They’re not completely OUR cars. Well, in the tax and title sense of the word they are, but lotus cars are kind of claimed by a number of folks who help keep them in service. It’s actually kind of cool.

When I had my Exige, for example, I got the feeling that the tech who serviced it, T.J. Waszak (of the now defunct Fox Valley Motorcars) sort of thought of it as one of his babies. I didn’t have a problem with that because he knows more about the 111 cars than anyone but the factory guys, and he has been a great friend for many, many years.

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My level of trust in him was such that from time to time he would take it to a friends EPIC Indy 500 party for the weekend, and I could still sleep. On some level, I think, he loved that car more than I did, and I can say that I hung on to it a few years longer than I should have so as not to disappoint him.

I think T.J. is a pretty good example of the kind of guy Lotus wants at a dealership with their sign over the door. Not only can the guy turn a wrench, but during his down time he is a ferocious brand ambassador for the marque as well as whatever dealership he is working with at the time. He has also taken the time to become a known and valuable part of the Lotus community, which doesn’t hurt.

I’m not going to go into how I first met him, except to say that my stories of a much younger T.J. and his adventures at the brickyard will remain a closely held secret unless he try’s to run for public office. I will say that he has matured fabulously into a fantastic husband and father, and someone that can be count on to do the right thing.

Anyway, when you pick your car up from a trip to a tech like him, he usually admonishes you for something. Crap tires, letting it get dirty, or in my case, not driving it nearly enough. He was right about that, and ultimately drove my decision to go back to an Esprit. As much as I bitch and moan about the “lack of use abuse” I inherited, I was becoming guilty of the same.

T.J. has left the Chicago area for a fantastic opportunity in Indianapolis, and I think he will be missed. We still keep in close touch, but I would have prefer having him 20 minutes away, not 3 hours. I suppose it’s rather less of a issue now that I am back in an Esprit, but it is what happened. He always kind of thought of Esprits as stepchildren anyway.

I have a feeling he will be back at some point.

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