Former Tampa Bay teacher becomes YouTube sensation with viral car videos

Pinellas County

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – From McLaren to Subaru to standard pickup trucks, Joe Raiti reviews it all on his YouTube channel.

Formerly a teacher here in the Tampa Bay area, Raiti has been in involved in making YouTube videos for less than two years now.

But he already has over 123,000 subscribers to the channel and uploads a new video every single day.

“After teaching for 18 years, my school, my high school, Ridgewood High School, closed down. And it just so happened the month that they told us they were going to close the school in October of 2017 was the month and year I started ‘Raiti’s Rides.’ I started it just for fun and now it’s just taken off,” Raiti explained to 8 On Your Side’s Daisy Ruth.

Raiti grew up around cars, his father was even a mechanic.

“When other dads were taking their sons to football or basketball games, he was taking me to car races at the drag strip or the road courses and whatnot,” Raiti said.

He even raced professionally himself for three years after college, before starting his teaching career, racing at locations such as Daytona International Speedway and Watkins Glen International.

Raiti said the channel is now growing steadily gaining between 12,000 to 15,000 subscribers a month.

Some of his more popular videos involve Ford Mustangs and the Subaru WRX STi, but the most popular may seem pretty simple.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 17: The 2020 Toyota Highlander is displayed at the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on April 17, 2019 in New York City. Thousands of car enthusiasts, dealers, journalists and others will attend the annual event which is one of the largest auto shows in America. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“It’s funny. My most popular video is actually from the New York Auto Show. It’s a 2020, the new, re-designed Toyota Highlander has almost a million views,” he explained. “Which is surprising because you’d think it would be something like a supercar like a McLaren, but I guess people need those Toyotas as well as their daily drivers.”

GNEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 17: The 2020 Toyota Highlander is displayed at the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on April 17, 2019 in New York City. Thousands of car enthusiasts, dealers, journalists and others will attend the annual event which is one of the largest auto shows in America. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

He’s had some unreal experiences on his YouTube journey Raiti explained the story he “pinches himself over the most.” He was working with American Honda Corporate, who flew him out to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“And not only did I get to meet Mario Andretti, who I watched a lot with my dad growing up, but I also got to take a ride,” Raiti said.

“Honda has a special two-seat Indy car where the driver and passenger sit kind of fighter cockpit-style and Mario drove me around on the track before the race started. So that to me was really just something where I was like, wow, I think I’m really on to something here!”

Racing stars and fancy rides aside, Raiti said one of the most fascinating things about what he’s doing is touching peoples’ lives.

“With this being a car review channel, I get people that say, ‘Hey, you helped me decide on what car to buy.’ But I also have people reaching out to me saying, ‘Listen, my son, he suffers from autism, it’s very hard for him to sit down and watch something for a long period of time, but your channel, him and I watch every single day,'” he said. “He sits down with me and watches with me on a regular basis.” “So for me to hear stories like that where I’m touching people’s lives even more so than just the cars is mind-blowing and very gratifying.”

Raiti said moving forward, he’ll continue to work with manufacturers. He’s hoping to attend the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland, as well as the Frankfurt and Tokyo auto shows.

“I truly feel that this is a dream come true to be able to share my passion of cars with others and make a living off of it,” he said.

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