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Business: Gaynors Automotive comes to IndyCar’s rescue

Long-time Vancouver auto repair shop gets the call and its team delivers

VANCOUVER — Gaynors Automotive General Manager Tommy Gaynor and his family have a long history with the auto racing industry. And, for the past 32 years, Gaynors Automotive has established a legacy as a go-to destination for those with an automotive repair need.

Earlier this week, the crew at Gaynors Automotive came to the rescue of organizers of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland. When a promotional IndyCar broke, race officials sent the car to Gaynors’ Salmon Creek location to be fixed. Photo by Mike Schultz
Earlier this week, the crew at Gaynors Automotive came to the rescue of organizers of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland. When a promotional IndyCar broke, race officials sent the car to Gaynors’ Salmon Creek location to be fixed. Photo by Mike Schultz

This week, those two histories merged to provide an assist by the Vancouver business to the promotions crew in the area for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland. It all started when Gaynor received a phone call from Davey Hamilton, an official with IndyCar’s sanctioning body.

“He called me Saturday morning,’’ Gaynor said. “He said, ‘I need some help. We have our press car, that’s a street legal Indy car, that we use for promotions for all the races. It’s in Portland and it’s broke.’ Laughing, I said, ‘we don’t know a lot about Indy cars but if we get instructions and diagrams, we can fix anything.’’’

Gaynor and his team sprang into instant motion. The car was delivered to Gaynors Automotive’s Salmon Creek location on Sunday morning. Gaynor knew exactly which of his long-time technician’s to assign the task to, Pat Clark, a 15-year employee of Gaynors Automotive and a 25-year veteran of the automotive industry, got the call.

 

Gaynors Automotive technician Pat Clark (left) consults with Isaac Sanchez (right), of IndyCar Experience, on the needed repairs to a promotional car for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland. Photo by Mike Schultz
Gaynors Automotive technician Pat Clark (left) consults with Isaac Sanchez (right), of IndyCar Experience, on the needed repairs to a promotional car for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

Gaynor and Clark were briefed on what broke on the car and the IndyCar folks arranged for one of their own to travel to the Vancouver-Portland area with parts. The plan was more cost effective and reliable than trying to have the parts sent independently.

Clark was also instructed that he was working under a tight time frame. The car had a vital role in a full promotional schedule this week, beginning Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at KGW’s building in downtown Portland.

Gaynor was told by IndyCar officials that the repair job would take about six hours under perfect circumstances at their location back in Indianapolis, Ind. At any other shop, it was estimated the repairs would take at least 12 hours.

“It was literally an hour procedure just to jack this car up if you don’t have their special jack because the body work and structure is all carbon fiber,’’ Gaynor said.

The repair, a broken chain in the transfer case, required that the car needed to be taken apart into two pieces.

“Pat had it in the two pieces in under three hours,’’ Gaynor said. “He just went to town. It was a pleasure for him. He’s a huge fan of all kinds of motorsports. This was a treat for him. It wasn’t work.’’

 

In order to perform the needed repair on this IndyCar promotional vehicle, Gaynors Automotive Technician Pat Clark had to take the car apart into two pieces. Photo by Mike Schultz
In order to perform the needed repair on this IndyCar promotional vehicle, Gaynors Automotive Technician Pat Clark had to take the car apart into two pieces. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

Thanks to the team effort, including a welding job at Swan Island Sheetmetal Works in Portland, Clark and crew had the street-legal car finished by 12:30 p.m. on Monday.

“We got it reassembled and we were out road testing it on 139th Street at about 1 o’clock,’’ Gaynor said. “It was fantastic; it really was, to be able to help them.’’

For Gaynor, the entire experience reminded him of when he was in a similar situation with his own race car while in Chicago.

“The motorsports world is a pretty tight community,’’ he said. “I’ve been in that position before myself. We just felt like it was paying it forward. This was just to help get them on the road. It was a lot of fun.’’

As a result of his role in the repair, Clark and his family will be VIP guests at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland.

“This is probably the one time in his career Pat’s going to work on an Indy car,’’ said Gaynor, who was proud to be trusted with the repair and happy that Clark and his team executed it flawlessly.

“It was kind of an unknown for us,’’ Gaynor said. “It’s a car with an engine, a transmission and four wheels, but I didn’t know much more than that. It was a very nice compliment that out of the hundreds of shops in the Portland area, they called us. Knowing that I had the right guy, who I could trust with such a special project, was very rewarding.’’

For more information about Gaynors Automotive, go to www.gaynors.com.

For more information about the Grand Prix of Portland, go to www.http://portlandgp.com/.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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