Abilene Motors Magazine: Issue 5

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THE AUTOMOTIVE MAGAZINE OF ABILENE, TEXAS

ISSUE5

BIG COUNTRY AUTOMOTIVE HISTORY

HOT ROD BUILDER, MECHANIC AND FORMER DRAG RACER, ROBERT FAIN SHARES STORIES AND THE ULTIMATE CLASSIC CAR COLLECTION

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KEEPERS CAR CLUB CAR SHOWs AT POTOSI LIVE 1-800-RADIATOR & AC IS NOW OPEN HOT RODS, CLASSIC CARS, CAR CLUBS, CAR SHOWS AND MORE






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1-800-RADIATOR & AC IS NOW OPEN PAUL GERSTNER & JOSEPH CASTEEN OPENS NEW AUTO PARTS BUSINESS IN ABILENE, TX PAGE 18

CLASSIC CAR LOVERS GUY & CISSY OGAN LOVE CLASSIC CARS AND HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR OVER 50 YEARS PAGE 26

FAIN’S AUTOMOTIVE LEGACY

FEATURES

ROBERT FAIN PLANS TO RETIRE AFTER SERVING THE AUTOMOTIVE COMMUNITY FOR OVER 45 YEARS


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A COMMITMENT TO SERVICE LAWRENCE HALL CHEVROLET SERVICE DEPARTMENT BECOMES MORE EFFICIENT BECAUSE OF COVID PANDEMIC PAGE 40

ME AND PAWPAW A GRANDFATHER’S 1959 CHEVY IMPALA STRENGTHENS HIS BOND WITH GRANDSON PAGE 48

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THE KEEPERS CAR CLUB LOCAL CAR CLUB TAKES PRIDE IN GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY PAGE 62

BURGERS, FRIES, AND COOL CARS RICK & CAROLYN’S BURGERS & FRIES NOW HOST MONTHLY EVENT FOR AUTOMOTIVE ENTHUSIAST

HARD WORK AND DEDICATION

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THROUGH THE UPS AND DOWNS, ERNEST TORRES NEVER GAVE UP ON HIS DREAM OF BECOMING A BUSINESS OWNER

CAR SHOW BENEFITING FIREFIGHTERS HELD AT POTOSI LIVE

CAR SHOWS AT POTOSI LIVE




1-800-RADIATOR & AC

PAUL GERSTNER & JOSEPH CASTEEN OPENS NEW AUTO PARTS BUSINESS IN ABILENE, TX


IS NOW OPEN

ABILENE, TX - No matter how unpredictable and dynamic life may become, businessman Paul Gerstner of Burkburnett, TX, has a way of making the most of it. He initially worked in the oil field in the Wichita Falls area after graduating from high school in the late 1970’s. He later joined the Fire Department of Wichita Falls in 1981. Currently, he is the partowner and President of 1-800-RADIATOR & AC. Paul was a firefighter for 26 years with the Fire Department of Wichita Falls. There he performed the duty of Fire Equipment Operator, which meant he drove the fire truck. He later retired at the age of 51. How does a retired firefighter end up as the co-owner of 1-800-RADIATOR & AC, one may ask? Paul said he was planning on retiring at the age of 55 but decided on doing it almost 4 years earlier. He was looking for some business opportunities when he found the ad online saying that 1-800-RADIATOR & AC was looking to sell franchises in Wichita Falls. He then talked to a guy who worked with him at the fire department and also at an auto body shop on his days off. Paul went back to him and asked, ‘’Where do you get your radiators and condensers, the stuff at your body shop?” His friend then proceeded to tell him about 1-800-RADIATOR & AC. ”I’d never heard of it before,” Paul admitted.

TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ PHOTOS BY CRISTIAN VILLANUEVA

Now that Mr. Gerstner knew that the company meant business, he decided to go all-in. It was a great choice as well because 1-800-RADIATOR & AC is the nation’s largest wholesaler of radiators and sells over 1 million per year. Pretty remarkable right? Well that is only the beginning. 1-800-RADIATOR & AC also sells other auto parts like fan assemblies, catalytic converters, intercoolers, condensers, A/C kits, fuel pumps along with offering same day delivery and a lifetime warranty on all radiators they sell.

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The main customers for them are mostly repair shops, body and collision shops, dealerships, commercial vehicles shops and some parts stores. However, there are some retail sales if someone walks in and knows what they want to buy. Paul loved his career and fellow firefighters, he says proudly that he is a better leader and more determined as a business owner because of his career as a firefighter. “I learned you don’t quit until you get the job done. Because when you’re at an emergency scene, you can’t get tired or quit. You gotta keep doing it till you get the job done”, he says. He met his wife right after he joined the fire department and has been married to Tammy for the past 38 years. They have two daughters, Amanda, who is a nurse, and Elizabeth, a school teacher. The other co-owner and business partner is Joseph Casteen. He is also Paul’s son-in-law. Before partnering with Paul, he worked at Sheppard Air Force Base as a Base Exchange manager in Wichita Falls, TX.

How does a retired fireman end up as the co-owner of 1-800-RADIATOR & AC, one may ask? Paul said he was planning on retiring at the age of 55 but decided on doing it almost 4 years earlier. He was looking for some business opportunities when he found the ad online saying that 1-800-RADIATOR & AC was looking to sell franchises in Wichita Falls.”

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When Paul first suggested that Joseph should come work for 1-800-RADIATOR & AC, Joseph, who is married to Elizabeth, had his doubts that it might make things complicated for his relationship with his father-In-law. Right before the couple was about to have their daughter, he decided to make the switch. Things have been going great and Joseph has covered almost every position in the company. He has used his experience from working at the Air Force base and his business skills. Family businesses can be complicated, but the two men have been able to maintain a nice and calm professional environment. Even if they sometimes disagree. The two work to find solutions on common grounds, Paul said. Paul first met Joseph when his future son-in-law was in 8th grade and playing with a friend at Joseph’s house. Paul lived four houses away from him and his daughter also went to the same school as Joseph. Joseph was called by his father about a man who wanted to talk to him. Paul was a good-sized guy and started asking questions. He asked him if the two kids had been hanging out with his daughter and her friend.

