There’s a couple things I’d like you to know about me, the founder of this magazine.
First, I’m an American. Born and raised. Aside from four years in Germany back when my dad was in the Army, and a few weeks on top of that visiting maybe half a dozen other countries, I’ve spent my entire life here.
My only claim to citizenship is that I was fortunate enough to be born here. I’ve done nothing to earn it. Though I loved the movie Starship Troopers and have had several friends tell me how much I would likely enjoy the book for its what-citizenship-really-means theme, I’ve yet to read it. Ironically, I have a deep-seated desire to actually earn citizenship – somewhere, someday.
Second, I consider myself an un-national gearhead. I might not have a built motor under the hood of my Pajero, or have ever spun a dyno to confirm the results of my mechanical efforts, or even have more than about 15 minutes of real, actual seat time in a competitive environment, I have spent a lot of time getting to know my fellow gearheads all over the world. I consider myself an automotive citizen; a member of the worldwide gearhead nation.
My “power adders” include Cat and Andy and Darin and Mechell in England, Ingmar and Sabrina and Ralph and Conny in Germany, Michael and Derek in Canada, Dennis in The Netherlands. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s no way I can leave out Tschippi and Adnan and Ross and Wenke and Luke and even Vahid, whom I really only barely know since it’s hard to keep in touch with people in Iran these days. The list goes on and on.
AMERICA: PLACE, POWER, IDEA.
Yes, the United States of America is a place. It’s a country. It’s a “super power.” But more than any of that, it’s an idea. That idea is more important to me than any line drawn on a map or signed on a piece of paper, but how do I make such a claim at a time when all I see on the news is how my country is continually divided on so many fronts and actively engaged in who-knows-how-much clandestine egomania?
INDEPENDENCE IS NOT UNIQUELY AMERICAN
One simple thought comes to mind. Like a lot of my fellow countrymen, I don’t know all the words to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights or even the Declaration of Independence. What I do know is this:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Where am I going with this, you ask? While corporate interests continue to intentionally psychologically trick us into “celebrating freedom” through more blind, parasitic consumerism, this un-national gearhead finds himself wanting to celebrate independence in a more meaningful way; with you,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.” There is no need to prove this to anyone. These are fundamental values which will stand the test of time. They are – or should be – true for every gearhead in the world.
“That all men are created equal.” Men, in this case, includes women, as in mankind, as in humanity. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Chevy, Ford, Mitsubishi, Honda, Ferrari, BMW, or one of those G-Wiz EVs they regularly mock on Top Gear – if you take pride in your ride and care for it and want to improve it, you’re one of us and you have just as much potential to do something great as the people you already see doing great things with theirs.
Whether you drag race, road race, rock crawl, hellaflush, restomod, rat rod, or hypermile you machine, you’re one of us. A customized vehicle, regardless how comical it might look in Lucky Charms livery or with those (shudder) headlight eyelashes is still a customized vehicle and, if you put in the wrench time, you are a gearhead, you are equal, and you are respected here.
“That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” Whether or not you believe the Universe was created by God, Allah, a chemical reaction, or a Flying Spaghetti Monster – who you are is a function of who you consider yourself to be. I think, therefore I am. As I see it, you – whomever you wish to be – is something you create in your mind, meaning you have to own those unalienable rights.
“That among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This is the part everyone remembers.
Life. When the fuel tank of life finally runs dry for each of us, none of our post counts or timeslips or dyno plots will matter anymore. What matters is how we got them. Will those posts have made a difference? Will the competition have been righteous, among good friends? Will we look back on our accomplishments and smile, knowing we will not soon be forgotten once the big garage door closes once and for all?
Liberty. As a gearhead, you already know how to build high performance machines. Even if you don’t have specific, measurable goals, you have a pretty good idea what “high performance” looks like, where you stand, and the general direction necessary to get there. What I want this simple little magazine to do is help us all discover what high performance life looks like, inspiring us to broaden our gaze, consider more data points, and free ourselves from the external factors – conscious and otherwise – which retard the ignition timing of our lives.
The pursuit of Happiness. Most of us grew up sort of institutionalized. Get good grades. Go to college. Get a good job. Make more money. Buy more stuff. That’s not what we want. Yes, we want our stuff, but we want stuff that matters! Think about this for a moment. There’s a big difference between busy and productive. I’ll be the first to admit I struggle with this myself, but I want us all to spend less time dealing with shit we don’t need so we have more time to spend doing things that really matter.
INDEPENDENCE: A METAPHOR
As gearheads, we know how our ability to maintain, repair, and modify our own machines gives us independence from paying others to do the work for us. Today, I’d like to celebrate the ways our shared interest in the machines brings us together around the world and has the potential to grant us independence in other areas of our lives.
If I may be so bold…
We, therefore, the gearheads of the world, in general consensus, assembled, appealing to one another for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of these diverse automotive communities, solemnly publish and declare, that these Gearheads United are, and of right ought to be free and independent; that they are absolved of all allegiance to those who would subvert them, and that all political connection between them and those who would profit from their stagnation, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent Gearheads, they have full power to engage in friendly competition, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent individuals may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
Go fast with class, my friends. And press on regardless.