Life is a build thread.

If you just want to look at pictures and videos of cars, knock yourself out. There are thousands of places to do that these days.

If you want something more—something that matters—like a more successful, more rewarding, more meaningful—or just more car-friendly life—you’re gonna need something more, something built around making YOUR life better.

[ Note: This one rambles a bit more than I’d like, but if you’ve been getting sick of Facebook’s shit, you might want to read to the end. 😉 ]

The Gearhead Project

“The Gearhead Project” is the project the gearhead is working on—including the gearhead AS the project itself. It’s a simple metaphor, really. We know how to build high performance machines. TGP is focused on exploring ways to use what we already know about cars to build high performance lives.

That’s just a clever way of saying we want to use our automotive skills to make our lives better.

We’re experts at researching highly technical topics, coordinating people and things on a global scale, and elevating the performance of complex machinery beyond anything the engineers in the multi-billion dollar companies that designed and manufactured it ever imagined.

Random Silvia stock photo | image: George Brynzan, Unsplash

You can turn a $20,000, 200 horsepower commuter car into a fire-breathing monster that eats six-figure hypercars for breakfast. So why aren’t you playing cars on your own terms? Why are you still punching a time clock and living paycheck to paycheck? Why aren’t you turning your middle class, suburban life into a high performance machine to match?

Not saying there’s anything wrong with anyone’s life or lifestyle.

Far from it. We’re just saying we believe gearheads like us are exceptional people with tools and skills and track records of building exceptional things. We’re tired of being the boss under the hood or at the track, but commuter cars in other areas of our lives—and we believe we can modify our lives to be high performance like we do our machines.

How do we define “high performance lives”, though?

“Success” comes to mind pretty quickly. Is it the same thing? Is there success without performance? Can you be high performance and not succeed? I guess it depends on your definition of success.

Which brings us back to square one.

12-step – 10 steps = 2-step? | image: Unsplash

You can’t achieve goals you haven’t defined. I know this subject feels a bit fluffy and that tends to turn off some of our brothers in the audience. We’re all about DIY—but “self-help” is a no-no. 12-step programs are 10 steps too many. So let’s start by looking at this subject in automotive terms.

High Performance Machines

Doesn’t matter if it’s a race car, rock crawler, or anything in between. The engine must be healthy. The platform must be stable and balanced. Consumables, replacement parts, and necessary modifications must be readily available—and feasible. Perhaps even more important—everyone involved with the vehicle must have the right skills, tools, and attitude.

You’re not racing or running the Rubicon with a tired, beat-ass lump under the hood that’s leaking, overheating, and misfiring. You’re not getting on the podium or over the obstacle if the car doesn’t hook up and go exactly where you point it. You’re not finishing the race without good brake pads. You’re not getting home without a winch—and experience using it.

We’ve all got a pretty good idea what makes for a well-balanced, high-performance machine, given a specific application. It goes with the territory. We see the application. We know what kind of vehicle is required and how it should be setup to be competitive, if not victorious.

Chill out before you blow a head gasket.

What happens if you show up at the starting line with cooling issues? You’re sitting there, idling away, waiting for the flag to drop or the trail leader to finish the radio check and roll out—all the while keeping a close eye on your temp gauge. Is it climbing yet? C’mon, already. Let’s go!

Imagine you were a car.

(Humor me for a minute, will ya?)

Your skeleton is the chassis. Your heart (and lungs) are the engine. Your stomach and digestive system are the fuel and exhaust (lol) systems, converting food to energy powering the machine. Your muscles are the transmission, putting the power to the ground, where your skin acts like tires, delivering the right balance of grip and slip to make things happen. And it’s all controlled by that ECU plugged in behind your eyes.

Yeah, I know it’s a bit ridiculous. If it were any more ridiculous, it might be the plot of an early 80s cartoon. But you get the idea. The question is: You know how those systems work on cars—do you get other ideas when you think about yourself like you think about your vehicle?

One of my all-time favorite sayings is: a picture is worth 1,000 words, but a metaphor is worth 1,000 pictures. A quick recap if your grammar is a little rusty, a metaphor is when you use a word or phrase to describe something where it’s literally not possible—like when you say “your grammar is a little rusty”.

Grammar cannot rust. But you know what I mean. Metaphor.

In all seriousness, taking this metaphor further, we might say our physical health is like the mechanical health of our machines, and that our mental health is like all the tuning we do in pursuit of performance.

Our vehicles are not high performance machines until they are mechanically sound and tuned properly. That’s pretty much a hard fact, right there, right? The same might be said of our lives. What other areas of our lives should we be modifying in pursuit of high performance lives?

How about financial health?

