From racing cars to fixing them

Published 1:51 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cars have been in J.R. Brown’s blood since before he was born. Both his father and grandfather raced, and J.R. races on the dirt track circuit. In fact, J.R.’s team is called 3G Racing, which stands for “three generations.”

Now J.R. wants to pass that automotive pride on to Calera car owners. He and his father, Donnie, have opened up Brown Auto and Alignment Service on Highway 22 in Calera.

“It’s just in my blood,” J.R. said of the automotive business. “You’re taking a machine that was put together on an assembly line somewhere and when it’s broken, it’s just a challenge to see if you can fix it.”

The business will offer services such as vehicle maintenance, oil changes, batteries, tires, suspension and alignment, brakes, air conditioning, tune-ups and diagnostics.

This marks the fourth business J.R. and Donnie have worked at together. The two previously worked at family-owned Brown Auto Parts, Goodyear in Birmingham and a GM dealership.

Brown Auto Parts folded because it was an auto salvage business that just couldn’t keep up with the prices offered by competition, J.R. said.

“When the discount auto parts stores started coming in, it was like a dinosaur,” he said. “The automotive parts business isn’t as successful as it used to be, so we’ve just kind of pursued something different.”

Donnie said he deeply enjoys working with his son and watching him mature.

“I know we work good together. We’ve worked together for several years,” Donnie said. “I like watching him work, I like seeing him grow. He’s just good at figuring out things and doing things on his own, and I like watching that. He’s really good with talking with customers, and I like seeing him excel.”

J.R. said he still plans to race in the future, but is on a hiatus right now because of the business.

“I’ll get back on my feet soon,” he said. “I’m in the middle of selling a car right now and am trying to buy something else.”

J.R. said he’s not looking to make a fortune in the automotive business. He and his dad just want to fix cars well.

“I hope this can be the kind of shop you can bring your car down to and get good service while you’re here,” he said. “I hope Calera will trust our shop and trust us.”