Vehicular Cam Slaughter

Travel Channel cruises Seattle to find the nation’s worst driver.

By James Ross Gardner February 16, 2010 Published in the March 2010 issue of Seattle Met

Olympia’s Brian and Mary Racciato risked sacrificing their car to Robosaurus on America’s Worst Driver (premiering March 14) just so Mary could prove she’s not the region’s most incompetent motorist.

MARY RACCIATO GLOWERED through the driver-side window of her black 2001 Volvo—straight-up glowered, the way NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon might scowl if he were forced to race on a Segway. The 31-year-old warehouse manager from Olympia shot the narrow-eyed stare at the Travel Channel’s Jill Simonian, the sweetest TV host this side of an Oprah couch. True, at the time Simonian was blasting the car with a fire hose, intentionally turning Racciato’s parallel parking attempt into a slapstick-grade fiasco. And yes, there was Racciato’s husband Brian—the man who got her in this mess—in the passenger’s seat barking orders.

You try keeping your cool when everyone’s out to prove you’re the most incompetent dolt to get behind the wheel. America’s Worst Driver, the reality competition premiering on the Travel Channel on March 14, was out to prove just that—and so was Brian, who nominated Mary for the show. Producers journeyed to eight U.S. cities to find their most inept drivers. They filmed last September in Seattle, where four teams of two had to deliver a heaping tray of raw seafood from Pike Place Market to the other side of town, and parallel park while the show’s cohost blasted their windows with water.

The driver with the most hideous performance was deemed Seattle’s Worst Driver and forced to watch their car smashed to pieces by Robosaurus—a 40-foot-tall, flame-spewing steel monster.

Audiences won’t learn till AWD airs if Racciato’s Volvo got the robo-crunch, but few who know her would be surprised. Long before the show she rarely kept her hands on the wheel (“I steered with my knees,” she recently explained), was easily distracted (“If a bald eagle’s on the side of the road, I’m going to point it out!”), and in the past year has been pulled over for speeding four times (“I talked my way out of three tickets”).

And while being on the show didn’t exactly transform the look-ma-no-hands hellcat-on-wheels into a responsible seraph of the streets, we’re all a tad bit safer. “I’m getting better,” Racciato said. “I now use one knee, one hand.”

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