Classic cars and community service

Wheels ’n’ Windmills show raises thousands of dollars for local charities

Executive Director Ellen Albertoni of the Solvang Senior Center poses with Dan Hoagland, left, and Bob Stokes of Wheels ’n’ Windmills.

SYV Star Staff

The Wheels ’n’ Windmills car show has raised more than $260,000 for local charities over the years, and the folks running the show are excited about a partnership this year with the Vikings of Solvang to provide a van for the Solvang Senior Center.

Members of the Solvang Senior Center are excited that the center will be receiving a new van at the Wheels ’n’ Windmills car show on Aug. 26.

Organizers plan to display the van during the car show’s awards ceremony.

“We are so thrilled that the Vikings are helping to put this together for the Solvang Senior Center. I can’t wait to hand them the keys,” said Bob Stokes, founder of the event.

“The Vikings’ mission is to help with medically related needs throughout Santa Barbara County, and we have raised and donated more than $2.8 million since 1974 to local people and organizations,” said Chief Mike Peterson of the Vikings. “We are always proud to support our senior centers and the rest of our community.”

The 18th annual Wheels ’n’ Windmills car show will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, along Copenhagen Drive and several side streets in downtown Solvang.

A Solvang Senior Center spokeswoman says they are overwhelmed with excitement about the gift.

“As the center’s membership continues to grow and change, we have also been looking at different avenues to meet their changing needs and requests. A van will allow us to take small groups of members on trips or to events that we would otherwise have to rely upon the Rec Department to handle. During the summer months, they are busy with summer programs, so that limits us,” said Executive Director Ellen Albertoni.

“We have members who do not drive in the evenings, so they miss out on attending our very popular monthly social event, Wednesday dinner nights.

“This will also allow us to help folks get to doctor appointments, shopping, the possibilities are limitless,” Albertoni added.

The charities that the car show supports will set up booths at the event to help educate the public about their organizations. Some of the past charities include the Buellton Senior Center, Old Yeller Ranch Rescue and the Progeria Research Foundation.

Stokes says the most important thing his committee does is to attract as many spectators as possible to the show to ensure the charities get as much money as possible.

Wheels ’n’ Windmills is also a proud supporter of several high school automotive programs. Money from the raffle of a V8 Crate engine and transmission is donated each year to Santa Ynez, Santa Maria and Lompoc high schools to help these programs continue to thrive and to encourage students to get involved in working with cars. Last year more than $19,000 was donated to the auto shop programs at those schools.

Stokes said the show attracts upwards of 15,000 people and 300 cars — for which registration sold out in 10 days — as well as close to 40 car clubs that come to display some of their vehicles. The cutoff year for cars displayed is 1980, so do not expect any new exotics at the show.

“I am partial to the muscle cars myself, but I love seeing all the entries,” Stokes said.

The car show has a yearly “best of the best” competition, where cars that have won in years past are all displayed next to each other. There is also a competition for each of the 34 car classes in the show, such as muscle, sport, and truck. Judges are not affiliated with the event or with any club, to assure there is no bias.

The show will also include booths from local vendors and merchants, raffle prizes, the V-8 engine raffle, music and more.

For more information on the Wheels ’n’ Windmills, go to www.wheelsnwindmills.com.