Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Wrong Side of Forty-Five

When I was a kid, I rationalized that anyone over forty-five was considered old. Maturity or denial changed that viewpoint somewhere in my early forty’s. Today, my perception of old is when I stop looking forward more than I am looking back, when the future is not as attractive as my past; when memories overpower planning.

I have always wondered what a midlife crisis would look like. I think it’s that moment you are laying in bed on a Sunday morning waiting for the sun to come up and you ask yourself if you have accomplished the goals and dreams of your youth? Did you get the cool red sports car, the fast boat, and the beautiful girl? It’s also a time to ask if you accomplished something of substance, the mark on our history, or a legacy to be remembered, praised and celebrated. 

For me, that self-reflection has expanded into months of wonder about the moment when the past will look more attractive than the future, and asking myself what I have left on the table? Have I properly recorded the past that so when that moment comes I can tell these wonderful stories to anyone who will listen, and bestow, if only a taste, some of the knowledge an old man can share with wide-eyed youth around a fire, family BBQ or pub table.

Here is the rub: I let the past start looking more attractive than the future late last year. Self-pity about life choices, health, and career has set me squarely at the tipping point, where future and past collide into plainly surviving; when I spend more time talking about “That time when” rather than planning, preparing and training for “Next time when”. There is no harm in remembering when; in fact it’s a great way to inspire, but inspire what?

Have I exceeded expectations for my life? When you have no expectations, it’s pretty easy to succeed. I remember in grave detail that moment when I sat in the guidance counselor’s office a week before graduation and he asked what I wanted to do with my life? It hit me like a ton of bricks that I had no idea.  So here I find myself on the wrong side of forty-five and I still have no idea. I have accomplished so much more than anyone would have expected, certainly myself, in my life. A good father, husband, homeowner, fireman, songwriter and rock band front man, award winning movie producer, entrepreneur, engineer, racecar driver, fabricator, home builder, handyman, caregiver, promoter, published writer, ranch owner, inventor and even writer of a Congressional bill that became a law after I testified in Washington DC. Most recently I became an executive at a 120-year-old industrial revolution company managing a global marketing account. By most accounts I have lived a spectacular life. I have had the sports car, the fast boat and I had been married to the beautiful wife for over 25 years. 

So what excuse do I have to consider a midlife crisis? I am not willing to let the past become more attractive than the future, not yet at least. Three months ago, I decided to start making some changes.  My Uncle Ed was my inspiration; he has remained athletic after retirement. He seems always busy and enjoying life. He has run ultra marathons, biked, hiked and traveled all over the world. From my view point the key was his health. Without health, it will become difficult to continue ringing every ounce of life out of these trips around the sun. Three months ago, I got a trainer and started going to the gym at 5:00 am.  Two months ago, I stopped drinking soda pop. Three weeks ago, I cut alcohol consumption to almost nothing. Beer is gone completely.  Two weeks ago I started cutting sugar out of my diet, which has been the hardest thing of all, pretty much it’s water and black coffee now. Caffeine and alcohol was never really the problem with excessive consumption, it was the sugar. I don’t intend to remain sober, but I am certainly not going to be drunk all weekend and every night, remembering the good old days.

What are the things that make me happy? I love my job, but after a lifetime of bouncing between careers, self-employment and leading the conversation, the corporate culture is difficult to navigate. The last 4 years have offered an exceptional opportunity to learn new skills, perfect theories with someone else’s money, and learn how to move hurdles and work with a team. The down side is that when you are self-employed and work long hours, it’s easy to see the results, in financial gain, and when you need a break, you drop off the radar for a week or two every couple months. Corporate culture does not support a sabbatical. I have to find a healthy balance between the two and learn to shut off work now and then. 

What am I going to do for an encore? It’s hard to turn the rudder on a big ship. I read somewhere that the rudder is so big on some ships that hydraulics can’t apply enough force to move it while under power. To turn the ship, a smaller rudder is installed in front of the larger rudder. When the small rudder is turned, water is redirected in a manner that forces the rudder to slowly turn the ship. Small changes yield big results. First health, then time is the next deficit.

