KnowLEdGE iS PowER CHASE A SHADOW. DISCOvERy LEADS TO KNOWLEDGE.
pAUL TURNER’S HONG KONG pOLICE STORIES
CAR 22, ovER
fAThERS dAy 914
JEyPoRE BiKE RidERS MIKE BRISKIE
PAddoCKSCEnE wiLL BE huGE PLuS
DICK MOSER: THE GEARHEAD yOU WANT TO BE WHEN yOU GROW Up NICHOLE DECKER: HALO CAR - NEvER GIvING Up JUSTIN MOHNEy: pOWDER TO THE pEOpLE! AND MORE! NICK’S TRAIL TOyOTA, GEARHEAD CLUBS, & pENMANSHIfT
STARTER GBXM 1.06 | the focus on process I read the odd business book from time to time. One of my all-time favorites is called “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything” by Dov Seidman. In it, Seidman talks about the end result is becoming less important than the path taken to achieve it. In the book, Seidman gives examples of dealership mechanics empowered to fire fellow technicians who fail to meet their standards for honesty and professionalism, turbofan (jet engine) factory workers without managers who take turns in various leadership roles and how they have almost zero production defects. Process is more than just a set of ISO-approved instructions for assembling a widget. Process is the way we do the things we do. It’s how we deliver consistent quality. That’s important to mention, I think, because the last three months have really shown me the importance of process. Well, sticking to process, anyway. You probably remember the Mothers Day fiasco. Issue 1.04 went GEARBOX MAGAZINE IS: way past deadline and even came up short in the content department. At that point, I decided to change my process to prevent such nightmares happening in the future. • BRIAN DRIGGS, FOUNDER • DENNIS DEJONG, PARTNER The idea was simple. Keep doing the interviews as usual, but instead of waiting until the last few days before • ADAM CAMPBELL deadline to put everything together and build the magazine - cover-to-cover - in a single day, I’d immediately • PAUL TURNER finalize the stories and build them in InDesign so Build Day would be a simple matter of inserting those com- • YOU? JOIN US. (CLICK ME) pleted, individual stories into the actual issue. Best laid plans of mice, right? I was nowhere close by the time Build Day rolled around for this issue. But you know what’s cool? I didn’t stress about it at all. We’re still small enough that we enjoy quite a bit of flexibility from you, our gearhead customers. I’ve especially loved the support I received this weekend on our Facebook page, where I shared a picture and introduction to every story - as I finished building them. From Pennsylvania to Pune, the likes poured in. Thank you. Though this issue is going out a day later than I’d have liked, it’s turned out really good. Those who’ve read every issue will clearly see the evolution of Gearbox Magazine has not slowed. In fact, it feels like we’re accelerating these days. This month, we’ve got stories from Michael Banovsky in Canada, Paul Turner in Hong Kong, and Anukraman Rathore in India. Even I didn’t see that one coming until this weekend. Beyond that, we’ve got a former Marine One, Presidential pilot talking about selling his rally car to focus on helping soldiers and emergency personnel with PTSD, a gearhead who parted out her rolled car with a broken neck, a guy who turned a hobby into a full-time job like we’re trying to do with this magazine, and a look behind the curtain of a new automotive site about to launch that stands to really make a difference in the lives of gearheads all over the world. Process improvement in full effect. You know WHY we roll. This is HOW we roll. Keep going fast with class & press on regardless,
bd we don’t do advertising|we prefer partners
Our goal is to help automotive enthusiasts build high performance machines & lives. If you’re a first class business which believes, like we do, that success comes from helping others achieve success for themselves, and are willing to work with us to empower our mutual customers, we’d like to tell you about how our Official Partners program can help your brand prove value, build trust, and grow. Nobody likes advertising & commercials. Let’s make a difference. Contact us today.
Gearbox Magazine. Of gearheads. By gearheads. For gearheads. united.
CONTENTS | what’s inside
the effing cover | KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Adventure is right in your own backyard. It’s worth finding, too. But be careful. Curiosity is a hell of a drug. This is a story about finding our way in the world; about channeling our desire for new toys and experiences into more empowered lives. It’s never too late to change course. You are encouraged to find a shadow and chase it.
10 PAUL TURNER| CAR 22: HONG KONG COP
He changed his college major and got a certificate to become a school teacher because it was the only field he could find with a guaranteed paycheck. There was only one problem. He hated it. Three months after finishing school, however, he was on a 747 bound for Hong Kong. I’ve been after Paul to share some of his police stories with us. He finally gave in.
14 MICHAEL BANOVSKY | FATHERS DAY 914
We never forget the machine that ignited the combustible combination of hopes and dreams in our hearts, forever making us gearheads. For many of us, that machine probably belonged to Dad. Sadly, not so many of us would know Dad’s old car if we saw it come up for sale. Maybe that’s a good thing. What if you did find it for sale?
18 ANUKRAMAN RATHORE | JEYPORE BIKE RIDERS
They set out weekly, the sights and smells of the countryside in concert with the thrum of motorbikes, seeking out the best that Rajasthan has to offer. Sometimes it’s a single day out and back, ending with dinner and drinks, other times, they campout under starry skies. Anukraman Rathore gives us a look at the adventures of the Jeypore Bike Riders.
24 MIKE BRISKIE | PADDOCKSCENE (THIS IS BIG)
In a world with more automotive stuff to see and do than ever before in history, why is it often so hard to find something to do? PaddockScene aims to solve that problem by bringing enthusiasts, competitors, organizers, and venues together worldwide. This is very cool indeed. Looking forward to seeing you there! 30 DICK MOSER | THE GEARHEAD YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP 34 NICHOLE DECKER | HALO CAR: NEVER GIVING UP 38 JUSTIN MOHNEY | POWDER TO THE PEOPLE! DETECTIVE COATING [OFFICIAL GBXM PARTNER] 44 NICK PRTUCH | HIT THE TRAILS! (BUT REMEMBER THEY CAN HIT BACK!) 46 PENMANSHIFT 2 | UNDERSTANDING THE AUDIENCE & ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS 48 WHY WE NEED GEARHEAD CLUBS | LET’S MAKE IT OFFICIAL & MAKE A DIFFERENCE 50 ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAINS | 3 AMIGOS IN THE SKY DRINKING RYE (MOSTLY WHISKEY)
About GBXM|united Stories of real people doing things with vehicles they actually own matter more than thinly veiled, marketing propaganga spun as helping sheep select their next consumer-grade appliance. We believe our shared passion for all things automotive unites us on a global scale, and that the things we have in common as gearheads empower us to get the most from our differences.
WE ONLY MATTER BECAUSE YOU MATTER. HIGH PERFORMANCE MACHINES & LIVES!
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Adventure is right in your own backyard. It’s worth finding, too. But be careful. Curiosity is a hell of a drug. This is a story about finding our way in the world; about channeling our desire for new toys and experiences into more empowered lives. It’s never too late to change course. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES CHAZZ LAYNE
Why do we always want the new hotness? What is it about the new and shiny that keeps us coming back for more in an (often endless) cycle of consumption? I say it’s because we are curious creatures, naturally drawn to explore. New toys and new projects bring with them new features and benefits. Human nature comes with an innate desire to explore the unknown, to figure it out, to make it our own. Once something becomes familiar, it loses its lustre and we find ourselves bored with it, craving the new hotness again. It’s probably the most addictive drug known to
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man. That drug is supercharged when the new gear is used to do something meaningful and enables new experiences. Faster lap times, podium finishes, trophies; these are all easily understood symbols of accomplishment. We use them to prove - to ourselves and others - how we’ve achieved a level of expertise in our chosen pursuit. Though we may become experts in a couple areas, the Universe is filled with countless other areas about which we still know nothing.
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THE MORE YOU KNOW We’ve heard the phrase a hundred times. So many times, in fact, we probably don’t even think about what it means beyond a passing, superficial glance. “Knowledge is power.” Why are the billionaire bankers of the world billionaires? Because they have the knowledge it takes to accumulate and protect wealth. Why do some people get to become astronauts and explore the final frontier? Because they have the knowledge required to handle the delicate balance of man and machine in the silent void of space. The more we know about something, the more empowered we are to make the most of it. The more we know about working on our vehicles, the more empowered we are to stretch our automotive budgets. The more we know about our chosen profession, the more empowered we are to advance our professional lives. (There’s that “high performance machines & lives metaphor again.)
A VIRTUOUS CYCLE For all we’ve heard about vicious cycles, those downward spirals where something goes wrong, we allow our emotions to get the better of us, leading to further mistakes, leading to further emotional distress, and so on, there is another option we don’t hear nearly enough about. I’m pretty sure it’s called a virtuous cycle.
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The more we know - knowledge - the more prepared we are to deal with the obstacles in our path - power. Knowledge is power. This is why we’re so damned curious about new stuff. The more we know, the more powerful we feel. And who doesn’t want to feel more powerful and in control of their lives?
THE PURSUIT OF ADVENTURE For people like Chazz Layne, the gear is a means to an end. He’s on a journey to discover new places, to better understand the world he lives in, to overcome sonder, and realize this is water (link: http://gearboxmagazine.com/feeling-hyrdrolocked/) Shortly after buying my little Pajero, I began seeking out adventure online. I found myself reading a trip report on Expedition Portal, written by this guy who had gone out and explored ghost towns, mining ruins, and Death Valley with his Land Rover Discovery. I hadn’t even had my first truck a month and I was already succumbing to that bigger, better, faster, more mentality. I clicked through to ChazzLayne.com and began reading about his automotive adventures right here in my own backyard, the American desert southwest. As I’m wont to do, I left a comment on one of Chazz’s blog posts. We’ve since commented back and forth on his site a couple times. In fact, I’ve got a Streamlight Nano and Fisher Space Pen on me at all times these days, thanks to his EDC post on simplification. (link: http://chaz-
zlayne.com/simplify/) (I’m still considering trading my collection of dull, $10 pocket knives for a Kershaw Ken Onion Leek.) One of these days when I’m headed up to Prescott, I’m going to see about looking up he and the ExPo team up for a quick visit in person.
ENTER CHAZZ LAYNE BD: When I look around your website, I see a lot of common ground. One of the most important - if not THE most important - concepts we’re after with Gearbox Magazine is getting enthusiasts to spot things in common with others. After a couple failed attempts at metaphor, I’ll just share a thread from my own story if you don’t mind.
car, nimble though it may be, just cannot deliver. Something inside was neither answered nor silenced in that time. Today, I drive a 100hp, 1989 Mitsubishi Pajero. It’s the slowest, worst handling, and least comfortable (no AC) of any vehicle I’ve ever owned - yet it feels perfect. Even climbing behind the wheel to back out of my driveway and commute into Scottsdale every morning, I feel that sense of adventure. Anything is possible. I’m on the cusp of realizing a dream I haven’t even dreamt yet. Things just feel right. All that said, I see you had a bit of a prodigy thing going on, jumped into IT and excelled, only to trade your “sports car” for a relatively inconspicuous Disco; the speed and structure of IT for the ebb and flow of the creative space. How did you come to that decision? What parts of that change were easy? What parts were hard? Why?
Back 1996, I walked into a Jeep-Eagle dealership in Wichita, Kansas, to order a new Wrangler. Hard top. Full doors. AC. I drove away in the base model, 1997 Eagle Talon parked under those magical, halogen lights on the showroom floor I crossed to get to the salesman’s office. 14 years and over 200,000 miles later, that little Talon would prove the bedrock of my automotive identity. It was the car I learned to maintain, modify, and repair. It unlocked the doors to a community of friends so close I now consider them family.
CL: It’s funny that part of your story should begin that way. I had a ‘97 Wrangler, and spent quite a bit of time at the dealership getting help with upgrades since I didn’t have a garage or many tools. I remember I’d often check out the Talon while I was there, thinking of how much fun it would be.
Despite all that, not a month has gone by since where I haven’t noticed a Jeep or two and wondered what things would have been like had I not canceled that order back in 96. The Talon gave me a taste of freedom, of relative independence, but there are some things a lowered sports
As I look back, it’s obvious to me that creative drive has always been there. That, and a strong desire to be the self-sufficient adventurer wandering the world. My detour into the logical and structured world of IT was my version of teenage rebellion against my father’s plans—plans
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which would have had me following in his overworked, overstressed footsteps. He was very much the creative type, and spent most of his waking hours slaving away at his design firm. Naturally, I was also lured in by the excitement, fast pace, and freedom the IT industry appeared to offer. About ten years into it I experienced a revelation in the form of (yet another) 2AM network-down emergency call - so much for freedom. I had missed the point, rallied against the wrong things, and in the process sold myself into the same slavery I was trying to avoid. It wasn’t the creative side of my heritage I needed to flee, but the self-inflicted bad stress that comes with trading your dreams for a career, never taking a break, and taking life so seriously you can’t enjoy any of it. As I’ve come to realize: you can always make more money, you can never make more time. Surprisingly, the easiest part of the change was making it happen. I remember it was terrifying looking out over a sea of future possibilities, but like most fears society pushes on us, the best way to overcome them is to jump. I already had some design experience from building websites so I picked up a few proper clients, my wife and I packed up all that would fit in our two trucks, and we left Southern California in search of something better. That was five years ago. The single most difficult challenge on this journey has been forcing myself to drop the 24/7 mindset. In fact, to this day I maintain strict work hours lest I fall back into that same trap of doing nothing else. Thankfully I’m surrounded by the kind of community and friendship only a small town can bring, the endless opportunities for adventure the Four Corners area has to offer, and the love of a good woman to keep me sane and free. BD: You touch on all that is the midlife crisis (as I see it); waking to the realization vanity has led you astray. Stories from the North Rim combine with the clarity of hindsight to create a discontent which grows more urgent by the day. It builds and builds until something happens. I say “something,” as it’s got a reputation for leading to a Corvette and a mistress, but it’s really an opportunity for course correction. Why were you able to channel this energy into rewarding change versus the futile escapism experienced by so many others? CL: The seeds of where I am now were planted during childhood, a good portion of which was spent traveling and exploring solo. Right about the time this change started, I was working with several friends on a project that was keeping the great outdoors, and those childhood experiences, forefront in my mind. One of those friends just happened to be moving out of his cabin in the northern Arizona desert, and he gave us a great deal on the rent “so he
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could keep someone he trusts on site.” I count myself blessed. Without his generosity we’d still be stuck on the wrong side of the river. Between those ongoing projects and our new remote location, my days were once again filled with exploration and travel. Even a simple trip to the grocery store was an opportunity for adventure over dirt roads, mountain passes, and wide desert valleys - I suppose it was still escapism, but it was healthy escapism. BD: Rather than go into how you prepared to make the change, let’s get into course correction and what’s made it rewarding for you. Like you suggested, once you make the jump, you have no choice but to deal with the consequences. With each little leap, we learn more about ourselves and how we want to live our lives. How have your goals and dreams evolved from those that inspired that leap of faith five years ago? CL: I’d say making the leap goes beyond learning: it changes who we are, the way we view the world, and what we most desire out of life. This changed my goals drastically, and I find myself looking toward things today I never would have dreamed were possible. The most important changes came from two realizations: the vast majority of the population on this tiny rock are folks just like us; and stuff is irrelevant, adventure can be found with nothing but the clothes on our backs. BD: I always enjoy the trip reports you run on your website. It’s nice to see my thirst for adventure can be quelled without leaving my own backyard here in Arizona. Considering you also contribute to Overland Journal, (link: http://www.overlandjournal.com/) I have to think overlanding - “Vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures.” per ExpeditionPortal.com - plays a role in who you are and what you want out of life. Can you highlight one of your vehicle-supported adventures wherein it felt like the universe aligned around you, where you knew “this is who I am and why I exist?” CL: Very much so. Overlanding is right at the core of what I seek in life, I just didn’t have a convenient label for it until a fellow “overlander” introduced me to it at the first Overland Expo in 2009. Its tough to narrow down that sense of purpose to a single adventure. The sensation is one I experience every time I wander, that is, set off into the unknown with little more than a direction and a date I plan to return. To be out there, no idea what’s around the next turn, seeing a piece of the world for the first time—that is what paradise means to me.
“The most important changes came from two realizations: the vast majority of the population on this tiny rock are folks just like us; and stuff is irrelevant, adventure can be found with nothing but the clothes on our backs.”
