticed that all the lights in the shop were on. The door was unlocked, so I went looking for Roger. Eventually I saw his legs on a creeper, sticking out from under a car. He’d been working late and he’d fallen asleep beneath it!

He’s worked for me for about 15 years now, and he started when most men retire. He just turned 80, and he’s crankier than ever. But Roger can still solve any mechanical problem that comes through my shop.

22 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Dick Morin Hamden CT September 6, 2016 at 13:24
    Enjoyed the article Wayne and love seeing Roger work on cars with the knowledge he has attained and retains. Best to both of you
  • 2
    Mark Saxby uk October 5, 2016 at 15:17
    Love Roger, show is great, wish i had ya life style and expertise, great team
  • 3
    Clay Tully Pennsylvania October 16, 2016 at 17:44
    I pray that Roger is still working on cars for anther 50 years!
  • 4
    Heide Kost Long Island NY October 18, 2016 at 19:44
    I'm impressed by Mr Carini and love watching shows with Mr Roger Guten Tag
  • 5
    James East Greenwich RI November 3, 2016 at 14:16
    Ever notice how Wayne he gets off the set as fast as he can whenever Roger gets his moments in front of the camera. I get outta there to Wayne.
  • 6
    Dr. Edward Herremans Michigan November 5, 2016 at 14:28
    I have a 195? double slide window Isetta . I'am the third owner and itis partially restored, A Messersmidt torn down for restoration ,a 79 Vette STS, The 1st one concerted by Dennis Mechum, AShelby Gt 500 convertible, the ist one researched by Shelby
  • 7
    John Howe UK/Manchester December 4, 2016 at 06:18
    Roger seem to be British,Is he?
  • 8
    Henry Stentiford III Chesapeake, VA Formally East Haddam December 11, 2016 at 15:39
    I truly enjoy your show. Tape every episode and rewatch when I can. When I lived in East Haddam I worked in Cromwell Ct and drove by the shop every day. I was thrilled to see you on Velocity TV. It like going home again. I don't want to take any wind out of your sails but I really enjoy Roger to!
  • 9
    Tom Carvidi Nocal December 11, 2016 at 15:45
    Roger and the cars are the only reason I watch the show. Thank you Roger for loving the older Porsche mark and being a genuinely good person. Tom.
  • 10
    alan romaine england December 15, 2016 at 14:33
    Thx, great programme Wayne, how is Roger? Alan
  • 11
    Fernando Lopez Philippines December 19, 2016 at 09:40
    Technical knowledge by wayne and roger is key to this show. It teaches all of us the critical points in restoration and maximizing a sale at most units they feature
  • 12
    Sue McCulloch Cornwall, England December 30, 2016 at 13:04
    Roger, when I win the lottery I'm bringing my brother over to meet you. He is the person who could follow in your footsteps. He's been working on all makes of cars since he was 12 (over 50 years). He's yer man!!
  • 13
    Ron and nancy Buckeye az December 31, 2016 at 23:59
    We love the show and Roger's wit. Wayne is really great to watch too. Keep up the great show. !!!!
  • 14
    Michael Greenberg Charlotte NC January 4, 2017 at 18:36
    Rodger used to work on my brothers MG . He said whenever he went into Rodgers shop he was working on his race car . Rodger rebuilt the engine in my 72 Volvo. I drove it well over 100,000 mi. on the rebuild. The simple days in Glastonbury, thanks Rodger and Wayne keep CCC.
  • 15
    Mike Douglas Sacramento,CA January 12, 2017 at 20:11
    I love this show, I haven't miss a single one. Much, much respect for Wayne and Roger. Hey Wayne, I'll be at Monterey for the historics. Hope to see you and hopefully, you'll bring Roger along !!
  • 16
    Dan Voorhees Ohio February 2, 2017 at 20:15
    Wayne I have enjoyed your show as well as your articles. I'm not sure if you are aware of a huge (700+ trucks and cars) auction that will be taking place in June 2017. This collection is by a single owner (and his wife) of which he has been collecting over 40 years? There has to be at least one that you would be interested. Give me a shout if you would like more info.
  • 17
    GIL DUPRE Chattanooga, tn February 6, 2017 at 09:06
    I enjoy your show and this article about Roger was very informative. I was wondering his age and being over 80 myself and still maintaining my two MG's gives me lots of encouragement. I love his humor.
  • 18
    Bruce Frey Decatur, Illinois February 9, 2017 at 12:09
    I enjoy your show very much. Your article on Roger is wonderful. I love his humor. Every once in a while I notice a Metropolitan in the background on your show. I own a '61 Met.
  • 19
    Ron Burr Alberta March 15, 2017 at 21:40
    I love the respect shown on the show for the cars, their owners and for Wayne and Roger to each other. Roger always makes me chuckle. Wayne and I both have daughters with special needs and his show that highlighted this was very special to me. And my daughter loves nothing better than a ride in my classic Chevy truck!
  • 20
    Tom Heroux Fairfax, Virginia April 11, 2017 at 16:29
    Over the years I have worked for a couple of guys like Roger Barr. When I was young, I always thought they were mostly irritating know-it-alls. Now that I am not so young, I appreciate and miss their critical eye and hard earned wisdom in way that I could not have as a young man. I was very fortunate to have a few mentors like Roger to teach me what they knew.
  • 21
    PSV57 Attleboro MA April 15, 2017 at 21:50
    There are many choices available for old car fanatics like myself, but most insult our intelligence. That's why I love Roger (and of course Wayne) as they live my dream life. Keep up the great work!!!
  • 22
    Angela Sanders Colorado April 25, 2017 at 23:00
    I found this article and picture of Roger back in his racing days. http://zentekno.com/15f/styled/

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