Tom Baker's Buick GSX Earns Best of Show
Driving a car he bought disassembled more than 10 years ago off the floor of a paint shop, Tom Baker was all smiles Sunday when he captured the prestigious Food Lion AutoFair Best of Show Award as the four-day automotive extravaganza concluded at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Baker's 1970 Buick GSX was selected from among more than 40 Best of Show club winners by H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Craig Jackson, president and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Events.
"I've been coming to this show for years and never won anything like this," exclaimed Baker. "This is really cool!"
Sporting a bright yellow paint scheme highlighted by black stripes and red pinstriping; full rally gauges and front and rear spoilers, the 455 Stage One Buick GSX looked more prepared to drag race than collect car show hardware.
"I've raced this car. I've showed this car. We go to the movies in this car," Baker added. "It just gets it done. You couldn't give me a Hemi Cuda convertible for this car. To me, this car is it."
Baker has good reason to be proud of his Buick. The 45-year-old auto shop owner from Lancaster, S.C., dedicated more than 100 hours to restoring the car.
"I've been offered as much as $125,000 for it, and I turned it down. That was in January of this year," said Baker. "I had it for sale and a guy came to buy it, and I said, 'You know what? This would just pay my credit cards and some other stuff off and I'd have nothing.' I decided to keep the car and pay off the credit cards later!"
In addition to the coveted AutoFair Best of Show trophy, Baker received an all-expense-paid trip to the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event and Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jan 13-17 as well as Best of Show honors from the Carolinas Chapter of the Gran Sport Club of America.
Jim Michael, of Maiden, N.C., claimed the Lion Cup Award for Best Paint with his 1967 Oldsmobile W30; while David Fink's drive home to nearby Concord was more enjoyable in his 1934 Ford sedan after picking up the Concord Concours Award for Best Restoration by Owner.
Other specialty award winners included: Dennis Seely, of Rockwell, N.C., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1930 Model A Ford; Cliff Grayson, of Mint Hill, N.C., winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) for his 1934 Ford two-door sedan; and the Greenville, S.C., couple of Cliff and Stephanie Jones who captured the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies' Choice) for their 1957 MG coupe.
In addition, each of the 47 car clubs participating in the Food Lion AutoFair was judged individually, with a Best of Show picked for each club.
Car enthusiasts will again converge on Charlotte Motor Speedway when the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals takes place Oct. 27-29. For ticket information, call 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.