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Joseph recalls, “And he was like, “Have you two kids been hanging out with my daughter and her friend?” Yeah, you know, neighborhood kids were hanging out. Next thing I know he just yells, Stay the hell away from them! Come to find out my dad put him up to it. But at that time, I was thinking this large man was going to try to hurt me badly. So, now I am speechless and standing there like “oh, no, what’s going on?” This did not stop the young man from seeing his high school sweetheart and eventually marrying her. Even though it was his dad who instigated the prank, there was no way he could have known the huge man he was fearing would one day become his father-in-law and business partner. Paul started his first franchise of 1-800-Radiator & AC in Wichita Falls in June of 2007. He chose Abilene as the location for his second franchise and opened July of last year. When asked about why he decided to choose this city to open the new business location, he answered, “It’s a lot like Wichita Falls. I like Abilene because I am familiar with the type of people that live here.

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It was a great choice as well because 1-800-RADIATOR & AC is the nation’s largest wholesaler of radiators and sells over 1 million per year. Pretty remarkable right? Well that is only the beginning. 1-800-RADIATOR & AC also sells other auto parts like fan assemblies, catalytic converters, intercoolers, condensers, A/C kits, along with offering same day delivery and a lifetime warranty on all radiators they sell. ”


You know, it’s got the Air Force Base, I like Air Force people because well, my dad was in the Air Force and we got the Air Force Base up there. We got the universities. We got a small college in Wichita Falls.” Apart from the likeness for Air Force people, colleges, and similar demographics, there is another thing that drew Paul to Abilene. It was the golf course. Paul Gerstner loves to spend his free time playing golf. He seems to have free time now as his son-in-law takes care of a lot of business-related things. Another reason for the move is because the city of Abilene is growing at a fast pace and people like Paul Gerstner are among the entrepreneurs who have seen the potential and want to become a part of the boom. Anyone looking for radiators and AC parts can head on over to 1-800-RADIATOR & AC at 100 North Jefferson Street in Abilene, TX. You can also call them at 1-800-7234286. A little surprise they give is the free bags of candy whenever they deliver a part.

Other than providing great auto parts and services, this is one of the things that 1-800-RADIATOR & AC is known for within the automotive community. Some guys at the local auto businesses even request certain types of candy when they drop off a part. For over 30 years, Paul worked in the oilfield and was a firefighter. He now spends his time looking over the business and playing golf in his free time. His family has been an anchor for him his whole life. With his son-in-law Joseph helping him manage and grow the business. Gives him a little more time to spend with his grandkids, who he adores. If you were to ask Paul, life is pretty good but the best is yet to come.

A little surprise they give is the free bags of candy whenever they deliver a part. Other than providing great auto parts and services, this is one of the things that 1-800-RADIATOR & AC is known for within the automotive community. Some guys at the local auto businesses even request certain types of candy when they drop off a part. ”

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CLASSIC CAR LOVERS GUY & CISSY OGAN LOVE CLASSIC CARS AND HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR OVER 50 YEARS TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ | PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER MAWSON

ABILENE, TX - When most people first see Guy Ogan’s rebuilt 1966 Mustang Convertible, with Wimbledon white paint and dark red interior, their first response is to gasp, “she’s a real beauty”. But the real “beauty” in Guy Ogan’s eyes is Cissy Ogan, his wife of 54 years. The Abilene, Texas, couple not only share a deep love for each other. They are also both passionate about their love of classic automobiles.

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“My wife has a 1964 Studebaker Station Wagonaire,“ Guy says proudly. “They call it a Wagonaire because the rear top slides forward, underneath the front top and turns it into a truck. It’s great for parades. My wife and a few of her friends have used it in parades, while I drive with the top down. Under the hood, the Studebaker has a 5.7-L / 345 Hemi and a 5 speed automatic.”


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Guy and Cissy’s relationship blossomed in a very non-traditional way, at least by 1960’s standards. “I grew up in Odessa, and graduated from Permian High School in 1966,” Cissy explains. “After high school, I enrolled in college at TCU and entered a nursing program. That is where I met my husband.” In 1968, way before social media, there was a computer dating service called Operation Match. I sent my card in, he sent me a postcard and told me he was in ROTC at TCU.” Guy, who was already a smooth operator, explained that he was flying that weekend, but asked if he could call Cissy when he returned. The first time he called, the pair spent 12 hours on the phone, said Cissy, still amazed at how well they hit-it-off. “After we finally met, we were engaged 6 months later, and married 9 months later,” Cissy said. “We have been together ever since - our 54th anniversary was in January.”


The Ogan’s have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. They also own a precious medical alert dog named Leenaa. The specially-trained canine monitor’s Guy’s heart rate and overall health. He also monitors Cissy’s diabetes. Guy, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, served 22 years in the military before retiring as a Logistic Supply Officer. He played a huge role in bringing the first B-1 Bombers to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. He earned military commendations for bringing the project in under budget and sooner than expected.

But the real “beauty” in Guy Ogan’s eyes is Cissy Ogan, his wife of 54 years. The Abilene, Texas couple not only share a deep love for each other, they are both passionate about their love of classic automobiles.”

Guy’s interest in automobiles was stoked by his father’s love for cars. “That’s where this passion started,” he said. “When I was younger we would work on cars together, swapping motors and all. My first car was actually my dad’s first car, a 1946 Dodge. I even did some drag racing when I was younger and was pretty good at it”.

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The Ford Mustang is Guy’s favorite car. He owns a 2005 Jack Roush Edition Mustang but it’s his 1966 Mustang that he really enjoys talking about. It has a Dart Iron Eagle Stroker block, all digital gauges, 303 based cam, 375 HP, 3550 built up 5-speed standard transmission, McLeod twin disc clutch, 350 Posi Track Rear End, and an Edelbrock 650 cfm carburetor, he explains. “It has a real smooth running little machine that has more power than the law allows,” Guy admits with a sly grin and a twinkle in his eyes. When he’s not tinkering with his cars, Guy can often be found with a pen in-hand. The accomplished author has already written and published 3 vampire books. The book series is called “Immortal Relations”. He notes that they are about good vampires that protect people. All three books can be purchased on Amazon and Kindle.

