Santa Barbara, CA

Our guest this week on the West of Tulsa Show is Kevin Haeberle, founder of the Community Hot Rod Project (CHRP), a 501c3 non-profit based in Santa Barbara, California. CHRP’s mission is to teach youth and the young at heart vocational trades related to the automobile industry and beyond.


Haeberle says the idea for CHRP started three years ago in his living room with 5 friends. It’s grown to more than 120 members and volunteers with the mission to team up youth with trade professionals and pass along their knowledge to the next generation. He got emotional as he talked about how far the CHRP team has come in such a short time. 

He gets fired up when describing how the kids get to learn about everything from rebuilding an engine to body work and fabrication. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. Hopefully, most of them discover they have a talent that could someday turn into a career.

Haeberle talks about the loss of Auto Shop classes at many high schools around the country. He and his team are trying to fill the void and teach the youth about more than just automobiles. Their expertise includes design techniques, computer assisted creativity and aerospace. CHRP is actively looking for a new home and is trying to set up shop at an old armory or an old airport hanger that has deep roots in racing history.


Haeberle pitched his idea to the Santa Barbara School Board and Airport officials hoping to land one of their locations. The airport hanger location would be perfect because the hanger still shows evidence of Santa Barbara’s historic races at the airport where actor James Dean raced his Porsche 356 in the 1950’s. Haeberle talks about the connection to that history. He also talks about the importance of having mentors, his nightmare story about working on Carroll Shelby’s Super Snake Cobra, the pressure of preparing cars for the big SEMA Show, the challenges of putting on a big car show, prototyping, the future of EV’s and his surprise relationship with the late Boyd Coddington.


Haeberle and his team have pulled off impressive car shows under intense deadlines. He started the Santa Barbara Auto Expo which featured more than 400 vehicles a few years ago. They had to change the venue at the last second and many of his team got sick with Covid at the last second. But, they didn’t panic and pulled off a great show. He and his team are now working on a multi-day car event for this summer in the Santa Barbara area.

Bottom line, CHRP is hoping to inspire everyone, especially the kids, to get off their phones, use their hands and get dirty doing something. Working on classic cars and customizing is a great way to do that and have fun at the same time. We’ll stay in touch with Haeberle and give you updates along the way on his search for a new CHRP garage and how you can help with their mission. The entire West of Tulsa Team hopes you enjoy the show!



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