Catch a Wave in the Ultimate Surfmobile
The Beach Boys didn't have anything like the Ultimate Surfmobile in mind when they sang about those endless summers in the 1960s. The wild "Monster Garage" creation will be the high-rising centerpiece in a special display of beach-loving Woodies during the Sept. 14-17 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage" television program turned out some crazy vehicles during its five-year run, none of which push the nostalgia button as hard as the beach-themed Ultimate Surfmobile. The Surfmobile is a Woodie to end all Woodies-a 1950 Ford that stands 92 inches tall, has an incredible two feet of ground clearance and tops the scales at 4,200 pounds!
Show host Jesse James and his crew of six builders from California and Hawaii combined a rusted-out '50 Ford wagon with quite a few square feet of lumber to create a surfer's ride in a class all its own. A modern Ford Bronco donated its front frame members, to which the crew added a 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet V-8 and a four-wheel drive transfer case. The "Monster Garage" welding equipment got more than its usual share of use, with special welds needed to attach new bumpers, engine mounts, a battery box, floor panels, tailgate hinges and locators for the new fuel cell.
The Ultimate Surfmobile towers above traffic thanks to a special lift kit and huge off-road tires on oversized chromed rims. It received a hand-built interior surfboard rack, spare-tire holder and off-road lights mounted on the roof.
Fitting the complex wood panels to the Ford went smoothly, but mechanical gremlins involving the wiring harness and engine timing pushed the project's completion right up to the deadline. Custom touches include a rearview mirror in the shape of a miniature wooden surfboard, pinstriping and an insignia of James' motorcycle shop, West Coast Choppers.
"We've shown a lot of the 'Monster Garage' cars at the Food Lion AutoFair," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We've had sports cars that fly and SUVs that pick up trash, but I think this is the first one that's truly practical."
Other attractions scheduled for the Sept. 14-17 Food Lion AutoFair include a display of vintage wood-bodied wagons, a 900-horsepower Shadrach Mustang and 40th Anniversary gatherings of two important American muscle cars that have recently been revived: the Dodge Charger and the Shelby GT-500 Mustang. Hundreds of examples of vintage farm machinery, courtesy of the Stumptown Tractor Club, will fill the show lot next to the infield Pavilion, and there will be an automotive art gallery.
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. For information, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.