BD: Can you give a quick overview of your adventure vehicle(s)? Not so much looking for mod list as I am general guidelines or objectives for it/them. Once we know WHY and HOW we’re going to use the vehicle, figuring out WHAT becomes much easier. Can you give a couple examples of how your understanding of how you use the vehicle has impacted what you’ve installed? CL: I couldn’t agree more—taking a slow, purpose-focused approach keeps us from going overboard on modifications, and also helps to fully learn the capabilities of the vehicle as it evolves. As a rule, I won’t make serious modifications to a vehicle until I find a clear need for them. The Discovery remained bone-stock for the first six years of it’s life. Its amazing how far you can take a stock vehicle with a good spotter and a little finesse. The main focus of the Discovery’s build is endurance. The design allows it to tackle challenging terrain while carrying moderately-heavy loads, and do so over long distances with minimal driver fatigue. Inspiration for the project came in the form of an invite to an unsupported 12-day exploration of the Navajo Nation’s backcountry, where I would need to carry enough food, water, and gear for two people for the duration. The upgrades and modifications were carefully selected to improve general reliability, and increase the payload capacity to handle the extra weight. The end result is an extremely capable yet balanced machine, with respectable highway handling and enough performance to still be a pleasure on twisty mountain two-lanes. Its become my goto vehicle whenever there is doubt in road or weather conditions, and a trusted companion on longer treks. While the Discovery handles wonderfully it is still a tall, heavy, gasguzzling beast, and is often overkill for our shorter weekend adventures. Our current project, the Forester, was born out of the need for a more efficient vehicle capable of mild-to-moderate dirt travel and easy hauling of our non-motorized adventure vehicles. We’ve taken a very different approach on this one, keeping the vehicle fast, light, and unassuming in appearance. A non-turbo model was selected to maximize low-end torque from the little 2.5l motor, which averaged 25 MPG on our last trip. With a set of aggressive “winter” tires sitting under a nearly undetectable 35mm lift it can take on most forestry access roads, while still sitting low enough for easy loading of bikes or a canoe. I’m also sensing the potential for a little rally action in this car’s future. BD: Speaking of vehicles and adventures, “Setting off into the unknown with little more than a direction and a date I plan to return.”
What advice would you give someone itching for adventure, but on a meager, just-starting-out budget? It’s easy to get caught up in the mentality of needing a Camel Trophy-spec Defender loaded with $10k+ gear and a month to spend touring Death Valley. How can someone with a basic truck or SUV get a taste of adventure? CL: In a word: Go! We’re fortunate to live at a time when the world is more accessible than it has ever been. If you look for it, there is adventure to be had around every corner. Buy a set of good tires and save the rest of the cash for fuel. With a basic emergency kit (tools, first-aid, water, and food), a small camp kit, and good judgement, even an unmodified truck can safely carry us through the wilderness on a weekend exploration of wonders we’ll never forget. For several years my adventure vehicle was a stock 2wd Ranger that still had to get me to work Monday morning. BD: What’s your next adventure going to be? What are you most looking forward to exploring and why? CL: The Rockies have my attention at the moment. I got a small taste making a delivery in Durango, Colorado, around this time last year, and they’ve been stuck in my mind ever since. Stunning vistas, an incredible palette of color, and water everywhere—its still a shock every time I leave Arizona for places where water is the norm. The current debate is whether I should drive it, or bike it. BD: Finally, where can people find and connect with you? CL: I can be found on Expedition Portal (link: http://expeditionportal. com); a great resource for those just starting out and seasoned adventurers alike), and of course my own site: chazzlayne.com.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER The pursuit of new hotness doesn’t have to mean another shiny widget in your pocket or taking up space in your garage. Adventure is all around us. It lies at the end of that dirt road on the edge of town. Fortunately, we gearheads are uniquely prepared to follow that road. Believe it or not, “this is water;” the larger world around us, filled with new scenery, people, and ideas just waiting to be shared. My challenge to you, dear brother or sister, is to find a shadow and chase it. Go somewhere new. Meet new people and explore the world around you. But be careful. Curiosity is a hell of a drug.
“In a word: Go!” GBXM | 9
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CAR 22, ovER
He changed his college major and got a certificate to become a school teacher because it was the only field he could find with a guaranteed paycheck. There was only one problem. He hated it. Three months after finishing school, however, he was on a 747 bound for Hong Kong. WORDS & IMAGES PAUL TURNER every so often, I like to take some time off, go home, visit the folks and catch up with old friends. We all go out for beers, catch dinner, reminisce and sooner or later we get talking to friends of friends, then friends of friends of friends and before long I usually fi nd myself shooting the breeze with a bunch of people I’ve never met before. It usually goes really well, the drinks start fl owing, the laughter becomes infectious but then someone always has to ask that question! “so what do you do then? You know work wise?” I’ve tried lying but I get caught out now and again and its just plain embarrassing, so now I usually take a deep breath and tell them the truth. “I’m a traffi c cop!” every time the words come out of my mouth, the world goes deadly silent. every face within earshot begins to register suspicion and distrust. people look at each other, then back at me and whilst it’s a cliche, the tension in the air really does get so thick, it feels as if you could cut it with a knife. seriously I end up feeling like some out of place drifter in a spaghetti western. then, after the silence has gone on so long that it begins to turn into a sort of white noise, a voice usually cuts through the air like one of the James’ boys. “so you work around here then?” “no!” I reply, still watching all those faces, “In hong Kong! I’m on vacation!” then just as quickly as the tension manifested itself, it’s gone, as if a massive burden has suddenly been lifted from the shoulders of everyone in the room. huge sighs of relief pour from suddenly smiling mouths. Looks of distrust are replaced by looks of astonishment and instead
of distancing themselves, people gather round with more and more questions like “Isn’t that like in china or something?” one of the questions that always eventually gets asked is “how on earth did you get involved in that?” And this is the story that I always end up telling them. It was June 1990. I had majored in law about a year before that; and then watched as graduate after graduate wound up stacking shelves in supermarkets instead of working cases in legal practices. the job market was in the toilet. there were over three and a half million unemployed in the UK at the time. I took a postgraduate certifi cate in education because teaching was the only profession in demand at the time and it was a guaranteed job with a guaranteed paycheck. there was only one problem. I hated it. I had applied to be a police offi cer in Hong Kong before. Back then hong Kong was a British colony so it was still technically a British police force. I was told I was suitable, but to complete my degree and submit an application again when I had graduated. so that’s what I did. I got my fi rst interview about two weeks later. It lasted less than fi ve minutes and I came home convinced that I had failed; but less than three months later I found myself on a Cathay Pacifi c Boeing 747 fl ying into Kai Tak with nine other young men pursuing a commission as an Inspector in what was then the royal hong Kong police force. We were met at the airport and bundled into an old prison bus with bars on the windows and a driver who didn’t even speak english. the journey seemed to last forever and when we fi nally got off the bus we were in the Police training school at Wong chuk hang. Much of the rest of that fi rst day was a blur. We collected stores, got shown to our accommodation (a non air conditioned barrack room that resembled a cell more than of-
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ficer’s quarters) and polished our boots. It was 32 degrees centigrade outside, the food was awful and by the end of the day, an invitation by the Senior Squad to meet at the Sportsman’s Bar to let our hair down and have a few beers seemed like a godsend. Oh little did we know! I’m not sure when it all started to go pear shaped. Perhaps it was when we started doing shots and chasers. It might have been when the drinking games started. But the moment we all knew it had definitely gone a bit awry was when two very young Chinese Recruit Woman Police Constables entered the bar to find two very inebriated expats, shotgunning cans of lager with their trousers down. The two girls didn’t say much, in fact they didn’t say anything. They just screamed. The rest is a bit hazy. A senior officer came down, the frivolities came to an abrupt end and like the naughty little boys that we were, we got sent to bed; but not for long! “Everybody up! Everybody get up!” someone yelled. I half fell out of the bed. The fluorescent lights were dazzling but it didn’t take a detective to figure out that half the brass in the Training School was out in force. We were bundled down steps and onto the drill square. Most of us were in boxers, most were barefooted and one of us had nothing but a sheet wrapped around him. We were ordered to ‘form up’ beside the Senior Squad, all of whom were sickeningly well turned out in their best kit. We tried to ask what was going on but got no answers. Finally a Senior Squad officer muttered under his breath to shut up and do as we were told. A Superintendent with muscles like the Hulk informed us that we had disgraced our country and ourselves. We were told that two female constables had made allegations that two of us had indecently exposed ourselves in front of them. Fortunately for us the two girls were too ‘overcome with embarrassment’ to be able to identify us. Unfortunately that meant that unless someone owned up to it and took the rap, we would all be sent home in disgrace. For the next 15 minutes
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Chinese officers were screaming at us to confess, or give up the culprits. The Senior Squad on the other hand kept telling us under their breath to keep our mouths shut. And all along I was wondering what my Mum would say if I was sent home as a sex offender accused of displaying myself to some young Asian girl. When the shouting didn’t get anywhere, the physical beasting started. We were ordered to run, do press ups, sit-ups. The last two people to finish any task were rewarded with a run around the grounds and everyone else had to do press ups and sit ups until they got back. Some people collapsed, most of us threw up, a couple of guys even cried, but no one gave up a single name. Eventually, exhausted, disorientated and thoroughly confused we were told to form up again. The Senior Squad had long since disappeared and we were on our own. We were told that we would be put on the next plane back to the UK, that we had disgraced our Government and ourselves and that at least two of us we were lucky not to be going to prison. But before we were sent back to our barrack to pack our bags, the Commandant had something to say to us. We stood there awkwardly as the Commandant appeared in front of us, a stern look on his face. “Gentlemen!” he said in a perfect English accent. “Welcome to the Royal Hong Kong Police!” Roars erupted on the second floor of the swimming pool behind us and we turned to see the Senior Squad laughing so hard they almost fell off the balcony. Slowly realization began to sink in. We’d been had. One by one the officers who had been “beasting” us were introduced; except that they weren’t officers. They were the local Chinese contingent of our intake, most of them constables and sergeants. And so it ended as it had begun, with us being invited back into the Sportsman Bar for a few drinks. Except this time we left someone watching the door!
Needless to say it has all been pretty much downhill since then. I’ve never been promoted. I got arrested for illegal road racing during my first tour in traffic. I almost shot a doctor; and when the Chinese finally kicked the British out of Hong Kong I ended up working for two different Governments during the course of a single shift. Those stories will have to wait for another time though. So if you are interested, you could always scour the bars of South East England looking for a limey telling stories about Hong Kong; or alternatively you could pick up the next edition of Gearbox on the off chance that someone is stupid enough to allow me to write another 1500 words about the trials and tribulations of working as an expatriate in the Hong Kong Police.
“The moment we all knew it had definitely gone a bit awry was when two very young Chinese Recruit Woman Police Constables entered the bar to find two very inebriated expats, shotgunning cans of lager with their trousers down.”
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FATHERS DAY 914
We never forget the machine that ignited the combustible combination of hopes and dreams in our hearts, forever making us gearheads. For many of us, that machine probably belonged to Dad. Sadly, not so many of us would know Dad’s old car if we saw it come up for sale. Maybe that’s a good thing. What if you did find it for sale? Would you be able to buy it in time? Our good friend Michael Banovsky drops a “Care of the Year” bomb on us for Fathers Day 2013. WORDS & IMAGES MICHAEL BANOVSKY
Some might call Michael Banovsky a hipster. He rides a “fixie” (singlespeed bicycle) to work rain or shine, he lives in a clever loft in Toronto with his girlfriend and car, Arcee, and he’s been known to wear suspenders and a bowtie on camera during any number of clever automotive shorts he’s done as part of the Sympatico Autos team (link: http:// autos.sympatico.ca/team) I call him a gearhead. Sure, he prefers 2 wheels and 1 gear to 4 and 5 or 6, but he’s hanging onto that turbocharged, RWD Volvo wagon in storage, he loves old French cars, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t end up on a global walkabout, test driving the absolute shittiest cars he could find if only to see just how shitty they are. He’s also an inspiration and an example of what the automotive media needs if it wants to break from the entropic throes of lowest common denominator sensationalism. Though he’s often insanely busy with his full-time job in an industry I’m trying to break into on the side, he still finds time to share good research with me and remind me I’m on the right track. In early June, he shared this gem of a Father’s Day story with me in
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advance of the holiday. This is one of the best automotive stories I’ve come across in a long time. We ran it in its entirety on the website, but it deserves to be in print, and we ran it in June, so here it is.
IS THAT YOUR CAR? “Is that your car?” my friend Shane asked, over text message, complete with a link to a used car listing. Which car, exactly? I’ve owned only two—my first, a 1990 Volvo 740 Turbo that’s in a dusty barn waiting patiently for my chequebook to catch up with my plans for it, and a 1985 Citroen 2CV that I had driven that very day. Either being for sale on the internet was fairly impossible. Then I clicked the link. Stillness crept over my body as I stared at the screen. My heart and mind sank deep, focusing themselves on a cluster of very old, personal, special memories. I know this car.
A 1973 Porsche 914 2.0-litre. Sky blue. Silver Fuchs. Black, non-914 mirrors, a full-length “Porsche” reflector strip from a 911 between the rear lights, and a four tip exhaust tucked under the bumper. The front bumper rubber was missing from all but the last three inches on the right side. There was a crack, there, in the rubber for as long as I can remember. I guess the rest had fallen off. Its clutch was only a bare pedal, like it’s always been, smoothed by years of a single left foot. Dash crack. Driver’s seat split. Loosening vinyl on the glove box cover. I bet the defroster still doesn’t work. This particular 914 is the first big purchase my parents made together, in 1979. It went with them through moves, was around before I was conceived, and as a child they took me for rides around town…sitting safely between my parents, on the padded console cover.
MY FIRST WORD WAS CAR Through my formative years, I remember it tucked safely to the side of the garage, under a sky blue car cover. It was always backed in; the sun shone through an old window and set of ragged curtains just enough to cast a ray across the hood. I didn’t dare go near it—or the tools and things deftly placed as a barrier between the 914 and where my toys were kept. Apart from playing Top Gear on Super Nintendo for hours, I had stam-
ina for little else. Generally, I was forced outside into the back yard, tackle box of toy cars in hand—and headed toward the sandbox. I started to notice that a side door to the garage was a few feet from my sandbox. With my mother inside and occupied with my younger sister, I’d quietly open it, dip my toe into the darkness, enter, and wait for my eyes to adjust. It was always clear that the 914 was my dad’s car. Admonishments, caution, discipline to the tune of, “This is my car, don’t touch!” were never needed. I just knew. They didn’t say anything about the cover, mind you. After I was used to the relative darkness, I’d gently peel back the soft car cover and expose a lick of metallic blue paint...orange reflector...chrome bumper... It was years before I worked up the courage to expose the entire front of the car. I remember the Fuchs being a big deal. I sat on the cold concrete and, for the first time, noticed the contrast between the unpolished and polished silver alloy. I didn’t understand then that because of starting a business, having a house, and kids meant my parents were saving as much as possible. Putting gas into and having insurance on a third, fun car wasn’t always possible. I have as many memories of it under a cover as I do without one. Sometimes, when my dad had time, he’d start it up and take it out. I was always there for it, and wanted to help. Maybe I’d help peel back the cover. Maybe I’d move detritus out of the way. Maybe I’d help guide
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him out of the garage. It was always a good week when the trickle charger was placed, on a blanket, on the rear trunk and connected to the dead battery. I remember there was always tinkering before the 914 sputtered into life; his grey tool box would be open and overflowing with silver metal wrenches, and he’d be peering into the near-black engine compartment with an old D-cell flashlight. When I was old enough I’d stand on the other side and shine it on some snaky, black wire. “No, the other one.” All the time spent peeling back the cover cemented the car’s shape in my mind, like a big Matchbox car. I knew it as mostly inert, stationary. But when it roared into life, man, it scared me. It scared me throughout my childhood. The exhaust pointed directly at the cinder block wall, and fired out a piercing metallic din. Smoke. Rev. Rev. Rev. Smoke. Old high test filled my nostrils. It was very much alive, again. One year, as the spectacle unfolded, my dad gestured me to the driver’s seat and asked me to keep the throttle steady as he adjusted something. I may have been a young teenager. Pushing my sole onto the floor-hinged pedal, the revs rose, noise, noise, revs…”Too much!” I heard in my ear. I backed off; it sputtered and died. “Turn it over,” he said, forgetting I was young and had no idea of how a car worked. Well, I knew in theory. “Do I…what gear…push the clutch in…I can’t reach…” He restarted it.
