EDITOR’S NOTE: The following blog was written by John Gunnell, owner of Gunner's Great Garage Restoration Shop in Manawa, Wisconsin. Gunnell regularly contributes articles and industry-driven observations for THE SHOP magazine and eNewsletter.
Several shops in the Central Wisconsin area are helping the Iola Car Show attract more visitors by instituting the help of several celebrities.
The Iola Car Show—set for July 12-14 at the Iola Old Car Show Grounds—is the largest old-car show and swap meet in the Midwest. It's one of the top 10 car shows in the country and always takes place the weekend after the 4th of July. It brings 120,000 people to a village that’s normally home to just 1,000 residents.
Nine of those visitors this year will be national specialty-car celebrities, from customizers to TV stars. Two local shops will be sponsoring several of the celebs.
Vintage Works is a Green Bay, Wisconsin shop that specializes in powder coating, metal fabrication, machining and blasting. It will be helping to bring Cristy Lee, Rachel De Barros and Bogi Lateiner of Velocity’s All Girls Garage to Iola.
Greg’s Speed Shop will be sponsoring a top chop vehicle by legendary customizer Gene Winfield. The shop will be providing Winfield with a 1951 Chevy coupe to turn into a low-silhouette dream machine during the show.
Motorsports spokeswoman Jo Coddington will be another must-see celeb at the event, as well as Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz on Happy Days.
Butch Patrick—better known to many people as Eddie Munster—will be making a return trip to Iola, where he was a crowd pleaser last year. Also returning will be custom car builders Mike and Jim Ring who have been racking up builder awards at the annual SEMA Shows. The Ring Brothers are Wisconsin natives who design cars in Spring Green, the hometown of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Rounding out Iola’s celebrity lineup is K.C. Matheiu, the owner of the renowned KC's Paint Shop in Fort Worth, Texas, who painted his first car when he was 12 years old.
The long list of celebrities at the well-known car show will mesh well with the event’s 2018 theme—Lights-Camera-Action. The big top-style theme tent will showcase movie and TV cars and service vehicles.
The car show—which benefits local service groups and charities—features more than 2,000 vehicles. The adjacent swap meet offers 4,200 vendor spaces, with additional prime spaces available in a new Commercial Vendor Zone next to the show’s iconic 100-foot forest ranger tower. Also included are 1,000 Car Corral spaces for the sale of vehicles.