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In recent years, Guy’s memory has started to wane, his wife acknowledges. But he still has a razor-sharp memory when it comes to automobiles. “For example, he may forget things like store names, but his automotive knowledge is as sharp as a knife,” Cissy says. That is why she supports and encourages his car hobby and joins him for Thursday dinners hosted by the Last Chance Car Club. “I love being a part of the Last Chance Car Club,” Guy agrees. “It’s a bunch of friends that get together. There’s no officers, no dues. We meet once a week, tell lies, swap stories, travel together and go to different events. ”When he participates in car shows, Guy is quick to display a beautiful picture of his 1966 Mustang that was etched in glass by his nephews’ wife Sherry Brown. Sherry is the owner of Granny’s Grazed Glass in Abilene.

It has a Dart Iron Eagle Stroker block, all digital gauges, 303 based cam, 375 HP, 3550 built up 5-speed standard transmission, McLeod twin disc clutch, 350 Posi Track Rear End, and an Edelbrock 650 cfm carburetor, he explains.”

Guy is proud of his car collection, and rightly so. These cars are a major source of motivation and energy for Guy. This hobby enables him to refresh his physique, mind, memory and overall energy, every single day. This year, we are looking forward to seeing Cissy, Guy, Leenaa, and their classic cars at future events.

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FAIN’S AUTOMOTIVE LEGACY TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ PHOTOS BY CRISTIAN VILLANUEVA

ROBERT FAIN PLANS TO RETIRE AFTER SERVING THE AUTOMOTIVE COMMUNITY FOR OVER 45 YEARS 26 ISSUE 5 | ABILENE MOTORS MAGAZINE


ABILENE, TX - Abilene is home to a special breed of automotive enthusiasts who have spent their lives pursuing the ultimate thrill. Robert Fain is among the cream of the crop and is known as a hot rod builder, mechanic, and former dragster. His automotive knowledge and experience are matchless. His passion for hot rods has played a pivotal role throughout his life. He is also the owner of Fain’s Automotive. An auto repair shop he opened over 4 decades ago in Abilene, TX. Robert, 71, got into the world of cars and made a name for himself at an early age. In 1966, he entered the industry as a passionate young man looking to become a professional. Fain started working at Vernon Fletcher Automotive shop on Walnut Street. He continued there for around eight years and then teamed up with H.A. Travis to open Poplar Automotive on Poplar St. Six years later, the team moved to South Clack Street and opened a new shop. In 1985, Robert decided to start his own business and that is how Fain’s Automotive was born. He started with a crew of five mechanics. As time went on, the shop reduced the number of mechanics and began focusing on making the customer experience better. “As people moved on we just didn’t rehire,” Robert said. “We got the shop smaller and a little more user-friendly.”

Robert was born and raised in Abilene, Texas. He graduated from Abilene High in 1969. In high school is where he met the love of his life, Vicki. Since then, they have been pretty much inseparable. Vicki is not from Abilene but moved here because her father was in the military. Her father was in the Air Force and went to Vietnam when she was a junior in high school. She came to Abilene because of Dyess Air Force Base and started going to Cooper High School. “If you were a teenager in Abilene in the 60’s, Mack Eplen’s Drivateria or Mack’s was the place to be on the weekends,” Robert says. What made the place so special was a big square in the middle that the kids would drive their cars around. It’s the same drive-in hamburger place where Robert and Vicki met each other. The couple started dating when they were 16 and have been married for 52 years now.

His passion for hot rods has played a pivotal role throughout his life. He is also the owner of Fain’s Automotive. An auto repair shop he opened over 4 decades ago in Abilene, TX.”

Fains Automotive does general auto repair. They have a good and loyal clientele that has been supporting their business for over 35 years. This is because of the great service and reputation Fain’s Automotive has within the community. The person that kept the shop together for decades is his wife Vicki, and Robert would agree to that statement. She is the love of his life and even has a passion for classic cars too. They have been together for over 50 years. Which is pretty remarkable. Now let’s take it back a little and tell you how it all started.

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Vicki remembers getting into the car with Robert with a friend of hers and that is when the spark between them happened. At that time, Fain had a rather notorious reputation due to his name being among hot rodders. “Yes, I knew he was a hot rodder.” Vicki recalled. “My girlfriend used to tell me they couldn’t believe that I dated that thug, you know, because he did hot rods. But yeah, we did it.” When the couple first met, Vicki was driving a Volkswagen Bug. Robert’s passion was contagious, and Vicki soon began accompanying him in his races as crew chief. He says he is a lucky man to have a wife who supports his passion. He says he wouldn’t have gone to the racetracks if she didn’t go with him. He shows his appreciation the only way he knows how and that is by building and restoring hot rods for the love of his life. In total, Robert has rebuilt 5 hot rods for Vicki. He said that if he ever returned to racing, it would be in a beautiful Chevy Nova that he restored for her years ago.

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They still have it and the couple drives it to the racetrack often. “I’d go to Sam’s, fill it up with gas and drive it to the race track.” Vicki said. “But I was a terrible driver. I was a much better crew chief than I was a driver. So, I finally just gave it back to him and said, “You drive it.” Robert started competing in 1969. The guys he raced with soon began known as the Fain Gang in 1995. It was a friend of his, Bob Tagg, who first put the name on the side of his car. The name Fain Gang was given by another friend of his, Paul Bilberry. “It was just people who had all ran together and helped each other if needed,” Robert said. “There was nothing official about it except when we showed up at the racetrack, we showed up in full force. You know, with lots of fast cars.” The group raced from Oklahoma to Louisiana, Houston, and the South, Texas, area near New Mexico.


In total, Robert has rebuilt 5 hot rods for Vicki. He said that if he ever returned to racing, it would be in a beautiful Chevy Nova that he restored for her years ago. They still have it and the couple drives it to the racetrack often.”