Manage the time wisely; let’s not waste a second on idle hands. Erase the things that waste time. We went twenty years without cable television. When I moved to Reno, I decided to purchase the cable contract as a bundle with my Internet connection. TV seems an easy distraction to forward momentum. Social media eats time with little reward. Instead of watching what everyone else is doing, I need to limit my intake to a manageable timeline. Last, work-life balance needs improvement. No one ever said they wished they worked more when they are on death’s door.  I need to learn to ask for help at work, and set a more realistic expectation. I don’t need to be such an over achiever. What am I trying to prove? 

Money, the last of the three things I need to get under control. Consumption and instant satisfaction need to be controlled like eating habits. Cost of ownership, return on investment, either happiness, or financial should be considered. Do I really need this item, what will it do for me? Can I better use this money to go on an adventure and make a memory, achieve a life goal, or leave a legacy? Do I want to make an investment that will pay a dividend, or am I just consuming?

Am I on the wrong side of forty-five? My midlife crisis will be to gain control over my health, time and finance. It’s a crisis if I do not own these three things. Not as exciting as a sports car, or fast boat, but I can certainly rent those if I need a quick fix, since the moment will leave shortly after the purchase. As far as the young girlfriend goes, I am pretty happy with the one I have had for 25 years.

Now on to climbing Mt. Whitney, racing the 50th annual Baja 1000, writing a few books and living life. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It was the Wild West in an era of Urban Cowboys | Offroad Racing in the 80's

It all started with a hat.

Waylon and Willie owned the radio and Buckle Bunnies and Cowboy hats could be found standing around tailgates with sixer’s of Coors Banquet beer at the Moutainview Market. The 70’s had just ended and a band of boys on Mongooses, Schwinn’s and Huffy’s took to the dusty roads on Menifee, California. The sleepy back country township would later become the epicenter of a Supercross and Freestyle revelation but that was in the not so distant future as the those boys in Lightning bolt and OP branded corduroy grew into adults influenced by the uncontrollable desire to push the limits of speed and adrenaline.

You could hear the roar of that small block Chevy from my house, and it would trigger an all out rush of pedal power, bolting for the fence that separated the boys from Steve Andrews daughter Susan. While Susan and her neighbor Lisa were pretty “Groovy” It was the cars that Steve worked on that really excited the boyhood bikers. BAJA, The word conjured images of men conquering unbelievable obstacles and overcoming adversity beyond imagine.  It was the Wild West in an era of Urban Cowboys. 

Hemet; Venable, Shoppe, Hall, and countless pioneers of the Baja Peninsula made Hemet, California home, but in Menifee miles away we had Steve Andrews and Jack McGrath to fill our heads with visions of speed and risk of life. Get it done, build it strong and make it last. That’s the Inland Empire way of life. It was a bunch of farmers with a taste for driving cars fast. The iconic Howards Cams was literally located in a Barn in Menifee. His Grandson Travis was one of my best friends, but we were oblivious to the pedigree. Short of Travis crashing a Jeep into a ditch when he was around 12, we never paid much attention to thinking what we had might be special. We rode our motorcycles down the streets, and into the hills, stole our parent’s trucks, and practiced stunts that would make the Jackass stars blush.

It was one such afternoon; I was peering thru the chain link fence at a Green 4 door Bel Air wagon with its engine racing as they perfected the tune that I was invited inside the fence.  Susan convinced her father we were harmless and he welcomed us into the den of all things manly. To a 12-year-old boy, a car with stickers plastered all down its sideboards is a racecar. I knew one thing in that moment, I wanted to strap my body on this rocket and hurl myself into the wilds of Baja.

The hat said it all. WINNER.
It was greasy, with fingerprints all over the brim; you could tell it was special. The kind of hat you don’t sit on, the type of hat that has the scent of victory, success, blood, and dust embedded into its core. The sweat stain ran around its circumference and highlighted the large WINNER tag that was overcome only by a brand that I would carry with me my entire life. BFGoodrich Tires.  Being a 12 year old Smart ass, it was only appropriate the few words I might gain the strength to spit out would be associated with the hat, ”How do I get one of those hats?” The men circling the car generally ignored the kid in the Iron Maiden T-Shirt, Vans slip on’s and OP Shorts. “Hey Mister, can I have one of those hats?” The only words I remember from that day were a simple response. “ No, you can’t have one of these hats, you have to earn one.”