BURNED INTO MEMORY When a car is burned into your memory, and you grow up with it from a young age, I think it leaves a different sort of impression. I know that car from every angle; from when I was two feet tall all the way to six feet tall today. I’ve seen the 914 through the eyes of a child, and with old invoices, as an adult does. I know how it looks under yellowish, late summer, curtain-filtered garage light. I know how it looks in the dark. I know how it idles, how it sounds when it revs, how the flat four sends a particular pulse off roadside trees that makes its way back into the cabin.
me…”) had been replaced by a CD player. I took it to an indicated 90 mph once, and held it there for a few seconds. Fast enough. In 2003, I moved away from home for school and apart from a summer or two I haven’t been back. My parents moved, my dad semi-retired (those years of my parents working their asses off for us was not in vain), and the car began to sit again. In 2010, he had it sent to a specialist to have a few items fixed—transmission, brakes, carpet, etc. It never came home. He sold it before even driving it in (likely) the best state it’d ever been in—I’m not sure why, apart from vague ideas to get something “nicer, like an old 911.” I was too poor to buy it, and, honestly—even though I was upset—I’m not sure it crossed my mind to even offer. It was his car, I was staggering into adulthood and one of the few things I understood was that it was his decision. The gentleman who bought it put money into the car. He fixed a few more things, and thankfully—unlike seemingly every other 914 owner— didn’t fit GT flares, a slantnose conversion, or paint it orange.
IMMEDIACY The Friday evening I found out it was for sale I immediately contacted my dad. He texted back a while later, saying he talked it over with my mom, and said they weren’t sure if it’d end up in storage or be driven much. “You should look at it and buy it if you want, but don’t unless it makes sense for you,” he texted back. Early in the morning, I called the number in the ad frantically, leaving offers to buy it. Then from my other phone. My girlfriend and friend Shane called, too. The seller called back late on Saturday morning. I explained who I was, that he bought the car from my dad, that I grew up with it, and... “Are you serious about buying it?” “Yes. I have the money and can get a deposit to you today.”
My mom never learned how to drive a manual transmission’d car, and so the only person I’ve ever seen in the driver’s seat was my dad. It was his car, always, without question. When he wasn’t around, it didn’t move—nobody else could drive it. Since it seemed he was almost always busy with work, it sat most of the time. In my mind, the two have always been linked; maybe that’s why I’d peel back the car cover and look at the 914 when he wasn’t around.
“I’m sorry, but I sold it this morning.”
MIRROR IN THE BATHROOM
IN THE MEANTIME
I think he knew early on how much I liked his car, and when I was old enough—and had learned to drive a manual through trial and error on other vehicles—he let me drive it, all by myself. One summer, I drove it at least once per week. I think he was happy it was getting used, even if I was still a little too overconfident behind the wheel. By the time I got to drive it, the drivetrain had mostly been sorted. It’d been repainted. The Blaupunkt that was once filled with an English Beat cassette (“Mirror in the Bathroom, please talk free; the door is locked, just you and
In the meantime, it turns out that the seller called the father who bought it and, even though it was going to be part of a father-and-son learning experience—his is 15—the buyer agreed to let me have the car.
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“Can you tell me who bought it?” I asked. “I can…maybe I can offer more if they’re willing to give it up.” My girlfriend suggested going for a walk and brunch, to take my mind off of it. I couldn’t.
Thanks, stranger. More than you know. The seller, too. Not only for agreeing to sell it back to me, but for hear-
ing the five year old in my voice as I told him who I was.
announced—and say, “Happy Father’s Day” in person.
When I showed up with the deposit and tried to explain what the car means to me, he said, “It’s a sentimental thing, I understand.”
I think I’ll let my dad drive it.
I BOUGHT THE 914 I bought the 914. Then I texted my dad, “I think someone bought it.” “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be...” he replied. As it happens, I only have one parking spot—for the 2CV—and serendipitously sold that car the very next day to a wonderful family. It was meant to be. This weekend, I drove three hours, in the 914, to see my parents—un-
I THNK I’LL LET MY DAD DRIVE IT There you have it. A serious contender for our annual Care of the Year contest from Banovsky. And how’s Porsche ownership been treating him since? A recent Facebook update stated, “In my ~700kms [435mi] of Porsche ownership, the cost has been roughly $3 per km [$4 per mi ~bd]. Not including purchase price, insurance, or fuel. Did I mention it didn’t start yesterday? I’ll update the total $ once I’ve figured out the problem(s)...” “Too early to call, but Citroen ownership was a breeze for both my sanity and pocketbook...” Thank you, brother, for sharing such a wonderful story with us. I think I speak for all of us when I say I hope the next 700km are etherial.
“It was meant to be.” GBXM | 17
JEyPoRE BiKE RidERS
They set out weekly, the sights and smells of the countryside in concert with the thrum of motorbikes, seeking out the best that Rajasthan has to offer. Sometimes it’s a single day out and back, ending with dinner and drinks, other times, they campout under starry skies. Anukraman Rathore gives us a look at the adventures of the Jeypore Bike Riders. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES ANUKRAMAN RATHORE SINGH The world is full of guys like us; gearheads using their machines as means to high performance lives. technology has made it easier than ever before to get to know our brothers and sisters on the other side of the planet, but there’s a pretty big downside to that - we may never have the means to meet each other in person. that’s something I’ve been trying to change - for all of us. BD: Last we spoke, I believe you were the man behind Western Motorsports (link: http://westernmotorsports. in/), one of (if not the) largest rally organizers in India. Is that still what you do? how do you make your living?
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Ar: Yes Brian, Western Motorsports was brought into existence in 2008 by me. WM is defi nitely not the largest club in India, but since its inception we have been successful in our motto which is to take this form of sport to the common masses. Our fl agship rally “The Monsoon ride” has witnessed major participation from amateur motorsport enthusiasts who, through our events, had the opportunity to interact and compete with seasoned professionals of the Indian Motorsport community. currently we are not organizing our own events. I have made best use of my time currently by earning credentials
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as Apprentice Steward for Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI, link: http://www.fmsci.co.in/) and Road Racing Sporting Steward for the Federation of International Motocyclisme (FIM, link: http:// www.fim-live.com/en/). Motorsport is not a source of earning for me. The club is driven primarily by my passion for motorsport. I have recently launched Adventure Bugs for sourcing adventure accessories for adventure enthusiasts. My other sources of earning include finance, rentals and farming. BD: How is Western Motorsports (and the Monsoon Ride) doing these days? Still growing? Shrinking? Why is that? AR: Unfortunately, Western Motorsports has been unable to conduct The Monsoon Ride since 2010 due to sponsorship issues. Bitter stories behind the scenes are better left unsaid. However, support of WM to other motorsport clubs is being continued and we still enjoy their trust in our capabilities for immaculate planning and execution. On a positive note, activities of WM have diversified by formation of a bikers club Jeypore Bike Riders (link: https://www.facebook.com/JeyporeBikers) through which we are still creating awareness about the sport by conducting weekly rides and camping trips for bikers. BD: Over the years, I’ve noticed you consistently sharing pictures of exotic locations many of us outside India did not even know existed. Why do you spend so much time exploring the country? When and why do you choose a motorbike over a 4-wheeled vehicle? AR: In words of Robert M. Pirsig “On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” Through our rides, we at Jeypore Bike Riders take the opportunity to promote the heritage of Rajasthan by sharing the ride experiences and photographs using various social media platforms. Every weekend, our fellow bikers anxiously look forward for yet another exciting ride with twisting and twirling, sandy, muddy, slushy, rocky forgotten, laid back off-roads that would lead to yet another ignored location with a forgotten history with the rides sometimes ending with journey back to Jaipur after a cup of coffee/lunch or in a campout under the clear starry sky on the others. The photographs of exotic and unknown locations are a result of these unforgettable rides. BD: Why are you attaining those certifications? How will they help you in your journey? What do they cover?
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AR: It’s a learning curve Brian. And when you are passionate about something, the curve never seems to go south. During these years I have had the opportunity to meet some qualified gentlemen from FMSCI. Interaction with and guidance from them motivated me to take it a step further and enhance my knowledge in all forms of motorsports by taking these certifications. While the FMSCI Steward license allows me to be a Second Steward at any event of any format of motorsport in India, the FIM Road Racing Steward license makes me eligible for being a Steward in superbike racing events. BD: I’m sorry to hear The Monsoon Ride has fallen on hard times, but excited for the Jeypore Bike Riders chapter beginning. How did the group come to be? When and where was the spark that lit that fire? Can you tell us a little bit about the early days and what they were like? Was it an immediate success? What problems did you run into? How did the idea evolve? AR: Yeah! Recovering from the set back was tough, as the club was getting stronger and more competent with every successful event. Jeypore Biker Riders chapter was instrumental in getting me out of the groove. However, it did not happen overnight. Creation of Jeypore Bike Riders was a result of thoughtful planning, honest interactions, and many small rides and meetings bikers in and around Jaipur. The motivation for the creation of JBR was to create awareness amongst young bikers regarding safety and discipline in the sport through group rides and discussions. This proved to be the toughest though. Though it took some time to inculcate the need for safety in the riders initially, today our riders are more aware, safety conscious,
The campouts under the starry skies definitely do make one philosophical. Sitting on my camping chair besides the fire I do find myself staring at the stars thinking about the purpose of it all. I belong to a clan of warriors. My determination and will to survive the odds motivates me to never quit in life. During these moments of solitude I have realized that life is too short, but I intent to make it large by not just living the length of it but also the width of it. BD: Tell us a little bit about your machine. What bike do you ride and why do you ride this bike, specifically? How have you modified it to suit your unique needs? What effect has this had on your experiences?
and are now equipped with better gear. Prohibiting ride photographs without the riders wearing basic safety accessories like helmets did make an impact. BD: How do you feel when you and the JBR depart on one of your weekend adventures? Can you describe the sensation, the feeling? The wind in your face, the smell of machines, the purr of the motor beneath you; as you take it all in, fully immersed in the world, what goes through your mind? And when the conversation and campfire begin to wane under those sparkling stars - where I suspect you’re camped next to the intricacies of history and humanity - how do you feel about your machine, your purpose, your life? AR: I think “Goosebumps” sums the feeling up. There is a wild excitement and anticipation of exploring something new, lost or forgotten. [Adventure! ~bd] Unlike our preparations for rallies, no route recces are conducted beforehand for the bike rides, and hence all the bikers turn into explorers and the feeling of discovering a new route or location is collective. This is what makes our rides memorable and creates a strong bond amongst the riders. The rides are a welcome getaway from the routine life and endless worries. It’s a means to connect with nature, my land and my machine. Touch of gentle morning breeze, the sweet smell of country soil, the intriguing landscapes and ruins, chirping of birds, and taste of country food or Dhaba Chai [a regional tea-based drink made with fennel and ginger, often served in roadside eateries ~bd], these rides stimulates each and every sense of the body. Nothing fills the mind during these rides more than the sense of oneness with nature and bike and camaraderie of the fellow bikers.
AR: I am a huge fan of KTM Adventure series, Brian, and when KTM launched its first bike, Duke 200, in India, I could not resist it. Though it is a street version, it has proved its capabilities in practically all kinds of terrains I have ridden on. Apart from this, the bike practically suits all my needs, be it the technological strength, light weight, more power, and decent fuel economy with respect to other available bikes in India. I have surrendered the factory fitted tires for off-road tires from Michelin - Sirac in front and Vee Rubber in the rear. The stock handle bar has been replaced by one specially made for rallies by a leading bike tuner of India. This has greatly improved the handling and performance of the bike off-road. Other modifications include twin high intensity LED spot lights for better visibility at night, a customized beak and all black panels. Further, I have equipped the bike with two ROTOPAX cans of one gallon capacity each to compensate for the rather small fuel tank my bike sports. As these modifications are made specifically for my practical needs and likings, I feel that my bike now carries a unique signature of me and this has certainly strengthened the bond between man and machine. BD: Looking back at the adventures you’ve had on your bike - with JBR or solo - which were most memorable? To put it another way, assume you have two different individuals looking to join you on two different journeys - one is a fellow countryman from India, the other a complete gringo from the far side of the planet. Where would we ride and why would you select these specific destinations? AR: Every ride that puts forwards a new challenge during its course and results in new discoveries is a memorable ride, Brian. With fellow bikers, the motive ride is to make discoveries by exploring new areas rather than already popular ones. One such ride was a camping trip to Sambhar Lake in the winter of 2011. It is a salt lake, nearly 100km/63mi southwest of Jaipur, stretched out in around 230sq-
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km/88sq-mi of area. It is easily missed by ignorant travelers on road and rail routes adjacent to it. Here you can discover the diversity of nature and can feel extreme tranquility amidst its vastness under the open sky during night.
Barmer-Jodhpur-Udaipur, through the dry river beds, the Thar Desert, amazing landscapes, hills, forests, and rocky terrains enroute. I would prefer to conduct this tour in Monsoon as it presents unbelievable and amazing views of landscapes of Rajasthan during this season.
A perfect campout in a chilly winter night here turned into adventurous nightmare when an unprecedented rain lashed upon us at 4AM. Other bikers were initially amused but soon realized my fear. We were few kilometers into the lakebed which was soon to be turned into an endless pool of thick and sticky muck. Drenched in the chilly winter night, the convoy - consisting of a 4WD Jeep, a 2WD car, and seven bikes started three hours worth of torturous exit from the lake. We faced two bike breakdowns, and it took nine guys to manually drag out one of the bikes that got stuck a kilometer (just over half a mile) inside the lake.
BD: Looking ahead, whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the next big thing for you and JBR? How is it shaping up?
For a visiting foreigner, the selection of route would be more complex, comprising of not only the laid back country track to connect with the local culture but also the more popular historic monuments and places to enlighten them with the rich history of India. My preferred route in Rajasthan for such a visitor would be to start the tour from Jaipur and conclude it back at Jaipur via Alwar- Shekhawati -Bikaner-Jaisalmer-
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AR: The next big plan at JBR is to conduct a desert circuit wherein, apart from the daily motoring tasks and challenges, the participants would be subjected to complete campouts and cookouts. For this we are looking forward to conduct survival training programs in the near future and also the arrangements of required logistics is at hand. A lot of inquiries and requests for conducting such an event are coming in and I am hopeful this would be a reality soon. BD: If you could pack up your bike and ride anywhere in the world, what would be three destinations youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to visit and why? AR: Apart from exploring every possible motorable road of the Himalayan Range, I would definitely like to explore these countries on my
bike. MONGOLIA - Mongolia would be my most preferred location because of the great adventure opportunities it offers through its varied landscape. The famous Gobi Desert, fabulous rock formations, spectacular canyons, snow-capped peaks, vast sand dunes, dense forests and wide rivers; you don’t find such landscapes in one place. The nomadic Mongolian culture is a big attraction for me and another one being Genghis Khan. I would love to know more about him by visiting his land. AUSTRALIA - Nothing challenges you like Australia. It is known for some of the roughest, toughest, grittiest terrain that can be presented to a biker. One would find himself riding for days without a sign of another vehicle or human being. I wish to cross the entire continent by riding right through the middle of it and then covering its entire southern coast. TURKEY - Turkey is a country surrounded by three different seas, and is gifted with a very long and splendid coastline, beautiful beaches and coves, breathtaking natural wonders and scenery, unique histori-
cal and archaeological sites and friendly locals. Amazing archaeology, wonderful roads and incredible scenery combine to make it biking paradise. BD: Where can our readers connect with you online and follow along with your adventures? AR: People can connect with me over Facebook (link: http://www.facebook.com/anukraman) or at Western Motorsports, (link: http://westernmotorsports.in/), and the activities of Jeypore Bike Riders can be followed on Facebook (link: http://www.facebook.com/JeyporeBikers). At Jeypore Bike Riders, we look forward to providing every possible support to riders visiting India.
“I think “Goosebumps” sums the feeling up. There is a wild excitement and anticipation of exploring something new, lost or forgotten.” GBXM | 23
DO THIS. WE DID.
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In a world with more automotive stuff to see and do than ever before in history, why is it often so hard to find something to do? PaddockScene aims to solve that problem by bringing enthusiasts, competitors, organizers, and venues together worldwide. This is very cool indeed.
WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES MIKE BRISKIE
We’ve all been there; staring down the barrel of some free time, trying to choose between a bunch of things we’ve done time and again. We don’t want to squander our precious time off, but none of the things we usually feel like they cut it anymore. The thrill is gone. No longer! The problem seems to be, despite more information on gearhead things to do, there’s no central place to find them all. What if there was such a place. A place where you could sign up, check off boxes for the types of automotive events you like, and see a slick calendar of upcom-
ing events that match your interests. What if this site also helped you connect with other gearheads in your area gearheads you didn’t even know existed - who share your automotive interests? That’s where Mike Briskie comes in. He’s the man behind PaddockScene, a site dedicated to compiling all the automotive events in the world. There’s more to it than hastily cobbled together blog posts about the big F1 race this weekend, or that handful of guys who get together at the local burger joint once a month to stand around
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and shoot the bull. Someone’s finally putting in the time, energy, and money to build something meaningful for us all. As Mike initially told me, “It’s a new, comprehensive take [on the scene] that is good for enthusiasts like us, and also the promoters and event organizers at major and minor venues all around the country. The site is fairly straightforward, almost a mix of forum and calendar if that makes sense.” We spent about an hour on the phone one evening in June discussing PaddockScene and GBXM and automotive “entertainment,” and we’re excited about the future. BD: Why and how did you start PaddockScene?
with a car, a lead foot, and the freedom to do with that as you please. I want people to look at PaddockScene as a gateway and a guide to the massive world of automotive competition. I started simply by watching - rallies, track days, autoX, pro races - and inevitably wound up wanting to dominate behind the wheel at everything. Over the years I refined my tastes, and now I enjoy some kinds of racing more than others; the same way someone prefers a Porsche to a Corvette, or a Ducati to a Yamaha. BD: Why should gearheads care about this venture?
MB: I started PaddockScene because I was frustrated I had to check out so many series and organizations to find something going on in my area. All I wanted was one place to see everything going on across the board. If F1 was coming up, I wanted to remind myself to setup the DVR. If there was an SCCA autocross, maybe I would register. I was just as happy showing up to the drag strip on test & tune night as I was at an ALMS race or a Cars and Ccoffee. I didn’t care what was racing or the level. It was pure competition and adrenaline.
MB: Because, fundamentally, all gearheads like motorsports. I reject the notion that a car guy is not a motorsport guy. That’s like saying you like to listening to earbuds but you hate live music. Strap a car guy or girl into a track experience of any sort for the first time with a capable wheelman, and they will have a spastic, uncontrollable reaction along the lines of “HOLY $#!* THAT WAS AWESOME! WHERE DO I SIGN?” Rational thought processes momentarily disappear, money becomes no object. You are fully alive and just want more. And then you understand.
l didn’t grow up around motorsports. I sort of fell into it. As a kid, going fast was a drug. Many of us start as a blank, impressionable canvas
Until that point, it’s hard to appreciate motorsports. Today’s drivers are cocooned away in tiny compartments, with a sliver of their helmets
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LEFT: A sample of what your home page might look like on PaddockScene. ABOVE: A sample profile page showing upcoming and past events of interest to the the usuer, plus a tab to see the user’s activity in the community. NOTE: These images are from the beta and are subject to change prior to launch.
“HOLY $#!* THAT WAS AWESOME! WHERE DO I SIGN?” peeking through full body and head restraints. From afar, and especially on TV, it can seem tedious, disconnected, and unemotional. But a few minutes spent in a race paddock changes that whole frame of reference, and that’s before ever setting foot in a car. PaddockScene exists to make these experiences easier to find - and share with other enthusiasts - who seek them out. BD: How does it work? MB: For gearheads, organizers, and venues, PaddockScene will launch with a host of professional and amateur racing series and event dates already cataloged and sorted by location and series for the rest of 2013. You log in and find a list of upcoming events right on the home page, no searching required. Then the fun starts. Type in your zip code and find everything coming up within 200 miles of your home base. You can find pro races of all varieties covering cars and motorcycles. Do the same for amateur racing, like club events, autocrosses, and track days. When you find something you like, just save it and it appears in your profile page and you can build an entire calendar around just your own interests. Events will be continuously uploaded by event promoters, appointed moderators, and users like you. With your help we are going to build
the most comprehensive motorsport calendar in the world. BD: That sounds pretty sweet, but where are all these events going to come from? Why should organizers and venues car about this? MB: To me, that’s pretty obvious. Promotion! Event promoters want people to come to their events. Sponsors, vendors, and manufacturers pay millions of dollars per year to put on events, but they routinely gamble on unqualified leads from radio and print ads and emailing their existing contacts. PaddockScene invites event promoters from all over the country to add their schedule of events to our database, reaching more people, so you don’t miss out on events near you. It’s a win win. [EDITOR’S NOTE: During our initial phone conversation, Mike shared his vision of any gearhead in the world organizing an event - be it a group trip to the big race, an all day cruise on windy backroads, or even just beers at the local pub while the big race is on TV - would add their event to the calendar, making it easy for anyone looking to get together with likeminded gearheads to find each other and have a good time. What’s more the bringing together of spectators, competitors, organizers and venues will make it easier for us all to connect those often difficult dots. For example, a regional group looking to start a rallycross
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ABOVE: Events will have a “Chatter” section where we can discuss the events. Looks like the best comments can be up-voted, too. See what people are saying, check out pictures, and add it to your calendar if you’re interested! series might be able to find a venue with both interest and capacity to host such a thing, or smaller venues might be able to gain critical exposure to local enthusiasts who didn’t even know about the classic car show taking place every Friday night in their parking lot.]
they have never heard of before. The first time you see an event listing and think, “I’m definitely going,” share it with your friends. Get excited about it, talk about it in the chatter section and, when you go, upload your pictures so everyone can see what they’re missing.
BD: What can we expect from PaddockScene in the early, post-launch days?
MAKING A DIFFERENCE. TOGETHER.
MB: It’s going to be very cool, if not yet completely comprehensive. We have over 400 events and counting in the queue for 2013, but that’s not even scratching the surface of what is out there. We’re going to be taking a lot of feedback and constantly improving to make the site as intuitive and useful as possible while adding as much content as we possibly can. We’ll constantly be building up, and we are definitely relying on the motorsport community’s passion to spread the word and help grow the database. We’ve had talks with major sponsors and will make sure that all our business partners only enhance the user experience. BD: What can we, as gearheads, do to get the most from PaddockScene? MB: The whole point of the site is to engage the enthusiast community and get people watching and attending events, especially those
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Mike tells me this site isn’t going to cost us anything to join - for enthusiasts OR organizers OR venues. He’s building it because he believes we all stand to benefit from better access to the data and each other. It’s not my place to share details of his business plan with the public, but I thought this was an important distinction to make. If you’re a gearhead wishing there was a place where you could see what’s going on in the automotive world where you live, would like to meet new people who share your unique automotive interests, or would just like to discover something new in the world of high performance machines and lives, I think you’ll really like PaddockScene. Mike and his team are working very hard to build something which stands the test of time and really makes a difference. If you’re an organizer with an event (or entire series) you would like more gearheads to attend, or have an idea for an automotive event, but don’t know if anyone would be interested, or even where to begin,
ABOVE: Events will have galleries full of pictures taken by people who were there. Although these screen captures are from the beta and subject to change, it would be cool to see this much dirt at Monte Carlo. I think you’ll find PaddockScene will prove an exceptional use of your time. Mike and his team are forging this motorsport engine with solid reporting tools which will help you fine tune your message and reach more entries, fans, and sponsors. And if you’re a venue with your own schedule of events or extra bandwidth or even a plot of unused real estate out back you’d like to see start making some money, PaddockScene stands to be a great place to find entrepreneurial gearheads looking to do something with their machines in your area.
WIN-WIN-WIN Everybody wins. That’s the goal. Whether you’re looking for something automotive to watch or do, or looking to grow that thing you’re already doing, or even just looking for a new place to do it. The more we participate in PaddockScene together, the better off we’ll all be. Many hands make light work. This sounds like a great way to meet new gearheads, try new things, and accelerate our voices together. Oh, and did I mention? Gearbox Magazine and PaddockScene are going to be working together in the future. Look for a 2-page calendar of upcoming events in future issues of Gearbox, possibly starting in the next issue, with a selection of some of the events we find most inter-
esting. We’re also going to see if we can’t interview some of the more interesting organizers and venues we can find, too. I’ll see you over on PaddockScene once the site officially launches.
HOW IT WORKS: 1. Join PaddockScene 2. Discover events in your area 3. Attend those events you care about 4. Meet gearheads with similar interests 5. Have fun!
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THE GEARHEAD YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP
Dick Moser is the kind of gearhead you want to be when you grow up. He’s got a list of victories a mile long, he’s self-employed, playing the game of life by his own rules, he’s even been two U.S. President’s pilot. And he will smile, genuinely glad to see you again, at the next rally. Here’s why he and his son Tim recently sold their rally car. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES BILL ROGERS, MOTORSPORTMEMORIES.COM Dick Moser is the kind of gearhead you want to be when you grow up. He’s got a list of victories a mile long, he’s self-employed, playing the game of life by his own rules, he’s even been two U.S. Presidents’ pilot. And he will smile, genuinely glad to see you again, at the next rally. If you hadn’t noticed, Gearbox Magazine is in a bit of a transitional period lately. The website - when it’s working (sigh) - isn’t really reflecting any kind of production schedule, while the monthly issues represent more structure than ever before. Even the types of stories we run are changing. This issue represents another baby step for GBXM; moving into a deeper, more meaningful space. When you get right down to it, the only thing any of can really control in this life is how we let things get to us. Sometimes it can feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants, neither knowing how you’re going to make your next move nor entirely believing you’ll pull it off successfully. Nike’s famous slogan says it best - Just do it. This magazine is proof of what happens when you set things in motion and refuse to give up. So is the story you’re about to read. Finding new stories for the next issue, staying on top of stories for this one, and keeping in touch with the gearheads who’ve made a difference over time is daunting to say the least. It’s like daily driving a modi-
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fied Alfa Romeo. You’re a gearhead. You know how modification can affect the reliability of a vehicle. Dick Moser is the kind of gearhead you want to be when you grow up. He’s got a list of victories a mile long, he’s self-employed, playing the game of life by his own rules, he’s even been two US presidents’ pilot. And he will smile, genuinely glad to see you again, at the next rally. I don’t get out to as many rallies as I used to. Neither does Dick. I looked him up to see what’s new. BD: I’m getting ready to hit the road for HDT (High Desert Trails). Will you be there this year? Broad strokes, I’m looking to do a general update; what you’ve been up to, what you’re actively working on now, and where you’re headed. Even if you’ve not been actively competing, it’s important that people see we never give up. Success is often a function of sticking with it; showing up and doing the work. Also, I heard rumors you used to fly Marine 1? Is that true? DM: Unfortunately, I won’t be at HDT. I have a friend’s daughter’s wedding and a granddaughter’s birthday party that weekend. Otherwise,
I’d be there with my trusty ham radio doing what I can as a volunteer. Tim’s and my car, however, will be there. We sold it late last year to Doug Robinson. I think he and his son are running it next weekend. They should kick ass in G2 with it. (Note: Doug and Brett Robinson would run into alternator problems and be unable to get the car started for the final stage of the day, resulting in a particularly painful DNF.) The decision to sell the car wasn’t an easy one. We hadn’t completed a rally in it in two or three years, having incurred two mechanical DNFs at NNR and Mendocino in 2011. We had a lot of money invested but, far more important, we had a lot of emotional investment in the car. (Any time you build a car from scratch you know that you’re not going to get your money back.) But the combination of our schedules and general finances made it unlikely that we’d compete again in the next couple of years and the car was just going to deteriorate if it was sitting around. So we bit the bullet, shed a small tear or two and sold it to someone we knew would appreciate and take advantage of its quality and completeness. We talk a lot about what our next rally car will be. More than likely it will be 4WD. “What” is more interesting to discuss than “when”. Tim has a couple of ideas for sponsorship that could come through, although they might be better put to use in GT endurance racing. He’ll deal with that when he has something with which to deal. As much as I love rallying with him, I could never begrudge him the opportunity to get back into a GTP car if it came around. In the meantime, I plan to work two or three rallies a year – probably
Mendocino and Gorman this year. Volunteers are always needed and it keeps me in touch with the wonderful people and good friends in the CRS community. As much as I enjoy interacting with them on Facebook, being on the stages with them is a whole different thing. I’m also giving some thought to my next vehicle, which is going to have to be able to tow a rally car (just in case). In answer to your other question: Yes, I flew Marine 1 from the middle of ’67 until the middle of ’69, flying for Presidents Johnson and Nixon. Especially after a year in Vietnam it was great duty. Got to go places, do things and meet people that most folks only hear about and nobody was shooting at me. BD: Thank you, Dick. One more question if I could? With all that time, money, and heart in the car, why did it sit so long before you decided to sell it? Was it that mechanically DNF’d? DM: Simple answer. Because actually selling the car was an acknowledgement that we weren’t going to rally together any more, at least for some time, and neither of us wanted to deal with that. It had meant too much to us for too long. The DNFs were frustrating, as they always are, but had nothing to do with keeping or selling the car. At NNR on the first stage we blew a heater core. Maybe had something to do with the car’s having sat for a while, but probably not. We bypassed the heater overnight, ran the next day and on the first stage overheated. That problem was that we had put the wrong gas in the car. We pulled
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off, cooled off, added water and got back on the stage before we were time-barred. Got to the second stage in time to start last. Asked for an extra minute because we were fast and the last car wasn’t. We didn’t get the time so caught Katarina about half way along the stage. After running in her dust for way too long we hit a corner where the dust was heavier and the sun blinded us, ran over a berm, saved it but broke something in the suspension. Three weeks later, at Mendocino, we had a half shaft fail. It happens, especially when you push a car as hard as Tim can. That’s it. The answer to your real question is in the first sentence. As long as we had a car we had at least the theoretical potential of rallying again. BD: I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment/sadness in your last response. Can I ask why you two decided you weren’t going to rally together for the foreseeable future? Moving forward, I want the magazine to turn a corner. I want every story to resonate with someone out there; to have them make the connection beyond “Sweet ride. I like rally, too.” I want someone to get really excited about the world, or at least feel a little better about it because they walk away from a story knowing someone else feels the same way they do about something. Does that make sense? Maybe I should be working for Hallmark. With that said, I’m going to ask what might seem a crackpot question. Why does grassroots, clubman level motorsport - like rally - matter, on that deeply personal, chicken-soup-for-the-soul kind of way? What does involvement in the greater automotive community do for people? DM: For Tim and me, rallying together meant a lot more than just competing in an exciting motorsport at which we were both very good. It was our unique opportunity to work together, not so much as Dad and son but as equal adult males. Well, not quite equal since a brilliant driver ranks a LITTLE bit higher than a competent co-driver. But it was the fact that we were a team that made it even more special. I’ve codriven for (only) a couple of other people and, though it’s still fun, it’s not the same emotionally as doing it with my son. But, life marches on. Tim has become a single father – or, at least, a single co-parent. That puts a strain on both his financial budget and his time budget. I’m working almost half time for a non-profit about which I am passionate, but it’s a start-up and can’t compensate me for my
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time, so my consulting income has gone down as well. WE COULD afford some rallying, but we had no business doing it right now. Selling the car wasn’t an easy decision, partly because you haven’t lost money on a built car until you’ve actually lost it, but mostly for the symbolism. To Tim’s credit, he was the one who bit the bullet. Beyond Tim’s and my deeply personal reasons for being part of rally, there are some other factors, too. Through Tim, I’ve been part of a lot of motorsports “families”: karting, both road race and sprint; dirt short track (midgets, etc.); formula racing from SCCA through IndyCar; sports car (GTP and GT) endurance racing; stock car racing. Probably a couple others I’ve forgotten about. None of them has been as welcoming, as cordial and as much like a real family as rally has been. Specifically, as the CRS has been. Norcal Karters (kart road racing) came close, but only close. When Tim and I showed up for our first rally (Seed 9, which at that time was the first rally of the season) we didn’t have any idea what we were doing. In a matter of minutes, Tony Chavez took us under his wing, shepherded us through the tech process, offered rallying and equipment advice and let us know we were unconditionally welcome. We reciprocated by beating him in the rally, but that was okay with him, too. He was happy for us. So was everyone else. Rally in the West has some drama behind the scenes, but on the stages we’re all close friends, competitors but brothers and sisters, too. I’ve really enjoyed that and I continue to. I’m still part of the rally family even though right now I’m not on the stages. Let’s be honest about the “larger motorsports community”, too. It’s an ego trip, okay? There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people out there who can only dream of competing in any kind of motorsport. We’re doing it. That makes us different and special – and, by the way, privileged. For that we owe something to the sport, to the community at large and, frankly, to the people who will never realize that dream. We’re damned lucky to be able to be “insiders”. We should never, ever take it for granted. On, and then there’s the adrenaline rush. God, I love that! BD: You mentioned a non-profit startup you care about deeply. Tell me a little bit about it? What are they doing, how are they helping, and why is it necessary? (And if you can link me to it, I’d be honored to link to it in the story. Gotta spread the word, right?) DM: For over ten years we have subjected our armed forces, particular-
ly our ground forces, almost constantly to exposure to levels of stress unlike those in any other war and have done nothing – or nothing that works – to help them deal with it. Military suicide rates have nearly doubled, and the rates of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and disorder and psychological problems among veterans have skyrocketed. As someone who has dealt with mild PTSD for nearly 50 years, I have some idea what our military personnel are going through. It’s unconscionable. It’s a national disgrace. The Mind Fitness Training Institute (link: http://www.mind-fitnesstraining.org) is a non-profit organization that has developed training for military personnel that teaches them to consciously regulate their responses to extreme stress. It can dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, PTSD, help alleviate the effects of TBI (traumatic brain injury), and improve the quality of decision-making under stress. We’ve proved its effectiveness in carefully run psycho-neurological studies, with the results published in peer review journals, and we’re working hard to get it institutionalized in the military, particularly in the Marine Corps and Army but in the other services, too. We’re making progress, but it’s a slow and expensive undertaking. In the meantime, we’re also anxious to bring this skill set to other markets – law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, military families, veterans, health care providers – all of them groups that suffer from high rates of stress disorders and most of whom work or live in a mode of decision-making under high stress. Our training has the potential to save thousands of lives and to dramatically improve hundreds of thousands of others. It’s important.
