Making use of an automotive obsession and a tragic fishing habit

Sean Lara (Tim White)

Tim White

For most, bringing a passion to reality is a mere pipe dream. For Sean Lara, 19, business, it is a way of life. At first glance, Lara comes off as your run-of the-mill Saddleback student with his modded-up Acura, carefully nurtured World of Warcraft account and the obligatory oversized Oakleys. A delve into his personal life reveals that he is anything but standard.

On the weekends, Lara turns his driving skills for profit. He works as a coach at MasterDrive, a company founded as an advanced driving school for teenagers.

“We go way beyond just showing kids how to pass a road test,” said Lara, “and teach them what people need to get out of a crisis situation.”

The training includes everything from classroom theory to slalom courses and skid pad training, to teach students how to handle a car that is out of control. The concept for the company came from founder, Ronn Langford, after his teenage daughter was tragically killed in a car accident.

Automotive enthusiasm aside, Lara’s main hobby is trout fishing. His bedroom is done up like an Orvis showroom and he is sponsored by Lip Ripperz, an artificial bait company. His favorite spots to hit are in the Eastern Sierra, around the Mammoth area. Last fall, while fishing the Owen’s River, the sport nearly claimed his life. He was reeling in a trout from a bridge when he slipped off the edge and found himself dangling over a rushing waterfall with his legs submerged in icy, 40-degree water. He was able to fight the current from pulling him the rest of the way in and drag himself to safety.

“The best part,” said Lara, “was when I threw my pole, it landed upright and I was still able to pull in the fish.”

Lara is also an administrator on the Web site,, where he shares tips of the trade with fellow anglers.

In his down time, Lara frequently spends afternoons with his younger sister, Kelly. Kelly was born mentally handicapped with severe heart problems. Despite an open-heart surgery shortly after birth, she required a heart transplant at the age of 12. As a result, she requires constant supervision to prevent any sort of infection associated with her new heart.

“The experience [with Kelly] has taught me that you can never take life for granted,” said Lara. “No matter how down and out you are, there’s always going to be someone in need of your help.”

Juggling all the responsibilities he has assumed (by the way, he bought the Acura himself), Lara still manages to hold onto his youth, all while maintaining a respectable GPA. He is looking to transfer to California State University, Long Beach or CSU Fullerton, but is in no hurry to make that decision.

“I’d like to get into business management… to be the idea man,” he said, “but that’s still a ways off.” With the life skills gained from his upbringing, Lara should do just fine wherever he ends up.

Lara works as a coach at MasterDrive, a company founded as an advanced driving school for teenagers. (Tim White)