Mountain Run 2014 - Mayhaps a proper documentary, possibly?

Just wanted everyone involved in or interested in Mountain Run 2014 to know that I've officially submitted a written narrative concept to Volvo for the Jalopnik Film festival. Fingers crossed that they'll like it and think it has enough potential to actually throw from resources our way to help us make this into a proper car film.

As for the written concept, here's what I sent them:


Cars are a lot like people. Some are fun. Some are boring. Some are reliable. Some are a bit more high-maintenance. And just like people, many cars will give back what you give them. Treat them well, with attention, with love, and they will reward you with years of smiles and of freedom. Treat them with disregard, apathy, and malevolence and you'll soon find yourself stranded on the side of the road, staring down an insurmountable repair bill, face covered in oil like wine thrown by a jilted lover.

Surround yourself with enough cars and their owners and you'll begin to see this symbiosis visualized in more ways than one. Cars begin to reflect their owners and vice versa. Given a sufficient variety of owners, you will see a massive spectrum of just how individual cars can be- even when they're technically 'the same' as another of a like make, model, and year. Given time and a loving owner, cars are the special little snowflakes we all like to envision ourselves as.

The ways this individuality can be created varies. Some owners have more money than time and can just order parts by the pallette and take the car to a shop to have the experts make sure it's all done properly. Others, like myself, will learn how to pinch every penny and go without other things in life, just to afford that extra $20 to install a pair of brake pads that are an upgrade over the factory originals. Some have the tools and facilities to fabricate their own parts and tools. The crucible in which every car is transformed from just a VIN designation on a car lot into an embodiment of the owner's personality and preferences varies just as much as the people who drive them.

No two cars live the same life.

But back to that crucible. Just how much fire and steel are truly required to fully enjoy your car without compromising your ability to drive it safely and legally on public roads? How much money do you really need to get a grin on your face around that corner or on that long straightaway? How far is too far? How much is not enough? Which provides more of a sense of accomplishment and pride- sweating and bleeding for each and every bolt, or know that every single part was installed with absolute precision and professionalism?

How would you even begin to test such a quandary?

I think the first step would require a fair number of cars and a fair number of owners from different walks of life. The next step? An environment where the fruits of those labors can shine, but not a race track or drag strip- No, we need an environment that can be accessed by anyone, regardless of means or resources. Simplified, we need to get a bunch of different people, with different cars, modified in different ways or even stock, and place them on some of the best roads in the region to really let the labor and personalities of these snowflakes shine and reveal their strengths, as well as their weaknesses.

That sounds pretty complicated, doesn't it? Like a lot of work.

I guess it's a good thing then, that we've already done the hard part for you. In the final weeks of October, myself and over a dozen other gearheads, from every walk of life and in a beautiful variety of daily driven vehicles, everything from a decades-old Audi quattro, to a Ford SVT Lightning pickup truck, to the requisite Mazda MX-5, will head out on a 3 day excursion into some of the best roads the Blue Ridge mountains have to offer, with that same question on our tongues: just how much, if at all, do you need to modify your car to truly enjoy it on public roads, without sacrificing your finances or daily driveability?

But again, it's not just about the cars. The cars are great, sure, but they would be nothing but paperweights and museum exhibits without people to drive them and forge bonds with them. That's why we would spend a large portion of the narrative exploring the relationship between man and machine. By interviewing the owners of the cars throughout the trip, as well as seeing them interact with their cars in non-driving roles, such as roadside repairs, adjustments, spit-shining, or even just sitting back and getting a great picture, we'd help piece together just what it is that makes us care so much about these rolling masses of metal and glass.

So what's really left? Well, since we all love our cars so much, most of us have spent every last penny on them, with no money left for recording gear! A couple of GoPro's, cheap lapel mics, and crappy point-and-shoot digital cameras makes up the entirety of our film equipment. We have no dedicated camera vehicles, no thousand-dollar editing software suites, and no idea what we're doing when it comes to filming something like this, aside from a massive backlog of Top Gear episodes viewed repeatedly. And you know what?

We're not going to let that stop us.

Even if we're not able to get any further help or assistance, we're still going to do it. We're going to take what cameras we have, with our Radio Shack microphones, and we're going to film, narrate, edit, and publish whatever we can, no matter what. Not only to chronicle our adventure, but to also answer, once and for all, just how far from 'stock' is 'fun'?

Though, admittedly, it'd be pretty awesome to have a Volvo or two along for the ride.