However, time took its toll on the Fain Gang and the group began to get smaller and smaller, as the members grew older. Things were just not the same without a huge group and it got to a point where racing was not being done as much as it used to be. Robert ended up selling some of his race cars and kept others. Eventually, he sold his beloved 1963 Ford Falcon. This particular hot rod meant a lot to Vicki and Robert because they shared over 30 years of memories in that race car. Traveling with family and friends to compete at different race tracks all over the country. The lucky buyer was a local dragster himself named Carol Johnson. He admired and looked up to Robert because he was one of the best drag racers in the Big Country. Robert was also always available when Carol had any questions or needed help when working on his vehicle. Sadly, last year Carrol Johnson passed away and now the 63’ Ford Falcon has a new owner. A nice couple who are now the 3rd owners of the vehicle.

For many years, Fain’s Automotive has been the place to go if you had a problem with your hot rod or race car. This is because of Robert’s expert automotive knowledge on those types of vehicles. He is known for never using a manual or book, he can diagnose and fix any make and model. Pretty fascinating, right! As Vicki and Robert grow older, they have passed on the business operations to their son Jason. His father believed that he has morphed into the role and does an excellent job. “People trust him because he is honest and charges fair prices,” Robert says. One rule Robert has taught him is to never make the shop too big and filled with mechanics. You will learn a lot about cars growing up with a father like Robert. So, being a mechanic and having a passion for cars was destined for Jason. ABILENE MOTORS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 5 29


“I guess it all started with me and my sister growing up around cars our whole life,” Jason said. “I had an opportunity to grow up around all these guys who were hot rodders and all the guys made it a unique experience for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Jason says his father is a fountain of knowledge. He has no issue figuring things out and becomes an artist when it comes to cars. Jason’s sister, Holli, is also joining the family business and taking care of things that were once done by her mother. She is responsible for office work, bills, customers, and payments. Another person who makes Fain’s Automotive complete is Kenny Chapman. The hardworking mechanic worked at the shop for 20 years before leaving briefly. He has now been back with them for about a year now. Jason says that he is extremely good at what he does, regardless if he’s working on fabrication, welding, or anything else.

Robert has always had a passion for restoring classic cars and he is one of the best out there. In his prime he could fully restore a car in less than a year. Today, it takes him a little over 2 years. Which is still pretty remarkable for the average person but not to his standards, he stated. He’s currently working on a 55’ Chevrolet for Vicki. A few of the cars he has rebuilt and proudly mentioned includes a 66’ Super Sport, 67’ Ford Mustang, 56’ Corvette, and 66’ GTO, to name a few. He has a special place in his heart for Pontiacs. There is one in his family that he got in 1979, when his son Jason was 4. It has a 327 engine and 4-speed transmission with 100,000 miles. “It’s a good hot rod and a good car. We’ve been all over the world in it,” Robert said. When Vicki was asked about her husband’s love of cars, she said, “You see these people that save animals, Robert saves cars. When he sees a car he’d say, you know if somebody doesn’t do something with that car it’s going to go away. And so, he goes to make an offer and the guy says sure. He would either fix it and sell it or keep it if we were attached.” Jason also has a nice 67’ GTO which he got when he was 14. The car sat in storage until about five years ago. It was built with a 496 Pontiac engine and a four-speed transmission. The car has 535 horsepower and 633-foot pounds of torque. He still has another car from his childhood, a 55’ Chevy pickup which he got when he was 15.

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It would be safe to say that the love of automobiles runs in the family. Robert’s dad was in parts and service. He worked on vehicles all his life. His grandfather was an old radiator mechanic and worked at a radiator shop in downtown Abilene. His grandfather kept on doing this till he was 90 years old. Even two of Robert’s brothers are deep into cars. His middle brother, Melvin, had a 57’ Chevy and 440 Charger in college. He is now a licensed architect and has a great job. This funded his hobby in track racing. He even purchased a ZR1 Corvette and got it modified. Melvin even has a Ferrari Modena and a twin-turbo Porsche in his collection.

Robert has always had a passion for restoring classic cars and he is one of the best out there. In his prime he could fully restore a car in less than a year. Today, it takes him a little over 2 years. Which is still pretty remarkable for the average person but not to his standards, he stated. He’s currently working on a 55’ Chevrolet for Vicki.”

The eldest brother is a mechanical engineer and went into the Air Force. He flies F-15’s and is known to compete on the racetracks. Robert Fain is someone who is known and respected throughout the big country area because of his automotive knowledge and skill. As he transitions into retirement, and continues to work on cars for his wife Vicki. He knows that Fain’s Automotive will be in great hands. With the business being handed to the next generation, Jason and Holli.

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A COMMITMENT TO SERVICE LAWRENCE HALL CHEVROLET SERVICE DEPARTMENT BECOMES MORE EFFICIENT BECAUSE OF COVID PANDEMIC TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ

ABILENE, TX - The world has changed dramatically since COVID-19 arrived in early 2020, and that includes the automotive industry which had to adapt to survive in the unprecedented times. Car dealerships can be considered the most integral part of the vehicle business model.

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PHOTOS BY CRISTIAN VILLANUEVA

We got a chance to take a closer look at how COVID affected Lawrence Hall Chevrolet, a local dealership in Abilene, Texas. We had the pleasure of meeting with two of their Service Managers who shared their insight on how their service department was affected by the pandemic.


Rick McWhirter, from Lawrence Hall Chevrolet in Abilene, TX, says that service operations have been impacted the most during the past two years. No one knew how things were going to turn out and this went on for about six months. “It shut our operation completely down,” Rick said. “We saw a lot of canceled appointments. Some people didn’t show up at all. Everybody, just kind of shut down. The whole city of Abilene was shut down.” The situation was the same all over the globe. There was a general decrease in demand due to people not being able to leave their homes and financial disruptions in disposable income. “It took several months for people to adopt safety measures such as wearing face coverings, that’s when people started coming back to car lots and dealership operations slowly returned to normal,” Rick said. It was difficult though because several employees contracted the virus, which put them on the sidelines until they recovered. There was also bad news for customers looking to buy new cars. Lawrence Hall had low inventories of new vehicles because General Motors shut down the production of new ones due to a chip shortage.

