NASCAR Drivers' Personal Rides at AutoFair
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Whether on the track or off, many NASCAR drivers love owning, building and driving high-performance cars of all makes and models-and they occasionally enjoy showing them off.
NEXTEL Cup competitors Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jeff Green and Ken Schrader will display radical rides from their personal collections during the April 12-15 Food Lion AutoFair at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, is bringing a 1967 Camaro he purchased at the show a few years ago. The modified silver coupe sits on a custom chassis with modern performance components such as four-wheel disc brakes and a sport-tuned suspension, and it features a small-block Chevrolet V-8 with a five-speed manual transmission. Wheels and tires have been updated to today's standards, with 18-inch rims sitting up front and 20-inchers in the rear. He claims the stocky muscle car is his favorite, and that it will never be traded or sold.
Earnhardt's 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is a lowered two-door hardtop powered by a 434-cubic-inch small-block V-8 with disc brakes hiding behind each of the big custom alloy wheels. The brown-and-white Chevy was built for a television program on Spike TV. Another vehicle in the driver's collection started life as a 1994 Jeep Cherokee before Hicks Total Performance in Mooresville turned it into a rock-crawling monster. The doorless orange-and-black Jeep sits high in the air above its off-road wheels and tires and sports a 350-cubic-inch V-8 with automatic transmission and an unusual external roll cage.
Four-time NEXTEL Cup champion Gordon will show four vehicles including a 1990 Beast pavement sprint car he campaigned in United States Auto Club competition. Powered by a 410-cubic-inch, 795-horsepower Chevrolet
V-8 and weighing only 1,400 pounds, Gordon drove the car to victory four times in its first nine races.
Alongside the sprint car, Gordon will display his 1933 Ford street machine, an all-steel creation built by former sprint car driver and hot rod builder Lee Osborne; his "Rollin' 24s" chopper motorcycle from Paul Yaffe Originals; and a modified Indian Chief motorcycle he received for winning the 2001 Driver of the Year award.
Green obviously does not get enough of a speed thrill from the No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet he drives in the NEXTEL Cup Series, because he will be showing a 1941 Willys that has more than 1,000 horsepower! The red street rod, which Green works on in his shop between race weekends, will be making its public debut at the Food Lion AutoFair.
Schrader, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie/Motorcraft Ford, is an active collector whose garage always has something new with a unique history behind it. His favorite vehicle is a 1955 Ford F-150 tow truck Schrader restored in the 1990s. It has enormous sentimental value because Schrader's father used it at his repair shop, Bill's Auto Service in Valley Park, Mo.
Only slightly newer than the tow truck is Schrader's 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air stock car, which Rick Karpeuk raced at Dorney Park Speedway in Allentown, Pa., in the late 1970s. Don "Huffy" Huffman, an employee of Ken Schrader Racing, has restored the car to its original competition appearance and plans to race it in vintage stock car club events.
Schrader will also display a 1993 Maynard Troyer-built NASCAR modified that has been converted for street use. The body wears burgundy paint, and the engine is a small-block Chevrolet 350.
Other attractions scheduled for the Food Lion AutoFair include Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones' 2007 Cadillac ESV, an Evolution of the Stock Car exhibit; a real-life version of "Doc Hudson" from the animated hit "CARS," and a pair of futuristic bubble-top show cars from the early 1960s.
The Food Lion AutoFair, the world's largest automotive extravaganza, attracts more than 160,000 visitors and features 58 car club displays, more than 10,000 vendor spaces and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. More than 1,800 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
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.