Area schools and a research organization were the beneficiaries of $22,000 distributed Monday by the organizers of the 13th annual Wheels ‘n Windmills car show that was held in August in downtown Solvang.

Some of the members of the Wheels ‘n Windmills board of directors brought their classic cars to Santa Ynez Valley Union High School for the distribution of checks to representatives of four schools and the Progeria Research Foundation.

Bob Stokes, president of the board, told the assembled group the organization has been holding the car show for 19 years, with the first six shows held on the Avenue of Flags in Buellton before it was moved to Solvang.

The first show in 1998 drew 80 cars, he said. This year, more than 300 vehicles were signed up.

“Last year we reached a milestone. We hit $250,000,” Stokes said, adding the show this year almost pushed the funds raised and distributed to charity since the show was launched to $300,000.

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School received the lion’s share of the funds raised this year, with $10,000 presented to Rob Hill, the automotive mechanics teacher, for the purchase of a compressor for the new paint booth added to the program this year.

In addition to teaching students to work on a wide range of vehicles, the Pirate Garage program includes the Pirate Racing Team whose pit crew is made up of students.

Many of those students were in the audience wearing their orange and black team shirts.

A donation of $3,500 went to the Santa Maria High School automotive program, which is in the process of rebuilding under industrial arts teacher Matt Almaguer after losing its previous instructor to health problems.

Stokes noted Santa Maria High also has had a racing program and needed help replacing items that went “missing in action” while it was on hiatus.

Lompoc High School automotive instructor Mike Johnson was presented with $1,500 the program needed to purchase parts.

Representatives of Solvang Elementary School received $5,000 to help with after-school programs and the administration of art and music programs for Valley schools.

Another $2,000 was presented to Tammy Misner for the Progeria Research Foundation that seeks a cure to the rare congenital disorder that causes rapid, premature aging among children.

Stokes noted that previously this year, the organization joined forces with the Vikings of Solvang to purchase a van that was presented to the Senior Center during the car show.

He added that the high-performance crate motor that was raffled off was won by a Solvang sheriff’s deputy and has already been installed in a 1959 Chevy El Camino that will be on display in next year’s Wheels ‘n Windmills show.

That show has been tentatively set for Aug. 25, but the date must be approved by the city before it becomes final.


News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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