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Jay Leno visits Waterloo gearheads’ garage

SUSIE HEATON and TERRI JACKSON The Party Paparazzi (The Courier)

Sometimes the zaniest ideas turn into the most incredible experiences.

That was certainly the case Sunday when Jay Leno came to town. When Jim Lind, former owner of Jim Lind Standard, found out that Leno would be performing at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on March 6 for a one-night show, his mind started racing faster than a Ferrari.

Knowing that Leno owns an impressive car collection of nearly 150 highly coveted and expensive vehicles, loves tinkering with his classic cars and motorcycles, and hosts the hit CNBC television series, “Jay Leno’s Garage” set Lind’s own wheels in motion. He and his brothers Pat, Tim and Tom had just finished buffing and polishing their own car collection, housed in a museum of sorts dubbed The Motors, that showcases the Lind family’s love for fast cars, classic frames and a bit of their own family history.

Lind contacted the Gallagher Bluedorn and presented his zany idea: Let’s partner to raise funds for the performing arts center’s building project by inviting Jay Leno to stop by the Lind Brothers’ own labor of automotive love and mingle with campaign donors. Leno was not only excited to check out The Motors but thrilled to participate in a fundraising effort for the Cedar Valley.

The “Lunch with Leno” event Sunday afternoon could only accommodate the first 50 lucky ticket buyers and quickly sold out. Although Cedar Valley car enthusiasts gathered at The Motors mainly to lunch with Leno, the talk was not all torque. The event also raised $35,000 for the Gallagher Bluedorn’s capital building campaign. The Gallagher Bluedorn’s expansion project is approaching its $15 million goal and will add 15,000 square feet of new and renovated event space, upgrades to the facility’s interior and exterior, and improvements to seating. These upgrades will elevate the Gallagher Bluedorn to a state-of- the-art facility to continue providing world-class performing arts for the Cedar Valley and the state of Iowa.

“This event was truly a team effort,” explained Pat Lind. “This place was The Motors and still is The Motors, and by welcoming Jay Leno, our friends and family, and even a new generation, to a place so filled with what we love most is such an honor. And raising $35,000 for the Gallagher Bluedorn campaign is the icing on the cake.”

The history of The Motors is a poignant story of four boys from Waterloo whose passion for building go-karts and motor bikes morphed into selling, fixing and racing fast cars. Following a stint in Vietnam, brother Tim opened a Standard Oil Service Station on East Ridgeway. He acquired his competition license and began a highly successful racing career. When Tom finished college after his time in the Army he returned home joining brothers Pat, Tim and Jim to establish Lind Bros. Motors and obtain a Lotus franchise.

After adding Jensen-Jensen Healey-TVR autos it was time to open a dealership on Washington Street. The distributor for Jensen Healey wanted a race team to represent their brand. Based on Tim’s success driving brother Pat Lind’s Austin Healey Sprite they were selected to represent Jensen Healey on the circuit. In 1974 they were awarded a Peugeot franchise, moved the dealership once more, and continued doing what they loved best until family obligations and other ventures sent them all in different directions.

Over this past year the Lind brothers have uncovered old auto parts, catalogs and signage from their own basements and garages to fill the newly renovated Motors with classic cars and unforgettable memories of days gone by. All their hard work culminating with Sunday’s zany-inspired event just goes to show how much the Lind brothers believe in the adage, “Life is fast, so why drive slow.”

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