Greg's List: A Life in the Industry
By Greg Warner
My love of all things mechanical back in the mid 1960's as I was inclined by some mechanical force to dismantle anything and everything I could get my hands on. If for no other reason, than just to see what made it work! Of course, most things I tore apart I was able to re-assemble as well, with maybe a few modifications or "upgrades"! It began with simple things like watches and clocks and grew rapidly to lawn mowers, chainsaws and since I grew up near the chain-o-lakes area, boats with either inboard or outboard motors.
As I got older, I started into minibikes like the old Rupp rigid models. By the age of 13, I was into complete automobiles and trucks. Man those good old days were simple and fun, especially when your Dad was a mechanic and was always dragging home a new project. My mechanical background was very diverse and I quickly became the go-to guy for fixing or hot-rodding just about anything that ran with gas! I started my career in the auto parts industry at age 13 when I was hired to deliver and stock parts for our local N.A.P.A. store. Many times I would end up delivering parts by bicycle only because I wasn't legal to drive yet.
During my first 6 or 7 years in the industry, I was also introduced to a complete automotive machine shop which was attached to the back end of the store. I was lucky to be trained in the fine art of everything from lathe turning of drums and rotors (disc brakes were just then becoming popular) to complete engine rebuilds, from truing and turning/polishing crankshafts to complete engine rebuilds. We also built many a winning race motor for local stock cars, drag boats and snowmobiles. In fact, the owner of the store actually was known for inventing the first IFS (independent front suspension) system for snowmobiles. I was right there, working alongside him, after the store was closed and into the wee hours of the morning, as a 16 year old punk kid (and sometimes test pilot, due to the fact that I only weighed 98 lbs soaking wet and had no fear) helping to create his "brainstorm of engineering" that changed snowmobiles forever.
At the age of 21, I was lucky enough to land a job as a mechanic-in-training for our local Harley-Davidson dealership. It was there that my passion for all things motorcycle grew and developed into a lifelong obsession. I had always loved all types of two-wheeled, motorized vehicles, had even been an aspiring motocross, cross-country, scrambles and trials rider. Those big-twin Harley-Davidson's were just so interesting and oh that sound they made was music to my ears! We were close enough to the factory, that Willie G. Davidson himself would visit our shop and we were one of the first purpose built modern-age Harley-Davidson dealerships in the world at the time and actually had built-in-the-floor, hydraulic bike lifts! I became one of the last generations of factory-trained mechanics from Harley-Davidson and was always happy to work there. Unfortunately, growing up in the North suburbs of Chicago, IL, you were lucky to enjoy a five to six month riding season, which left me lacking work during the winter. So, I had to re-evaluate my career and decided to stick with the automotive industry and keep the motorcycles as my hobby.
The rest, as they say, is history. I have enjoyed one of the most diverse, colorful, exciting and globetrotting automotive/motorcycle careers of anyone I have ever met.
See all Greg's List Pick's of the Week
Click here for photo gallery.