just how lucky and privileged we are. Second, by sharing our experiences. Not gloating over them but genuinely sharing them. Getting people involved in rally volunteer work, for example. It helps us rally, of course, but it lets non-participants enter the “community” as well. (And I think we need to do a better job of integrating our rally volunteers into the community, also.) Anything that lets non-competitors experience motorsports indirectly or vicariously is a form of giving back. I understand the constraints we have on spectator availability at rallies, but if we could make our rallies more spectator-friendly and make it easier for more people to watch them it would be a kind of giving back. BD: I know funds are tight (oh, how I know this), but in addition to Gorman and Mendocino, any chance we might be able to get you out to Prescott? (Doesn’t Tim live in Prescott? No hotel + grandkid = win-win in my book!) DM: I’d love to come to Prescott and I may. Tim used to live in Chandler, which made Prescott a kind of home rally for us. (At least it made the tow more affordable.) Now he lives in Petaluma, not close by Prescott any more, but close to Mendocino Rally. I hope to get him to come with me to that one if it’s not a weekend when he has the kids. Prescott’s still the best rally in the west, as far as I’m concerned, although it certainly has some close competition. I’d thoroughly enjoy getting back there again. It’s a loooong drive but it would be worth it.
BD: “We owe something to the sport, to the community at large and, frankly, to the people who will never realize that dream.” Any thoughts on how that debt might be paid? How can those who can “play with cars” give back to those who can’t?
BD: Thank you, Dick. Thank you for making rally what it is in the American southwest, for bringing years of motorsport experience and professionalism with you, and for giving back. Oh yeah, and thank you for remember those of us who can only live vicariously through others right now. On behalf of everyone who reads this, I wish you the greatest of success - the kind that only comes from helping others achieve success - with MFTI, and a seat in a fast car again soon.
DM: Tough question. First and foremost, by never taking for granted
Keep going fast with class and press on regardless.
Off the soapbox!
“Let’s be honest about the ‘larger motorsports community’, too. It’s an ego trip, okay? There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people out there who can only dream of competing in any kind of motorsport. We’re doing it. That makes us different and special – and, by the way, privileged. For that we owe something to the sport, to the community at large and, frankly, to the people who will never realize that dream. We’re damned lucky to be able to be “insiders”. We should never, ever take it for granted.” GBXM | 33
HALO CAR: NEVER GIVING UP
Halo. One word. Two very different meanings here. A “halo car” is a vehicle meant to demonstrate a manufacturer’s abilities when they refuse to settle for less than perfection. It’s also a device bolted to into the skull to immobilize the head when someone breaks their neck. In a way, Nichole Decker represents both. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES NICHOLE DECKER, DAN MILLER Master Yoda said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” If you’ve ever had a vehicle totaled in an accident, you can see how it can quickly lead to the Dark Side. One of the lessons I’ve learned from talking to gearheads over the years is that, sometimes, all that stands between us and our dreams is tenacity. When we doubt our ability to achieve success - when we consider the deck stacked against us - we set ourselves up for disappointment. Nichole Decker has certainly been dealt some tough hands over the years, but where others would resign themselves to the path of least resistance, accepting the lie “this is as good as it gets,” she refuses to give up. She pours herself into her automotive projects. Everything is going to be okay because she’s going to MAKE everything okay. I love how she opens up and shares her struggles with us. As much as we’d love to have our shit together and live bullet-proof, 10-foot tall lives where everything is wonderful all the time, most of us have yet to achieve that level of luxury. Back to that post-accident dark side, if you’ve ever had a dream foreclosed due to negligence, you know that pure, straight hatred. You’re furious how your hopes and dreams have been hobbled in an instant by some inattentive ass completely undeserving of a license. You want that person to suffer. Even years later, it’s easy to let this negativity bubble up to the surface.
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Being gearheads, many of us swallow the sadness, relegate once prized possessions to mere scrap heaps, buy them back from the insurance company, and begin picking through the ashes for anything salvageable. As we part out the mangled remains, the hatred and rage comes in waves. We fear we may never have it as good as we did before that fateful moment and someone has taken it all away from us. Now imagine you were pulling mad overtime at work, fell asleep at the wheel, rolled your machine multiple times, and broke your friggin’ neck. There’s nobody to blame but yourself, and the clock is ticking if you’re going to salvage anything of value from the crumpled shell that only days ago was your pride and joy.
MEET NICHOLE DECKER Her friend Lance tipped me off that she had a story to tell and pointed me in her direction. I pinged her on Facebook. She quickly replied with a brief introduction, telling me how, back in 2008, she was working crazy overtime, fell asleep at the wheel on her way TO work, rolled her 95 Eagle Talon, and broke three bones in her neck. Once she got out of the hospital, she told me, “I went outside, all drugged up, halo on, determined to salvage what I could from the Talon.”
“I pulled and stripped the head with my boyfriend. (Couldn’t really do heavy lifting.) I sent the shell to the junkyard with one bolt in the head and one bolt holding the transmission on. We stripped it all the way down so I could save my forged Eagle Rods and Wiseco pistons. Kept the turbo, too. A month later, I traveled to Virginia, broken neck and all, to buy my current 1998 Eclipse GSX. It was bone stock with a blown 16g.” “Nothing was stopping me from buying this car. I showed up with cash in hand. Kid didn’t think it was real and took me to the bank. I was on a mission. The car went from stock in October 2008 to very modded and E85 converted.”
Back in 2008, when I rolled my Talon, it was more than I almost just died. It was my first real project. And nothing, not even a broken neck, was going to stop me from taking responsibility. I wasn’t going to let anyone take away what was mine. It was a pretty emotional time. When you work on your first project, it’s not just a car - it’s a learning experience. It’s the first time you realize that you’re really doing this; that every time the car runs and drives you feel accomplished. Through the cussing and throwing of tools to the smiling. Plus, when you break your neck, there’s only so much you can do before you lose your mind. BD: Introduce yourself: Who are you, where are you, and what do you do for a living?
BD: First question: Why this car? What does it mean to you? How can any car be so important that you’d be out in the garage wrenching with a broken neck?
I am just like any other gearhead. Cars, cars, cars. I am very laid back and love to laugh. I am more concerned about having a clean garage and car than what the house looks like. Typical gear head, eh?
ND: Why this car? I don’t just look at the outside of the car. I look at the platform. All wheel drive, cast block, turbo. Mitsubishi gave the people an awesome platform to work with. A solid, ready to make power setup. It takes little money to start producing some good power. And I enjoy being able to hook up and go.
Working on cars runs in my blood. My father and mother were all about cars and wrenching. It was passed down to me. It’s just something I enjoy doing. When I’m not wrenching, I’m thinking about my next move. Or kickin’ it back with good friends.
This car means everything to me. It’s the only time I have any real control in my life. Once I get behind the wheel of this beautiful machine, I am in total control. It’s not just a project, it’s also tied in emotionally as well. I stand back and look at all the hard work I’ve put into it over the years and think, “Wow, I did this!” It’s just a happy, ongoing accomplishment in my life.
I live in PA with my boyfriend, four cats, and three DSMs. I work for a small, family-owned auto sales group. I am a detailer. I spend my day cleaning and detailing cars. I don’t think I could work on cars every day, so I clean them. If my day is not dealing with cars then I am not happy.
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We’re trying to get away from the mod lists here at GBXM. The cars, as much as we might love them, come and go. It’s the people who ultimately keep us in “the game,” so we’re trying to tap the energy generated by the spark that is realizing we’re talking to another gearhead who “get it.” What are your specific goals for the GSX? Why? And how are you building to achieve them? My goals for the GSX is a 700hp beast; to finish the built motor in the house and drop it in. And to get on that dyno! Why? Accomplishment. To hear the beast underneath me roar and smile and think, “I did this.” Me. Not a shop. Not anyone else. I did this in my garage with my tools and my heart and soul. I work very hard to get what I want and I wouldn’t change it for the world. To achieve my goals will take time and patience. Hard work and dedication. It’s definitely not an overnight type of deal. All I can do is what any other gearhead does, work my butt off, live paycheck to paycheck, and save up. I will get there no matter what. BD: Your father and mother were all about cars and wrenching? How so? Tell us a little more about it? ND: I can only remember bits and pieces of my dad’s 60s Camaro. He built it ground up. It used to be red and he sanded it down in the garage and repainted it blue. Built the motor. Every year, he would tear it down and freshen it up. I was only four at the time and loved that car. I remember riding in it and how loud and wild it was. I named the car “Jason.” When my dad sold it I threw a fit. I bawled and bawled. I mean what four year old cares about a car? Normal four year old girls care about dress up and barbies. Not me. I cared about cars and taking my barbies to the sandbox and burning holes in them. My mom and dad used to drag race on the one highway. My mom liked cars as well. I can’t remember much more than that. My dad committed suicide when I was ten and mom won’t really talk about that time period. But it just drove me into wanting to know everything about cars. To continue his love of cars and his passion for them. After all I am daddy’s little gearhead. BD: You’re building a “700hp beast” for the sense of accomplishment. I’m always curious how people use such high horsepower cars. How often do you/will you race it? How do you expect a 700hp machine to drive on the street? Will you drive it on the street? What kind of safety equipment is going to be required to fully utilize that potential? ND: I will probably race it as much as I can. Especially at the DSM Shootout. As far as will I and how do I expect drive it on the street, I don’t know. Can’t really answer that until it’s done to see how it will drive. Nick Fox drives his almost 700hp AWD Spyder on the street. I suppose it really depends in the setup. I plan to roll cage it and have a fire extinguisher nearby. And a couple tools in the trunk. Wear a helmet and harness down the racetrack. And install a kill switch in the back bumper to shut the car down incase I wreck. BD: Your paycheck-to-paycheck comment really resonates. Despite making more money than I ever have before at my day job, I’m still in the same boat. In fact, it seems like the vast majority of us are in that boat. How do we break that cycle? What are you saving for? Is there something more you want out of life, and how do you see your time and experience with the DSM helping you get there?
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Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t fun. I just try to live by, “Pay bills first, is there enough for e85?” Then whatever’s left goes into a separate account for race car parts. I don’t think there is a way to break the cycle unless I give the car up. Which I will never do. So many DSMers sell their cars and get new ones. Not me. I’d rather live in the car in a parking lot with the built motor I have in the house in the trunk. Have a shopping cart attached to the wing for all the other stuff. I will have this car in my will. When I die, it dies. No other person will get this car. I’m saving to finish the built long block in the house. I have a fully built and .20-over block chillin’. I’d like to switch out rods from Eagle H beams to the Manley Turbo Tuff rods. And for the head, I still need cams, lifters, and seals and such. It already has the machine work done for the double valve springs and retainers I have. I want to go with the Kelford cams. And I’m also saving for an Evo 8 to daily drive so the GSX can relax in the garage. Other than getting married to the love of my life, Albert Wolf, I would like to land a better career, a house with garage and lift, and pop out a kid or two. Help him finish his AWD-converted spyder. And for the how do I see the DSM and experience helping me get there, the drive to want to get things done. BD: So the DSM is nearly done, then? What’s your time target completion date? DSM Shootout is right around the corner! Will you be ready? ND: The DSM is no where near finished. It will probably be a couple years more yet. I don’t want to rush. I like taking my time and thinking through my choices, but yes, I believe I will be solid enough to make it to the Shootout for sure! BD: Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal piece of your life story with us, Nichole. How do you think opening up like that is good for the greater gearhead community worldwide? ND: I believe opening up like that will really help other women and gearheads realize that there is always a deeper side to the passion of owning a car and working on it. That goals are important. And following through with your dreams. It shows that the other gearheads aren’t alone in the emotional aspect of wrenching on their pride and joy. BD: Where can people find and connect with you online? Who would you most like to meet? ND: People can find me on Facebook. Tristatetuners.com - “gsxbabe8.” I’d really love to meet John Shepherd. He is an amazing man in the DSM community. And I’d like to meet anyone who can see me as another gearhead regardless of gender. I’d like to meet anyone who shares the same passion as me no matter the car. A true car enthusiast, I believe, enjoys any type of car, be it tuner, exotic, muscle. And I’d also like a closing statement like Jax, too.I gotta give credit to those few trusted friends. I’d like to thank my wonderful man, Wolfy, for having the patience to put up with not only his DSM projects, but mine as well. Without him, I’d be nothing. We are a strong team. I’d like to thank my best friend Adam West (yes, that’s his real name) for being there through the time after time tuning sessions and my constant harassing. And last, but not least, Lance Bennett for surprising me in
many ways by actually having the drive to contact Gearbox Magazine about me.
TENACITY I can only imagine the fear, the doubt, the self-loathing Nichole has known on her automotive journey. She was that overworked gearhead who fell asleep behind the wheel, rolled the car, and broke her neck. With noone to blame but herself, Nichole did what any legit gearhead would do. She took care of business. She made arrangements to get the car home and, as soon as she was physically capable, she was in
the garage. Though sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been through some rough times, sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s determined to never, ever, EVER give up. Her story reminds us that, just as there will always be someone faster than us, there will always be someone who has it tougher than we do, and none of us does this alone. We have to keep our dreams running on smart goals and unrelenting determination to succeed. Sometimes, all that stands between us and our dreams is tenacity. Never give up, Nichole. Never, EVER, give up.
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POWDER TO THE PEOPLE!
When you finally find something you love doing, it inspires you to show up, suit up, and modify your life. Here’s a look at how Justin Mohney turned an interest in powdercoating into a way to make a living doing something he truly enjoys. PS: Detective Coating is an Official GBXM|united Partner. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES JUSTIN MOHNEY, DETECTIVE COATING Subscribers to Gearbox Magazine get an email linking them directly to the latest digital issue, typically within an hour of my finishing it. We’re still small enough that, if you reply to that email, it comes right back to my personal inbox. After 12-14 hours at a computer building issue 1.05 last month, I was ready to be away from the computer and get some sleep. The last thing I saw before I called it a night was an email from longtime GBXM supporter, Justin Mohney. “How ya been? I see the magazine is looking stellar! You have come a hell of a long way with it and I will do what I can to help promote it further, as you deserve it after all your hard work! Your store needs updated as 1.05 isn’t available on there yet and I was looking to purchase it. Keep up the hard work, looks like it is all paying off now.” The next morning, I did two things right away. First, I sent Justin a quick thank you. Second, I built out a past issues page on the website (link: http://gearboxmagazine.com/get-gearbox-magazine/get-theissues/) Justin owns Detective Coating, a small, but rapidly growing powder coating business. If you’re friends with him on Facebook, your feed will have pictures of gorgeous, powder coated car parts almost daily. I really enjoy seeing them, partly because he’s always super excited
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how things turned out, partly because I know he’s really been working hard to grow his side business into a full time (and I know just how hard that can be), and partly because seeing his success serves a constant reminder to me that, if I keep improving and never give up, I’ll one day make that transition myself. Since I know he works so hard and still took time away from his work (well after midnight at his end) to immediately start reading issue 1.05, and since I think his story reflects our ideals of “high performance machines & lives,” I asked him if he would be up for an interview in this issue. BD: I love seeing pictures of your work and knowing your business is going well. Would you be interested in working with me on a story about powder coating, what it is, how it works, why it’s used? I know there’s plenty of stories out there on PC, but I’d like to get into why you chose to pursue this business and how it’s made a difference in your life (and the lives of your customers). Interested? GBXM supports its supporters, imo. JM: Haha. Sorry you got it [his email] right before bed as I know adding another thing to the “todo” list right before bed makes it tougher to get
to sleep! I have no idea how you’re able to produce all of these great articles and still have time for a day job, sheesh! I would love to work with you on that! I have all kinds of thoughts/feelings/answers in my head I would like to get out there so people can see the personal touch and drive that goes into the work as well. Let me know what you had in mind, definitely looking forward to this!
