From issue 1.06 | 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.
I read an article on Art of Manliness (AoM) titled “How to Create a Lifelong Brotherhood” (link) which talked about why we need that closer relationship with each other (and how to begin) and it re-kindled 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.
REASON #1: IT’S HOW WE BUILD BETTER MACHINES & LIVES
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.
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 in something you are. 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.
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.
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. (And why, from time to time, we run Gearheads We’d Like to Meet.)
REASON #2: WORKING TOGETHER IS HOW WE BEST LEARN
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.
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 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 ALIGNS 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 TIME | HOW TO CREATE THE GEARHEAD CLUB. The AoM article linked back at the beginning pretty much covers it, but I’ll be adapting it to suit my own tastes. Would you like to talk about gearhead clubs? What’s worked for you in the past? What hasn’t? Leave a comment below and let’s figure this out.