As a young boy, Dallas Mize dreamed of owning an Opel GT sports car. Now more than two decades later, Mize's pride and joy, a customized 1970 Opel GT he calls "Spyder," was honored with the prestigious Food Lion AutoFair Best of Show Award Sunday as the four-day automotive extravaganza concluded at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"I've wanted one (Opel GT) since I was 12 years old. The first time I saw one was at a gas station in Louisiana. My Dad told me it was an Opel GT and I never forgot it," said the 34-year-old resident of Winston, Ga. "Ever since then, every time I've seen one, I've felt like "Man, I'm going to get one of those one day", and I finally got it!"

Mize found his Opel GT dream car last fall on eBay and purchased it from a man in Tennessee. The previous owner had already finished most of the body work converting the car from a hard-top to a roadster-like convertible and rebuilt the engine. Mize completed the restoration by painting the car Corvette yellow; redoing the interior with Marine quality black-and-yellow vinyl; detailing the engine; and super-sizing the wheels to 17-inch on the back and 16-inch on the front.

Despite having the car for less than nine months, Mize has already put more than 2,000 miles on the odometer and drives it every chance he gets'when it's not raining.

Showing the car for the first time, Mize also captured the Best of Show Award from the Carolina Opel Club.

Eveie Hatley also returned home to Albemarle, N.C., with some hardware, grabbing the Lion Cup Award for Best Paint (as chosen by Food Lion store manager Matt Gagnon) with her Tangelo Pearl 1968 "Pro Street" Chevrolet Camaro; while Harvey Harbour's drive back to Winston-Salem, N.C., was more enjoyable in his 1974 Porsche Targa after picking up the Concord Concours Award for Best Restoration by Owner.

Other specialty award winners included: Robert McDonald of Gastonia, N.C., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1938 copper and sunburst orange Ford roadster with teardrop headlights and suicide doors; Laurens, S.C.'s Ernie Whiteford, winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) for his red 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS with only 4,155 original miles; and Charlotte's John Calkins who captured the Mecklenburg Stelitz Award (Ladies' Choice) for his 1969 Pontiac GTO.

In addition, each of the 50 car clubs on display during 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. 15-18 at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway in conjunction with the CRASHCar Tournament of Thrills at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sept. 17. For ticket information, call 1-800-455-FANS.