General Motors was not the only company to be troubled by this shortage of semiconductor chips. Modern cars have more computers and electronic parts than they have ever had before. Creature comforts such as heated seats cannot be offered without installing the chips. It wasn’t a select group of car manufacturers that had been hit by the chip shortage. All automakers that produce high-end vehicles faced the same problem. Even the companies we would least expect to have this issue, like Tesla, also struggled with the issue. Companies had to adapt by starting in-house production of Semiconductors.

We got a chance to take a closer look at how COVID affected Lawrence Hall Chevrolet, a local dealership in Abilene, Texas. We had the pleasure of meeting with two of their Service Managers who shared their insight on how their service department was affected by the pandemic.”

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This was not a particularly bad thing for Lawrence Hall Chevrolet. Customers started bringing their cars in for service more often because they could not buy new ones. This created a sudden boom in the service sector of the dealership and they had more work than they could handle. Another service manager, Jim Corbett, said that there was a huge change in the way business was being done before and after COVID. Steering wheels and seats had to be covered before the cars could be returned to the owners. Sanitizing the whole interior of the vehicle had to be done before work could be started and once it was all completed. There was also an increase in pickup and delivery services. Customers were more inclined to get their cars taken for service and then returned to a rendezvous point.

“We would go back and pick up their vehicles, you know with caution,” Jim said. “We would then service them and return them the same way. A lot of customers would ask us to leave the keys in the vehicle in the driveway. This was a way to ensure less person-to-person contact.” Having less inventory at the dealerships meant that people had to maintain what they already had. The prices of used cars also soared as a result of the shortage of new ones. Ever since COVID hit, people have been selling their old cars for prices higher than the MSRP they originally paid. To do better in the used vehicle market, most owners wanted their cars to be in the best shape. This also boosted the need for service and maintenance. “I think overall, we’ve overcome the adversity of the COVID pandemic as far as our serviceside is concerned,” Rick said.


Car manufacturers like GM have noticeably increased their automotive production again - something folks at Lawrence Hall Chevrolet have noticed. Some of these vehicles are put on display or used for walk-in test drives. A major portion of the vehicles gets sold even before they arrive. Today, most dealerships now offer their new vehicles without the extensive array of options that were previously available. Options that were a norm, such as heated steering wheels are not being offered at this time due to the chip shortage. The COVID pandemic hit each area of life differently. New car sales at Lawrence Hall Chevrolet plummeted but the dealership didn’t panic. Instead, they focused on areas of the dealership they could control and made a commitment to vehicle service and maintenance during the difficult times. This is a clear indication to why they are regarded as one of the best dealerships in the Big Country area.

Instead, they focused on areas of the dealership they could control and made a commitment to vehicle service and maintenance during the difficult times. This is a clear indication to why they are regarded as one of the best dealerships in the Big Country area.”

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ME PAWPAW AND

A GRANDFATHER’S 1959 CHEVY IMPALA STRENGTHENS HIS BOND WITH GRANDSON TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ | PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER MAWSON

ABILENE, TX - For Riley Smith and his grandfather, who he affectionately refers to as “PawPaw,” their mutual love for cars is at the heart of their unbreakable bond. Riley Smith lives in Abilene, Texas, but is originally from the Dallas Fort-Worth area. He lived there with his father Beau Smith. Riley attended Lake Ridge High School and was part of the Golf Team.

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After high school, he took classes for Photography, Photoshop, and A/V production at Ben Barber Career Academy. He later gained a lot of experience in sound and lighting, while working at the First Methodist Mansfield Church. He even had a cool job working with his father, making custom smokers and barbeque grills. For a business called Big Hat BBQ Smokers and Grills.


His close knit relationship with his grandpa is one of the reasons he chose to live in Abilene. Today they are pretty much inseparable. Riley and his grandad, whose name is Roddy Haley, love for classic cars was initially prompted by one specific car, a 1959 Chevrolet Impala. When Riley Smith’s uncle, Dale Haley, got his wife Estelle Haley an Impala. Dale was so mesmerized by the car that he purchased the same model for himself. As soon as he got it, he sent it to a car restoration shop in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2009, Uncle Dale passed away. In his memory, Roddy decided to finish what his brother had started. After many years of hard work, the car was finally restored. “Pawpaw” brought the Impala to Abilene and found a garage to park it in.

His close knit relationship with his grandpa is one of the reasons he chose to live in Abilene. Today they are pretty much inseparable. Riley and his grandad, whose name is Roddy Haley, love for classic cars was initially prompted by one specific car, a 1959 Chevrolet Impala.”

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“I really enjoy spending time with grandpa, and helping him as much as I can,” Riley said. He moved in with his “PawPaw” at his ranch ever since his wife Marilyn passed away. In addition to working on cars together, the grandson helps feed the animals, and helps maintain the farm upkeep. The grandfather, grandson duo take the beautiful 1959 Impala cruising on the weekends. They also drive it to car shows, car events, and cruise nights. Events such as the Kean Cruise Night, Potosi Volunteer Fire Department Car Show, Tom’s Tire Pros Trunk or Treat, and Potosi Baptist Church Car Show are just some examples of where the car has made special appearances. It also won multiple Kids Choice Awards and Best In Shows. Riley Smith said once at the Potosi Baptist Church Car Show, a young boy ran up to him and declared that 1959 Impalas were his favorite cars, after seeing Smith and Haley’s car. “That really made my day,” Riley admits. “It put a big smile on my face.”

In 2009, Uncle Dale passed away. In his memory, Roddy decided to finish what his brother had started. After many years of hard work, the car was finally restored. “Pawpaw” brought the Impala to Abilene and found a garage to park it in.”

