On May 15, a few thousand car enthusiasts turned out for the SB County Auto Expo, hosted by the Community Hot Rod Project (CHRP) at the Glen Annie Golf Course. Guests strolled among the more than 350 vehicles dating from the early 1900s to today, chatting with owners. Event registration fees go towards a facility that CHRP is looking to create that will serve as an all-ages job training center, event venue, car museum, and more. The training center will teach basic and advanced automotive skills, as well as life skills.
Since founding the all-volunteer non-profit organization in February 2021, CAHR has been teaching all ages how to build and restore classic and off-road racing vehicles, while serving the broader community. Its 80 members include aerospace engineers, mechanics, law enforcement officers and religious leaders. Its first car show attracted 175 cars and 2,000 people, and it showed the extent of community interest. Instead of charging a registration fee, CHRP requested new or gently used parts or gift cards for its building projects, which led to a massive collection of parts for the program.
CHRP has a few auto build projects underway including a 1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible. operate all the key features, mixing old school style with modern technology.
CHRP has held a few free outreach events at the Southcoast Church in Goleta and plans to do more. CHRP volunteers provide basic maintenance services such as inspecting parts and how to properly assemble the vehicle, while educating car owners on how to perform these tasks themselves.
CHRP Founder and President Kevin Haeberle, 39, has worked on cars since he was 3 years old and has held positions in the automotive, aerospace and off-road racing industries. His passion for the automobile is matched only by his passion for serving others. The center Haeberle envisions will serve young children through retirees, providing training in basic automotive skills, which fills a void created by the demise years ago of automotive programs in local schools.
The center will also teach advanced skills, like how to turn your rendering on a sketchbook into an amazing design. It will teach customization work and how to perform modifications, such as redesigning body lines or adding modern features to older cars.
In addition to providing automotive skills, Haeberle wants CHRP to be a positive influence for the next generation, with its volunteer mentors showing how to approach tasks and problems calmly and how to interact respectfully with others.
Haeberle also envisions using cars as a connecting tool, leading to service far beyond the automotive realm. This objective is reflected in the “Community Project” part of the association’s name. Last December, he organized a toy drive, which resulted in the donation of 900 toys to Unity Shoppe. Recently, he and other members replaced the roof of an elderly low-income couple. According to Haeberle, wherever people are in need and where CAHR can help—whether through the work of its volunteers, its tooling resources or its network of relationships—it wants to do so. “We try to be the grease in the gears of the machine that is the driving force of the community.”
Dana Newquist, a big CHRP supporter, president of the Antique Automobile Club of America SB Region and longtime co-chair of the Montecito Motor Classic, said Haeberle inspired him and many others through his service to the community and brought together influential personalities. members of the community to help him in his efforts.
At the event, “The Car Guy” Steve Ford served as announcer. In an interview, Ford explained how he was attracted to Haeberle in every possible way. Ford views Haeberle’s work as rare and important given the challenges for young people to experience tools, manual skill, and an introduction to career paths in the skilled trades. The cost of losing shop classes, Ford warns, has yet to be felt by society at large. Haeberle’s humility and perseverance, Ford added, will enable him to succeed.
CHRP assumed the operation of Cars and Coffee, now renamed Santa Barbara Cars and Coffee, every Sunday at Manning Park in Montecito, and it runs Coffee and Classics twice a month at Southcoast Church in Goleta.
Calls have come in from neighboring counties for CHRP to start programs in their areas, but Haeberle is focused on establishing a flagship center in Santa Barbara and then will look to replication across the country. Funding is needed for the facility, and Haeberle hopes CHRP’s myriad community service initiatives will inspire community members to help.
For more information, visit https://thecommunityhotrodproject.com.
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