Life’s a build thread…

What are you building?

This being the first day of the new year 2020, the first day of a new decade—the first day of the rest of our friggin’ lives—I wanted to tell you a bit about where The Gearhead Project is going.

This isn’t your typical automotive website.

We may be “car guys*”, and we may love all things motoring, but we don’t care about the same things we used to care about the way we used to care about them back in the day. The latest models, the hottest products, industry news, celebrity shenanigans, gratuitous automotive entertainment—these are still a few of our favorite things—but gearheads like us want something more.

We want something better.

We cut our teeth working on our daily drivers. We learned to stretch our budgets by doing the work ourselves. We found community and family and brotherhood in forums where we dug in deep, did our homework, and discovered more about what our machines could do than perhaps many of the engineers who originally designed them in the first place.

We learned how to research root causes, to carefully consider potential solutions, to marshall scarce resources, and to solve complex mechanical problems. In doing so, we got a taste of success. We gained confidence. We learned to take action and do it ourselves.


Built—not bought.

Going fast with class.

Pressing on regardless.

These are our values. These simple sayings mean something to us. There is honor and nobility in the struggle, in showing up, in busted knuckles and dirty fingernails, in getting things done with our own two hands. It’s independence! It’s freedom!

And yet, for some reason, despite knowing all that without any doubts at all, when I say that if you can build a high performance machine, you can build a high performance life, the most common response is that it sounds like self-help. It’s an immediate turn-off.

Is it, though? Am I the only one who wants more from life than collecting paychecks to continue buying car parts and arguing over technical semantics on social media so faceless corporate interests can serve up more effective advertising?

I know I’m not. I’ve talked about these things with enough gearheads in the last year to know better. But it still feels that way sometimes. More often than I should probably admit.

You know, in the last couple years, more than a couple people have asked me what the hell I’m trying to do with all this. I’ve been at this online, gearhead culture thing for over a decade now—and I still struggle with explaining exactly what it is I’m trying to do with all this GBXM, TGP stuff.

What if I told you I’m still figuring it out?

There’s five stages of competence (learning):

1. Unconscious Incompetence. You don’t know you don’t know what you’re doing.
2. Conscious Incompetence. You know you don’t know what you’re doing.
3. Conscious Competence. You know what you’re doing—but you have to think about it.
4. Unconscious Competence. You just do it without having to think about it.

When it comes to TGP, I’m not ashamed to say I’m somewhere between 2 and 3, working on 4.

Think of it like driving a car.

When we were kids, we played with Matchbox cars in the dirt. We slid them around, jumped them, did things with them that would turn a real, live human being into hamburger—we had no idea how little we knew about driving.

Remember how intense driving was in the early days? How sensitive the pedals seemed as we lurched and stalled and froze around the block or parking lot? Before we got the hang of things? Looking back, it’s easy to see—and admit—we were incompetent.

And look at us now. We’re all better than average. We weave through traffic with surgical precision at 10-20 over the posted speed limits. We spot—and judge—the incompetence of other motorists who fail to signal, camp out in the left lane, or can’t be bothered with basic maintenance.

We are gearheads. We know cars. Our lives are clearly better because of cars.

But there is more to life than cars. Even if you disagree with that sentiment—I know I’m hesitant saying it here—you know it’s true. Even if all we want to do is play with cars and talk about cars and build fire breathing monsters until the day we die—we know there are things standing in our way.

We’ve all got bills to pay. Playing with cars ain’t cheap, either. Sure, there are ways to bring the costs down and stretch the budget—#DIYTILIDIE—but wouldn’t it be nice if more of our lives lined up better with what makes us feel alive?

Why do we want to be race car drivers? Or overlanders?

Because we enjoy doing those things! Duh!

But is it that we really want to spend our days sweating it out, practicing in a hot race car? Is it that we really want to go days without a hot shower, sleeping in a van down by the river? For some, the answer is an immediate, emphatic yes. For most of us, though, I bet it depends.

