The History of Eksten Autoworks
Larry Eksten established Eksten Autoworks in 1974. In 1980, Larry met Craig Horning, a local race car driver, racing Formula VW’s on road courses such as Watkins Glen, and throughout the northeast. The perfect partnership was born. Larry began building the engines and became crew chief for Craig. Through the early 1980’s they also campaigned sedans, Formula Continental, and Pro Super Vee. Pro Super Vee races were the preliminary races for the Indy Car Series.
Rick Hoyt joined Eksten’s in 1984. An Alfred State graduate, he quickly became an integral part of the team, and as an expert technician he was soon part of the family. In 1985, the Eksten Team crewed for a Toyota Race Team in the IMSA Firestone Firehawk Series. With Craig co-driving in the Toyota MR2, we were able to win the 1985 class championship for Toyota. Toyota Motorsports recognized our efforts, and gave us our own Toyota MR2 to prepare for the 1986 season. Traveling all over the United States and outnumbered by other manufacturer’s cars, we were able to overcome the odds and win the championship for Toyota for the second year in a row. The endurance series involved twelve races per season, lasting from three to twenty four hours long.
In the early 80’s Larry won the Mechanic of the Year award from the local Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) chapter. Again in 1986 he won the Firestone Firehawk TRW Mechanic of the Year award. As quoted in the 1986 IMSA year book; "Being a mechanic or a crew chief is not exactly the same as being a movie star or race car driver-sometimes people don’t really notice you, so winning this award really meant a lot". There should have been two awards because Rick also deserved one. It takes team work to be a winner. Part of this team includes our families for being so understanding about our time away from them and our long hours at work.
At Eksten’s, our business was growing and we could not devote the amount of time we were away racing. In 1989 we moved into a larger facility enabling us to handle the increasing demands for street performance, track school, and road race customers. With the continuing growth in the performance area, a chassis dynamometer was the next logical step in fine tuning cars for maximum horsepower, torque and performance. Customer demand alone makes this a worthwhile endeavor. We have an in-house machine shop for engine building. An alignment machine, scales for corner weighting, tire changing and balancing are all critical for our business.
Larry’s son, Mark, came on board in 2001. Growing up in the business, he had a natural interest in things automotive. Mark has become a valuable asset here. Besides his mechanical abilities he is in charge of the dynamometer.
Our relationship supporting BMWCCA, Porsche, SCCA, and members of these and other car clubs has provided us with the opportunity to build and fine tune cars for all the driving events in which our customers compete. Club racing, rallying, autocross, rallycross, and ice racing are among the many venues we need to prepare and maintain cars throughout the year. In between we service many imports with their daily driving needs. We count ourselves fortunate, and strive to keep these relationships healthy and strong.
We build and prepare cars for racing and track events. Porsche Vintage racing, Spec Miata, SCCA, HSR, SVRA, Targa Newfoundland and La Carrera Panamerica are some of the many series in which our cars participate. One Lap of America is a unique event, encompassing eight days and eight different tracks all across the country. A competitor must have a road legal, reliable, fast car to do well in this event. For the past 14 years local racer Roy Hopkins and teammates, Adrienne Hughes and Nancy Becker, have competed raising money for Ronald McDonald House here in Rochester. We at Eksten’s have supported this effort in building and perfecting many BMW’s for them over the years. In 1999 the car developed engine problems at Lime Rock, Ct. and was towed back to Rochester where the Eksten team was waiting with a fresh engine. The 1995 BMW M3 arrived at 7pm and by 3am they were back on the road to finish One Lap of America. Eksten’s also has built, prepared and crewed for a vintage race team, a 1973 Porsche 911, which has won their class 4 years in a row in the Sebring, Florida 4 hour endurance races.