Forget about the Dos Equis guy: Andrew Comrie-Picard is the most interesting man in the world.
At varying points in his life (and sometimes all at once), he’s been an X Games athlete, a pro race driver, a stuntman, a wine expert in Bordeaux, France, BFGoodrich ambassador, host of the TV show Top Gear, and an entertainment lawyer – what did YOU do today, you rube?
“My mom is an academic and a judge, and my dad owns a trucking company. So that really captures it from the start,” said the man known as ACP about his upbringing.
“I grew up on a farm in Alberta, Canada driving pickup trucks through muddy fields. That’s how I learned a love for vehicles and a love for challenges with vehicles. Even though I did university degrees and nominally had a job for a while…”
The “nominal” job ACP held was as an entertainment lawyer in New York City. An accomplishment some people would root their personality in and identify with for the rest of their lives.
“I was sitting at my desk in Manhattan looking out over the horizon and realized I just had to climb out of that window and get out of there. So, the thing with me is that I’m a ‘challenge junkie.’ And it was challenging to get to New York and be a lawyer and so on, but it’s not as challenging as me being behind the wheel driving on the Arctic Ocean at minus 50 degrees, you know? I’d rather have my life depend on me controlling the steering wheel, than to be in a Manhattan office.”
ACP’s latest adventure was as an ambassador for BFGoodrich tires during the Alcan 5000 Rally, an 11-day, 4,490 mile race that started in Kirkland, Washington and ended in Anchorage, Alaska.
Along with fellow expeditioners Brad Lovell and Chris Komar, the trio was armed only with extra fuel, a completely stock Jeep Rubicon and a set of BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires.
— ACP Racing (@ACPRacing) March 13, 2016
Three guys stuck together in a vehicle for 11 days? Naturally, two questions came to mind: What do you do when someone farts? And, who controls the music?
“Ha! If we did, we wouldn’t admit it!” said ACP about the farting. “Actually, compared to a lot of road trips, it’s been odor free.”
As for the music on the journey, it was non-existent.
“It’s interesting for us because we drove through Canada and the native territories, then back through the US and Alaska, so there’s been a lot of cultural talk. And for a few goons, a couple of us who drive cars for a living and another one who fixes them, you wouldn’t think that the conversation would be so high-falutin.
“But if you sit somebody out here long enough – like a couple of weeks – you get some pretty high subjects. With limited sleep, and poor food, and isolation…suddenly you’re talking about liberal democracy!”
— ACP Racing (@ACPRacing) February 28, 2016
So, how did he go from being an entertainment lawyer to a host of other things?
“All I wanted to be when I was 12-years-old was a racecar driver and an actor, basically. And it kind of ended up…not quite happening – I mean, I host TV shows and I’ve worked in the film business doing stunts – and essentially I backed into that by being true to what I really loved when I was 12.”
But “backing in” doesn’t mean luck or just showing up. At the core of ACP’s intrepid desire for new challenges and experiences is another oft-overlooked factor: Self-belief.
“It started when I was a kid, again 12 or 13-years old, I was racing – this sounds crazy – remote controlled model cars. But I got good enough at it that I was sponsored by a manufacturer and they flew me all around the world – Holland, Japan – to race in world championships and things. That’s where I first learned that you really have to believe that you can succeed. I would say more than half of your performance is based on your belief in your abilities.
“It’s like a threshold or a gatekeeper. If you don’t have the belief in yourself, then you can’t succeed whether you have the skills. When I’m going down a mountain at 120 MPH, and I’ve got someone else’s life in my I hands too by the way, I’ve got a co-driver, I just have to believe. When the car is sideways and it’s the middle of the night, I just have to believe I’ve got the moxie or the chutzpah or whatever to correct this car through the corner. Because if I didn’t we’d surely crash.”
In the movie Office Space, lead protagonist Peter Gibbons ponders his life’s purpose as an employee of faceless corporation Initech. He thinks back to the question his high school guidance counselor asked him about his future: What would you do if you had a million dollars, and didn’t have to work?
“The challenge can be that when you’re 12 years old – I don’t know why I keep going back to 12 – but at 12 you’re in contact with your ‘id,’ what you love to do. I think that if we listened to that more, the fact is, there is a way to live reasonably. Maybe you won’t get rich, but there’s a way to make a living at almost anything! Like truly almost anything in the whole damn world.
“As we’re speaking, I’m looking at the credenza in the hotel room; designing handles for credenzas. Somebody does it! And as you get older you get pulled into this thing, ‘Be a doctor, be a lawyer, be an accountant’ or something and it’s good for some people. Some people should be doctors and lawyers and accountants because they love medicine or they love the law, or they love numbers. But if you love annnnnnything, my advice would be to at least go and try to fail at that thing first. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Of course, the universally accepted worst thing that could happen is death, which I proferred to ACP. And he wasn’t having any of it.
“At least you would die doing something that you love. And to not die doing something you don’t love your whole life, dying a little bit every day.”