An on-going series of 4-page articles titled “Vintage Shops” has run in Vintage Motorsport since the first story appeared in the magazine’s September/October 2009 issue. The concept, which was to write about the technicians and technology responsible for the restoration, tuning and support of vintage race cars, was an idea Sharon Edgar had in the summer of 2008 while we were attending the Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca Raceway in California. Sharon wanted to know more about what went on behind-the-scenes of historic racing, and remarked on the skill it takes to create those magnificent cars. “The restorers,” she wrote in her journal, “are true artisans who do astonishling complex work with the highest proficiency. They are the most interesting to me of all, and I would like to know more about them and how they work.”
I presented my wife’s “shop stories” idea to Vintage Motorsport editor D. Randy Riggs. Randy liked the premise and said that when he had page space enough for one I could do a “pilot” piece. It took a year, but ever since this series debuting issue in 2009 there has been a “Vintage Shops” story in each edition of the magazine, and they have found instant popularity among readers. So far I have done a dozen of these shop stories, while a few more have been written and photographed for Vintage Motorsport by other journalists.
Take a look at this more recent one (Nov/Dec 2011) titled “J&L Fabricating Race Cars and Restorations” about Louie Shefchik’s vintage shop in Puyallup, Washington.
For the article’s PDF, click on: Shops-JLFabricating-VM-Edgar
[A little backstory on how this article came about: I knew Butch Dennison and his celebrated work on historic Ferraris and Alfa Romeos, and I had met his brother-in-law, Louie Shefchik, who had a vintage shop in the same Washington State town of Puyallup just east of Tacoma. After visiting Butch the day before, I drove around and around in a press-loaner Range Rover trying to find Louie’s shop. The area was lush, the rain poured down, and roads that were a moment later bathed in bright sun turned to gold. It was magical. I crossed a bridge, called Louie’s office on my cell for last-ditch directions, and found a street that took me to the shop. For the first ten minutes there I talked with Louie’s father about the old days when he, son Louie and daughter Nancy would go to the oval track races, and how Louie later raced midgets and sprint cars. Then Louie himself showed up, and there they were together, the Shefchik men. “I was rather impatient back then,” Louie said of their father-son midget racing days. “I tore up a lot of my dad’s equipment. But we won a lot of races, and I came to a crossroads of ‘what are you going to do?'” In my day spent at the shop I would learn plenty about that. – WE]
To read a PDF of my “Vintage Shops” story about Louie’s brother-in-law, Butch Dennison, and Butch’s Dennison International. also in Puyallup, WA, click on: Dennison International Motorsports