At exactly 7:30 A.M. on August 9th, about 300, ‘souped up’, fully-restored-to-their-former-glory or custom altered automotive artifacts will begin to rumble onto the dew covered grassy knoll of Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor, Washington. Once staged, these gleaming nostalgic memory inducing gems will be showcased for the day to an excited and admiring throng. Presented by the North Whidbey Lions Club, 2014 marks this popular car show’s twenty-ninth year.
The drivers, collector car enthusiasts, self-described ‘gearheads’ and fans of ‘old iron’ make up a growing number of Americans who love restoring and driving antique and classic cars. They’re passionate about preserving the artistic legacy, history and values once celebrated in the era of these beloved machines. They’ll likely spend the day networking with like-minded hobbyists and admiring each other’s entries, while casting practiced eyes on the competition.
The North Whidbey Car Show started innocently enough with one business’ desire to show customer appreciation. They wanted to offer a venue for loyal buyers to demonstrate what they were able to accomplish by purchasing the store’s products, then applying ample ‘elbow grease’ and imagination. The results bear testimony to the following quote by Zig Ziglar: ” You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
Jim Woessner, who was a key player in planning that first car show in 1985 (he continues in an advisory role), put it like this, “It started in the parking lot of Oak Harbor Auto Store on Highway 20 in Oak Harbor, as a promotion. We wanted to give our customers, who came in on a regular basis and bought parts and accessories to fix up their cars, an opportunity to show off the results of all the hard work they’d put into them. It was just an informal gathering – we invited them to bring their cars and park them in our parking lot for the day so other local residents could stop by and see the results of their work.”
He continued, with the shocking result, “About fifty customers brought their cars, and hundreds of people showed up to look at them! People had to park blocks away, but they still willingly walked the long distance to look at those cars.” “So in the second year,” he added, “We knew we had to find a way to feed all the people who came. We contacted the North Whidbey Lions Club; they readily agreed to come and serve hot dogs and Pepsi. It grew steadily from then on and we’ve had to move a couple of times to accomodate the growth.”
Along the way obstacles arose, but the cohesiveness and resourcefulness of this small Navy town enabled the popular show to go on. The Rotary Club is credited for taking on the task for about four of the twenty-nine years, as well as contributing a commercial power panel at Windjammer Park using the funds raised. The show now draws entrants from at least a 250 mile radius including British Columbia, Canada and the states of Montana, Oregon, and even California.
Over the years, Jim said, “We’ve seen that when people come once, they tend to return the next year, and beyond. Even though doing so means cleaning their car, staying in a motel, eating in a restaurant, and staying by their car all day.” One of those long-term dedicated exhibitors each year is Scott Smith, owner of Scott’s Creative Customs, in Coupeville, Washington, who has played a role in the restoration process of many cars over the years. Scott said, “I always appreciate the willingness of this show’s staff to make things as easy as possible for entrants.” He expressed his appreciation for their help in staging his cars, as he often contends with the “madhouse” level of overwhelm involved in entering multiple projects.
There are twenty-one classes of entries, each with a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize category. Exhibition is open to Stock Cars, Street Cars, Muscle Cars, Imports, Trucks and Motorcycles. Seventy trophies will be awarded. Judging, other than special trophies is done by actual show entrants, and results will be announced starting at 4 P.M. that day.
Special trophies will be presented by NAS Whidbey Commanding Officer, Captain Michael Nortier, Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley, and Whidbey News Times Editor, Keven Graves. Additional trophies will be awarded by major sponsors and Best in Show.
The early entry fee for exhibitors by August 8th is $25 (same day, $30), all of which is contributed to the North Whidbey Lions Club community services fund. Event expenses are covered by the show’s sponsors, Oak Harbor Les Schwab Tire Center, Oak Harbor Auto Center/Auto Plus, Oak Harbor Motors, Whidbey Island Bank, Banner Bank, A-1 Towing, and many more. There is no fee for visitors to attend.
For more information, visit the North Whidbey Lions Car Show Facebook Page.