When it first aired across the country as a television special in 2002, the Discovery Channel’s American Chopper was a hit. Timing had a lot to do with it. Not only were motorcycles at the peak of their popularity in the U.S., dealers in the pre-recession market also weren’t hesitant to grant loans to customers who wanted bikes a little – or a lot – out of their price range. The extravagant designs produced by Orange County Choppers (OCC) were a hit with audiences around the world.
Although American Chopper was cancelled in 2010 after a 10-year run, and only had a short stint as a reboot, it appears that audiences are still interested in what OCC members are up to today. The core cast members have their own plans in store (more on that later), but there is also a lot of interest in what former OCC guys are doing, particularly Vinnie DiMartino.
DiMartino was born in Hudson Valley, New York in 1972. It’s no surprise that his interest in all-things-mechanical was sparked at an early age. He spent his early years in his father’s car shop learning the ins and outs of business and auto mechanics. At the early age of 14, he had his first job working at an engine repair shop. Not long afterward, he met a high school friend named – you guessed it – Paul Teutul Jr. (You can likely see where this is heading…)
After forming a friendship with Paul Teutul Jr., DiMartino snagged a job at Orange County Choppers. His timing could not have been better, as this was just one year before the Discovery Channel launched one of its best-performing shows to date, American Chopper, which followed the OCC gang. The show quickly became an icon, and so did cast members, who appeared occasionally on other popular shows such as King of the Hill, for example.
After several years with OCC, DiMartino recognized that there was little opportunity to move up in the business, which sparked the idea of him starting his own shop. When DiMartino left the show in 2007, he took Cody Connelly, a former fabricator and craftsman from OCC, with him. Together, they started V-Force Customs in Rock Tavern, New York.
Until 2013, DiMartino kept V-Force alive, although declining interest in motorcycles, and as a result, slipping sales, created a costly overhead without much income. This prompted a major change at V-Force, which was rebranded as DiMartino Motorsports Automotive and Truck Repair. The shop began focusing more on turning out custom cars and doing repairs. Operations also moved from Rock Tavern to Montgomery City, as a result. During the change, expensive shop equipment, such as a CNC machine and a water jet, were sold to cover costs.
The shop does every type of mechanical work, including maintaining the Montgomery City vehicles, as well as other fleets.
After the shop changed, Cody Connelly moved onto a different job, but still stops by the shop to catch up with DiMartino. He reports that they are still as close as brothers, and keep in touch regularly. DiMartino occasionally sees other former friends from OCC, but not regularly.
DiMartino briefly rejoined the show in 2010, when it was revamped as American Chopper: Senior Vs. Junior, but as fans know, this reboot was short-lived, and never went anywhere. However, DiMartino stated that over the years, he has occasionally stopped by to help Junior with work around his shop, Paul Jr. Designs. DiMartino worked as an outside contractor for several years, but never officially joined as an employee of OCC again.
When he’s not at work at DiMartino Motorsports Automotive and Truck Repair, DiMartino spends time with his four kids and his wife, Melissa. He still likes working on custom bikes. However, it is mostly as a hobby. The shop is usually too busy with car repairs for him to take on many bike jobs on the side.
DiMartino’s interest in bikes has been passed down to his son, and he is still open to the idea of one day launching a side business where he will customize bikes. For now, he has plenty of work at the auto shop, and is content in remaining right there.
Aside from work, DiMartino has also started a YouTube channel that currently has more than 54,000 subscribers, and climbing. His highly popular videos cover topics relating to OCC, such as whether he is still friends with the guys, and whether he still does any work for the crew. His videos also cover more personal topics, such as what he likes to do in his spare time, and what his kids are up to.
Recently, the Discovery Channel announced that it would be relaunching American Chopper. Neither the producers nor the Discovery Channel have asked DiMartino to come on the show again, but Paul Jr. has expressed interest in bringing Vinnie back. In short, DiMartino said “no” – for now. However, if the conditions are right, he may reconsider joining, if he is asked again.
While the show provides great publicity, DiMartino also commented that his shop, DiMartino Motorsports Automotive, is here to stay, but the same cannot necessarily be said about the TV show. Not only that, but DiMartino has invested so much of his life into his shop that it would be impractical for him to leave everything for the show. However, he has stated that it would be possible to do a cameo or take a trip with Paul Jr. for the show, if it works out.
As for the other OCC crew, the show will go on as planned. The first episode of Season 11 aired March 1, 2018. The reboot starts with Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. going forward with their own separate shops, and leading separate lives. As always, viewers will see the full force of the father-son duo clashing – once more – on anything and everything!