CARY — Carys tough guy factor got cranked up to 11 on Friday.
Thats when the heavily tattooed and distinctively mustachioed reality star Paul Teutul Sr., of American Chopper and Celebrity Apprentice fame, was in town to give a custom motorcycle to a lucky Cary resident.
Teutul, known to his fans as Paul Sr., designed and built the bike used in a national contest sponsored by Mobil 1 and Advance Auto Parts.
The winner was Antonio Evans, an environmental engineer for the N.C. Department of Environmental Resources and a man who, up until the moment he won the contest, had never even ridden a motorcycle.
Crowds of all ages lined up to meet Paul Sr., who signed autographs and posed for photos in 100-degree heat for 90 minutes in the parking lot of Advance Auto Parts in Cary. Among those in the crowd were members of the NC Deaf Bikers motorcycle club. Craig Ensley from Four Oaks and Stormy Waters from Plymouth said 14 members of their group made the trip to Cary just to see Paul Sr. and a custom Orange County Chopper in person.
Evans brought his own fan club of family members and NC DENR colleagues with him. He only recently got his motorcycle license after completing lessons from Riders Edge at Harley Davidson of Greensboro.
The custom chopper Evans won is nothing like the bikes he learned on, though.
I rented a bike as close to a chopper as I could get, he said. But it was still nothing like that.
Evans colleague Michelle McKay said folks around the office started calling Evans Chopper as soon as he won. Evans soon started growing a goatee to fit his new biker image.
It couldnt have happened to a cooler guy, she said. Hes just the most mellow guy. Its kind of funny. We said. You won a chopper! and he said, I dont even know what that is!
Evans, who wasnt anxious for his first ride on the bike to be in front of hundreds of people with cameras, says itll be probably next week before he even has time to take it for a spin.
Paul Sr. now stars on Discovery Channels American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior, a spinoff of the original show that pits Sr.s chopper-building skills against those of his son, Paul Jr. Paul Sr. didnt have much to say about his sometimes-contentious relationship with Jr., preferring to leave some mystery for the TV show.
But he did have some thoughts on local singer Clay Aiken, who worked with Paul Sr. on last seasons Celebrity Apprentice show.
My buddy Clay! Paul Sr. said. I actually get along with him very well, and we stay in touch.
It must have been really, really hard on him not to win that, because of the situation that he came in second, Paul Sr. said. Do I think he should have won? Ill tell you what, it was pretty ...close. ... Hes a real smart guy.
Paul Sr. admits he didnt much enjoy being on Celebrity Apprentice.
I hated it, he said. I didnt expect to go two episodes, but I made it 10 or 11 shows. It actually was a good experience, you know. Its just not my world, but it was good. Gets you out of that complacent mode.
Paul Sr. won almost half a million dollars for his charity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So he in the end, he says any aggravation was all worth it.