Car shows are about more than just shiny sheet metal, big engines and fast hot rods. Car guys are known for their charitable efforts as well.
Tooele resident Dan Rouggly of Hot Rod Productions is proud to call himself a “car guy,” and proud to help out the community in any way he can by organizing car shows that help draw attention to various worthy causes throughout Tooele County.
“I could never volunteer as much as that stuff gives me,” said Rouggly, who expressed his admiration for the local business community that steps up to support his shows. “That’s what’s so cool – the community … I might organize it all and get it in one parking lot, but otherwise, it’s our community.’
Rouggly organized the car shows at the annual Garden Tour and Stockton Days, as well as the Relay for Life and Trunk or Treat. Trunk or Treat took place in the Albertsons parking lot at the end of October, drawing a large crowd despite bad weather.
That’s a far cry from one of Rouggly’s earliest car shows, which was a Friday night cruise night at American Burgers that he did at the urging of his “car friends.”
“The first show had eight cars and four of them were mine,” he said. “The last one I did there had 177 cars come through. We had them up and down the road and the side roads.”
In addition to organizing the shows, Rouggly also plays music during them as a disc jockey. He started off with just a boom box and a table and didn’t even have a microphone at first, forcing him to yell. Eventually, one of his fellow car buffs brought a trailer, and Rouggly upgraded his sound system. His work as a DJ has become a signature of local car shows, though he admits that he isn’t as much of a music buff.
“I know what what people like, I know what I like and I know how to find them, but if you went back and asked me right after I played a song, who played that?’ – ‘who do you think played it?’” he quipped.
Rouggly said it takes a lot of work and a lot of help to make one of his shows work. He couldn’t do it without his many sponsors who donate food, prizes and other services – with some even willing to host his events. In addition to Albertsons, Rouggly played music at a Mother’s Day event at the Shammy Shack with free food and car washes for mothers.
The Utah Truck Mafia car club brought roughly 40 cars to Trunk or Treat, and also did Sub for Santa to provide Christmas to several families. Rusty’s Redneck Garage and Type 1 Racing also have made notable contributions to several causes.
“There’s a lot of people in this community who do good things they don’t people to know about, but I’m going to tell everybody,” Rouggly said. “People need to know.”
Rouggly, a father of two, knows the value of contributing to charitable causes, particularly those related to medical research. His daughter, Alex, has cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. They moved to Tooele from Alaska in 2007 to be closer to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where Alex could receive the best treatment.
“Twenty years ago, the life expectancy was six to 10 years old, but in the last 20 years it’s become mid-to-late 30,” Rouggly said. “They’re doing a lot of stuff. CF is a digestive disease and a lung disease. The cells in their pancreas actually have holes in them and won’t allow them to absorb any nutrients. That’s why they used to die so young – they’d die of malnutrition.”
Cystic fibrosis poses a number of challenges. Alex has to wear a special vest twice a day that gently shakes her to help keep her lungs clear, and she has to be kept separate from other children with CF so they don’t get each other sick. But Alex,, who recently got her driver’s license, is doing extremely well health-wise. She can be seen posing for pictures in the 1950s “pin-up” style at car shows, and got to travel to Beverly Hills to record a few songs and receive the full celebrity treatment thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“She’s doing great,” Dan Rouggly said. “She’s probably the healthiest CF kid they’ve ever seen. And she’s got the worst case.”
Dan Rouggly said Alex used to come with him when he worked in a soup kitchen in Alaska, which may have helped boost her immune system.
“She started going with me to feed the homeless when she was a week old,” he said. “They would kiss her hand or touch her cheek or kiss her forehead, some of them would hold her. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was two, and if we would have known, we would have put her in a bubble. She was around the worst germs, and I think it build her immune system a lot.
“She was sitting in the car sear on the table while I was cooking and handing out the food from the beginning. She tasted her first soup when she was about a month old – she was sucking it off my finger. To this day, soup is her favorite. When she was two, she was at the muffin window, handing out muffins.”
Dan Rouggly hopes that spirit of giving back and helping out sticks with his daughter for the rest of her life.
“It doesn’t take that much to make a difference,” he said. “If nothing else, if my daughter comes out with that attitude, I’ve done my job.”