By Oliver Lazenby
The forests and fields of Whatcom County, along with the forgotten classic cars they harbor, will soon be beamed into houses across the planet for a new Discovery Channel show called Carspotting.
Carlos Becerra, a 25-year-old Blaine High School graduate whose first business venture was a berry stand on Peace Portal Drive, hosts and stars in the show. Becerra found and sold his first two classic cars, a 1951 DeSoto and a 1953 Rover P4, in Blaine. Now he lives in Bellingham and runs two businesses that are the basis for the show – Imports & Classics, and Cascadia Customs – in Lynden.
Through those businesses, Becerra finds and buys old cars, has them restored and sells them. It’s the type of TV show the Discovery Channel was looking for; ultimately, the TV network ended up giving Carspotting a six-episode trial, rather than a one-episode pilot.
The show premieres at 10 p.m., Monday, August 7. Leftfield Pictures, a New York studio that’s also responsible for “Pawn Stars,” “Alone” and “American Grit,”
The show also stars Becerra’s brother Pedro and their friend Niko Weaver, who a Discovery Channel press release calls a “car savant.” The show is driven not only by the process of finding, fixing and selling cars, but also by the scrappy young team’s struggle to succeed in a tough business, according to the press release.
Becerra hasn’t seen the show yet, but he expects it will focus on his business ventures and entrepreneurship.
“That’s part of my character,” he said.
Though he expects the show will pick and choose what to highlight, filming wasn’t much different from a normal day of work, Becerra said.
The show will include many “household names” for Whatcom County car hobbyists, Becerra said. One of those might be Daryl Brennick, a car collector and former Lynden mayor, who sold Becerra a car during filming.
Brennick first met Becerra three years ago. Becerra was just getting started in the former Pioneer Ford building in Lynden at the time and Brennick stopped by to
check it out.
“He came across to me as a very enthusiastic young man with entrepreneurial skills,” Brennick said. “He was pretty sharp but he didn’t have any money.”
To Brennick, one of Becerra’s most apparent talents was marketing and selling cars online, sometimes even to customers overseas. He sold five cars for Brennick.
“He does a real good job of that. He understands marketing on the internet and he knows how to buy at a price he can make a profit,” Brennick said. “When the show came up, I told him, ‘You’re the guy who can do it.’ He’s just full of enthusiasm. He’s got all those core skills that most successful business people have.”
And if Carlos is the guy to do it, Whatcom County is the place for it, Brennick said. As a collector, he knows the abundance of classic cars hidden away in Northwest Washington.
“There’s lots and lots of cars in Whatcom County, believe me,” he said.
Becerra started attending Blaine schools in fifth grade and graduated from Blaine High School in 2009. He credits growing up in Blaine for turning him into a creative entrepreneur.
Becerra started picking berries as a kid and by age 12 he’d expanded to selling berries from a stand on Peace Portal Drive. By high school, the young entrepreneur had learned to use the Canadian border and exchange rates to his advantage – buying American phones, unlocking them for Canadian networks and selling to Canadians from the Blaine High School parking lot.
Just after high school, Becerra started knocking on doors looking for forgotten cars to buy. He then started a company buying cars locally and selling them online and soon after added a restoration shop to aid that business.
“If I hadn’t come from Blaine I don’t think I’d be here, just because Blaine is a unique little town in terms of doing business,” Becerra said. “Blaine turned me into an entrepreneur, for sure.”