It was that moment that helped shape my entire life. A single day that boils down to about 25 words of interaction and a whole host of sensory over load. Subliminal marketing at its best; summed up with this simple message, “I am cool, you can’t buy cool, good luck being cool.” Well maybe that and “Stay away from my daughter!”

Needless to say, I have been chasing that hat for 30 years now, from Southern California, to The Colorado River, To Las Vegas, and even the Baja Peninsula. I have come close many times, but second place does not earn a WINNERS hat from BFGoodrich Tires. I have thought about that Class 6 SCORE Baja champion many times as well. The late nights in a cold barn building a Jeepspeed, writing rulebooks, and marking courses for the King of the Hammers.  I think about that hat even now as my Son and I talk tales of our next Baja adventure and make plan for the 50th Baja 1000. The only sure thing is that we know what brand of tires we will be driving on.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Live Lean | 5S your life

"sort", "straighten", "shine", "standardize", and "sustain".

5S was developed in Japan as part of the “Just in Time” manufacturing process. Its roots trace back to Henry Ford and the system is widely used today in manufacturing plants around the world. The plant I work in is no different with almost ritualistic practitioners preaching its virtue.

This mindset starts to bleed over into your personal life when you embrace the philosophy with lunchroom banter surrounding how far you can expand the reach of the mighty 5S into your personal life?

It was one such conversation with our plant manager and a lead concerning small houses, wasteful spending, excess and at what point the wife gets pissed off? For the record we don’t suggest reusing Ziploc bags.


Stop a moment and look around the room your in.

How much of the stuff in the room do you need? Do you really need the pile of magazines you have already read, the nick knacks, the hat you wore once, the 3 jackets, the 6 maps of Baja, Mexico or the 4 pair of shoes under the coffee table?

For the record I am a hypocrite when it comes to this stuff. My weakness is motorized vehicles. I have too many, but I can’t bring myself to selling them. I can only drive one of them at a time, and usually drive the same one. But it’s hard to replace a diesel eating 4WD F-350 with a camper. I need my F-250 for trips to the hardware store, the Harley I ride 12 times a year is a collectors item, the 2 dirt bikes, the UTV the ect ect ect. You see my point?

So its baby steps for me, I am starting with the 10 year old collection of race inspired T-Shirts and will slowly expand from there. After all I wear the same three pairs of jeans all week. Moving into a new house early next year gives me the opportunity to see how far I can push 5S Lean Living into my personal life.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Buying A Home | Is Smaller, Smarter?

We almost did it, something I think we would have regretted, buying a big house.

My whole life I have lived in a small house, but for many years I built massive custom homes in neighborhoods like Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santé Fe California. I always wondered what was the perfect size home, and after many years I thought I had a handle on what I needed. 3000 square feet seemed the perfect size for a house. 10,000 square feet was ridiculous.

We raised our two kids in a 1500 square foot house, one bathroom, and two bedrooms. For years my wife and I slept in the living room so our daughter could have privacy. There is nowhere to hide when your house is small. Your kids can’t retreat to the far corner of the house, or hide in an upstairs room. You are together almost all of the time. Vacations with your spouse are a treat, even if its an over night stay at a convention.

Now as we approach the next chapter of our life as empty nesters we looked at houses in the 2500-3000 square foot range. We even went into escrow on an amazing 2300 square foot house that had an additional 1000-foot finished basement. Thankfully we fell out.  In the end we decided that location was the most important thing for us. For most of my adult life I have commuted at least an hour (sometimes three) each way to work, the California way. In addition we wanted an efficient home. I always wondered how much it cost to maintain a 10,000 square foot home?

A box on a postage stamp lot.

For years it seems the market has dictated a house design that works on square footage. Under utilized dining rooms, family rooms and extra bedrooms promoted consumerism at it’s finest. Every house looked the same in most neighborhoods we looked at. In addition the houses contribute to urban sprawl, and don’t encourage community.

