Look Who’s Leaving L.A. For Carmel, Indiana
Meet the Molinas
Writer / Heather Hunter
Photographer / Justin Sicking
Those accustomed to life on the coasts have a term for places like Indiana – flyover country. To those who venture outside the airports, the state’s charm and kind residents have a way of capturing visitors’ hearts. Two of Carmel’s newest neighbors, Joe and Beth Molina, are no exception. Meet the Molinas.
“The first time we drove around, I remember telling Beth, ‘It’s like a movie,’” Joe says. “You know what they call a place like this in L.A.? They call it a set.”
The Molinas enjoyed their jobs in California and the friendships they built with Los Angeles artists, car collectors, business leaders and personalities. However, in recent years, tacking their art collection to their shelves with earthquake-safe wax and packing away an emergency stash of clean water began to wear them down.
“We had emergency backpacks in the closet for each of us, in case we had to grab one thing and go,” Beth says. “Especially after the recent fires, we began to wonder whether we wanted to live the rest of our lives with an escape plan.”
Beth is an Indiana native. A graduate of Herron School of Art and Design, she began her career as a graphic designer. Over time her work evolved into broadcast design, a part of made-for-TV design that encompasses motion graphics and animation. Beth eventually became an executive producer and moved to California in 1994.
Surprisingly, Joe also had previous ties to Indiana. He came to Fort Benjamin Harrison in 1974 for journalism school while serving in the military. A precocious writer dubbed the “Rock and Roll Reporter,” Joe used his Los Angeles connections to score interviews with artists like David Bowie, Elton John and John Lennon. While accompanying KISS on tour in 1975, Joe even found himself in Terre Haute connecting the KISS Army with U.S. Army recruiters.
The experience instilled Joe’s passion for public relations. He founded his own PR agency, JMPR, after returning to Los Angeles in 1977. He didn’t intend for the firm to focus on the luxury automotive niche, but when his lifelong passion for cars bled into a pivotal article, car companies took note and began to clamor for his expertise.
JMPR played a huge role in publicizing exotic brands like Bugatti, Bentley and Ferrari in the United States market. Joe also helped launch Speed Channel (now Fox Sports 1), and ran campaigns for movies like “Days of Thunder” as well as shows like “Monster Garage” and “American Hot Rod.”
It was a storybook life for a kid who used to dream of owning just one luxury car.
“I remember flying in a Gulfstream over the places I used to go on a bus with the Army,” Joe recalls. “I came from absolutely nothing, so I couldn’t believe it.”
Joe and his late wife met Beth in Los Angeles through an event for the Petersen Automotive Museum. They bonded immediately over their love of art, cars and adventure. When Joe’s wife passed from cancer, he and Beth walked through their grief together. Later, they’d learn that Joe’s wife had already mentioned Beth to Joe’s brothers, describing her as someone who might be good for Joe after she was gone.
Her hunch turned out to be perfectly right. Joe and Beth married in 2016 at St. Mary’s in downtown Indianapolis. They rode away in Lucille Ball’s last car – the same one Joe’s daughter will use for her upcoming nuptials.
The Molinas have always been drawn to Carmel when visiting Beth’s family, and the friendly community hasn’t let them down. As retirees, they have more time to frequent art galleries and local restaurants, and plenty of time to make friends.
“The automobile community here is great,” Joe says. “There are a lot more collectors than I’d realized.”
You may see the Molinas out for a drive in their unique Nissan S-Cargo, 1973 BMW CS, or Porsche 911. They’re looking forward to touring Indiana’s smaller towns and getting to know more people in Carmel.
“We’re having so many new adventures right now,” Beth says. “It’s fun to keep living in the present and the future instead of in the past.”
Plus, as Joe adds, “You don’t have to go very fast to enjoy a 911 through these roundabouts.”
Hello Beth & Joe. My sister sent the post about you both. I was so sorry of your loss of Nancy and Sarah, and I couldn’t get back for the service. I will be coming back to Indy in the middle of April, will stay with my Mom for three weeks. I hope we can see one another and catch up. All the best and welcome back to Indy. Your cousin Paula Golc Hott 😉