Seven Questions: Nolan Sykes

Seven Questions with Nolan Sykes

I was very lucky earlier in 2019 when I got in touch with Nolan Sykes, the host of Wheelhouse and for a short time, bumper to bumper on Donut Media. Donut has become one of the largest automotive channels on youtube and has amassed over three million subscribers. I reached out to Nolan through reddit where he gave me his email, I sent the questions to him and in less than a week I had gotten quite comprehensive answers which thrilled me! I have chosen the seven (extremely cliche) best questions I asked Nolan for this article.

What got you into cars when you were younger?

My dad got me an RC car from Radio Shack when I was about five years old. I think launching that thing off small dirt mounds flipped a switch in my little head and I thought “Hmm, I think I like this.” As i got a little older I started reading Hot Rod magazines and I thought “Yes, I definitely like this.”

When did you start working with Donut Media?

I started working for Donut as an intern in January 2017. I was in my final semester at CSU Northridge studying Television Production and completing an internship was mandatory for Graduation. After graduating in May of that year I began officially working for the company as a video editor and writer.

Nolan Sykes and James Pumpherey at the Streamy awards

When did you meet James Pumphrey?

The first time I met James was at my first interview for an internship position. This was long before Up to Speed had come out and maybe before James had even been on camera in a Donut video. He must have thought I was a weirdo because my hair was super long and I had long sideburns, it wasn’t a good look. Despite my questionable fashion sense I got the internship.

When was your first episode of wheelhouse?

The first episode of WheelHouse debuted on January 15th, 2018. Having gone from intern to a host within a year was really cool but also very challenging. A lot of things changed for me, not only was I writing for Up to Speed but also had to write scripts for myself and tackle other creative tasks at the company. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little burnt out at points. It also affected relationships as well, my girlfriend at the time felt I was spending too much time at the office. I’m learning to manage my time better now, but there are days where I’m feeling a ton of pressure to complete my tasks the best I can. That’s when I usually spend the weekend with my parents to relax.

Nolan’s favorite episode of wheelhouse is when he spent a week in his car. 

What else do you have planned for wheelhouse?

I want to explore more topics that truly affect people and find topics that I can be really excited about. As for exact episodes I can’t be more specific than that.

What do cars mean to you and how have they impacted your life?

Other than the obvious impact they’ve had on my career path and my goals, I’ve just always loved driving. Anything that can move under its own power has fascinated me. I loved RC cars when I was a kid, I’d always try to be the fastest of my friends at go-kart tracks, and now I pretty much think about cars all the time.
I think it’s so cool how cars can bring people together. Pretty much everyone has to drive, so that’s something we have in common. I’ve met so many great people through cars and I want people who might not consider themselves car fans at all to feel included and knowledgeable as well.

What do you have to say to the fans?

This is a cliche but truly, follow your dreams. I’m just a guy from Atascadero, CA. It’s a small town between LA and San Francisco that no one has ever heard of. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up but I knew it had something to do with cars and being on camera. Whatever it is YOU want to do, follow your gut, and keep trying. Also, read a book every now and then. Then you’ll know how to use words well.

“Read a book every now and then. Then you’ll know how to use words well.” – Nolan Sykes

I again want to thank Nolan for his time! It was great to get to ask him those questions and his answers were definitely more than I expected! Seven Questions will be back again next month, so stay tuned! 

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