After an exhaustive search we found a modest ranch style house built in 1962. The community is small and situated on one-acre lots with meandering streets that restrict access to the homes without a gate. Built in the 60’s the homes are just outside the city limits, but offer access to the entire city in minutes. The best part is that Angie works only one mile and I work only five miles from the doorstep. While it may sound extreme I have always wanted to work close to where I live so I can walk or bike to work. After spending most of my life sitting on the 91 freeway in Orange County, California I am happy to walk.

Oddly the house is on par with our last three homes coming in at 1500 square feet. I guess 1500 is the magic number for us?  Green building seems all the rage for new homes, but I have often wondered if a re-imagined older home is a more conservative approach? With that in mind the old Ranch home will receive a complete make over the next year. My Son said that the house was spectacularly boring, but he was confident I would be able to put lipstick on a pig.I invite you along as we re-imagine our Reno 60's Ranch home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Empty Nest Adventure Club.

Empty Nest Syndrome, It affects us all differently. Some call it a midlife crisis, and they might be right? I could go out and buy a Porsche, get a girlfriend and start being a dumb ass. Throwing away 25 years with a wonderful woman who has shared with me the better part of my life, I could grow a pony tail, buy a sports car and do my best to bang girls with parental issues. The problem is that I look across the room and I am still madly in love with the girl I lusted over in 1986. While I may have a bipolar love affair with my musical choices, I can tell you I am smart enough to know that I can’t relate to young women who might think the 80’s have historical value.  

In my eyes my wife is the same girl who sat behind me in class and teased me running her fingers thru my hair. I know every line on her face was likely caused by one of my dumb ideas and the grey that peaks thru her hair was my doing as well. I know the imperfections are also my doing. This woman gave birth to both of my children, bathed them, taught them, cared for them, and dealt with those awful teenage years that made her worry, and fret. By the way I am pretty sure she worried and fret about me, not the kids

So where am I going with this as I listen to the greatest 80’s hits on Pandora?  (Just so you know video killed the radio star.) I have been struggling to find my place the last 9 months. My Daughter graduated college, and got herself hitched.  My Son graduated high school and will leave the nest for Cleveland of all places.  The worst part is I still see my friends from High school on facebook and compared to my kids this makes me question my own path.  Don’t get me wrong I am pretty happy I did not pursue that Duran Duran cover band opportunity although I might have been OK with the Ska band.  

So here it is, for the last three days I have been wondering what the hell I was thinking gathering all this shit? I was a punk rocker who hated Reagan and Tipper Gore. I became exactly what they wanted… a consumer. This evening I calculated all the biggest items I could sell today and at a price in which they would actually sell. Not including the last of my California Property I need to sell. I came up with a quick storyboard that spells out over $60,000 in assets that could be converted to cash. QUICK!

So here it is.. I am going to start selling shit. Do I need this stuff to be happy? Am I a slave to my belongings? I sit here looking over at my wife and I can’t help but wonder, if looking at her freckles and her eyes does not bring me the same joy as they did twenty five years ago without the garage full of crap? Could I give the money to my kids and change the course of my family tree? Should I just pay for a trip to Italy so my wife can see the things that excited her in a history book in the 10th grade? 

I invite you to get on board this journey. I have no idea where it will lead, or the outcome. I do know I can’t continue down this path. At the very least you can watch me spiral out of control. Riding a rollercoaster is far more exciting than the merry go round any day. For those that know me this includes dumping all my business holdings, and investments. If it does not bare fruit it’s gone. I am still not sure how far I am going to go, but frankly my guts tell me to cut this to the bone. 

 We all have wings, but some of us don't know why?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Listen To Your Market

I Have a Lot to Say

As a student of Henry Ford, I know well that Ford’s first business, the Detroit Auto Company, went out of business in 1901 amid customers' complaints and low satisfaction. 

His quote, “Failure is the opportunity to more intelligently begin again,” is ingrained in my life. I also believe that I must find the answers to questions sometimes in unconventional ways. 

While many will focus on the cancellation of the HellsGate GrandPrix as a potential failure, I choose instead to look at the success of the rest of our Silver State Jamboree, share my thanks with those that made it happen and gave me the support and took a chance.

