Chris Mazzilli, the founder of Dream Car Restorations/CMC Motors in Plainview, New York, tells the story that the RDJ Dream Cars Sweepstakes was born out of a longtime friendship he had with Robert Downey Sr. They put together a film called Rockaway Bob, and although it never got made, the two used to get together for lunch on a regular basis. “I met Robert (Jr.) through his dad,” Mazzilli explains.
Several years later, Mazzilli worked and co-hosted the show Riding Shotgun with Michelle Rodriguez, a Yahoo Autos digital series starring Ms. Rodriguez, the Fast & Furious star, and produced by entertainment executive Jay Peterson.
Mazzilli and his Dream Car Team had built a custom 1973 Ford Bronco for Peterson that was garaged at Peterson’s home in the Hamptons in New York. Jonathan Schulhof, Downey Jr.’s production partner and co-founder and CEO of FootPrint Coalition Ventures, LLC, saw the car and asked who did all the work on the pick-up, and Peterson told him it was Mazzilli.
Schulhof then got in touch with Mazzilli and informed him that Downey Jr. wanted to modify some of his cars, including his mother’s 1969 Mercedes Benz, and asked Mazzilli to get involved.
“I spoke to Robert (Jr.) and he asked me if I could modify his cars because he wanted to sell them and use the proceeds to benefit the FootPrint Coalition,” Mazzilli recalled. “I told him we absolutely could. And I said that instead of selling the cars, we could give them away in a national sweepstakes.”
In September 2020, Mazzilli, Downey Jr., Peterson, and Schulhof all met at Schulhof’s home, with Mazzilli and Peterson formally pitching Downey Jr. the sweepstakes idea, and a corresponding TV series to highlight the modification process. “Robert loved it,” Mazzilli noted, “and he said that sweepstakes should kick off around the time the series, called Downey’s Dream Cars, is premiering on Max.”