It has won the most prestigious awards in the custom car world, and the 1935 Ford known as the Iowa Radster is making its East Coast debut as part of a Trophy Rides display during the Sept. 4-7 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kevin and Karen Alstott, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, did their homework before commissioning Lakeside Rods & Rides to create the Radster for the national custom car show circuit. Kevin, a car collector and modifier for 16 years, went so far as to interview judges from America's top shows to find out exactly what they look for in a winning entry.

He learned that cars popular with enthusiasts such as the 1957 Chevy, 1932 Ford, early Corvettes and anything with a strong nostalgic appeal are always good candidates. The Alstotts chose one of the hobby's perennial favorites-the '35 Ford roadster-as a starting point for their project. As is often the case with modern street rods, not one piece from an original Ford was used in the build. Every component of the chassis, body and interior was handcrafted from raw materials or, in the case of the powertrain, assembled by specialists to meet certain aesthetic criteria.

A one-off tubular frame wears Indy-style independent suspension components at all four corners. Starting with flat sheets of steel, craftsmen shaped every body panel with techniques that have all but disappeared since the start of automotive mass production. A pair of adobe-colored bucket seats is the centerpiece of the interior, which features a teardrop design theme with unique gauges, pedals, shift knob and floor treatment.

The Alstotts chose the roadster's two-tone burgundy and gold hues after studying PPG Automotive's 2005 Mercedes color catalog. Powering the scratch-built ride is a polished 408-cubic-inch aluminum V-8 sending 550 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission.

As the Iowa Radster's two-and-a-half years of construction neared completion, the Alstotts registered for the 54th annual Autorama at the Cobo Center in Detroit and submitted their car to be considered for the Don Ridler Memorial Award. Receiving the Ridler trophy, named for the Autorama's pioneering show promoter who passed away in 1963, is the custom car world's highest honor.

To be eligible for the Ridler, a car must debut at the show and it has to perform certain functions such as moving under its own power and backing up to prove that it is not just a pretty piece of art. Thirty contenders were chosen from more than 20,000 applicants and graded by a team of International Show Car Association judges. Eight finalists-the "Great Eight"-are then displayed as a group until the winner is announced.

In 2006, that winner was the Alstotts' '35 Ford roadster.

Ten months later, at the 58th Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, Calif., the burgundy-and-gold '35 Ford competed against 11 other finalists to secure the title of America's Most Beautiful Roadster. The wood-and-brass AMBR trophy, which towers nine feet above the show floor, has been won by such legendary builders as George Barris, Boyd Coddington and Tex Smith.

It is seldom the case that any car receives the Ridler trophy and is also named America's Most Beautiful Roadster, but the Alstotts pulled off the double victory, and now they are bringing the Iowa Radster to the Food Lion AutoFair as the flagship of the show's Trophy Rides display.

Other blue-ribbon cars in the exhibit include the 1936 Stout Scarab that won People's Choice at the Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance and a 1974 Plymouth 'Cuda street machine that recently earned Gold certification from Standard of Mopar Excellence judging.

The fall Food Lion AutoFair annually attracts more than 120,000 visitors. It features more than 50 car club displays and more than 7,000 vendor spaces that offer a plethora of automotive parts and memorabilia.

More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

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 while children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Parking for the event is $5.

For more information, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit us online.