My morbid fascination with dangerous and moronic contraptions is undeniable, and I can’t help but admire a dumbass idea that is magnificently executed. When I first discovered Grind Hard Plumbing Co. and saw a modified kid’s toy shredding tires in a parking lot, I couldn’t smash the “subscribe” button fast enough. I’m not the only one who took notice of these guys; Grind Hard’s YouTube channel has attracted over a million followers over the past couple of years, all kickstarted by their first experiment in backwoods alchemy: the Barbie Mustang Drift Kart, a Power Wheels toy with a Honda CRF230 dirt bike motor erupting out of its pink plastic bodywork.
Grind Hard Plumbing Co. is Edwin Olding, a videographer with crazy ideas, and Ethan Schlussler, a handyman with crazy skills. There’s a refreshingly honest enthusiasm about both of them, and it’s easy to see that they’re enjoying themselves, because really, they’re 12-year-olds at heart, with an ambition to bring their adolescent tire-burning ideas to life — and document them.
The idea for Grind Hard started while Edwin was laid up in a cabin in northern Idaho with a leg injury. It was the beginning of winter and Edwin’s snowboarding season was over before it started. He realized that he was at a critical juncture in his life: his bank account was running on fumes, his girlfriend — now wife — was about to leave for Italy, and he had no job. He knew he wanted to build something. Either that or he’d pack up his crutches and take off to Italy with his girlfriend, which sounded nice since staying home to strike out on his own would likely mean living in his truck. Then the idea hit him: build a Barbie car with a real motor. No joke; that was his idea. Italy went out the window.
Edwin spent what little money he had left to source the Barbie car on Facebook Marketplace, then lowballed a random dude for a junky go-kart. If the guy didn’t accept his offer, Edwin planned to pack up his few belongings and head to the Mediterranean. Since you’re reading this story now, I don’t need to tell you how that played out, but I’m fascinated by these crossroads moments in life; this one is almost too ridiculous not to relish.
To add even more absurdity to the situation, Edwin had no idea how he was actually going to build this thing. He’s not a mechanic, he’s a videographer. A friend of his had gotten him into drifting, so he wasn’t a total noob, but the mechanical know-how to pull this off was well beyond him. He needed a partner with a garage, tools, skills, a lot of free time, and a solid sense of humor.
Ethan Schlussler had a day job in construction but loved working on playfully dreamy projects — including a treehouse with a bicycle as an elevator — so he was the perfect partner-in-crime. He had a garage full of tools, an old dirt bike motor waiting for its time to shine, plenty of land to play on, and he was eager as hell to take on Edwin’s challenge. From that point on, Grind Hard was now a duo with their roots planted in Northern Idaho. With access to thousands of acres of public land, they had “room for activities” and the freedom to experiment with their inventions.
And the name Grind Hard Plumbing Co.? Edwin wanted something that would stand out and also capture the comical nature of their projects; a quirky misnomer that made people ask, “Why is this plumbing company turning kids’ toys into hoon machines?”
Why is this plumbing company turning kids' toys into hoon machines?
Not since Lil Dicky has there been a more outrageous overnight success story with the consequences of failure so stark. Edwin went all-in on his crazy idea, and the Barbie Drift Kart became a viral phenomenon. Edwin and Ethan are the dogs who caught the car, and before they could think too hard about what they’d pulled off they immediately got to work building all kinds of tetanus rigs to satiate the rabid masses, like a 100-horsepower 4WD Power Wheels Jeep, a two-stroke dirt scooter, a lawnmower with a Supra engine, a 500cc Power Wheels Camaro, The “Princess” Power Wheels Jeep, and a “totaled Taco(ma),” just to name a few. It’s Peter Pan meets Junkyard Wars, a land where the unused and unwanted get a hilarious new lease on life.
The boys at Grind Hard posted their first video only two years ago, and in that short time their brand of irreverent garage high jinks has caught on, even inspiring others to build their own high-performance Power Wheels to rip around in. The coolest things are quite often the ones not trying to be cool at all. The outlandish and juvenile nature of these projects is what the auto/moto world had been looking for, and their efforts have clearly struck a chord. Devoid of pretension, Grind Hard is not trying to be anything other than what it is: unadulterated fun.