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Street Legal Bumper Cars, Custom Vans and 92-Year-Old Rachel Veitch - There's Something for Car Enthusiasts of all Ages at the Aug. 26 - 29 Food Lion AutoFair
Street Legal Bumper Cars
Fifteen years ago, an eccentric Southwestern businessman who prefers to be known as "Joe" bought a 1939 Lusse Auto Skooter to display in his office. The metal-bodied bumper car had given millions of rides at The Pike, a Long Beach, Calif., amusement park that closed in 1979, and Joe began to wonder why the fun had to stop.
Joe asked a talented friend to build a frame so the Lusse could be modified with a gasoline powerplant and four wheels. Joe and crew settled on a Kawasaki 500cc motorcycle water-cooled powerplant and also installed a complete wiring harness, halogen headlights, turn signals, windshield, ten-inch aluminum wheels and Goodyear street tires.
Eight more bumper cars quickly followed. Because the completed machines met requirements for custom-built automobiles, Joe was able to register all nine mini hot rods for street use.
Like thousands of young people in the 1970s, J.R. Sammet was swept into the custom van craze, in which bland boxes-on-wheels were transformed into colorful rock 'n' roll party palaces. Sammet had just graduated from high school when he sold his Oldsmobile Cutlass to buy a nearly new 1975 Dodge van from his father's salvage yard in Ohio. The damaged blue Dodge had wrecked on a snow-covered road, making the price irresistibly low.
Borrowing from an Aerosmith song popular at the time, Sammet named his Dodge "Sweet Emotion" and outfitted the interior with a secluded sleeping nook, icebox, countertop with built-in stainless steel sink, mirrors, overhead lighting, angel-hair and shag carpet, an eight-track tape deck and Citizens' Band radio, among other additions. Two more vans
followed: a 1973 dodge Sportsman named "Procrastownation" and a 1997 black Ford Maxi Van named "Looney Twoney."
Sammet and his wife Glenda will display their trio of party machines during the Food Lion AutoFair. They consider themselves lucky to have been involved in the close-knit vanning community for 35 years.
Veitch and her "Chariot" will be on hand throughout the four-day automotive extravaganza to meet old and new friends in the Showcase Garage.
Pushing a car's mileage to the feathery edge of the endurance envelope was not Veitch's intent when she drove the Misty Yellow Mercury home from the dealership on Feb. 17, 1964; she and her husband just wanted to get cheaper transportation than the '59 Cadillac Coupe DeVille they were trading.
After reviewing all of the accessories, packages and powertrains available, Veitch settled on a four-door Caliente model with tan interior, the 164-horsepower/260-cubic-inch V-8, automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering and every other option on the list except power brakes. The 2,700-pound sedan, loaded with creature comforts, went to its new home for $1.22 a pound at $3,289.
From there, Veitch put an average of 1,000 miles on the Comet every month for the next 46 years. Most were work-related, with Veitch traveling to and from her job as a cardiac nurse until her retirement in 1990 at the age of 72. Since retiring, Veitch has become a celebrity among Ford and Mercury car enthusiasts. The non-stop nonagenarian and her high-mileage Mercury have visited many states east of the Mississippi River while traveling to car shows in Michigan (where she won a trophy during the Ford Motor Co. 100th Anniversary show), Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and New York. She's even driven as far as Galveston, Texas, to show off her pride and joy.
The internet has expanded Veitch's circle of friends and admirers to an international level. Her three-minute appearance in 2007 on www.growingbolder.com, a website for active older adults, has been viewed more than six million times. She was also featured on NBC's Today in August 2009 and The Tonight Show in August 2010.
Styling inspired by the luxurious Lincoln and affordable V-8 power made the 1940 Ford an instant classic that is today revered by hot rodders and collectors alike. At the Food Lion AutoFair, Concord, N.C., residents Dennis Carpenter and Fletch Little will show off their 1940 Fords as part of the Food Lion AutoFair's 70th anniversary celebration of the famed automobile.
In 1968, Carpenter was having trouble finding interior parts to restore a 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible. After much experimentation in his basement, he reproduced a set of plastic dash knobs for the '40, which led him to establish Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts. Forty years later, the company sells parts for many pre-war and post-war Ford Motor Co. models from its 300,000-square-foot facility a half-mile north of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The '40 Ford convertible that launched this internationally known supplier to the old-car hobby will be displayed at AutoFair.
Little began his infatuation with pre-war Ford automobiles in 1977, when he restored a '40 coupe. An active member of the Early Ford V-8 Club and a 20-year AutoFair veteran, Little currently owns 12 cars from the period, one of which is a bright red '40 Ford Standard coupe he has modified with a modern Mustang V-8 engine, automatic transmission and electric windows, seats and antenna.
SCC Car Build
Can a sports car go from zero to complete in only five days? It can when Speedway Children's Charities and Tommy Pike Customs team up to build a high-performance roadster during the Aug. 26-29 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway. While AutoFair spectators watch, the crew from Tommy Pike Customs will transform a pile of parts into a powerful Cobra replica.
The finished Cobra replica will be raffled off, with all proceeds benefiting Speedway Children's Charities. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100 and will be available during all 2010 events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway and The Dirt Track at Charlotte until the annual Souvenir Blowout on Nov. 26. Raffle tickets may also be purchased online anytime at www.charlotte.speedwaycharities.org. The winner will be announced in December.
Nothing combines Americans' love of cars, sports and food like a tailgate party. Trucks and buses specially built to serve as "parking lot party central" will be featured at the Food Lion AutoFair. Doug Bean, of Savannah, Ga., will display his tailgaiting masterpiece: a 1948 Grumman Olson Kurbside van.
