Victory Lane plans grand opening
By MISTY FRITZ
It’s been a long time coming, but Victory Lane in Carlinville is finally gearing up to host its grand opening event this weekend.
The business, located at 400 West Main Street, initially opened in September 2018, after owners Gene and Stephanie Hebenstreit purchased the Bruckert-Daley Chrysler dealership. “They’d been looking to expand and get into other franchises,” said Sales Manager Terry Pollard, noting the Hebenstreits also own a Ford dealership in Litchfield. G. Hebenstreit, who has roots in Carlinville, didn’t want to see the town lose its dealership, so he worked out the purchase with Chrysler.
The staff of nine employees is all-new, including Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram certified mechanics. The Hebenstreits also purchased Drew Ford in Gillespie; Dick Drew and Jeff Drew came to the Carlinville location, D. Drew as general manager and J. Drew to handle internet and social media marketing.
Though some significant changes were made to the building initially — a complete renovation of the interior, as well as painting the service department and upgrading much of the service equipment — even more had to be done after a driver traveling westbound on West Main in January had a mechanical problem and drove into the building’s front plate glass window, damaging the front entrance and a 2019 vehicle.
The renovation necessitated by that incident is expected to be complete within a couple of weeks.” The front’s going to be a little more pleasing cosmetically,” said Pollard. “The glass is going to be more open, so people can see in from the road, and you’re going to be able to see the showroom a little better.”
“It has taken a lot of effort, not to mention expense, to do it right, but that was the plan,” said Pollard. “We are absolutely committed to being here for the long run.”
So far, Pollard said, response from the community has been great. “Everybody’s been welcoming. Most of the customers we’ve had so far have been local, and they’ve been really positive.” He added, “We hope to return the favor in some small way by sponsorships and helping in any way we’re needed, financially or otherwise.”
“I think people will appreciate the way we do business,” said Pollard. “There will be no games or any of the other stuff you see in some other dealerships. We will shoot you straight, give you a fair shake and be honest in every way we deal with you, and we’re hoping people will respect that and give us a fair chance to earn their business.” He noted the company provides oil changes with no appointment required.
The grand opening event will begin with a complimentary breakfast Friday, March 1, from 7-10 a.m. at the dealership. On Saturday, March 2, they will host a Jeep ride from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hillbillie Ranch in Jerseyville. “People can bring their Jeeps or side-by-sides and go four-wheeling,” said Pollard. “We will be serving free food there also, as well as music all day, and it will be a blast, I assure you.” Additional details about the event are available on the company’s website or Facebook page.
Staff at Victory Lane in Carlinville includes, back row, from left, Bill Sloan (service manager), Josh Taylor (certified technician), Matt Hewitt (certified technician), Billy Heyen (certified technician) and Austin Loftis (service and detailing); front row, Terry Pollard (sales manager) and Jeff Drew (internet/social media). Not pictured is General Manager Dick Drew. Enquirer-Democrat photo by Misty Fritz.