Originally published in Wheel Hub Volume 1, Issue 1
Welcome to the premiere issue of Wheel Hub. We hope you like what you see. The first-ever column of this magazine starts with a strange confession. I am not normal, and have never claimed to be. Sure, I’ve learned how to present a certain level of surface conformity, but I’m often called crazy, an outcast, and a renegade once people figure out what’s really going on inside my head. Over time, it’s something I’ve learned to embrace for one simple reason. Since when has convention and conformity inspired anything great?
That’s right. Never. In the words of Tinker Hatfield, the famed Nike designer behind the legendary Air Jordan brand, if people don’t either love or hate your work, you just haven’t done all that much. This fearless spirit, the willingness to push the envelope and lay everything on the line for others to judge, is what this magazine represents. Wheel Hub draws its inspiration not from anything related to publishing, but from history’s greatest lunatics and renegades, those unafraid to give convention the middle finger in the wake of turmoil, uncertainty and doubt.
Whether it’s Cornelius Vanderbilt liquidating his entire steamboat empire to double-down on railroads, John Rockefeller building a cross-country network of oil pipelines to thwart rising shipping costs, Andrew Carnegie creating a new market for structural steel when the demand for railroad construction dried up, or J.P. Morgan pivoting from DC to AC power at the 11th hour in his quest to bring electricity to every American home, these great titans of industry chose triumph over defeat. Through sheer willpower, they found creative solutions—those deemed crazy by the rest of society—to transcend insurmountable challenges. The skyscrapers, electric grids, automobiles, and rail and subway networks that unite the world exist only because they refused to let the skepticism of society influence their will to move humanity forward.
Make no mistake. We have no grandiose delusions of influencing change on a global scale. These great men pulled America out of the stone age and into the industrial era. Wheel Hub is just a car magazine. Nevertheless, while we serve a smaller, much more specialized community of car builders and enthusiasts, what it lacks in size it makes up for in passion. This collective passion demands a different kind of print product, one that doesn’t just challenge convention, but completely obliterates the status quo. As a tribute to the talented car designers, fabricators, and artists that keep this enthusiasm alive by building incredible cars, Wheel Hub is obligated to give them a platform to share their passion with the world.
As Henry Ford demonstrated with the Model T and Steve Jobs proved with the iPhone, innovation isn’t always about inventing a new product category. Innovation can also take the form of improving upon an existing product by bringing together a diverse range of ideas in a revolutionary new way. Ultimately, the market will decide whether or not Wheel Hub has succeeded in this endeavor, but we are humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from our early advertising partners and the hundreds of people that put in pre-orders for our magazine, even though they had never even seen a copy of Wheel Hub in the flesh until now. We will be forever indebted for their support.
Getting to this point has taken many years. Transforming Wheel Hub from a concept to an actual product requires complete creative control, but that freedom comes with a price. Wheel Hub is a privateer venture completely independent of any other publishing entity. This means we couldn’t piggyback onto the existing manufacturing and distribution infrastructure of an established company. We had to build it from scratch. It took tremendous effort to make it all happen, but here we stand with no middle management, upper management, random VPs, board of directors, or any other corporate hack to answer to.
At Wheel Hub, the product guys are in complete control. The people calling the shots are regular car guys that just happen to run a car magazine. Never will a great idea get shot down by twelve layers of management who know absolutely nothing about the intense craftsmanship required to build a great product. We’re a three-man team with bigger dreams than bank accounts, who have each risked our own time and money to go head-to-head against the establishment.
To produce this caliber of product with such limited resources is nothing short of miraculous. We don’t have rich uncles. We didn’t sell our souls to investors, either. Although each of us hopped aboard the crazy train at different moments along this journey, we share a singular vision of redefining print as a viable medium for exchanging great ideas in a compelling new way.
We refuse to accept the status quo. We refuse to accept that print is dead. We refuse to accept that it’s impossible to create a sustainable business model around a premium print product. For impossible isn’t defined by the scope of the challenge at hand, but by the determination it takes to transcend it. Boxing legend and philosopher Muhammed Ali said it best:
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given then to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
As part of a recent homework assignment, my 10-year-old daughter asked me to give her a piece of advice I hoped she would carry with her for the rest of her life. I told her to never let anyone else’s fear of pursuing their dreams convince her to abandon her own. I believe that fear is the enemy that leads to complacency and stagnation, and it must be eradicated at all costs. It’s a philosophy that’s served me well in life and I have every intent of upholding it, no matter how unorthodox and unconventional Wheel Hub may be.
The crazy train has left the station. We hope to see you on board.