Pinball pro tips, its outlaw history and awesome future: Stern Pinball’s Zach Sharpe

This week takes us to Stern Pinball, headquartered on a non-descript industrial zone west of O’Hare in Elk Grove Village.

Jumping in the car for the episode is Stern Marketing Director Zach Sharpe, who’s also the #1 pinball player in the world. For real. #1.

Here’s what we covered this week (in an episode sponsored by the fantastic BOOST MOBILE):

  • We got food from Portillo’s, because… Portillo’s.
  • Zach’s dad, who essentially saved pinball as we know it. “You think I’m an interesting Sharpe? You should talk to my dad.”
  • To explain: “Pinball was illegal from the 40s to the 70s.”
  • Zach’s introduction to the pinball tournament circuit
  • The appeal of pinball: “Everyone can play it.”
  • The lure of pinball: “It’s a physical, interactive experience.”
  • Stern owner Gary Stern walked past the Mazda 3, but didn’t stop to chat.
  • The history of Stern as a pinball company, including early pinball games like Sea Witch and Stargazer.
  • Stern’s work with rock bands: Iron Maiden (best game ever), AC/DC, Metallica, KISS, etc.
  • How do bands respond when they first see “their” pinball games?
  • The Batman ’66 pinball table.
  • Who is the typical pinball client?
  • How do you get good at pinball? What are some pro tips/baseline strategies?
  • Don’t be afraid to TILT.

Car Con Carne got to tour the Stern arcade after recording. Check out the video here:

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