When Billy Endlekofer, co-owner of Family Automotive on Hallock Avenue, heard that his shop had been vandalized between Friday evening and Saturday morning, his thoughts turned to "his baby," a souped-up 1969 Chevy Nova he has been racing on a quarter-mile track for the past six years.
After hearing that a vandal hot-wired a pick-up truck with snow plow attached to the front, and rammed it through one of the auto shop's bays, Endlekofer said his concern went straight to the car he's put "thousands of hours into, and more sweat and tears."
But one look from his wife reminded him that he better choose his words a little more carefully.
"It was funny, Saturday we were at home and people were calling me on the phone, this and that, and I said 'As long as my baby isn't hurt.' My wife looks at me, and she's saying, 'Huh?' So it's actually my second baby," Endlekofer said with a laugh on Tuesday. "But it still hurt bigtime."
- Click here to see a video taken at the shop Saturday morning.
An unordinary turn of events ended up saving the Chevy from extensive damage. Endkelofer planned on doing engine work on the car on Saturday, so when the truck plowed through the garage door, it ended up driving right underneath the car – which was raised on a hydraulic lift – keeping exterior damage to a minimum.
"Otherwise it would have gone right through the back wall," he said.
He said that between damage to the truck, plow, building, hydraulic lift and more, the overall cost of damage could reach up to $100,000. Endlekofer noted no damage was done to the motor of his car though, as it had been pulled from the car Friday afternoon. But since the truck drove right underneath his Chevy, extensive damage to the undercarriage had been sustained. Insurance estimators were expected to drop by on Wednesday.
Endlekofer owns the shop with his brother, Bobby, who races at Riverhead Raceway. Taking the car down required a team effort, the two said, including Bobby's sons James and Kyle, and a bunch of other locals who donated their time.
"It took a lot of hours and a lot of support from friends to get that car onto the ground safely," said Billy, mentioning Stan's Towing and "Lobby, Dan-O, and Mikey up the corner at Mobil."
"Everybody was here helping everybody."
As for the person who committed the crime, police are still investigating and whoever committed the crime could be charged with felony criminal mischief and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Police are urging anyone with information to call Sixth Precinct Detectives at (631) 854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.