Suppose someone offered you a seat on a race team in a well-known race series with plenty of publicity. Full-time. Fully-sponsored. All expenses paid. $12,000 per year salary. Would you take it? Could you take it?

Or what if those overlanders you’ve been following on YouTube for years announced they were finally settling down and decided they wanted you to take their expertly-sorted rig and continue traveling around the world. Could you drop everything and go?

Think about those again. The answer to both is yes.

But it’s a lot easier to say yes when we’re prepared, ya know?

I mean, you don’t have to pay your bills. You could walk away from everything. Maybe stash a few boxes in someone’s garage somewhere. Take cash side jobs since your credit is shit and collectors are garnishing any paycheck they can get their hands on— Who needs credit or debit when you’re racing full-time or exploring the world for a couple bucks a day, right?

Now, speaking for myself, here, I don’t want to be a full-time race driver or an overlander. And the more I think about it, I’m not so sure I want to spend my life floating around the world on a sailboat, either—but that doesn’t mean I don’t really want to do those things, too!

You know what I’d like to do in 2020?

I’d like to do the Shitbox Rally in Australia. And the Malts Cruise in Scotland.

I’d like to see Cat and Andy and Darin and Adnan in England. I’d like to drink Bier and sing drinking songs at Elbetreffen with Ingmar, Sabrina, Ralf, Conny, and Tschippi, and go for a ride in the White Rabbit Legnum.

I’d like to drive up to Banff, taking the scenic route through Colorado so I can meet Diego and Toybreaker (and look up my old pal FarOutKouki) on my way to go camping with Phil and AJ. Along those lines, I’d like to spend a week on the road with Chazz somewhere, since he knows the American southwest like the back of his hand.

And, yes, I’d like to spend a few weeks exploring Polynesia on a 40-foot monohull. (Seriously. If you’ve never felt a few hundred square feet of sail plan power up, put it on your bucket list right now.)

Not a bad way to spend three months and $30,000, right?

Not possible when you only get three weeks’ vacation and have $30,000 in debt, though.

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll. We’ve all gotta start somewhere.

TGP is where I’m starting. It’s time to go pro.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. Now it’s time to start doing something about it.

It’s time to take action.

The Gearhead Project is whatever project the gearhead is working on—but it’s also the gearhead as the project itself. What are we building here? It’s hard to say, because it’s a little bit of this, that, and the other all mashed up in whatever way we need to mash things up to get this engine built, installed, and putting power to the wheels.

There was a time when I lived for all-motor DSM performance. If I had time and money—it went under the hood of my 1997 Eagle Talon. Those were incredible days filled with action, friends, and fun. They made me who I am today. I will never forget them.

Today, however, I want more than more mods. I want the freedom to prioritize the things that make me feel alive over the things that pay the bills. Does that make sense?

I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Forget right or wrong. I want better.

Here’s a quick look at some of the things I’m working on this year.

  • The 3 Pillars of a Successful Life: Mental, Physical, & Financial Health
  • Connecting the dots between thoughts, words, actions, habits, character, & destiny
  • Work-Life Balance vs. Parallel vs. Harmony
  • What a gearhead is, wants, & needs

These are the things I’m interested in these days—and I can’t think of anyone better to explore them with and learn from than gearheads like us who have either figured them out or are working on them like I am. Know what I mean?

Cars are fun. Cars have made us who we are today—this is all about building a high performance life. Together. With gearheads like us who know what it takes to build high performance machines.

Hell. A gearhead doesn’t necessarily even have to be into cars at this point. The most important thing I’m looking for these days? People who want something better from life, are ready to step up and actually do something about it, and want to spend more time in the company of others doing likewise.

I don’t care if you’re all about saltwater fish tanks or photography or riding bikes or whatever. If you’ve been there and done that, or if you’re passionately chasing a better life—if the gears in your head are always turning around how do I make things better?I want to hang out with you. I want to see cool shit from people who truly, madly, deeply care about what they’re doing.

Hindsight is 20/20. Well, today IS 2020.

Life is a build thread. What are YOU building?

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