Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy hosts car show

Dave Grinnell, left, and Marcus Hansen hope to see more visitors to the Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy as it gears up to serve students. - File Photo
Dave Grinnell, left, and Marcus Hansen hope to see more visitors to the Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy as it gears up to serve students.
— image credit: File Photo

SMOKEY POINT — Hot rod and motorcycle enthusiasts will have a chance to show off their rides while helping to support an alternative avenue of education for area youth who share their passions.

The Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy, which now has 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, is inviting the surrounding community to attend its car show fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 27, from noon to 4 p.m., complete with food and live music.

The Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy was borne of the commitment of Dave Grinnell and his partners, Marcus Hansen and Kate Otey, whose goal has been to create confident and productive workers in the future by assisting students now in graduating from high school or obtaining their GEDs, as well as by enlisting businesses and community volunteers to mentor those prospective workers in trade skills.

When Grinnell was told that he could no longer pursue his previous career in construction due to the wear and tear that it had put on his body, he thought back to his youthful love of classic cars and souped-up rigs, and realized that he had an opportunity to help out the kids of today who face scholastic challenges similar to those he overcame.

“My dad was a maintenance man at a steel fabrication shop, so I grew up around dozens of cars,” Grinnell said. “He was always helping other people out with their cars, but he never found time to finish his own.”

While Grinnell inherited his father’s passion for cars, the Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy is intended to serve much more than his own nostalgic interests.

“The hot rods are just the candy to attract the kids,” Grinnell said. “What really matters is giving them a comfortable place where they can receive positive feedback. We’re about counseling them as much as anything else.”

Grinnell is always looking to recruit more businesses and individuals with expertise in this field to provide lectures and demonstrations, and he’s already built up a library of thousands of automotive publications and films of car races through donations from the community, including hot rod magazines from 1955 through 1981 dropped off by Jim Wharton.

“This is for the kids who might not hang out at school,” Grinnell said. “There’s no reason to put yourself into debt with student loans to go to college if that’s not where your passions lie. We have such talent in the automotive field just in this local area.”

Grinnell acknowledged the Catch-22 that young people often face when they can’t obtain jobs without experience nor experience without jobs, but touted the Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy’s efforts to provide them with opportunities to work with local employers.

“We want this to be the place where education meets the street,” Grinnell said. “If you come here and invest some time and effort, you can get some references and network with employers without it costing you an arm and a leg.”

“We want to catch these kids before they fall through the cracks,” Hansen said.

The Pilchuck Hot Rod Academy is located at 16319 Smokey Point Blvd. in Marysville. For more information, call 360-653-4040, email or log onto


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