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The beautiful 1959 Chevy Impala is a 2 door hardtop. It runs on a 283 small block engine coupled to a 3 on the tree manual transmission. A classic combination of red interior and black exterior has been done. The dual exhaust and engine make it sound and run like a brand new car. When Chevrolet first released the car, it was designed to be a pure driver’s vehicle. However, the looks and style they designed made it something you can take to car shows and add to any classic car collection. It was born as the top end version of the Chevy Bel Air as it had better looks, a longer wheelbase, and plush interiors. Within just a year, the Impala was a separate model instead of simply the top of the line variant. Even to this day, cars like Riley and his granddad’s 1959 Impala are some of the most desired cars among collectors of classic Chevys. Not all people are as lucky as Riley and his “PawPaw,” who get to enjoy these precious moments together. Their amazing bond, love for each other and classic cars shines as bright as the paint on their beautiful 1959 Chevy Impala. ABILENE MOTORS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 5 43






TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ

| PHOTOS BY CRISTIAN VILLANUEVA

HARD WORK DEDICATION AND

THROUGH THE UPS AND DOWNS, ERNEST TORRES NEVER GAVE UP ON HIS DREAM OF BECOMING A BUSINESS OWNER ABILENE, TX - Life is full of ups and downs but many people let the calamities of life get the best of them. Ernest Torres, the owner of Torres Auto Glass in Abilene, Texas, isn’t one of them. Nine years ago, when he had to quit his job due to an arm injury and his town was hit by a great hailstorm, Ernest opened up the business of vehicle glass components. “I was working for another company here in Abilene. Then I hurt my arm and well, I guess I was no longer of any use to them anymore,’’ Ernest said. “Nobody in Abilene was wanting to pay what I was worth.

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So, I decided to leap into trying to do it on my own. To my luck, there was a hail storm around the time I opened the business and that kicked it off for sure.” The initial days of the business were not easy. However, Ernest had his friend Micheal Silva on his side and he is with him to this day. Torres Auto Glass has seen some hard times and has gone through many struggles, but like any good business. He has adapted, weathered the storm and is now thriving. Loyal, hard-working employees and a trusty Chevy truck have taken the venture a long way from where it once started.


Ernest was born in Fort Morgan, CO. But when his father received a work transfer, the family moved to Abilene, said Ernest, who was in second grade at the time. The saying, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade has been his motto and he has lived by it from time to time. Even when businesses all over the world were closing due to COVID, Torres Auto Glass thrived. “We saw the bigger explosion when COVID hit,” Ernest said. “And once COVID hit it’s been busy, busy ever since and hasn’t stopped.” It may sound weird and rather peculiar but it was the case for Torres Auto Glass. The owner says that there were two factors for this success amid uncertain times. People had extra money on their hands and were mostly able to spend it on their homes and vehicles, Ernest explains. His business survived, while others died because the work they do is mechanical. The way things have been for the business, it may seem like its success has just been due to being at the right place at the right time. This is not true as Ernest emphasizes very much delivering the best-in-class service. “We try to be as fair as we can,” Ernest said. “I know there are times that you know, things happen because no one is perfect. But we try to be as good as we can to every customer that comes into that door. If you look up our ratings, we have great ratings with our customers, and we try to keep it that way.”

He has adapted, weathered the storm and is now thriving. Loyal, hard-working employees and a trusty Chevy truck have taken the venture a long way from where it once started.” ABILENE MOTORS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 5 49


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Torres Auto Glass employees take pride in being customer friendly so that each of their customers gets a memorable experience. Communication is key and they try their best to communicate in such a way that a bond forms between the customer and the company. When asked about the secret of his success, Ernest says that the ability to go mobile is what keeps them ahead of the curve. Customers have both options of either taking their cars to the shop or getting a technician to come to their place for an additional fee. Ernest serves his customers right by giving them the best value for their time and money. The prices are as fair, reasonable and the work is done in the least amount of time possible. Cars that come in the morning are completed by noon. Vehicles that come after that are finished by the evening.

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If you need to get some glass work done on your car or just want to see how things are done at the company, head on down to 3349 South 1st, Abilene, TX. An appointment for a remote job can also be taken by calling (325) 201-0813. They can easily travel to San Angelo, Sweetwater, Haskell, Breckenridge, and every other city in the Big Country area. The crew loves to travel and take a break from being at the shop.


The glue that keeps Torres Auto Glass together is a family-like relationship between the employees. “We’re family even though we are not all blood related, we are still family. I see my employees as part of me,” Ernest said. “They’re the ones that are making this company bigger and better.” Torres Auto Glass now has 7 employees. They all play a huge role in the daily operations and getting the business where it is today. He is very grateful for his employees’ hard work and loyalty to the company. Ernest’ girlfriend, Ramona Maldonado, takes care of the customers and represents the company wherever she needs to. Ernest considers Ramona, along with Patricia, to be the two hard-working secretaries that keep the shop together. Ernest’s father, Ernest Torres Sr., works for the business as well. He takes care of all the maintenance involved with the business, including fixing leaks, faucets, killing weeds, or moving the trash. When Ernest Torres first opened his business there was a lot of uncertainty. But he didn’t let his fears get in the way of him accomplishing his dream of becoming a business owner. This is not one of those rags-to-riches stories but something even better. It’s about a man who didn’t give up when life tried to throw him down, but instead used the challenge to accomplish greater things.

Torres Auto Glass now has 7 employees. They all play a huge role in the daily operations and getting the business where it is today. He is very grateful for his employees’ hard work and loyalty to the company.”

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KEEPERS CAR CLUB THE

LOCAL CAR CLUB TAKES PRIDE IN GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ | PHOTOS BY CRISTIAN VILLANUEVA

CLYDE, TX - For more than 30 years the Keepers Car Club has played an integral role in the Big Country area. For its members and supporters the group is more than just a club, it is also a vital part of the community.

“We definitely take a lot of pride in representing the community,” Club President Boyd Zimmerman said. “We’re not just a car club, we’re a family. We take care of each other and our goal is to help people in the Community.”

During just the past decade, the Keepers Car Club has raised, and donated more than $50,000. These funds have been used to feed and clothe less fortunate children, help cover funeral costs for those in need, and help struggling mothers care for their newborns.

It’s definitely that philanthropic spirit that initially attracts many of the club’s members, who affectionately refer to themselves as “gearheads” due to their shared, obsessive passion for hot rods and classic cars.

