A driving passion

it runs in the family


A.R. Broom, twitter.com/AlexanderRBroom

Like many enthusiasts, Samuel Camarista became interested in cars from learning how to work on his family’s vehicles with his father.

“Growing up, learning tools, passing them to him, watching him fix stuff, watching him work on cars, that’s how I first started, ” said Camarista, who grew up in a family with many Chryslers. For him, it was imperative to learn how to identify each of the cars and their updates over the years.

“I would just flip through them and just memorize what the grills look like and the back of the cars look like so when I see them drive by I’d know what type of Chrysler it was, or Dodge, or Plymouth.”

But when Camarista bought his Corvette, a GM product, the family didn’t jokingly disown him like many strictly one-maker families might do.

That was because the Corvette was not his first GM vehicle. “My first car was a 1991 Camaro RS V6. Wasn’t as fast or sporty but it was still fun to drive,” said Camarista.

Even though the Chevrolet Camaro was not blisteringly fast he still found himself in some trouble with the law.

“I used to get speeding tickets once in a while, every 18 months, just enough time where I could take traffic school and get out of it.”

The Grand Sport trim level, while not the top of the line, is one of the more desirable cars of the lot in recent years. Camarista’s is 2013 Corvette Grand Sport, 60th Anniversary Edition, the car is considered special due to its track performance-oriented handling upgrades from the top-of-the-line Z06.

“It has a Z06 wide-body kit, the front scoop, and the high performance brakes … basically a Z06 without the motor.” Camarista said, “You get a lot for your money. It’s a mid-range Corvette, so you get the handling and the performance all in one.”

Camarista hasn’t modified the car, which in stock form sends about twice the power to the rear wheels than an average car.

“I don’t turn off the traction control. It would get loose still, even with the traction control on, so you can’t have a heavy foot.”

While Camarista drives his Grand Sport frequently, his daily driver is pretty average.

“A Honda Civic, actually,” said Camarista, adding, “There’s a lot more rolling in the Civic, side to side…the steering’s not as tight as the Corvette, you’re like in a little go-kart with that thing, the steering is so sensitive. But either way, I don’t drive so fast, just from the days of driving the Camaro and getting all the tickets … I take my time nowadays.”

Camarista added that the Civic and the Corvette are like night and day.

“You step on the gas with the Civic, you gotta wait a couple seconds until the V-TEC kicks in and then you get it going, and with the Corvette it’s instantaneous the second you tap the gas,” said Camarista.

Camarista’s toys are not limited to four wheels. He also owns a Harley Davidson Road Glide, GXSR 750, Ninja 500, Honda CRF230 dirt bike.

But the Corvette seemed to be the favorite of the group, even from a young age.

“I’ve always wanted one. I have die cast toys at home of 1:12 scale Corvettes. I’ve always liked the body style and you get a lot for your money,” said Camarista. “A lot of people call it the poor man’s Ferrari.”

All those toys came from two decades of work in the Information Technology field. A good portion of his education in that field happened at Los Medanos College.

“I had a lot of growth here. I’ve been taking a lot of classes and going here a long time for associates,” said Camarista. “I’ve taken computer classes, did the Cisco Network Academy, Microsoft certification classes, all my general-ed, everything’s been through LMC for the most part.”

Now most of Camarista’s time is split between school, home and the United States Air Force Reserves.

“I’ve been in the Air Force reserve since 2012, so going on six to seven years now, and I’m a Cyber Transport Systems Specialist, so basically we do all the networking. We’ll go out to just a bare patch of dirt and set up all the communications from the phones, TV, internet, satellite communications,” said Camarista.

Camarista is currently attending LMC in hopes of earning his Automotive Technology degree in addition to possibly heading to a four-year school to prep for a better career in the field of network security or electrical engineering.

“This is actually my last semester for my requirements for automotive technology degree, but I’m still going to come back and do more of the electrical side,” said Camarista. “I was thinking about doing the smog class as well, and moving onto the network security side or electrical engineering side. I’m still on the fence about that.”

His time at LMC has been beneficial not only to him, but has allowed Camarista to also help those around him.

“For the most part, the knowledge I have,” he said, “is just more to maintain and to fix things and help other people out, family or friends if they have issues with their car.”