Happy Shops

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My old radiator
When my radiator expired during my first race at Watkins Glen last month, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fix it in time for the next day’s race. I was six hours from home, without a spare radiator, and had no idea how to even replace one. Just before 5pm, I called the one garage in the area I knew — Eksten Autoworks in Rochester, about 80 miles from the track. They happened to have a used radiator in stock, so I strapped the M3 on the trailer and headed north.
I arrived just before dusk and found the mechanics having pizza in the front office. In the garage, an early Porsche 911 was waiting for a new motor, sharing the garage with an M3 like mine, a Toyota MR2 racecar and another nice old 3-series BMW that had obviously seen the track. A good sign.
Fortunately, all the mechanics were already staying late to prep cars for a track event that weekend at Watkins Glen. They didn’t have time to work on my car, but were more than happy to show me where to begin, and gave me the use of the parking lot outside their shop to do most of the work.
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Eksten Automotive, 9:30pm
Inevitably, I took a fair amount of their time with my stupid questions, and before starting the car up, they helped figure out an issue with the fan shroud and checked my work over to make sure everything was in the right place. By 9:30pm, my car sported a new used radiator, ready for the next day’s race.
I had made Eksten’s late night even later; but the entire time I was there, everyone there was a real pleasure to be around. It’s easy to find people who want to make money off cars; it’s much more difficult to find people who love doing the work. From everything I saw, Eksten is one of those places.