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“I’ve been a ‘gearhead’ all my life,” admits Zimmerman, who bursts into a hearty chuckle while trying to explain his love of cars. “I love working on cars and I love being around them. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten to where I can afford building cars that are decent.” The Club’s major car show is held on the second Saturday of every October at Clyde City Park, club member John Vaughan explains. The annual competition attracts an average of 100 cars that are displayed by proud owners from throughout Texas. That number doesn’t include the dozens of additional vehicles club members bring to the show. “Our biggest turnout was 154 cars one year,” said Vaughan, who is this year’s show organizer. “We’ve had some cars we couldn’t even imagine; just gorgeous. People keep coming back every year.” Vaughan’s father, J.B. Vaughan was one of the club’s four founding members - all of whom lived in Clyde, Texas. J.B. Vaughan died in 2013.

During just the past decade, the Keepers Car Club has raised, and donated more than $50,000. These funds have been used to feed and clothe less fortunate children, help cover funeral costs for those in need, and help struggling mothers care for their newborns.” ABILENE MOTORS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 5 55


“I inherited my dad’s car, a 1937 Ford,” John Vaughan proudly says. “After he died, I brought the car to the show and a person there came right up to me and said, “hey, that’s J.B. ‘s car.” After learning that John Vaughan was J.B’s son, club members presented John and his two sisters with t-shirts that were distributed to club members and attendees in 2013 that paid tribute to their late father. In 2015, John Vaughan officially joined the club, making him the club’s first “legacy,” or second-generation member. Being part of the club that was founded by his father, makes him proud, John Said.

The car shows traditionally include an auction and raffle of great miscellaneous items donated by our sponsors, John Vaughan and other members said. Several DJs keep attendees entertained with the Oldies from the Rock and Roll era, The Keepers 18th Annual Car Show will be held Oct. 8, 2022, and will be open to all categories of cars, trucks and motorcycles. To learn more about the club, or the annual car event, email the group at keeperscarshow@gmail.com.


Club members meet on the first Thursday of each month at the Denton Valley’s Backyard which is owned by club member Chuck Swofford. The building that houses the restaurant was constructed in 1915 and for most of its existence was the site of a popular country store. The building was boarded up in the 1980s and remained unused until Swofford purchased it in 2016.

The Keepers Car Club currently boasts more than 50 active members with all types of make and model vehicles, Club Secretary Jill Allen said.”

“I had been in the restaurant business and was planning to retire,” Swofford said. “But I needed something to do, so I purchased the building and reopened it as a restaurant. As the car club grew, so did it’s need for a larger meeting venue. The popular community restaurant specializes in catfish, shrimp, chicken-fried steak and grilled chicken, but features many other goodies that will please just about everyone’s palates. The Keepers Car Club currently boasts more than 50 active members with all types of make and model vehicles, Club Secretary Jill Allen said. Her husband Duane is the club’s vice-president. “My husband and I joined the club in 2011,” Jill Allen said. “We love it. For me, and my husband, this is our only social outlet. We really enjoy it and have made some really good friends, I think that’s what it is for most of us.”

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The Allen’s joined the club after retiring from their Civil Service jobs. “We were interested in the club but didn’t have any classics until our retirement,” Jill Allen said. “In 2011, Duane traded work for parts to a 1927 roadster and we also bought a 1968 Mustang that he completely rebuilt to take to shows while he was remanufacturing the roadster.” The Mustang took 18 months to fix and hit the shows in 2013, and the roadster is getting final touch-ups, and expected to be on display at the October 2022 car show. Last year’s car show featured 94 entries with 200-300 participants from 35-40 West Texas towns, Vaughan and Allen said. The show has included classes featuring everything from vintage military vehicles, vintage ‘canned ham’ campers, kids racing go-karts, and ‘Young Gun’ teenage car owners to the more common classes for classic and newer cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Club members donate briskets for the brisket lunch and other goodies are also available. Cash sponsorships for the car show pay for upfront expenses for the show such as advertising, printing forms, judges, awards, utility and trash services for the show,” Vaughan said. “We really depend on our great Sponsors.” “The event requires a lot of planning and work to pull-off every year, but the task is well worth the effort,” Vaughan said. After all, club members know their hard work isn’t just about showing off cars, it’s really about showing their community how much it’s loved.

We definitely take a lot of pride in representing the community,” Club President Boyd Zimmerman said. “We’re not just a car club, we’re a family. We take care of each other and our goal is to help people in the Community.”

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TORRES AUTO GLASS IS A MOBILE AUTO GLASS COMPANY IN ABILENE, TX Torres Auto Glass is your premier auto glass company serving Abilene, TX, and the surrounding area! From auto glass repair to auto glass replacement. Our auto glass company ensures that your vehicle's glass looks fantastic and works perfectly with our simple, reliable repair services. We utilize only the latest and most advanced automotive technology to help you with your auto glass needs!

SOME OF THE SERVICES WE OFFER INCLUDE:

ADDRESS: 3349 South 1st St. Abilene, TX 79605

(325) 201-0813 www.autoglassabilene.com



BURGERS, FRIES,

And Cool Cars

RICK & CAROLYN’S BURGERS & FRIES NOW HOST MONTHLY EVENT FOR AUTOMOTIVE ENTHUSIAST TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ PHOTOS BY CRISTIAN VILLANUEVA

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ABILENE, TX -Some people follow their passions while others work and have a career. Rick Daffron is among the lucky few who can do both at the same time. He and his wife run a family-owned restaurant called Rick & Carolyn’s Burgers & Fries in Abilene, TX. On top of being a successful business owner, Rick is also a member of a local car club called the Keepers Car Club. His passion for cars led him to join this local car group.

Some people follow their passions while others work and have a career. Rick Daffron is among the lucky few who can do both at the same time. He and his wife run a family-owned restaurant called Rick & Carolyn’s Burgers & Fries in Abilene, TX.”

The restaurant has Rick’s name as well as his wife Carolyn’s. When asked about his wife’s role in the business, Rick replied, “Well, she pretty much runs it and she lets me work here. That’s the way it goes. So, she let me put my name on the front of the signs.” The famous saying, behind every successful man, is a woman, stands true for Rick. He says that his wife takes care of all the things at the business. The couple has worked together and enjoyed each bit of it. It has helped them raise their family.