What many do not know is that on Monday, July 14th, 2014, thirty-two people from across the country met in a closed-door meeting to work on a collaborative effort to change the way we maintain public access to open space for motorized recreation. This meeting was over 4 years in the making, and was something very important to Fred Wiley and myself. For the first time, we had three of the best environmental attorneys in a room together with leadership from most national OHV associations all working toward a common goal, exploring the creation of a National OHV office in Washington DC. While this is only the first step in the process, I have never attended a more productive OHV advocacy meeting. If all else had fallen apart, this meeting would have marked a high point in my career in off-roading.

On Tuesday, July 15th, 2014, both the Blue Ribbon Coalition and Off Road Business Association met for lengthy BOD Meetings. I can’t speak to the details of the BRC meeting, but my understanding is that it was an exceptional meeting. Our ORBA BOD meeting was extremely productive. In addition, there were a number of smaller OHV advocacy meetings held on Tuesday, including a meeting concerning the rights of snowmobiles. This further outlines my continued commitment to OHV advocacy, as Carrera Performance Group LLC provided the meeting space for these meetings free of charge.

On Wednesday, July 16th, 2014, we exceeded my expectations with the first running of RallyVenture. I will detail RallyVenture in a separate posting, but I can tell you our proof of concept will possibly change the face of 4WD competition and the way we promote our community. Our goals were many, and promoting the companies that participated, as well as our lifestyle, rank among the highest priority.

I had hoped, based on best practices, to garner 250,000 impressions with our test. What I found was that we could shatter this goal, with over 1.4 million impressions on Facebook and Instagram in less that twelve hours. The impressions continue to grow even now on Sunday night, four days after completion of the event.  I have been told that #RallyVenture was the top influencer in the world on Instagram on Wednesday, with Casey Currie in the #1 position, Nicole Johnson in #2, and Poison Spyder in #3. I look forward to exploring our total reach in greater details in the coming weeks. I think we might be on to something here.

Even with all the social media success of RallyVenture I am most proud of the concept that you can be challenged without the total destruction of your vehicle. The smiles on the entire Pellegrino family’s face were worth all the work. Hearing the stories of people getting lost, experiencing an adventure and seeing new places are what RallyVenture is all about. Our winners proved you don’t need a brand new high dollar vehicle to be competitive. In first place was Mike Lasher driving a 1992 Wrangler, second Bart Dixon in a 1999 Grand Cherokee, and third Harry Wagner driving what I believe was a 1978 Ford F150.  We only had two reported breakdowns, which included an alternator failure and a broken motor mount.

Work has already started on what the future of RallyVenture looks like, and for those that have requested information on participating, I am confident we will use an application process similar to the early KOH events, with the exception of applicants needing to have an Instagram account and a fully functioning Facebook fan page. Your followers will greatly increase your chances of getting into RallyVenture.

Our trail rides and consumer facing events went off without a hitch. The Genright Floatilla River Float proved to be a nice break from the week's activities, the Poison Spyder Trail Ride and Taco Bar was a great way to explore Virginia City, the PRP Pool party offered a great pre-game to what turned out to be a wild party called the Raceline Rodeo. Personally I have not had that much fun in a long time, and I am really glad I signed up to ride the bull. We expect to dial in these activities for next year and do a better job of getting the information out.

I am disappointed in Hellsgate. I am not sure what I could have done differently or what kind of incentive it would have taken to attract drivers. Scheduling would no doubt always be an issue as the event schedule is just busy. It’s a shame that the current format takes such a toll on vehicles that we could not field more than 6 teams to participate. I thought the opportunity to race in front of grandstands full of people might have been enough, but we added the potential $20,000 purse, and payout to 10th place to be safe. In the end, it did not prove enough to offer a show worthy the price of admission and I was faced with no choice but to cancel. The facility is top notch, and Norm Dianda is an amazing person who hopes to attract motorsports events to Northern Nevada.  I am most disappointed in failing his vision.

I am really not sure if I will be in a position to host another race of the caliber of Hellsgate due to the financial loss that resulted in cancelling the event. We have had plenty of grassroots rock racing, my hope was to offer a truly professional motorsports experience. Onsite beer sales, food, security, and a view of 85% of the race course from the safety of grandstands only five minutes from the Nugget Casino. Perhaps the participants of this type of motorsports are just not interested in this?  This being said, I plan on listening to my market and focusing on RallyVenture for the foreseeable future. At the very least, I now know the answer to a question I have had for over three years.

