Pam Oakes of Pam's Motor City in Fort Myers has worked as a newspaper writer and editor, car technician, car care book author, radio talk show host and car repair shop owner and operator.
She is now the creator and main actor of a new reality series called "Car E.R."
Oakes Entertainment is in the process of launching the six-episode series as a first-run distribution on the World-Wide Web involving her automobile repair shop and employees facing the daily operations of a woman-run business in a highly male-oriented field of work. The first episode came out Friday -available on the show's website at www.car-ershow.com- and the scenes deal with tricky automotive repairs, esoteric customers and serious attitudes within the shop along with good-nature ribbing and oddball pranks.
Pam’s Motor City employees star in the new reality series “Car E.R.,” from left, Peter, Pablo, John, Jim, Roger, Larry, Bill and Brandon with Pam in front.
Oakes, a former editor of the Beach Bulletin newspaper back in 1988-89, came up with the idea last spring. AC Delco is the show's major sponsor.
"It's about what goes on behind the garage doors in a female-owned auto repair shop," said Oakes. "My friend, Vance Ledford, videotaped it and put a twist on it. He thought if we dressed it up a little bit that it could go somewhere. So, he submitted it to a couple of national production companies."
Old Sparky Productions and cameraman Rob Hoovis decided to pick it up. There are hopes that there will be future television broadcasts on the horizon.
"We are talking to television mediums," said Pam, "but I don't want to jinx it."
Ledford, the series' producer and editor, says the second episode is in the works and that there is enough footage for the remaining installments, but the production process is incomplete. The two met as members of the North Fort Myers High School band when Pam was a freshman and Vance was a senior.
"It's the personalities that make it work," said Ledford. "There are a lot of interesting things going on around here."
Filming a reality show is different than a regular show that requires following a tight script.
"You might have an idea on a particular scenario based on what previously happened, but nothing is scripted," said Ledford. 'Then there is unexpected stuff that comes up out of the blue where you have to be prepared to shoot. Then it's all on post-production, which includes the confessionals with technicians, employees and Pam to fill in the gaps and tie it all together. Reality shows are semi-backwards production."
The first episode features a fried chicken exorcism, a rusted-out car driven by a lady in her 90s, a tough diagnostic job by the "no-panic Hispanic," a confrontation between owner and manager/lover -Peter Sudak is Pam's long-time fianc- and car tips presented as questions and answers before and after sponsorship breaks.
Pam's employees know how to "push her buttons" but are leery in angering the boss or they will be on oil-changing detail for some time. She is affectionately called "the wench with the wrench."
"Very little of what you see in the series is fabricated," said Ledford, "but some has been reenacted."
It is all in a day's routine with some wild repair twists.
"If you're car is sick, you can bring it to me," Pam says in the first episode.
Oakes started in the newspaper business as a high school intern for Breeze Newspapers in Cape Coral. She attended college at Edison Community College, University of South Florida and University of Michigan at Dearborn as an Electronics Engineering major and English minor.
After college, she worked as a features editor at The Breeze before accepting the Beach Bulletin editor position. San Carlos Island resident Charlie Whitehead was one of her writers at that time.
Family heritage decided Oakes' fate to become an ASE-certified technician in the car care industry in 1995. She is a fourth generation automobile technician, following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, grandfather and father -the latter she worked with from 1994 to 2004.
Oakes opened her shop in 1995 as the sole employee. Today, it has 12 bays and 10 employees.
She has kept a Beach connection as a member of the Estero Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She has maintained her writing background by authoring two books in the "Car Care for the Clueless" series. She also hosts a radio show on webtalkradio.net and WGRN radio with the same title.
Pam's Motor City is located at 13395 Metro Parkway. It is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 278-0086 for more information.