The car that saved Gina Grad’s life? A Corolla, of course.
Gina is a co-host and news director of The Adam Carolla Show podcast. Though spelled slightly differently, it still an apparent stroke of serendipity that ACS would become her new home. She’s also the co-host of Andy and Gina In the Morning on LA’s KSWD-FM, 100.3TheSound.
The Toyota Corolla incident takes place about a decade ago, Gina tells us. Although based in LA, she’s back home in Kansas for a wedding (third time being a bridesmaid). She’s riding her 2000 Corolla on the open highway, on her way to The Plaza (fancy!) in downtown Kansas City. In the backseat: her beautiful Vera Wang bridesmaid dress.
Here comes trouble: a car sidles up on her right – way too intimately — almost slamming into her. Gina reacts quickly, reflexively jerking her steering wheel to the left. As a result, she hits the median. The car rolls – twice. Yep, Gina does a double flip. And she lives to tell the tale.
She explains, “I am a terrified person in general, but for whatever reason, I felt super calm, somehow safe. I felt myself saying, ‘You’re okay.’ It felt like it was happening in slow motion. Thank God, the car landed right-side up.”
The unintended stunt draws a crowd, including, Gina notices, a “super-hot medic.” (This is, after all, Kansas, where they grow them easy on the peepers.) “My first thought is ‘I don’t have insurance,’” Gina says, “and my second thought is, ‘I’m not going to be able to make it to this wedding.’”
At the hospital, the doctors gather around her, baffled. They wonder how this survivor survives. They tell her, “You should be very, very hurt.” Yep, Gina is Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, but with better hair. She isn’t totally in one piece, though. If you look closely, there’s a tiny scratch on her chest where some glass hit her. With a shot of ibuprofen, the doctors send her on her way to the wedding.
“The only thing that was not destroyed in the car was me and the dress,” she says. “Everything else was like Godzilla put his hand down and smashed it. The Vera Wang dress should have been ripped to shreds, but it was perfect.”
Third time being a bridesmaid is clearly the charm. “I hobbled down the aisle that night, and was in the wedding,” she says. “I remember the rabbi saying a prayer for me and letting the entire congregation know that I was single.”
No Viking funeral for the ol’ Corolla, although it’s clearly a hero for navigating Gina through harm’s way. Her mom gets to identify the car, or what’s left of it. “It absolutely shook her to her core,” Gina says. “I can’t imagine the feeling of my mom thinking, ‘My child was in this.’ She’s a saint for doing that.”
Astoundingly, this was not Gina’s first nightmare with a hard pull to the left. As a teenager in Kansas, she and mom buy a used car from a shady dealership. “A friend of a friend of a friend,” Gina recalls. “I could smell a rat the second we walked in.”
The used car: a 1988 Nissan Sentra, cobalt blue with a Pepto-Bismol-pink racing stripe. Gina says, “If you gave a kindergartner a crayon and asked him, ‘what do you think your car would look like?’ This is what you would get: a boxy, children’s drawing idea of a car.”
The test drive takes place on another Kansas open highway. Gina lets go of the steering wheel for a millisecond – the car pulls so hard to the left that it almost slams into the median. “I got scared and I looked at the salesman,” Gina says. “With a little flop sweat and a little stutter, he said, ‘Oh, it’s supposed to do that. If it pulls to the right, it will pull you into traffic.’ I’m just a teenager, but I know that doesn’t make sense. I also don’t question authority because I’m a young girl.”
She buys the car – reluctantly – and it works fine, for a bit. Then, after a short honeymoon, it begins its stalling and heartbreaking and disappointing, but you already anticipated that part.
What Gina’s driving now: a Subaru Crosstrek, through a sweet endorsement deal with her terrestrial radio station, 100.3TheSound.
“It’s – by far – the best car I’ve ever owned,” she says. “From what I’ve experienced, this is my favorite car.”
We continue to flip for Gina on a daily basis. Fortunately for her and the rest of us, her life on the road is now on the straight and narrow, free of any unexpected pulls to the left.