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Cooking was never a passion for Rick but he was always a car enthusiast. He got into the restaurant business in 1992 and 30 years later, holds meet-and-greets for automobile enthusiasts every 4th Saturday of the month.

The restaurant is a must-go for everyone looking for a good bite to eat and a nice time with car-loving folk. It starts at 6pm every 4th Saturday of the month at Rick & Carolyn Burgers & Fries at 302 South Pioneer Dr, Abilene, TX 79605.

“We enjoy every bit of it,” Rick said. “It kind of helps us forget about the worries of the day, the worries of the week and things like that. This is when we get to have a little fun, see everybody’s cars. Sit down and visit with everybody else. It’s just been a good adventure for everyone.”

Rick is not the only car lover in the family; his granddaughter Adi Gui, also shares the passion. Rick noticed when Adi was a little girl she made it clear that she wanted a Mustang. “She had a little toy Mustang that she rolled around in that was red and black,” Rick said. “That’s the only car she’s always wanted.”

On top of being a successful business owner, Rick is also a member of a local car club called the Keepers Car Club. His passion for cars led him to join this local car group.”

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When a 1965 Mustang turned up for sale on the internet, this grandfather knew exactly what he had to do and bought it for Adi. It’s a two-door coupe with two previous owners. The car only has 57,000 miles on the odometer and everything on it is still original,” Rick said. It has a 289 horsepower engine with manual brakes and power steering. The car is strictly made for show and is not a daily driver. Rick recalls taking his granddaughter to NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway at the tender age of 4-years-old. They loved to watch Jeff Gordon race and have been a fan of cars ever since.

So, if you are in the Big Country area and looking for a place to spend time with family and friends. While enjoying a delicious meal, make sure to stop by Rick and Carolyn’s Burgers and Fries. Not only will you be supporting a local restaurant but you will have a great time seeing some pretty cool cars.

The restaurant is a must-go for everyone looking for a good bite to eat and a nice time with car-loving folk. It starts at 6pm every 4th Saturday of the month at Rick & Carolyn Burgers & Fries at 302 South Pioneer Dr, Abilene, TX 79605.”

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POTOSI LIVE S W O H S R A C AT

CAR SHOW BENEFITING FIREFIGHTERS HELD AT POTOSI LIVE TEXT BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ | PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER MAWSON

POTOSI, TX - The car culture has made its way into the philanthropic side of things. An example of this is a car show benefit held for the Potosi Volunteer Fire Department by the Big Country Mopar car club called the 4th Annual Potosi VFD Car Show. The venue chosen to host this event was a local restaurant called Potosi Live. This was a pretty big deal because this was the first car show ever held at Potosi Live. Car club member, Logan Jewell, who is a member of the Potosi Volunteer Fire Department. Came up with the idea 6 to 7 years ago, of hosting a car show to raise money.

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The proceeds go to purchase gear and training for the fire department. People have been very supportive towards this initiative and just in the first year, more than 100 cars turned out, double the number that were showcased during the first four years. A reason for the high attendance numbers is the entry fees of just twenty dollars, Logan explains. Logan is a proud member of the Big Country Mopar and he takes pride in his white and blue, 12 valve, 1992 Dodge D250. It has a big turbo with equally big injectors and runs pretty well for a heavy truck.


Another prominent member of the club is its President, Kasey White. It was Kasey who started the car club back in 2014. He believes that Mopars have always been a huge part of Abilene’s car culture. “You see some beasts in garages that never make it on the street,” Kasey said. “I love all makes and models, but you can’t misplace my Mopars. That’s my heart and home right there.” Kasey owns a new fifth generation Ram 1500 which he recently bought. It has been given a 6-inch lift with 35x12 tires. Some custom exhaust work has also been done to the truck. The Big Country Mopar car club has more than 300 members and all of them are volunteers. Their goal is to raise at least around $15,000 each year, which is given back to the community. They did slow down a bit due to Covid but things are getting back to normal now.

The venue chosen to host this event was a local restaurant called Potosi Live. This was a pretty big deal because this was the first car show ever held at Potosi Live.”

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This past year’s car show was a huge success and Big Country Mopar loved the venue, Potosi Live. It was chosen for its great management and staff that made sure everything was done just perfectly, Kasey said. Potosi Live was also the main show sponsor, on top of being the venue host. They are looking forward to hosting another successful event next year. The event was not just for car enthusiasts as the whole family could have a nice time. There were three free bouncing houses for the kids, and there were also some raffle giveaways as well.

Management of the event and raffles are made possible by the help of the sponsors. Local business MKT Wraps sponsored a raffle giveaway for a free hood wrap of the winner’s choice. Other main sponsors were Tin Benders, Accurate Air Solutions, WNC Guns, and Tea2Go. All sponsors, so many we could not mention them all, played a huge role in making this year’s event successful. The Big Country Mopar car club continues to grow. It has gained a military affiliation for itself due to being headquartered in Abilene. Which is a big base town and several people from the Dyess Airforce Base are also members of the club. They all share the love of Mopars.

The Big Country Mopar car club has more than 300 members and all of them are volunteers. Their goal is to raise at least around $15,000 each year, which is given back to the community. They did slow down a bit due to Covid but things are getting back to normal now.”

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“We Plan for bigger and better things next year,” Logan said. “We really surprised the owners of Potosi Live. I think we’re going to really break it open wide next year. We’re going to have a lot of plans.” If you also share the love for cars, make sure to attend this year’s show. Many awards are given to participants, like the best lifted and the best lowered cars. Entering your car for the top 25 best cars competition can be done as well. This event arranged by Big Country Mopar is an example of how like-minded individuals have the ability to come together and make something magnificent. Their members and attendees are growing each year.

They are passionate about their annual event and it shows. The spirit of helping the local community and especially the Potosi Volunteer Fire Department is what makes this car show special.

This year’s car show was a huge success and Big Country Mopar loved the venue, Potosi Live. It’s chosen for its great management and staff that made sure everything was done just perfectly. Potosi Live was also the main show sponsor, on top of being the venue host. They are looking forward to hosting another successful event next year.”

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