Now in its fifth year, the annual Hot Rods 4 Hearts Car Show is no ordinary car show. Sure, there are hot rods galore, but these hot rods are on display for a purpose. They’re out to help raise funds – all proceeds for the show are donated to the American Heart Association.

The combination of hot rods and hearts is due to event organizer Scott Britz. There are few things that give him the thrill of a finely tuned machine. This gear-head loves classic, muscle, import, domestic and exotic cars equally. A passion for rods and pistons runs in the Britz family, and when a heart attack claimed the life of their father, they learned that heart disease did, too. This was the second loss in Scott’s life caused by the disease as his nephew had also passed away at a young age years earlier from a heart condition.

These tragic events inspired Scott to want to do something to honor his loved once.

“I was driving with Dad when he complained of back pain. I was there when his heart started to fail and I was with him in the hospital when he passed, so losing him hit me pretty hard. I got to thinking, ‘What can I do to remember Dad? What can I do to help stop someone else from going through what my family is going through?’”

Hot Rods 4 Hearts
Hot Rods 4 Hearts welcomes any make and every model, meaning the show brings in a little bit of everything, from classics to project cars to muscle cars. Photo courtesy: Courtesy Auto

With a shared love of all things auto, Scott and his family worked together to try and organize a car show in the South Sound.

“We want to be an affordable event that you can bring the family to,” says Scott. “We may not be the biggest show in town, but we try too be the funnest one, so we hope everyone can come down have fun and support the American Heart Association.”

“Volunteers like Scott are critical to our mission,” says Shelli Kind, Executive Director, Puget Sound, at the American Heart Association. “We are really moved that for the past five years, he and his family have chosen to support the American Heart Association through Hot Rods 4 Hearts, raising awareness and funding in a very fun way. His support through the car show and the South Sound Heart and Stroke Walk means a great deal to our work in the region, from research funding to community health programs.”

“This has been like therapy for me,” Scott explains, “in that it’s taken time and a lot of drive to learn how to organize the event in the first place, how to make it better with each passing year and how to increase awareness and donations. With the money we’re able to raise through registration, raffle tickets, snacks, tees and hats, we’re working to promote physical activity to build healthier lives. We can’t do anything to help the ones we’ve lost, but hopefully, in this small way, we can help others live a life free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”

Hot Rods 4 Hearts
Hot Rods 4 Hearts is not just about cars, but also aims to have fun for the whole family. Photo courtesy: Courtesy Auto

Over the course of its five years, the show has grown quickly. Each year brings more cars and more auto admirers to Griot’s Garage in Tacoma. In 2016, the show made just shy of $3,500. In 2017, $3,375, bringing the total raised over all years combined to $12,204.

Hot Rods 4 Hearts welcomes any make and every model, meaning the show brings in a little bit of everything, from classics to project cars to muscle cars. “Every kind of car is welcome,” Scott says. “If it’s your baby, bring it down.” Most of the winning cars are crowd-picked by popular vote.

“We will be doing 30 trophies this year, including a military pick by the Air Force and a first responder pick trophy,” says Scott.

To make sure the whole family has something to do, the event doesn’t just have cars. Balloon artists, a coloring contest and an oversized Jenga board made of two-by-fours are some of the highlights, and live entertainment is on the docket, too.

“Family is the most important thing,” Scott says, “so from the start we knew we wanted to create an environment where families feel welcome, not just car lovers.”

So what does it take to make Hot Rods 4 Hearts such a success? It takes a healthy investment of time from Scott and his family to plan, advertise, gather donations for and host the event. He pays for many of the show’s expenses himself; his sister makes raffle baskets; many students at Fife High School volunteer their time to help out on the day of the event. But one thing stands out to Scott that helps make the show so much fun, and that’s the generous donations that come in from sponsors in the community.

Hot Rods 4 Hearts
While there are plenty of cars, Hot Rods 4 Hearts also brings in all kinds of other fun for gear-heads and non-gear-heads alike to enjoy. Photo courtesy: Courtesy Auto

For example, Courtesy Auto in Tacoma has provided Hot Rods 4 Hearts with nearly all of the event’s trophies since the start. According to Scott Britz, Scott Welsh—owner of Courtesy Auto—has contributed several thousand dollars to create custom plaques and awards for car show winners. Keeping with the family atmosphere of the event, Welsh’s son creates promotional videos for the event free of charge, and Welsh chips in with raffle prizes such as free tires from his shop or unique items such as used (and autographed) NASCAR tires that have been converted into end tables.

Print Solutions in Puyallup has also joined the effort by contributing anything on paper needed for the event – window tags, signs or event cards to thank event sponsors.

From radio stations and websites to farmers markets and food vendors, dozens of sponsors have come together to help the Britz family celebrate the lives that have been lost to heart disease.

If you ask sponsors what makes the car show so special, they’re quick to tell you it’s Scott Britz. Courtesy Auto’s Scott Welsh remembers how he became involved with Hot Rods 4 Hearts three years ago.

“Scott came in to the shop,” Welsh recalls, “to ask if he could hang fliers for the car show. We got to talking and it’s hard not to come away from meeting Scott and feel empowered to help this cause. His energy, his drive and his enthusiasm are really infectious, and it makes this whole event just a lot of fun. Your heart really has to be in the right place to pull something like this off, no pun intended, and fortunately he’s got a big one.”

What: Hot Rods 4 Hearts Fourth Annual Car Show
When: August 5, 2018, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Where: Griot’s Garage Store & Events Center
3333 38th Street, Tacoma WA
Cost: Registration fee: $15 / vehicle