"Monster Garage" Mania at Food Lion AutoFair
"Monster Garage" is where custom motorcycle builder Jesse James and his team of maverick mechanics transform ordinary cars into extraordinary mega-machines.
The Belly Tank Lakester and the Jet Boat Car, two of the most unique vehicles ever created on "Monster Garage," will be among the featured attractions during the four-day Food Lion AutoFair.
"Who would ever think of transforming the fuel tank of a Phantom F-4 fighter into a 200-mph race car?" said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "But that's the type of thinking that makes 'Monster Garage' so successful."
The concept of a lakester originated in the 1940s when Southern California hot rodders transformed the auxiliary fuel tanks from World War II military aircraft into open-wheel race cars capable of record speeds on dry lake beds or the salt flats in Bonneville, Utah.
Led by world land-speed record holder Al Teague and race car builder Tim McNees, James and the "Monster Garage" gang put a modern spin on the lakester concept with the Belly Tank Lakester.
Starting with only a 600-gallon aluminum fuel tank from a Phantom F-4 fighter and a rack of steel, the team cut the fuel tank in half and fit each piece over a custom frame and roll cage. One of James' old hot rod engines was rebuilt and attached to a quick-change rear-end.
"The Belly Tank Lakester should be a 200-mph car, no problem," McNees said soon after the build's completion.
The other "Monster Garage" creation appearing at Food Lion AutoFair, the Jet Boat Car, is a 19-foot pickle fork jet boat that was transformed into an automobile. The team inverted the boat body and added a cockpit cowl and rear-wheel flares. The body was then mounted on a race car-style chassis and fitted with a small-block Chevrolet V-8 engine.
In addition, a monster-style build will take place in the Food Lion AutoFair Pavilion throughout the four-day event. "Monster Garage" engineers Ian Roussel and Ed Robinson will lead a team that will merge a Legends Car and a golf cart into a one-of-a-kind creation capable of speeds over 100 mph.
The Legends Car's roll cage will be removed and the golf cart's fiberglass body adapted to fit on the race car chassis. New tires and wheels will be added and a long list of details will be addressed before the radical ride makes its first test run.
"The Big Schwag," leader of Discovery Channel's "Monster Nation" and host of "Monster Garage," will greet fans and sign autographs at the special "Monster Garage" display on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Joining Brett "The Big Schwag" Wagner for the autograph sessions will be "Monster Garage" regular Chris "Body Drop" Artiaga.
Food Lion AutoFair is the nation's largest automotive extravaganza. The four-day event includes a car show featuring various makes and models from more than 50 clubs, thousands of parts and memorabilia vendors and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. A car corral, located on the 1.5-mile superspeedway, features nearly 2,000 vehicles of all makes and models that are available for sale or trade.
Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
Contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at 704-455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com for additional information.