AND SO BEGAN OUR CONVERSATION BD: Tell me about some of these “thoughts/feelings/answers” in your head that you’d like to get out there so people can see the personal touch and drive going into your work? That’s a great place to start an interview. JM: Hell, right now is a perfect example. I’ve been working since 11AM Tuesday and it is now 5:30AM Wednesday. Why? Because race cars need done! I love being the one that gets his parts put on last because it’s those final touches that bring the entire build together, or it could be someones daily driver, but it could be their first modification to the car that puts a huge smile on their face once they get it installed. I like to think of those moments to keep me motivated to do above and beyond my best; as much as it sucks for me working the hours I do, knowing those results are possible and do happen quite often is powerful stuff. The phone calls, emails, etc., I get after the job is complete, with pictures of everything installed and nothing but kind words, really makes for a satisfying work day. Hell, I can’t really even call it work. I love to do it and am extremely passionate about it.
I go to “work” everyday, usually 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, but it has really never felt like work or a job, which makes me proud that I have found something I can enjoy as a career and not be constantly looking at a clock for the day to be over. All of the custom/special projects I work on just keep me looking forward to the next day to see what kind of wild stuff I can come up with. Right now, I’m working on a Pittsburgh-themed valve cover that a returning customer is having done for a friend as a tribute to a friend they lost last year. Tons of pressure on me to do this just right, as I want it to be perfect for him, but the thought I have of him being overwhelmed with the final product really pushes me to work extra hard to make it flawless. Ok. I’ll quit chattering for now. Took a little break and half my brain may be sleeping right at this point, anyhow. Time to get back to work for a bit before the whole body crashes.
INTRODUCING JUSTIN MOHNEY, OWNER, DETECTIVE COATING Did you catch that just now? That he’d been working 18 hours straight, through the night, but STILL took a break to respond to my request before going back to work some more. That’s dedication. Who does your powder coating? BD: Introduce yourself, mate. Who are you, where are you and what do you do for a living? JM: I’m Justin Mohney, owner/operator of Detective Coating (link:
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http://www.detectivecoating.com/1/). I am currently located in BFE, I mean, Saint Mary’s, Pennsylvania. The business is now my full time job after five years of hard work to make it to this point. BD: Why powder coating? How did you come to do this for a living? JM: Interesting story behind this, at least I like to think so. Winter of 2008 hit. I was in college and knew, living where I do, there wouldn’t be much to do over the winter. I did some gazing at powder coating work by Kevin Kovatch and the Loose brothers (Eric and Brian), which I was highly impressed by, but convinced myself I could powdercoat as well. I had recently had a blotch job done by another coater that left me less than satisfied, so in my typical fashion, it hit me again that I could do this myself. Every year I get the same question from my parents “What do you want for Christmas?” Finally, I actually had an answer for them after years of saying “I don’t know”. I told them, specifically, I wanted the Eastwood hobby kit and their tumbler as well, since I had been resurrecting my newly acquired DSM. Unfortunately for my parents, I was at my fathers business a week or two before Christmas when UPS dropped off this box from Eastwood. I felt like Ralphie getting his Red Ryder B.B. gun! I was so ecstatic. I knew I had to convince my dad to let me use it before Christmas. I somehow managed to do so, and got blasting, cleaning, etc., as fast as I could on some of the parts I had out there to practice on. Problem
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was, I didn’t have an oven to cure the coated parts in, but I got the bright idea to use their heat treating oven for tool steel to cure my coated parts. Some turned out okay to my standards, but others were just a contaminated nightmare. So off to the local classifieds I went right away to find myself a household oven to cure parts in. Initially, I had a few of my friends ask me to do parts for them which, of course, I did for free since I had no intention of ever starting a business or doing it more than a night or two a week when my free time allowed. Then I started to post pictures in my build threads and all of a sudden I’m getting messages left and right about coating stuff for people. Being the broke college student I was, I took on what I thought I could do and got a real shock as to how difficult it was to get parts coated to others’ standards, in a timely manner, and still be profitable. I found myself driving eight hours home from college every weekend to coat as much as I could, and literally working 40+ hours over that weekend. It’s never really felt like a job per se, it’s just been something I am ridiculously passionate about and love doing day in and day out. BD: Back to pulling 12-24 hour days, 7 days a week, “because race cars need done,” isn’t there a risk of eventual burnout working like that? Right now, you’re on fire. Why is that? And how do you temper your passion so as to preserve your staying power? JM: Most definitely! There have been multiple times where I wanted to throw in the towel, give up, and call it quits. Times when I’ve lost my ass
on a project, screwed it up so bad not knowing what to do, or just plain and simply worked so much that I couldn’t take it anymore. The majority of the time was when I was working another full time job so trying to play this balancing act of working two jobs full time and maintain a healthy relationship with my girlfriend was not easy. Honestly, still isn’t. I knew what I wanted to do though. I wanted to own my own business. I’ve never enjoyed working for someone else, since you don’t get much personal freedom and don’t really get to enjoy your job. I was always told that work isn’t for pleasure and work is never fun. Fuck that. I knew I would find a way to do so and knew I just had to keep pushing as I could see the light shining through. The biggest risk of burnout? I have an oven that I’m in at 400 degrees every day! Haha. On a serious note, 99% is because of my customers/friends. I have made some seriously amazing relationships in this business and have met some of the best people that do nothing but spread my name and show off my work. I’ve been completely baffled by the push that people give towards my business out of their own free time. The other 1% is said best, in my opinion, by Will Smith: “And where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. You know, while the other guy’s sleeping? I’m working.” I think I preserve my staying power by doing cool, new projects that really interest me and make me learn something new I never thought
I would be able to do before. Currently, I’m working on a few new projects, like a memorial valve cover that is Pittsburgh themed. It really spruced my mind when I got called about the project. I love adding new coatings to the lineup as well, though the time to do so is few and far between. Currently, I’m looking at adding a service to “dip” your car using Plasti Dip and trying to find some more time to master hydrographics, which I have been able to do successfully over powder coating instead of the paint that all of the hydrographics companies call for.
DROPPING OUT AND STARTING UP BD: You said you were going to school when this all started, working a full-time job (sorry, two full-time jobs). Now you do Detective Coating full-time. Still going to school? Why or why not? Where does that track lead? (Looking at if you’ve stopped, but want to go back some day, or why you’re still going and if it’s related to your business, if that makes sense.) JM: No school anymore. It really wasn’t for me to begin with, but I stuck it out and took what I could from it. It was just one of those things in life where I wasn’t going to just quit, but looking back now, I should have. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. I worked at a juvenile rehabilitation center for nine months before I got fed up with the behind-closed-doors crap and moved back home to try coating full time.
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This happened in April of 2011 and I wasn’t prepared to work for myself full time. I had no idea what I was doing. That lasted all of about a month before I realized it was time to find a full time job to pay the bills, since I attempted this in the heat of the summer (you know that time when people are driving their cars and not apart wanting stuff coated). I went and worked at a factory for a month and couldn’t take it. Terrible pay and dreadful days of repetition made me leave there within a month. I got a job with the local industrial powder coater and worked for them for nearly 2 years before finally being so overwhelmed I had to decide between one or the other. I was slammed all winter long, working both jobs, not sleeping, not eating; it was a very unhealthy lifestyle. I learned pretty quickly into college that books and someone trying to get me to memorize something to get this fancy piece of paper wasn’t how I learned anything. I was a hands on learner, and the best way for me to learn anything is being in the field doing it, not in a classroom talking about it. The most valuable information I have ever learned in life was not in a classroom. BD: Give us an idea just how much powder coating you do in a given month these days. How many pieces? How many colors? How do they vary? Maybe elaborate on some of the more unique and challenging projects you’ve had? JM: Phewww, a lot! If I had to guess, I would say on average 150 parts per month (including small brackets, etc.) The colors have been endless; likely 75+ colors any given month, which keeps my passion pepped. The colors can be very intricate to work with, too. Some will not bond correctly with another or they will bleed or contaminate another color, which always has me thinking which route to go with a part. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as someone wanting red, I can just drop a ton of powder on it, and poof! A lot of them require a chrome base coat, a clear coat, and so on. Those are the more challenging ones, especially when it comes to getting two of those colors on one part. There have been so many off the wall projects I never even imagined being coating, too! For example, a wedding band, fades on valve covers, custom-masked wheels requiring precise lines, and that Pittsburgh-themed valve cover is very complex, with a lot of precision and fine detail. I even have a guy that wants me to powder coat his pros-
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thetic finger! Definitely odd, but why not? BD: I think it would also be nice to learn how you dealt with those projects you mentioned that just went to shit on you at the last minute and how you handled the customers who were counting on you. What did it take to make things right, how did you pull it off, and why was it so important you did? JM: This is what makes the job very tough. The majority of people have very tight deadlines, and with the workload I normally have, I have to nail everything the first time. Being a one-man shop keeps me working around the clock, whether its getting their parts coated or answering phone calls and trying to figure out what route I can go to get things shipped in time. There have been plenty of times where I stayed up all night working 20+ hours, or giving up multiple weekends to make my customer satisfied. To me, having them satisfied makes it all worth it, but back to the burnout part of this, I also have to keep myself - on a personal level - satisfied. Thankfully, most of my customers know how I work and that I’m constantly busting my ass to get their stuff done in time and doing everything possible, but, realistically, there are times I fall short on a deadline. Some of my customers are racing at national events and need their parts back by a certain date (always seems like a day after receiving them), and without those parts they’re not competing that
weekend. Having that on my shoulders can be quite a big burden, but, remarkably, I’ve always managed to get them back to them on time even if it’s meant driving a few hours to drop the parts off in person. BD: None of us does this alone. Who’s made this dream possible? JM: Thankfully, since Day One, I’ve had a ton of people behind me that continue to push me to do my best and keep at it even when times are tough. Initially, I had my old roommate Brian telling me that some of the first parts looked bad and I should look into correcting the issue, so I did just that. My Dad has been a HUGE part of this, as he has been constantly giving me business advice and is always intrigued by my work. Making your father happy with what you have become is normally one of your top goals in life, so when he says things like “keep up the good work,” I know I’m doing something right. My girlfriend, Chelsie, has played a big role the past two years or so with keeping my head on straight when things go bad, along with helping me with marketing, shipping, sandblasting, and more when I get overwhelmed with work. My brother Adam has helped with designing different artwork, sandblasting and cleaning up shop, which I can’t thank him enough for, as he’s always there to help me out when he sees I’m getting backed up or could use a hand with something. And, obviously, if it wasn’t for all my awesome customers, I wouldn’t still be doing thisl. They help by spreading the word to their friends and get my name and product out there which is a huge help! BD: Tell us a little bit more about this upcoming move into Plasti-dip and hydrographics. Why are you moving in this direction and how difficult is it given your workload? What’s it going to take to achieve the same success?
JM: Essentially, this started early last year, when Chelsie and I went to Arkansas for hydrographics training. It ended up being a huge waste of money, as we were less than satisfied with the training, so we have been teaching ourselves whenever we find a free night (ha) to mess around with it and try new things. The Plasti-dip recently became an idea since I decided I wanted to change the color of my own car and cover up some of the rock chips and other paint blemishes that could be done for far less than a full paint job, along with the benefit of changing the color, since I never wanted a silver [Audi] S4 to begin with, but settled on it. At this point in time, I won’t be able to take it on by myself, so I will be looking to hire employees in the fall to take on the extra workload. BD: Finally, where can our readers find you and connect? JM: Best bet is always Facebook. I’m on there constantly and usually get back to people within minutes. (link: https://www.facebook.com/ justinspowdercoating) I also really appreciate it when people “like” the Detective Coating page. (link: https://www.facebook.com/detectivecoating2)
IF YOU BELIEVE IT, YOU WILL ACHIEVE IT There are powerful lessons to be learned in this story. Justin saw something he thought looked like fun, found he really enjoyed doing it, and realized he’s a kinesthetic (tactile, hands-on) learner. The reason why “do what you love and the money will follow” is so powerful is because, when you love what you do, you do more of it and you do your best, accelerating the learning curve. We’ll have to do an article introducing the various learning styles and digging deeper into developing expertise in a future issue, but I hope you turn the page with a sense that, if you believe you can do something, you will achieve it through passion, dedication, and good, old fashioned hard work.
“I learned pretty quickly into college that books and someone trying to get me to memorize something to get this fancy piece of paper wasn’t how I learned anything. I was a hands on learner, and the best way for me to learn anything is being in the field doing it, not in a classroom talking about it. The most valuable information I have ever learned in life was not in a classroom.” GBXM | 43
HIT THE TRAIL! (JUST REMEMBER THEY CAN HIT BACK!)
How awesome was Marty McFly’s Toyota Hilux? So awesome many of us STILL want one just like it. This month, Adam introduces us to Nick Prutch, who satisfied his craving for an N40 Hilux by learning to drive in his dad’s, buying it when he turned 16, and turning it into the machine you see here today. WORDS ADAM CAMPBELL | IMAGES NATALIE PENNELL In the world of rock crawling there are really two main types of vehicles; trucks and buggies, I’ll admit that buggies are generally the more capable of the two but I don’t find their performance very impressive. I mean, I can respect the work and engineering that is involved, but to me they seem generic. Yeah, a lot of people like them and they’re good at what they do, but so is malt liquor.
This rig is well built though, and Nick knows how to drive. Not once did we see him throttle over something. Not surprising though, considering this is the same vehicle he learned to drive in and it originally came without power steering. He bought it from his dad when he was 16 and, much like every kid who watched Back to the Future, he always wanted that pickup.
On the REAL truck side, things are different (especially for streetable and legal rigs). You are wheeling what you drove to the trail and it better be able to take the punishment. Most of the us drive trucks we built ourselves and I really enjoy seeing normal, every day trucks built into 4-wheeling machines out on the trail, which brings me to Nick Prutch and his 1986 Toyota pickup.
When he first got the truck, it was completely straight. He soon found out how unforgiving the desert rocks can be on tighter trails. The bed kept getting bashed, so he shortened and narrowed the bed and removed the frame from behind the shackles. Like every gearhead, things snowballed from there. He torched the independent suspension up front in favor of a solid axle for strength and suspension travel. Then came lockers, lower axle and transfer case gears, bigger tires and, of course, power steering.
When I met Nick, I was at a staging area for some trails north of Phoenix. I was riding along with my friend Kevin in his Montero (the majority owner of the haggard Montero of my last article). While we were waiting for everyone to show up, we see Nick roll up in his truck and we just looked at each other and Kevin said, “That’s rad, I hope he’s with our group.” Nick has no windows, no doors, plenty of body damage, and he still drives it to the trail (no need for a windshield in Arizona as long as you have eye protection).
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With rock crawling, everything you upgrade seems to get you a little farther out or wheeling a little bit harder and soon your machine is at it’s limits. From there, Nick turns it up to 11 by running two Toyota transfer cases (the second case multiplies the first one’s gear ratio), 37” tires, 30-spline Longfield axles, his own custom blend of leaf springs, and he upgraded his swapped-in power steering with a home brew, hydraulic assist steering setup.
