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The Story Behind the Kool Deadwood Nites Charity Convertible

By Molly Barari

On Saturday evening, August 26, the anticipation ran high as the auction winner of the 1968 Ford Torino GT convertible was announced at Kool Deadwood Nites. Dale and Dorothy McPherson bid $28,000 to take home the classic car.

The winning couple of Rapid City said they were excited to have the opportunity “to give back to those who give and have given so much for so many families, so many children, the research campaign on Alzheimer’s and the enrichment of the lives of men and women who are living happy, joyous and free lives one day at a time.”

The highly-collectible 1968 Ford Torino GT is white with blue accents, with toned seats to match. It has an automatic transmission and a 390 cubic-inch motor. Basically, the car is a dream in itself.

“It’s not a hot rod. It’s a nice, classic car that’s perfect for going to car shows and cruising. It has curb appeal for both genders,” said Mike Petersen, 72, of Roseville, Minnesota, who brought the car to the Kool Deadwood Nites auction. The auction is run by McPherson Auction of Rapid City.
The story behind the ’68 Ford Torino GT is about much more than its appealing aesthetics. The fact that the proceeds from the car will benefit several established charities is a large part of its allure.

This is the third year in a row that Mike Petersen, along with his wife, Carole, have provided the charity car to auction off at Kool Deadwood Nites. Last year’s car auctioned at $45,000, and this year’s Torino also netted a large sum to benefit established causes.

The Petersens will receive half of the funds generated from the car. Half of their portion will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House’s Family Room at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota. The other half will go toward Alzheimer’s research.

McPherson Auction, owned by brothers Todd and Kevin McPherson, receive the other 50 percent of the charity car funds. Half of this portion goes toward the Black Hills VFW Post 5969 in Deadwood and the other half goes toward New Beginnings, a sober living house in Rapid City.

“I always look forward to the Kool Deadwood Nites auction, especially because of the charity car donated through the Petersen family,” said Todd McPherson. “The most gracious thing about it is they allow us to invest half of those dollars in local charities, like the Deadwood VFW and New Beginnings. We’ve also donated to Wounded Warrior Project and Diabetes Inc. in the past.”

How did the McPhersons become connected with the Petersens? Kevin was helping with a classic car auction in Springbook, Minnesota, when he met Mike. The rest, as they say, is history.

“It’s so cool that Mike and his wife Carole have chosen to bring charity cars 600 miles west, all the way to Deadwood, to benefit local organizations that we choose. It’s such an honor and we’re grateful,” said Todd.

Not only have the Petersens brought the charity car for the past three years, but they’ve brought some of the region’s most unique classic collectible cars for the auction.

“The Kool Deadwood Nites auction is highly regarded because of the quality of the classic cars,” explained Todd. “People come from all over the world to bid on some of the best collectible cars in the country. Cars come from Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Billings and other locations –and many are show winners, national award winners and regional award winners. These are rare and unique cars, like restoration cars and survivor projects, and people come to Deadwood to purchase them.”

This year marked the 19th annual auction and the 10th year the McPhersons have run it. Todd and Kevin’s parents, Dale and Dorothy, started the family business in 1949. The couple continues to support the event, and are the proud owners of this year’s charity car.

The Kool Deadwood Nites auction takes place each year in the air-conditioned Deadwood Mountain Grand, which is large enough to accommodate the classic cars and the diverse audience of car enthusiasts ready to buy. About 200 cars were up for auction this year, plus antique memorabilia such as gas pumps and other collector’s items – not to mention the 1,000 cars cruising Deadwood for the car show, adding to the grand spectacle.

Mike Petersen’s reason for donating the charity car to Kool Deadwood Nites? “Because it’s fun!” he exclaimed with a chuckle. “It’s all for a good cause, and it makes for a little more excitement at the McPherson Auction. I like being able to help the community out both in the Black Hills and here in Minnesota.”
Mike’s choice to donate funds to Ronald McDonald House’s Family Room at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare comes from a personal experience. A young fellow – Robert Brown III –who was near and dear to the Petersens’ hearts spent a lot of time at that hospital before passing away. His parents were able to stay there with him, and there was plenty of room for people to sit and visit. It was a comfy, homey and caring atmosphere. “That hospital is a Godsend, so part of our motivation is to help with that,” said Mike.

Carole Petersen has two close friends, both extremely educated women, battling Alzheimer’s disease and requiring care in facilities. That’s why the Petersens chose to devote the remainder of their portion of the funds to Alzheimer’s research.

“At this point in our life, we have the opportunity now to give back,” shared Mike. “I enjoy working on the cars more now than going to the shows, so doing the charity car is perfect. Plus, I’m a Ford guy, so working on this car was great fun!” Mike said several friends helped him with the ’68 Ford Torino GT, spending about six months getting it shiny and clean and doing detail work, before bringing it out to Deadwood this year.

How do local charities use their portion of the funds derived from the charity car? Rollin Sieveke, Quartermaster for Black Hills VFW Post 5969 based in Deadwood, said receiving a generous portion of the funds increases the VFW’s ability to help the community.

“We do a lot for homeless vets and give to programs that support local children, like Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” he said.
Philanthropy is incredibly important to this VFW chapter. “It’s really what we’re all about,” said Rollin. “Supporting our veterans and kids’ after-school programs are high on our list, but we also help with other community services when we can. The funds we receive from the charity car help us do that.”

Now that this year’s Kool Deadwood Nites has come and gone, McPherson Auction is gearing up for the 2018 auction. Many spots are already booked. “Next year should be another great year, so get your spot now if you want to sell your classic car,” said Todd McPherson. Those interested can visit


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