While I had very little interest in the promotion of a series before this week, I now feel the door is open to work toward providing service to the marketplace by whatever means necessary. It is very possible that the Next Generation of 4WD Adventure is exactly what the off-road community is looking for. RallyVenture is coming.

In closing, I want to thank a lot of people, for without this never would have been remotely possible.  First, my wife Angie for riding the Knollercoaster and not finding satisfaction with the merry go round.  Barbara and David Rainey for support, knowledge, and kind words in times of need. My Dad and stepmom Noey for willingness to work long hours for their son's dumb ideas, and Bill Kunz for giving me the opportunity to lead his company’s marketing department and learning that customer service and sales blows away cool any day.

In addition and in no particular order:
Chris Dowd
Elan LoMonaco
Scott Gertz
Gary Lambert
Al and Shirley Lockett
Eric and Scott Pender
Danny Grimes
Scotty G
Parker the RC King
Amanda, Lisa, Lauren, Sonja, and Bree from the Nugget
Trey Valentine
Greg Mulkey
Chris Rae
Cody Knoll
Chris Garrison Billet Rifle Systems
Jake Hallenbeck and his team for helping promote
DSI Dave Schneider
Don Gillman
Ty Erquiaga
Kevin Singleton
Norm Dianda
Abbi Whittaker and the Abbi Agency
Steve Gardner
Chad Antos and the Antos Agency
Advantage Print Solutions
Neal Hollingsworth and Yukon Gear
PRP Seats and Team
Axial Racing
Daystar Products
4 Wheel Parts
Summit Racing
Crawl Magazine
Kevin Carey
Larry Nickell
Larry Mcrae
Brent Goegebuer
Mark Turner
John Herrick
Jeff Johns
Scott Becker
Artie Nuttall
Harry Wagner
Rick Mooneyham
Nicole Johnson
Bryan Crofts
Mel Wade
Corey Osborne
Garrett Kittredge
Tony Pellegrino
Jake Hallenbeck
Ryan Taylor
Casey Currie
Bart Dixon
Del Albright
Mike Lasher
Kha Ly
If I forgot anyone I sincerely apologize as it’s been a heck of a week. I need a couple weeks to get our debt in order and than I will start working on the requested changes based on feedback from our teams.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My State of the Union Address.

My resolve has been tested many times, but I still believe we live in the best country in the world. Our Country offers many opportunities, for those who are willing to work hard.  History teaches us that this adversity we see in our government, is no different, than any other time in our history. In 300 years western civilization has come so far, at a large costs, but think about the excitement we have seen in just this Country we call home. I am reminded of what we can accomplish when I look at our past.

In a little over the last 100 years, we have seen the vast majority of our citizens climb from the pit of poverty, we have developed an integrated transportation, and communication network, and we have created a middle class that is able to raise their children limited by only imagination, and a desire to work hard. I think of families living in the late 1800’s and I wonder; could I have been an innovator, an entrepreneur, or even a homeowner? Could I have raised my daughter to attend a State University, put my wife through college, or experienced vacations and found myself in the position to pay for the well being of loved ones?

Technology offers us unlimited learning opportunities. Twenty one year's ago my wife and I made the decision to stop paying the cable bill and turn off the TV. Today we still subscribe to the simple philosophy that we should continue educating ourselves, and research for the truth. Work hard and do things to the best of our ability.  When I see a show on TV I see things most don’t. I see the subliminal message, I see the degradation of the father figure, and I see that lack of respect.  I see the violence, and how our youth becomes numb to it.

My Grandfather Harold Roach, just celebrated his 94th Birthday last week.

It is said that our Grandparents are the greatest generation, and I believe this to be true, therefore should we not aspire to live in the same manner? Refuse to buy into the partisan and dividing policies of the two party systems. One need only study history to see how backward and hypocritical it has become.  This is nothing new, its situation normal for the United States, and we still have the power if we are willing to exercise it. Be the change. Not tomorrow, or next week, but today. Don't wait for government. Lead your government in the manner you see fit.