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Have you ever wanted to write about cars for a living? We designed a program to help aspiring auto writers accelerate their voices called Penmanshift. Our beta test, showed us we just didn’t have the time to fully devote ourselves to its development so we put it on a shelf. Why let a good thing go to waste, though? We’re sharing it with you because, well, it’s a look at how we approach automotive journalism here at GBXM|united. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS Welcome back to Penmanshift. Last month, I introduced you to the program we created to help aspiring auto writers “accelerate their voices” and the first module of the program, detailing the principles of journalism excellence to which we here at Gearbox Magazine aspire. Our first loyalty is to you, our readers - our gearhead family - we remain independent and off the dole, and we strive to make the significant interesting and relevant. This month, I’ve got two modules for you - Understanding the Audience & Asking the Right Questions. These were the two main discussion topic in Week 2 of the Penmanshift beta. Let’s start with Understanding the Audience.
UNDERSTANDING THE AUDIENCE How can we be loyal to our readers if we don’t truly understand who they are? It sounds easy enough, but it can be damned tricky. Too broad a definition and you’re bashing your head against a wall trying to be all thing to all people (which is impossible). Too narrow, and you might as well just print your stories and hand them to your mom for display on the refrigerator. Penmanshift program objective: Upon completion of this program, you will be able to: speak, at-length, about your audience, its members, their wants & needs Something neat to think about; there are currently more than 7 BILLION of us on Earth. If just HALF of us are online, and you want to write about something that only appeals to 1-in-a-MILLION, that still means there’s over 3,500 people out there who will like it. It’s easy to think you need to scale to millions of hits and subscribers and all that, but I guarantee you, if I had just 3,000 subscribers paying US$36/yr for digital subscriptions to GBXM, I’d be doing this full time, have a paid, part-time assistant, and STILL re-invest $20 grand a year back into sponsorships, contests, and prizes. And that’s without any advertising at all! (See why we don’t do advertising?)
WHERE DO YOU START?
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First and foremost, we believe you should write for yourself. If you don’t enjoy writing, why are you pursuing a career in writing, anyway?Second, we believe you should write for your audience, but you knew that, right? The trick is understanding your audience and producing content worth their time. Do a little research into content marketing strategy and you’re likely to come across mention of the “Three E’s.” As you devise and develop your articles, we want you to keep these Three E’s (plus one) in mind. Every article you write should do at least one of these for your readers and, the more of them you can combine, the more powerful the story. Let’s get to it!
Three E’s + One Educate - Think of this one as how-to articles. When writing to educate (as I did when I sat down to draft all these curriculum posts in advance), you need to consider your audience. “Why does my reader want to do this? How will this help him do it right? What will it take for her to do it?” Are you working on an article which will help someone do something? Picture the successful final result in your mind’s eye, then work backward to the beginning. Once you’ve got the basic process down in its entirety, you can go back and add additional tips and contingency information if you wish to add even more value by enlightening your reader. Enlighten - Think of this one as nice-to-know or interesting articles. It’s similar to educate, but without the specific need or want to accomplish something based on the article. Where ‘educate’ might be a how-to on choosing the right tires for your application, an ‘enlighten’ piece might talk about various tire manufacturing processes or how companies get involved in grassroots motorsports. It’s a very subtle difference and one which pairs nicely with an entertaining angle or style of writing. Entertain - Think of this one as fun articles. Let your sense of humor shine through in the work. You don’t have to be so rigid (unless that’s your style), but think of something someone might want to read while bored at work. Entertaining content can bring people back to your work over and over again, because the experience of reading it is so enjoyable.
Empower - This is our additional E. Done right, all of the above serve to empower your reader. When you educate, you empower someone to take action in life. When you enlighten, you empower someone to at least speak intelligently on a subject of interest. And, if you can do all that with a fresh, entertaining style, you empower yourself to advance in your writing ambitions. We believe there’s a real need for stories that empower people to not only feel more in control of their lives, but to actually TAKE more control. If you can do that, you’re going to be unstoppable.
THE DISCUSSION After this, we asked our beta testers a few questions. Who is our target audience? Why are they here? How do they know this is the right place? What are they looking for? These are simple conversation starters to get you thinking about the audience.
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS The second discussion topic in Week 2 of Penmanshift was around asking the right questions. Upon completion of this section of the program, participants would be able to elicit high quality information from contacts through advanced interview techniques. Whoa. That sounds pretty heavy, right? Actually? It really isn’t. Here. Let me give you some examples. How would you answer these questions? Don’t hesitate or think beyond your first, gut answer. • Do you have a car? • Do you like it? • Is it fast enough? Now, how would you answer these questions? Same thing. No hesitation or deep thought. • Why did you buy your car? • How well has it served you since then? • How will you know when it’s fast enough? How were your answers to the second set different from the first? Do you have a car? Yes! Why did you buy it? Can you even answer that one in one word? Can you answer any of them with a single word? The second set of questions are open-ended questions. They aren’t limited to one-word answers. Sure, there are times when you want or need to ask yes or no questions, but most of the time, it’s a better idea to get the person you’re interviewing to open up and share their thoughts. Avoid building questions on: do, does, can, who, is. DO try building questions on: why, how, who, what, when, where, to what extent. One of the most powerful TED talks we’ve seen was Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.” Take a couple minutes to watch it. It’s one of the more popular TED talks of all time. It immediately makes sense, yet how often do we see it in practice?
to build high performance lives? Once we know why and how, what becomes a piece of cake. Also, we should mention that interviews are best done in person than over the phone, then via email. You will get totally different answers/ responses if all of your work is done via email, and it’s honestly pretty easy to tell those who have written stories as such. Anyone I’ve interviewed in the last three years who wanted to do it over the phone is probably going, “Wait a minute...” right about now. Probably even moreso when I mention I just took a break from adapting this stuff to run in an issue of the magazine instead of on a forum to talk to a reporter from ProPublica about a story he’s doing. In person or over the phone is always best. Thing is, until I get a couple thousand people to pay for subscriptions, I have to rock a day job just like you, meaning I have to do my interviews on the side. Still, the dream is to spend my days on the phone, Skype, or Google Hangouts with you, learning why you do the things you do and how we can make a difference in your life.
THE DISCUSSION After hopefully showing the power - and relative simplicity - of openended questions, we started a simple game. I posted a starter question: Why do you think LeMons/ChumpCar racing is growing so fast? The first person to reply had to answer my question, then pose an open-ended question for the next person. Even today, almost two years since I first watched that Simon Sinek video, I still have to catch myself and remember why > how > what when I start typing up interview questions.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE & ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS Here at Gearbox Magazine, our “target audience” seems like it’s always changing. It’s evolving. And I think that’s a good thing. You can read a story - likely the SAME story - about the 1000hp Nissan Skyline or Russian road rage or that guy who lights a cigarette from his fuel filler spout anywhere. We’re not looking to be all things to all people. We’re looking to be something special to a special group of gearheads who see how the skills we use to improve our machines can also be used to improve our lives. As far as I know, nobody else in the automotive media is trying to do this, so we’re learning as we go. And, as we go, I want us to ask the right questions, to dig deep and reveal just how much we all have in common, from the struggles to the successes. Sometimes all that stands between success and failure is tenacity - never, ever, ever, giving up. Sometimes it takes more than that, and when we share this stuff with each other, we all share in the learning experience. That’s how we build high performance machines. That’s how we build high performance lives.
NEXT MONTH: Penmanshift 3 - Headlines: One Shot. One Kill.
With interviews it’s the same; you want to get to the real story. WHY do we modify our machines? WHY did you spend all your money on a DSM/BMW/Camry? How and what follow from there, easily. HOW do we use what we know about building high performance machines
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WHY WE NEED GEARHEAD CLUBS
Here’s 3 reasons why we believe we need gearhead clubs. What’s a gearhead club? It’s a formal group with some basic structure that gets together on a regular basis to do more than just turn wrenches. Our automotive experiences give us an edge, right? What if we mentored each other in areas beyond the wrench. What kind of edge could we get then? More skills means more expertise means more wins means more high performance lives. Let’s do this! WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS There’s a feeling of being part of something big, something important, when we get together in person. The sense of pride we get when we’re rolling down the highway in a group, or how our home forum feels after we spend a weekend at that big, annual event with everyone. The machines bring us together, but it’s the people that keep us together. We need more of that.
This also applies to our lives beyond the machines. Short of being your own boss and building a network of people who would be customers of or refer customers to your own business, the best jobs are those to which we are referred. The last three jobs I’ve had were like that; friends mentioned interesting opportunities, I pursued them, I got them.
I read an article on Art of Manliness (AoM) titled “How to Create a Lifelong Brotherhood” (link at the end) which talked about why we need that closer relationship with each other (and how to begin) and it rekindled a fire in me. These past few years have shown me just how incredible it is to be part of a truly global family. In this article - first in a series, methinks - I’m going to share a gearhead’s adaptation of that AoM piece. I give you 3 reasons why we need gearhead clubs.
High performance lives are about more than just a decent paycheck, though! Sure, it helps, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a gearhead buddy who knows about real estate help you find and buy your next house? What about helping you install that sprinkler system or fix the garage door? Maybe you’d like to learn fly fishing or how to build a treehouse for your kid or just get a lead on a good book to read. These are all things we could discover in a gearhead club.
REASON #1: IT’S HOW WE BUILD BETTER MACHINES & LIVES
REASON #2: WORKING TOGETHER IS HOW WE BEST LEARN
We all want more out of our machines and lives. We want more power from our race cars, more range from our EVs, and more utility from our SUVs. We want our lives to be more interesting, rewarding, and meaningful; count for something, to matter. We want challenges that inspire us to do and be more. We want a sense of purpose greater than making more money so we can buy more shit we really don’t need.
How many times have we been on our own, bashing our heads against the wall trying to do things the hard way? I remember one time, trying to get the head off my Galant VR4 for the first time in a tiny apartment complex garage on a hot, Phoenix evening. Despite having all the nuts and bolts out - and being able to lift and move it - I couldn’t get it free. I heaved and cursed and finally brute forced it out - with both manifolds still attached. And my sore back reminded me of my folly all the following day.
I like to think of gearhead clubs as places where we maximize our limited, personal resources; where investments in our automotive and professional skills pay huge returns. We’re all really good at something. Imagine being able to get help with something you’re not skilled at by trading your expertise. A simple example, in a gearhead club, someone skilled at building custom wire harnesses might offer to wire up a race car in exchange for a roll cage install. Better yet, clubs like this could be places where we help each other learn new skills. I’ll help you build and maintain that new wire harness and you’ll help me build and install that roll cage. The more I understand what you do, and the more you understand what I do, the more skilled we become together. The more skilled we become together, the more likely we are to discover something truly new and exciting that helps us all go faster.
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My friend John (up in Colorado) likes to say “Many hands make light work.” So true. Just one gearhead buddy there with you doubles the odds in your favor. You can physically lift more and you can see both sides of problem at once. A buddy can hand down the right sized wrench when you’ve finally got that damn thing lined up enough to get the bolt started before it falls again. And a buddy can be all that stands between you and a complete mental breakdown. When we team up, we also share in the benefits of learning. Everyone sees the problem a little differently, discusses potential solutions, and benefits from the AH-HA! moment when the solution is found. And each of us is empowered to solve the problem on our own - or at least know who to call for a reminder - when we face it solo at some point in the future.
REASON #3: IT’S THE ANTIDOTE FOR FEAR & LOATHING We can’t stop here. This is bat country. I don’t know about you, but it seems like everything I can think of that sucks in life stems from fear and/or loathing. The fear of being inadequate, of not being fully in charge of my own life, and, as I get older, the fear that I’m going to run out of time to accomplish all the things I wanted to do. I worry that my life’s purpose will be little more than doing mindless tasks for giant corporations and paying bills. This leads to a sense of loathing, self- and otherwise. I loathe myself for falling for the spin and graft of the mass media mind fuck, buying into the consumer mindset and I find myself looking at those who have it “better” than me with disdain. Clearly, as dumb as they obviously are, they don’t deserve the good things they have. Paging sonder (http:// gearboxmagazine.com/feeling-hyrdrolocked/) and transference to the white courtesy phone. That’s bullshit, but we all tend to do it from time to time. One of the biggest plusses I can see from a strong, local gearhead club is the effect all the shared wins would have on our attitudes. Achievement is a heck of a drug. Nobody wants to be JSB. (Jack Stand Baller, it’s a Galant VR4 thing.) We modify our machines because the feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together is like crack. If you’ve ever fired up an engine you built with your own two hands, you know what I’m talking about. Even being asked for your advice on solving something simple over the phone feels pretty damn good, right? Gearhead clubs would give us multiple, frequent opportunities to feel appreciated, respected, and empowered. Sure, my project might sit for six months while I save for a major repair, but it still feels good to know I played a part in helping you get yours back on the road, maybe even for the first time in six months, and especially when I know you’ll be there to help me with mine!
The same could be said for non-automotive accomplishments, too. One of the nice things about being a connected gearhead is knowing we’ve got an edge over everyone else. We know how to do things most people don’t and are too scared to try. Gearhead clubs would give us the ability to become knowledgeable and get that edge in other areas of life, too - just like we do with our machines.
HOW GEARHEAD CLUBS ALIGN WITH GEARBOX MAGAZINE This magazine began with stories from gearheads like us all over the world. It started as a platform to show the world how truly exceptional the “average” gearhead is. Today, we’re moving in a new direction, sharing deeper, more meaningful stories from the same gearheads, because we want to bring down the barriers created by platform, pursuit, geographic, or language barriers. Tomorrow, I’d love to see Gearbox Magazine showcasing the power of dynamic, connected enthusiasts like yourself. Many hands make light work, and we are more than the sum of our parts. I genuinely believe that, united, we can achieve greatness - high performance machines AND lives. And I see gearhead clubs being a great way to start working together to make that happen. I’m going to try starting one where I live. How about you? NEXT MONTH | HOW TO CREATE THE GEARHEAD CLUB. The AoM article linked below pretty much covers it, but I’ll be adapting it to suit my own tastes. Would you like to talk about gearhead clubs? Join “Gearheads Without Borders” on Google Plus and let’s chat! Link to Gearheads Without Borders on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/115706442089548093975 Link to inspirational post on Art of Manliness: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/06/18/how-to-create-a-lifelong-brotherhood/
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ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAINS
It’s a dry heat, but it’s still heat, and we here in Phoenix are fortunate to have the Mogollon Rim less than 2 hours to the north. Toward the end of June, John, Lance, and I made our way north, where the temperatures were 50°F cooler than home. We threw knives, hiked, drank a lot of whiskey, and came *this close* to discovering an epic cliff. WORDS BRIAN DRIGGS | IMAGES JUSTIN MOHNEY, DETECTIVE COATING It was at least 104°F/40°C every single day in the month of June here in Phoenix. We had eight days over 110°F/43°C, and on the 29th, it got all the way up to 119°F/48°C. You know how much rain we got in that time? Absolutely none. Yeah. “It’s a dry heat.” Even though everyone here is pretty much used to it (I personally commute to and from work in a black, 1989 Pajero without AC), anything all the time’s a drag. We love to escape north to the Mogollon (“moe-GEEon”) Rim and beyond, where the temperatures are generally 20-30° cooler during the day.
FRIDAY After no small amount of wishful thinking finally gave way to actual planning, John, Lance, and I snuck out of work early on a Friday, loaded up Lance’s F-150, and made our way north. In part to escape the heat. In part to have a guys’ weekend away. We each brought a selection of our own, modest, camping gear, and something to contribute to food and drink. As we were entering Payson, the conversation turned to the selection of Whiskeys Lance and John had brought - Toasted Caramel, Red Stag, American Honey - and all I’d brought from home was some PBR. I asked if they’d ever had
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Rye, they hadn’t, so we stopped at Wal-Mart for Rye. Got Subway instead because Wal-mart sucks and only carries bottled Detroit. After a brief detour to the local speakeasy for a bottle of Jim Beam Rye, we continued gaining altitude as we rolled through Pine and Strawberry on AZ87, before turning down a dirt road that was, in some sections, little more than two well-worn tire tracks through the scrub brush. The GPS said we were close to the edge of the rim, but all we saw were trees. All of the sudden, the road entered a small clearing, with a giant Alligator Juniper right on the edge of a 500ft (150M) ledge overlooking the valley below. We had found the most epic campsite. After tying off our hammocks, unpacking the truck, and having a good look around, we started our first round of drinks - the refreshing, if not forgettable, PBRs. John broke out a brand new set of inexpensive throwing knives and we took turns trying to stick them in a tree on the edge of camp (that didn’t have a cliff beyond it) from 15 or so feet away. The knives left almost as much to be desired as our skill throwing them. I don’t think any of us got all three to stick on a single turn. In fact, I kinda remember it was a big deal when John stuck two in a row.
