DIY tip of the day

We all remember back in the day, when colorful ads in the backs of magazines touted specific horsepower gains from various bolt-on modifications. A cold air intake adds 5-10hp. A cat-back exhaust adds 10-15.

And we all remember when, in our DIY enthusiasm, we make the rookie mistake of thinking those numbers were sure things—even if only for a moment. Take a 150-horsepower Neon, add intake (+10hp), header (+20hp), and exhaust (+10hp), and you were pushing 200hp.

Yeah, no.

Reality doesn’t work that way.

IF you tuned the engine on a dyno—assuming you had the ability to do that at all—before and after each mod, then yes, there was a chance you could get close to maximizing the benefits of each mod. But effectively nobody ever did that. (Dyno time is expensive.)

So we’d install a new mod and swear we could feel the improvement on the first test drive. Granted, breathing modifications such as I/H/E made obvious changes to the sound of the engine and throttle response, so there were changes we could identify, but let’s be honest—is a 3-5% increase in horsepower even perceptible to humans?

Yeah, no.

Enter the power of positive thinking.

“What are they planning on racing with—hopes and dreams?” Maybe.

If you believe in something enough to dedicate yourself to making it happen, you could very well accomplish anything. Yeah, yeah. I know. No amount of effort guarantees you’ll be the next Michael Jordan, and it’s not like you can pull a race engine out of the ether with sheer willpower—but if you’re willing to put in the time, you can make just about anything happen.

Which brings me to the DIY tip of the day.

Are you using the butt dyno to tune your self? It’s easy to look at ourselves and think, “Yeah. I know what I’m doing. I don’t need any help.” And that might be true. No doubt about it.

But have you ever noticed that the highest performing individuals in the world generally have coaches? Have you ever thought about what that’s all about? I mean, how do they help people who are clearly better than them? They gotta be doing that or those pros wouldn’t have coaches, right?

I caught this Tom Landry quote on a podcast yesterday. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, mentioned it on a podcast. (Apparently he didn’t think he needed a coach, either.)

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” – Tom Landry

For the record, I’m not sharing this because I consider myself some kind of coach or even want to get into any coaching-type activities. I’m just sharing it because, like most things I share here, it clicked with me.

We all know the butt dyno is a joke. It’s a friendly way of laughing at ourselves when we know we’re full of shit about our mods. But I wonder—when’s the last time we strapped our butts to the reality dyno and took a good, hard look at the data with someone who knows how to tune?

Here’s to the upcoming TGP Alliance community/forum being a place where we can respectfully tell each other what we don’t want to hear, show each other what we don’t want to see, and help each other be who we always knew we could be.


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  1. Love this. And for the record, YOU’RE one of the folks I think of as a coach. Because maybe coaches have coaches too? And their coaches have coaches… IOW all of us can use expertise some time. Butt dyno is a great way to put this in perspective, Brian. Or should I say “coach”.

    • Aw, jeez, Phil.

      I ain’t no coach. I’m just a guy curious enough about what makes him tick that he’s peeling the onion in the hopes there’s a layer in there without all the tears.

      Or something like that. ;P

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