Cars don’t really care about money—which is ironic, considering how much of it they seem to need! We aren’t winning any races with broke-ass engines—and we aren’t fixing our engines when we’re broke-asses, ourselves, so let’s call financial health an important part of high performance life, too.

Rounding out the list, I’ll add technical training & knowledge and brotherhood (read: community).

And that’s what The Gearhead Project is all about—the whole person. We already know how to build high performance machines. We know what that looks like and how to get there, whether we’re in a position to make it happen right now or not. TGP is a place for gearheads like us who want to use what we know about building high performance machines to make high performance lives.

How did we become automotive experts?

We did our homework. We used the search. We read ‘til our eyes bled. We asked stupid, no0bie questions. We broke shit. We DNF’d. We invested in tools and parts and experiences that gave us the skills and expertise we have today. Our lives are better because of it. Does it seem like homework? How much better could our lives be?

High Performance Life Skills

Physical health. Mental health. Financial health. Technical knowledge and training. Brotherhood and a sense of community/family. These are the high level requirements. These are the areas we need to focus on if we want to be as capable as our machines.

Does that mean TGP is a place to talk about diet, exercise, depression, anxiety, budgets, compound interest, AND car stuff? If that’s what gearheads like us want to talk about—if that’s stuff we want to learn about from gearheads like us—then yes. TGP is a place to talk about that stuff.

Michael Schumacher, Malaysia 2011 | image: Morio, Wikipedia

Example: Becoming a professional race driver

There are no fat, professional race drivers. Anyone seriously trying to become a pro driver needs to be lean, mean, and conditioned to perform for hours in harsh, if not exhilarating, environments. They need the mental ability to focus, the confidence to apply pressure to the car ahead of them and spot the window to pass in the final corner of the race.

They also need to be smart with their money, since there’s a good chance a would-be pro racer will spend several years making peanuts in feeder series, working their way up into progressively faster cars and teams with bigger budgets.

They need the technical knowledge to communicate when and where the car needs work during pit stops. Is that shimmy through the corkscrew something loose in the drivetrain, the aero, or just some laggard about to be lapped consistently tracking gravel onto the track?

And they need the brotherhood of motorsport community. They need to know the players and be players themselves, off the track as much as on. There’s a reason why everyone knows Senna, Schumacher, and McRae—and it’s not because of how their racing careers ended.

Duh. | image: Franck V., Unsplash

Looking (back) to the (near) future

The Gearhead Project needs to be a place where gearheads like us can help each other work on anything and everything together—just like we used to do in the golden age of forums. Remember how much fun we used to have answering each other’s questions? Helping each other out by sharing our experience and knowledge?

Remember how quickly we used to level up?

TGP is about to get its own forum. It’s going to be a great place to talk about cars—but it’s also going to be a place where we can talk about everything else in our lives that really matters. The important stuff. (No. I don’t mean religion or politics. Those are both being banned outright from the start.) (You’re welcome.)

Things will probably start moving pretty quickly ‘round these parts.

For now, I just wanted to share some thoughts on what I’ve been thinking about when I think about what it’s going to take for me, personally, to be in a position where I consider my own life “high performance”. Playing with cars—in all those forums back in the day, with many of you reading this—I keep coming back to these high level buckets.

Physical, mental, financial health. Technical training & knowledge. Community & brotherhood.

I know these are the requirements because I know I’M lacking—not quite where I want to be—in most of them. Just about anywhere I turn, these are the things my life is telling me I need to work on to build the life I really want.

I know what I need to do, but I also know it’s going to require hard work that I don’t want to do. Diet. Exercise. Debt. Social networking. Homework.

Nobody can do this work for me. I gotta do it myself—but the more time I spend with others who see life this way, the more we can help each other succeed. And that’s what the TGP community is all about.

Not to suggest one size fits all. My needs and wants aren’t everyone’s needs and wants, but I’m pretty sure anyone who lives a successful, high performance life is reasonably skilled in all of the above.

It’s a place where we can get as much support and encouragement about paying off the next credit card or quitting smoking or losing 20 pounds as we do about breaking into the 10s at the track or installing that winch or sharing our pictures from the weekly overland expo.

The Gearhead Project. The gearhead’s project—and the gearhead AS the project. It’s a subtle, nuanced metaphor. Some will get it. Some won’t. And that’s okay.

Cool dude trophy | image: Irena Carpaccio, Unsplash

But those of us who DO get it are going to start hanging out together online; someplace that isn’t overrun with sponsored, promoted, commercial interruption; someplace where everyone is cool and eager to help each other do the homework. Someplace we’ll all WANT to spend time online—because everyone we meet there is cool. (Assholes are also banned.) (You’re welcome.)

Maybe we should start a waiting list or something. Leave a comment if you’re interested.

High performance machines. High performance lives. We build both at the same time.

Life is a build thread.

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