After about an hour of throwing knives and bullshitting, we walked back over to camp and Lance broke out the Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whiskey. Let me tell you, this is liquid candy. I wouldn’t say we’re any kind of aficionados when it comes to whiskey. Far from it, but we’ve reached the point in our lives where we’re no longer drinking to get drunk so much as to find the odd adult beverage that complements the situation. Sitting in folding camp chairs 1000+ feet (300M) up on a bluff overlooking hundreds of square miles of forest as the sky seamlessly changes from pale to the darkest of blues, with the temperature dropping toward 50°F/10°C, candy-flavored whiskey was perfect. We sipped our booze out of blue, metal coffee cups. We talked about all sorts of stuff. Lance made epic spaghetti on his camp stove, since campfires were prohibited in the forest. We did sneak in a tiny campfire started with Swedish Fire Steel that night, mainly because we’d never actually started a fire that way before, and partly because, well, camping kinda requires a campfire, ya know? To our credit, our fire lasted all of 30 minutes, was never larger than about six inches across, and was smothered and doused before we went to bed.
Our campsite for the weekend.
We sat there, up on our ridge, mostly being quiet, listening to the sound of the wind racing up the vertical face of the ridge and through the old growth pines above us. Our conversation became sparse as we stared into Mother Earth and she stared back into us. It was then, at exactly 10PM, when Camp Geronimo down in the valley below belted out Taps over a PA system which carried across the valley, even reaching us up on the rim. It was incredible. We decided to call it a night and racked out in our hammocks. Though John and Lance had actual camping hammocks which could practically be zipped shut around them like cocoons, I was in a $20 jobber best suited for lazy afternoon naps on the back patio. I couldn’t zip up my sleeping bag while in it, and after a gust of wind nearly blew the shipping blanket (yes - one of those thick, blue blankets they wrap furniture with - it was new and clean) I had over me over the edge of the cliff along with my favorite bush hat, it became clear to me that mine wasn’t up to snuff, so I slept in the backseat of the truck. It was only about 6in (15cm) too short.
A view from our campsite for the weekend.
SATURDAY Despite a somewhat fitful night in the cramped confines of the fullsized Ford, I was the first one up in the morning; sometime around 0630. The sun was already up, and it was warm enough in the sun to switch from the Duluth Trading Company Tech Flex pants (best pants I’ve ever owned, by the way - absolutely worth the money) and company polo shirt I’d worn both to work and to bed the day before into shorts and fresh shirt. While the guys slept in, I struck out to explore the area around camp. I couldn’t help but notice the remnants of the last fire to sweep through the area. How long ago it might have been, I don’t know, but it seemed like about 20% of the trees in the area were still charred, and you couldn’t walk 30 seconds in any direction without having to step over felled trees.
Wizard Tree might stands guard on the rim.
Where the tall, slender evergreens had given way, wild grasses and Oak trees were springing up. Each footstep was met with the crunch of
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Looking down from the edge of camp
Looking back at camp from the second ridge, Saturday.
bone dry pine needles and pine cones. Despite being up on a mountaintop some 30 degrees cooler than down below, with an almost endless sea of greenery in every direction, up close, it’s pretty clear the climate is changing, and the vegetation with it. A dry lightning strike or stray cigarette butt up here is a guaranteed wildfire. Pretty sad.
center spike reaching some 12ft/3.5M into the sky. As I stood there admiring the colors of its flowers (and wishing I could get close enough to see what they smell like), a hummingbird flew up.
Back to the good stuff, though, as I walked along the edge of the rim, I came across a Century Plant. Also known as “Agave Americana,” this neat plant had a base maybe the diameter of a tire with its end-of-life
Since I had been using my phone as a camera (no service up there for me), I took a picture. I was surprised how well it actually turned out. Then another hummingbird flew up. I took another picture. I mean, how often do you catch decent pictures of hummingbirds on a cameraphone? When I arrived back at camp, John and Lance were already up and moving around. After a quick breakfast and cleanup, we decided to do some hiking. We kind of retraced my steps, then went further, coming across multiple other campsites, perhaps not used in years, all buried in tinder among the pines. We came upon a road we suspected would lead back to our camp and headed back. After some time spent trying to tie clever knots - mainly the Prusik http://www.animatedknots.com/prusik/ - and carving intricate, pointy sticks with our freshly sharpened camp knives, we found ourselves simply relaxing again. That’s when I saw it. Standing on the bleeding edge of the steep, rocky, escarpment that was our campsite, I was looking out across to the nearest ridge, think-
2 hummingbirds with 1 camera phone.
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Setting up dinner Friday night.
ABOVE: The author, with fellow adventurers Lance Wheelock and John Patterson ing about how long it would take us to hike over there and if it would be worth it. It looked like there was a small canyon on the far side which could be pretty interesting.
deep. Not gonna lie, I’m terrified of open heights, so I stayed back and pointed out the false security provided by the rope John and Lancer clung to as they crept as close as they dared to the edge.
As I followed the ridge over to the left, I noticed there was a relatively easy path we could take to get out to it if we just started our hike a short distance to the north. It looked interesting, so I pointed it out to the fellas. Less than five minutes later, we were on our way.
Back out on the ridge, we took some pictures of our campsite from our new vantage point, a couple extra pictures of each other, and commented on how some of the long dead tree trunks we were seeing were 4-10 times larger than anything currently alive. We wondered how old they were, how they died, and speculated why none of the current trees were so large.
We hiked down the gentle slope, through waist-high thickets of bushes with thorns all over them (trivia: plants tough enough to survive on their own in Arizona often seem interested in either killing you or at least ruining your day), climbing over more felled trees, and found ourselves on the neighboring ridge. My hunch had paid off. There was indeed a small canyon on the far side. The canyon was pretty incredible. Mature, 60 foot tall pines were growing out of the rock faces and several rocks thrown straight out took enough time to make noise down below the tree canopy (we couldn’t see the bottom) that we figured it had to be 600-800ft (180-250M)
Our first visitors showed up as we were making our way back to camp for lunch; a couple on mountain bikes. I shouted up to them that the shirt hike was entirely worth it and we gave them their space. Back at camp, I fired up a couple cans of chili, topped with shredded cheddar, with ham and swiss sandwiches. After filling our camp cups with a splash of water, we resumed drinking Toasted Caramel. Wait. No we didn’t. We finished that the night before. Saturday we had Red Stag Honey Tea whiskey.
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The Moon got a good head start, but night was approaching fast. After glorious, early afternoon naps in our hammocks (mine was pretty good for that), we decided to attempt hiking out to the little rock face on the other side of camp. Unfortunately, half an hour trudging through a waist-deep thicket of scrub brush with all the nastiness of an angry Rose bush (but none of the pleasantries), we found ourselves clinging to a small outcropping of boulders overlooking the tops of 30-foot (9M) pine trees and decided it was too risky. Before returning to camp, we considered making our way over the next ridge, but wrote it off as probably just being more of the same little box canyon we’d just looked at. You can imagine our surprise when we got home, pulled up the coordinates in Google Earth, and saw what laid just over that ridge. Back at camp, we each took turns cranking the little solar- and crankpowered radio-slash-USB-phone-discharger to get some tunes going as the sun once again set. It seemed like five minutes of cranking generated enough power for 90 seconds of Juvenile’s “Back that Ass Up,” which sounded hilarious on a 1” speaker on top of a mountain. Content in our whiskey, it was soon dark and we decided it was time to rustle up some dinner. Lance fired up the stove again. This time, three thick hamburger patties dropped into the bottoms of two pots, the sizzle of “what’s for dinner” making our mouths water. We had buns, cheese, a full selection of condiments, and, wait. What happened to the Whiskey? Whattaya
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mean all we have left is that bottle of Rye? Is there any beer left? Well alrighty then. Rye it is! After a day and a half drinking sweet, flavored whiskey, the pure, straight rye was pretty intense. The former was like candy dissolved in booze, the latter, arson and regret. Looking back, if we’d thought to cut the sweet whiskeys with some of that rye, we might have killed two birds with one stone - made the good stuff last a little longer and helped the medicine go down. Live and learn. Soon after our crispy on the outside, bloody on the inside (delicious through and through) burgers were done, we found ourselves staring almost silently into the moonlit valley below, each likely weighing the desire to have weeks on end to spend in such a place against the desire to get back to all the comforts of home. The moon was bright enough to cast shadows. Taps played out across the valley. I crawled back into the F150 for some shuteye.
SUNDAY Sunday morning, we stashed the last of the rye in a crevice on the face of the ridge, we packed up and went home. I’m looking forward to going back soon.
Looking down into the box canyon “next door.”
We’ll have to go back, if only to peer over the edge of that massive cliff. (Our campsite is the pin.)
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Here’s a couple of our favorite stories from June 2010.
SCOTT’S RWD TALON
ALEX RUNS WHAT HE BRUNG
At dinner one night back in 2003, Scott was talking with a friend about his heavily modified, AWD DSM was doing at the dragstrip.
I’ve always liked Alex Rademacher’s story. To make a small fortune in rally, you have to start with a large one. As I see it, Alex has parlayed small change into genuinely good fortune in rally.
“I was stuck running 11.teens at 134mph. That sort of mph will net low 10 second passes on a properly equipped suspension and drive line. I was having a hard time getting my transmission to agree with handling the power. The only real option to improve my ET was to change the setup drastically.”
He takes unpaid time off work to get to as many rallies as he can. Rallies which, until only recently, he got to by driving the rally car hundreds of miles in either direction. That says something about the resilience of both his spirit and machine.
How drastically? Well, it’s tubbed-out with a 4-link in the back, which is the only end of the car putting power to the ground at this point. That power comes from a (now fairly commonplace) stroked 2.3L Mitsubnishi 4G63 force fed by a Garrett GT42 turbocharger.
Speaking of his machine, it was actually snowboarding that got him into rally. 2WD cars struggled on the moutain roads around Lake Tahoe, so he picked up an old 1996 Subaru 1.8L AWD. It was slower than Lloyd and Harry on a scooter, which quickly lead him to an Impreza WRX.
On the first pass after the swap in 2008: “We uploaded the new map and swapped over to a borrowed ignition setup just in time to get the car ready for the first qualifying pass. The net result was a 10.15@133mph. I was ecstatic – four years of work showed real promise immediately – that was an awesome pass in spite of all the difficulty I had in getting to that point.”
“Shortly after paying off my WRX, I started seeing an STi in the same parking lot where I worked at the time and this dove me crazy so eventually I had to buy one [an STi] myself. Shortly after that, I found the car was scary fast and I did some Google searching for a driving school. I found an autocross school and a CRS (California Rally Series) rally school.”
Revisit Scott’s RWD Talon on the website: http://gearboxmagazine.com/scott-glassbrooks-rwd-talon/
Revisit Alex’s tenacity on the website: http://gearboxmagazine.com/run-whatcha-brung-alex-rademacher-2/
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Here’s a couple of our favorite stories from June 2011.
WERNER’S SOUTH AFRICAN MINI
RONINISM: THE WISDOM OF SAM
On a hunch, we started looking through the profiles of people who liked the Gearbox Magazine page on Facebook. That’s where we discovered Werner Louw, a mechanical engineer in Roodepoort, South Africa.
You’re a gearhead. You’ve seen the movie Ronin. If you’re a gearhead who has NOT seen Ronin, it’s only a matter of time. In fact, these being the last pages of the issue, we highly recommend you stop reading and go watch Ronin right now. It’s that good.
Werner’s dad bought the 1969 MkII Mini Cooper in the late 90s for small change. The day he brought it home, he told Werner and his two brothers, “C’mon, hop in. I’ll take you for a spin.” The boys had no idea what they were in for. “We drove around the block a few times, catching up to the exhaust smoke with each lap. My dad had never owned a Mini before that and couldn’t believe the road handling. It’s an amazing little car.” Werner tells us car culture - including the Mini community - is alive and well and growing in South Africa despite pretty much being the car theft capital of the world. Smaller cars are the most popular targets, so all his vehicles have battery backup anti-hijack alarms and GPS trackers. He also doesn’t leave anything valuable lying out where it might attract crims.
Sam, played by Robert DeNiro, is an ex-CIA agent now freelancing with a mix of professional, semi-professional, and amateur night hired guns on a mission to retrieve a mysterious briefcase from gentlement intent on preventing them from doing so. As they plan, execute, and attempt to salvage their heist, Sam shares a lot of wisdom. “Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt. That’s the first thing they teach you.” “Who teaches you?” “I don’t remember. That’s the second thing they teach you.”
“Live life to the fullest, take your time, don’t hold back on what you love, and enjoy the ride.”
Ronin is a true gearhead’s movie, with multiple nuanced characters. Their interactions with one another, combined with epic, unglamorous car chases and the Wisdom of Sam, is a lesson not to be missed.
Revisit Werner’s South African Mini on the website: http://gearboxmagazine.com/south-african-mini-werners-story/
Revisit Roninims: The Wisdom of Sam on the website: http://gearboxmagazine.com/roninisms-the-wisdom-of-sam/
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Here’s a couple of our favorite stories from June 2012.
CARLOS THE ADVENTURE CELICA!
WRC FACTORY TOUR
Jon Rood, a mechanical-electrical engineer in Phoenix, Arizona, had an idea. It came in stages - a cross between Group B rally, the Mad Max movies, and a whole lot of video gameplay, specifically, MotorStorm. With the fast-approaching zombie apocalypse practically right around the corner, Jon needed a very special machine.
June of last year found my wife and I embarking on a whirlwind, two week tour of northern Europe. First stop: England, where we finally met someone I consider a mentor - Darin Frow of the Mitsubishi Lancer Register. He arranged a special treat for us - a tour of MML Sports, formerly known as RalliArt.
The build started during the recent recession and made use of whatever odds and ends Jon could scrounge up; strut inserts, Ford Aerostar springs, whatever he could find in the corners of the garage.
RalliArt UK was head of operations for Mitsubishi’s World Rally Championship efforts back in the days when Tommi Mäkinen and Richard Burns were taking home driver and constructor titles at the top of the global rally food chain.
Today, however, it’s a different story. Jon’s replaced the junk with some seriously nice kit, “It’s gone from feeling like a marshmellow around corner to a proper rally feel, if your rally car had 9″ of travel that is. (Escort has 7″ at best) Early on, it was great at rock crawling but damn scary above 35mph (56kph) off road. Now it’s ok at rock crawling and feels stable the faster you take it down dirt roads, 50, 60, 70mph (80-113kph).” This is one of the most unique vehicles we’ve ever run on Gearbox. Revisit Carlos the Adventure Celica on the website: http://gearboxmagazine.com/carlos-the-adventure-celica/
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There were so many pictures in this one post, we had to source a special plugin to handle it so the page wouldn’t take 15 minutes to load on broadband. If you’ve ever wanted to have a look behind the curtain at a proper, world class motorsport facility, including at some of the specialty kit fitted to race versions of the Lancer Evolution, you should totally check this one out. Revisit Werner’s South African Mini on the website: http://gearboxmagazine.com/wrc-factory-tour-gbxm-world-tourday-4/
LESSONS LEARNED high performance machines & lives
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve learned in this issue: 1. Chazz layne showed us how it’s never too late to start chasing shadows. the more we learn about our machines - and the people in the world around us - the more we learn about ourselves. knowledge is power. 2. paul turner showed us how we can’t always get what we want, but if we try, sometimes we get what we need. thousands of miles from home, he’s responsible for protecting and serving in hong kong. 3. anukraman rathore showed us how the allure of a good road trip - on 2 wheels or 4 - speaks to every gearhead the world over. our machines allow us the unique privilege of exploring our world. 4. michael banovsky shared an incredible story about the bond between father and son, fortuitously being able to buy his dad’s old porsche even after it was already sold to someone else. 5. mike briskie showed us how he’s trying to unite gearheads all over the world by creating a place where we can find new automotive things to do (and new gearheads to do them with). 6. dick moser showed us how sacrifice is sometimes necessary if you want to be the change you wish to see in the world. he’s put his dreams on hold to help save lives. 7. nichole decker showed us the importance of tenacity and never giving up. even with a broken neck and pins in your skull, you can still make it happen. 8. Justin mohney showed us how, when we apply ourselves to the things we most enjoy doing, it really is possible to do what we love and see the money follow. and we learned the importance of gearhead clubs. ready to start one?
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GEARHEADS UNITED WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF GEARHEADS
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