Warbirds Wings & Wheels originated in 2009. At the time, Estrella Warbirds Museum president Peter Visel, was looking for a way to celebrate the completion of the Brooks Building, a facility designed to house the overflow of restored military vehicles. The restoration crew had been doing an exceptional job of frame up restoration of numerous military vehicles that had been donated to the museum, completed in the condition as they were first manufactured.
The museum president suggested to the board that we have a car show. It was something different for a military aviation museum but it tied in perfectly with the plethora of newly restored military vehicles. There were mixed feelings on having a car show, but Mr. Visel was determined that it would be an excellent draw for people whom have never heard of, nor had been to the museum. As fate would have it, in early February 2009, James Stainbrook and Howard Love, whom were members of a local car club, approached the museum about the possibility of holding a car show for their club at the museum. After a brief discussion, a plan began to emerge for a combined car show.
A Planning and Execution Committee was formed with Laurie Clark (Registration Manager), Jim Stainbrook (Photographer), Howard Love (Parking Manager) Bernadette Visel (Graphic Artist) and museum President, Peter Visel. The second Saturday in May was chosen as there were limited community activities scheduled in Paso Robles and it was just prior to the start of main car show season. With less than three months for planning, organization, promotion, and way too many "Oh, you can't do it in that amount of time" comments, we were off like a bunch of wild rabbits. We had not done a car show before, so we didn't know that it couldn't be done in that short of a time period. It was decided to hold an "Open House" for the museum, not charge admission, make it a family fun day, and only charge for vehicle entry. Sponsors were sought, and we even had to beg for some initial vendors.
Saturday, May 9th. Exceptional weather was in the forecast. One hundred and twenty people had pre-registered to bring vehicles. An additional 35 showed up at the gate wanting to register the day of the show. This was great! The visitors started to come. And they kept coming! Since we were not charging admission, the only way we could get a possible head count was to allow all attendees to vote for the winners. Volunteers gave out over 9,000 ballots that day before running out. The overall response was overwhelming, and definitely much better than anticipated. In spite of all last minute purchases for sodas and snacks to keep up with the crowds, the museum managed to make a small profit on the event.
Howard and crew did an excellent job of parking display vehicles adjacent to aircraft and military displays. The visitors loved it! The most often heard phrase that day was "I never knew this museum existed! I've never been here before, this is great!" Nearly everyone involved with putting on the show had the same opinion at 5 p.m. that day. "I'll never do this again!" But deep down, we knew we had started the ball rolling for the Paso Robles Community to have future events of the same type.
It was during construction of the Brooks Building (remember - military vehicles?), that EWM member Dick Woodland was approached about the idea of bringing some of his racing cars down to put on display at the museum, as a "Thank You" for donating to the construction of the building. One thing led to another and the basis for the Woodland Automobile Display Building was born. The facility was under the initial construction phase during the Warbirds Wings & Wheels I. There appeared to be a great marriage in the works. So many people seem to have a need for being part of or witnessing speed. If it is not a supersonic fighter jet, it's a race car.
2014 marks the 6th Warbirds Wings and Wheels event. The show has continued to grow each year. It has taken a different approach to the normal car show, not being specialized in a single type of car. In 2014, there are over 20 classes! You will find classic cars featured next to a modern military fighter jet, or a Porsche by a Toyota or even a speed boat. We've had US National Champion Tractor Pullers display their wares plus local racing legends to the likes of Parnelli Jones, plus many more. The event continues to be a major draw for Estrella Warbirds Museum. It has always been produced by volunteers. We'd like to keep it that way - a great draw and plenty of family fun!
There are plenty of opportunities for volunteers, vendors, and sponsors. Any profits gained form this event go directly into the maintenance of Estrella Warbirds Museum, a non-profit California Corporation. If it were not for the dedication of an excellent group of volunteers, this museum would not exist. Nor would the Warbirds Wings and Wheels events.