Wheels for Wellness

Downtown Fort Worth’s iconic car show returns to raise money and awareness for cancer.

Gearheads understand that half the pleasure of a showpiece car comes from sharing it with others. Of course, by “share” we don’t mean drive; most auto enthusiasts would sooner hand over their spouses than their keys. We mean put the treasured automobile on display, and let others look at, appreciate, and pine over the objects of our obsession.

Whether it’s antique single-cylinders or rumbling muscle cars, the pristine vehicles you encounter on the car show circuit bespeak the dedication and hard work of their owners. This September 17th, car lovers of all types are invited to one of the largest car shows in Texas: the 2016 Wheels for Wellness Downtown Fort Worth Benefit Car Show.

Previously known as Cowtown Cruisin for a Cure, the benefit car show developed a sterling reputation across its fourteen year run. When the organization behind Cowtown Cruisin for a Cure ceased operation, some of those involved sought to continue the good work and great times. Co-founder Scott McConnell served as president of the previous event for 10 years.

“We all wanted to get together and keep the ball rolling with the same venue to continue the tradition of this event,” says Scott. “Both for the car enthusiast community and the community-at-large.”

The original car show began with 185 cars in the first year. By the end of its run, this number had risen to over 500 vehicles, making it one of the premier car show events in Texas. Unlike many car shows, Wheels for Wellness has a higher purpose to go along with the display of sweet rides, restorations, and one-of-a-kind customs: cancer-care and awareness.

“We estimate that the event attracts between 15 and 20,000 attendees,” says Scott. “The public can come down and view the cars for free. Anyone who wants to display their car pays an entry fee, and those fees go toward the charities.”

This year, the car show will take place from 10AM to 3PM along Main St. in downtown Fort Worth. As a day’s excursion, you can hardly do better than a free car show; add in the lure of downtown’s restaurants and boutiques, and it’s never felt easier to benefit a worthwhile cause.

Car culture exemplifies a curious combination of sentiment and practicality: sheer horsepower gets celebrated alongside nostalgia for bench seats and tailfins. As a nation, we all have a peculiar fascination with automobiles: the curving elegance of classic styling, the intoxicating scent of burnt rubber and gasoline, the endless stretch of an isolated highway and powerful thrust of an American-made engine; all of this is written into our collective DNA, and cars have become for many the four-wheeled muse to replace horses and clipper ships.

Car shows give all of us— even those who wouldn’t know a clutch from a carburetor — a chance to indulge this passion.

“You never know exactly what will be there, but we’ll certainly have some fabulous cars,” says Scott. “We draw people all the way from Houston with this show, and unlike some shows that will pay an appearance fee to have the Batmobile or whatever, we prefer to emphasize purely interesting cars: classics, antiques, hot rods, customs, imports, you name it. It broadens the appeal so everyone has something to enjoy.”

Amazing cars aside, it wouldn’t be Wheels for Wellness without a laudable beneficiary. This year, attendees and participants can help raise funds for an admirable group of cancer-related organizations: the Prostate Cancer Resource Center at Texas Health Harris Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Coalition, and Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Event attendees can also see to their own health, as Wheels for Wellness plans to offer free prostrate cancer screenings from 10AM to 2PM the day of the show.

“We’ll offer free screenings for men through Harris Hospital,” says Scott. “That’s kind of the mission of the show, get men to come to the event, and get them tested and screened for prostate cancer.”

Wheels for Wellness hopes to raise $100,000 this year for its affiliate charities. For more information, or to make an online donation, visit www.wheelsforwellness.org. If you’d like to showcase your car, day-of entrant registration costs $40 and comes with a complimentary goody bag.