Thanks to their 1942 Chevrolet pick-up truck, Susan and Ronnie Whetstine, of Shelby, N.C., picked up the prestigious Food Lion AutoFair Best of Show Award Sunday as the four-day automotive extravaganza concluded at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The Whetstines bought the truck seven years ago and finished a complete restoration on their labor of love last September.

"I've had hot rods ever since I was in high school and I've always wanted to play with something, but this is the first one that she wanted," said Ronnie Whetstine, as he reminisced with a smile about how his wife got involved in the hot rod craze.

"I love it. I love the truck. Love the way it looks. I enjoyed the whole process and enjoyed working with my husband," added Susan Whetstine. "It's fun to have people come up and look at it."

The most striking feature of the truck is its unique color, a "Prowler orange" that Susan fell in love with after seeing it on a Chrysler roadster in 2000. The Whetstines added their own touch with ghost flames on the front fender walls and, with the exception of the paint, body and upholstery work, did much of the customizing themselves.

Ronnie used his skills as a homebuilder to select and install mahogany flooring in the truck bed, and Susan let him choose the engine.

"It's a ZZ4 350 Chevrolet engine with tunnel-ram fuel injection that can produce about 385 horses. She won't use it, but I will!" exclaimed Ronnie.

The frame, cab and hood are the only original parts on the truck, and the interior features a soft, man-made leather that entices the Whetstines to drive it whenever they get the chance.

Other specialty award winners included: Lester Edwards, of Harmony, N.C., winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) with his 1961 Ford Galaxy Starliner; Gabriel Cestaro Jr., of Charlotte, N.C., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his torch red 1962 Chevrolet Impala, nicknamed "In Debt" and featuring an ostrich-skinned interior; Stanly, N.C.'s Steve Hinson, winner of the Lion Cup Award (Best Paint) for his tangelo orange and champagne pearl 1937 Ford Coupe with matching trailer; Richard and Linda Harington, of Delhi, N.Y., winner of Best Restoration by Owner for their 1963 black Ford Falcon; and Concord, N.C.'s Warren Page who captured the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies' Choice) for his 1970 yellow Dodge Challenger.

In addition, each of the 58 car clubs participating in the Food Lion AutoFair was judged individually, with a Best of Show picked for each club.

The fall installment of Food Lion AutoFair takes place Sept. 13-16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Daily admission is $10 for adults and children under the age of 12 are admitted for free. For further details, contact the Lowe's Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205.