Communication and Communities

Right now, at this very moment, the front page of our Off Topic message board contains not one, but two threads about mattresses. Yes, like the thing you sleep on.

Ransom is asking about memory foam mattress toppers: What’s the hot setup for a good night’s sleep? 02Pilot asks about online mattress purchases–adding, of course, that a memory foam topper did help with the outgoing mattress but it’s time for a new one.

Other life topics currently discussed on the first page for that board include the best backup solutions for Windows computers, college saving options for a son, and elderly monitoring: What’s the best way to keep tabs on a 96-year-old granddad who lives alone? These questions aren’t just shouted into the ether, either, as the responses are helpful, genuine and thorough.

Sometimes the conversations just don’t stop. Back in 2012, 16vCorey posted a request to our message board: “Let’s see your guitar and bass gear!” That thread is still going, weaving through stories of guitars loved, home-built amps created, and instruments lost to time.

All of this is in addition to the primary car talk on our forums. Have a technical question, want to show off a build, or need some guidance? Post away. We now have several build threads that cover dozens and dozens of pages.

We started out as a car magazine, but we’ve grown so far beyond that, it’s like we have become a hub of the DIY lifestyle. No corporate, turnkey solutions here. We can figure out a better fix ourselves, and the general conversation reflects that mindset.

This fall’s events gave us a chance to continue these online conversations out in the real world. Solo Nationals take place in Lincoln, Nebraska, a land that’s nowhere near our Florida base. Going takes two flights; returning takes three, with the first leg shipping out before the sun’s up. It’s a week of double shifts: autocross stuff during the day and magazine production in the evenings.

Still, I gladly sign up for this assignment, even if I’m not driving. Yes, as the editor of Grassroots Motorsports, I should be there. And, also as the editor of Grassroots Motorsports, I find it a target-rich environment. It’s some 1300 drivers, each with a great story or two to tell.

What pushes my desire to go over the edge? The people. Thirty minutes after I landed, Dean Case from Mazda was in my hotel room catching up on stuff, discussing music, and talking about dogs. He had some editorial ideas to share, too, including some involving our $2017 Challenge.

Events like this–and Solo Nats in particular–are a chance to catch up with the regulars who make up our traveling circus. It’s folks like Lee from Koni, Pete from BFGoodrich, Chris and Woody from Tire Rack, longtime GRM photographer Rupert Berrington, and the whole SCCA crew. It’s a big country and, sadly, we all inhabit different parts.

We go back a million years with Jason Saini–to well before his pro racing days–and it’s at events like Solo Nats where our paths cross. Even in a world of e-mail, texting and Facebook messages, there’s nothing quite like a face-to-face conversation, even if it’s taking place while waiting for a food truck to cook lunch.

Topics of discussion in Lincoln? Politics, music, BMX bikes, camera gear. And, yeah, hurricane prep, as we had a big one headed our way. When you find the right group of people, the conversation quickly goes beyond what originally brought you together.

Events like this are also a chance to make new friends, and it’s funny how a large segment of people I know fall under the same heading: Cool people I know thanks to the Solo Nats. I met some of those people this year, while other friendships were founded on the concrete 20-plus years ago.

Come for the cars, stay for the people.

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View comments on the GRM forums
te72 New Reader
12/29/17 12:46 a.m.

Yep, sounds about right. I'd wager that I easily have more friends because of car forums than I've had post-high school that weren't from a car forum.


Plus, it's winter here, so until I get a heated garage, spending time watching you guys wrench on stuff is almost as good for me haha. =)

GTXVette Dork
12/29/17 7:08 a.m.

 I really enjoy reading what you write,  It's Like I saw Mr. Case at the Challenge but did not Meet him,  But felt like I was Just in the room with you all,  Talking Dogs and Music,  You all are Great !  and that's from someone that Isn't a People Person.

  Happy New Year !

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