Because he is a self-described partier, Bean turned the loaf-of-bread-shaped truck into the perfect tailgate vehicle, but with a twist.
Bean and friends sprayed the Grumman's aluminum body solid white, then painted vintage-looking signs advertising his company on the side panels and rear doors. He purposely faded the lettering so it would appear aged and weather-beaten and applied hundreds of streaks of simulated rust stains, the kind one sees on retired delivery vehicles sitting in salvage yards.
Nowadays Bean enjoys the looks people give him when he parks the sign truck at a football game, race or car show. When he presses a button, both sides of the vehicle electrically lift to reveal a flat-screen television, commercial-grade grill, coffee maker, serving counter and beverage dispenser - all spotlessly clean and modern -- observers don't seem to mind that they've been fooled by the ingenious tailgater.
Also at the Food Lion AutoFair, Magnolia, Texas-based company Imagimotive will display their Removable Tailgating System, complete with a 42-inch flat-screen television, grill, satellite dish and other necessities, fitted to a 2008 Ford F-150. They will also display a pull-along Tailgate Trailer and the Extreme Tailgating Bus, a 40-foot 1987 International school bus that has been converted to a full-scale party rig with onboard cooker, multiple flat-screen TVs and lounge.
Fall Speedway Collector Car Auction
A meticulously restored Plymouth Road Runner with a rare and desirable "Hemi" engine will rumble across the auction block with 200 other collector cars during AutoFair. Musclecar collectors will be ready to bid when a rare Ice Blue Metallic 1969 Plymouth Road Runner owned by Bruce Kepley, of Charlotte, N.C., crosses the block during the two-day sale.
Auctioneers Robert Suttles and Jonathan Simpson, of Dealer Auctions, in Denver, N.C., will offer more than 200 domestic and foreign collector cars on Friday and Saturday of the Food Lion AutoFair. American products are represented by such high-performers as a stealthy black 1972 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, 1965 Chrysler 300, 1969 Ford Mustang with 428-cid V-8 and 1971 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 with W-30 package. Mouth-watering imports include a pair of arrest-me-red Ferraris, a 1985 308 GTS and 1990 Testarossa, and a 1986 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur.
The Fall Speedway Collector Car Auction, which takes place on the speedway's concourse, is open to the public and starts Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. Bidders and consignors must either register through the Dealer Auctions website (www.dlrauctions.com) or in person at the event. All registered buyers and sellers will be entered to win a diesel-powered Ford school bus. The drawing will be held at the end of the auction on Saturday; the holder of the winning ticket must be present to claim the prize.
Richard Petty, Junior Johnson Autograph Signings
A pair of NASCAR greats will sign autographs for fans at the Carolina Carports vendor space in the Manufacturers' Midway during the Food Lion AutoFair. Legendary NASCAR driver and team owner Junior Johnson will sign autographs on Thursday, Aug. 26, from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Richard Petty will greet fans on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The Speedway Club
Charlotte Motor Speedway's members-only dining experience above the track's finish line will be open to AutoFair attendees for lunch Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch will be buffet-style on Friday and Saturday. Dinner will be served from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and will feature Burgers, Buffett and Bumpers, a Jimmy Buffett/Parrothead theme that includes handcrafted hamburgers and margarita specials.
Legend Car and Bandolero Test Drives
AutoFair attendees will have a chance to test drive real race cars, the Legend Car and Bandolero, on the speedway's 1/5-mile track behind the 1.5-mile oval. Legend Car drives will cost $75; Bandolero drives are $50.
Taste of Food Lion
Event sponsor Food Lion will return with its popular Taste of Food Lion sampling area next to the Manufacturers' Midway. The display includes a cool-down tent.
Powerade Play Zone
The Powerade Play Zone is a kid-friendly area with bounce houses, face painting, concessions and Lug Nut appearances.
Lego Build Zone
In the Lego Build Zone, children will have a chance to construct small-scale Lego race cars and test them on an indoor track with the help of local Lego experts. As they snap the pieces together, the young car enthusiasts won't realize their growing brains are learning the basics about math, creativity and engineering. Sessions will be held at the Time Warner Media Center in the infield.
Fair Foods at AutoFair
In addition to the usual lunch foods of hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, AutoFair participants will discover a new favorite in the form of the Mac Daddy Dog, a hot dog encased in macaroni pasta and pimento cheese, then coated in a panko breadcrumb crust and deep fried. Mac Daddy Dogs will be available for $5 each at the Levy concession stand near the Time Warner Media Center in the infield.
Car Club Shows
At the heart of every good car show is an active car club, but when nearly 60 clubs get together on the same weekend the result is one of the nation's largest annual collector car events. Car clubs participating in the spring Food Lion AutoFair on Saturday and Sunday include Carolina Regional Mustang, Generations Corvette, Ford Owners Association, Tach Twisters, Piedmont Performance, BMW Car Club of America and Euros at the 'Fair.
Famed automotive artists Dan McCrary and Michael Irvine will show their work in the Showcase Garage all four days of AutoFair.
Huge Car Corral
More than 1,500 vehicles available for sale or trade will circle the 1.5-mile superspeedway, and the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will have an on-site office to process the paperwork.
Giant Flea Market
One person's junk is another's treasure and 10,000 vendor spaces, located both inside and outside the speedway, will offer an extraordinary array of automotive parts and memorabilia.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage and surrounding parking areas will be filled with manufacturers and distributors of aftermarket parts and accessories. From welding equipment to car care products, the Manufacturers' Midway is the ultimate shopping destination for automotive aficionados.
The ceremony for car club awards will be presented on Sunday at 2 p.m. by CarShowTrophies.com, the Preferred Award Supplier of the Food Lion AutoFair whose custom-made, hand-painted trophies are crafted in the United States.
AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit the website at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.