For Harrisburg, N.C. resident Robert McCarter, car shows like the upcoming Goodguys Southeastern Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway Oct. 25-27 are as much about camaraderie as they are about cars.

His interest in cars - like so many others - came from the time he spent with his father working on projects in the garage. His custom cars have come together with the help of friends, and he enjoys sharing his creations with other car enthusiasts around the country.

That's why, for the last three years, he's loaded up his 1932 Ford Roadster and driven across the country with about a half dozen of his friends. Twice, they visited the LA Roadsters show in southern California. In August, the group headed 2,700 miles west for the Goodguys West Coast Nationals in Pleasanton, Calif.

"We stop along the way. We don't drive at night. It was five days going out," McCarter said. "To me, car shows are more of an excuse for everyone to get their stuff out and get together. It's just as much about the people as about the cars."

But while in Pleasanton, McCarter's car turned a lot of heads. Built locally in North Carolina, the '32 Roadster won the event's top prize - the coveted Stroker McGurk award. The Stroker McGurk award, named in honor of Tom Medley (the creator of the Stroker McGurk cartoon which appeared in 1950s and '60s Hot Rod Magazine) goes to the best roadster at the event. McCarter's green runner beat out a national field of hundreds of other roadsters.

"It's a pretty big deal," McCarter said. "It's one of those where you don't get to keep the trophy. What they do is each year they put the winner's name on the trophy. When you look at the names, it's like the who's who of hot rodding. It's pretty cool to have my name on there with these other guys."

McCarter said he's looking forward to showing off the prize-winning car when the Goodguys 20th Southeastern Nationals returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend both because he'll be showing the car in front of a "home crowd" and because of the strong car culture he says is developing in the Charlotte region.

"We're in NASCAR country, so this is a big car culture around here," McCarter said. "Cars are kind of an addiction. You can't just have one. Most of the guys I know have at least three or four cars. You'd be surprised how many you can find tucked away in garages around here."

Before any of the weekend action gets started, a special "Poker Run" will take hundreds of hot rods to points of interest throughout the region including stops at Hendrick Motorsports, JR Motorsports as well as the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Both attendees and participants will have the chance to experience the Richard Petty Driving Experience on Friday, Oct. 25. The following evening, perhaps the event's most popular attraction takes place at 6 p.m. with the annual "Track Cruise" which takes thousands of hot rods and show cars for a joy ride around the high banks of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Throughout the weekend, enthusiasts will also enjoy a huge swap meet, vendor displays and an AutoCross course, designed to test the these magnificent machines on a timed road course in the infield of the famed 1.5-mile superspeedway.

The Goodguys 20th annual Southeastern Nationals is open Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25 and 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adult tickets are just $18; kids 7-12 get in for only $6. Charlotte Motor Speedway parking is $5. Visit www.good-guys.com to purchase event tickets or to register a show car. Call Goodguys at 925-838-9876 for more information.

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