Illness may have prevented Jim Michael, of Maiden, N.C., from attending the awards ceremony on Sunday at Food Lion AutoFair, but his proud father Lou and his daughter Sherry were there in his stead to pick up the Best of Show Award for his 1967 Oldsmobile 442-W30, as the world's largest automotive extravaganza concluded at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"Jim bought the car brand new when he was 17-years old in Alfred, N.Y.," Lou, whose family hails from Ithaca, N.Y., explained. "He had it home a night or two when he took it to the drag strip and he came home with a trophy about midnight. Now he has about nine boxes of trophies that the car has won since."

After its first run of service the Oldsmobile sat in the yard, unused for nearly 15 years, before Jim and his father removed the frame and began the six-and-a-half year restoration project. Jim worked on other people's automobiles to earn the money it took to restore his.

"Believe it or not, we had the car all painted except for the hood,"

Lou fondly recalls. "Then it snowed one day and it was real quiet afterward.

When the sun came out, it was warm and Jim says, 'Dad, let's go in the garage and get the hood, we're going to take it out in the yard and paint it.' I said, 'No way.' He said, 'You know we are.' So we painted the hood with snow all around us."

The Michaels have been coming to AutoFair for over 10 years, ever since Jim moved to North Carolina, and his pristine Spanish Red '67 Oldsmobile has won several awards over the years at the show.

"How much money has been put into that car?" an emotional Lou said, "I couldn't guess at it. But, I know if Jim were here, he'd be ecstatic."

Other specialty award winners were: Bill Vickers, of Charlotte, N.C., winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) with his 1957 Chevrolet Convertible; Robert Cannon, of Concord, N.C., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1955 Chevrolet 2-Door 210 featuring a custom body with a Harvest Gold exterior and a twin turbo powered 350 engine; Monroe, N.C.'s Joe Marchand, winner of the Lion Cup Award (Best Paint) for his Hawthorne Green Metallic 1950 Ford Coupe; Don Tiller, of Statesville, N.C., winner of the Concord Concours Award (Best Restoration by Owner) with his 1972 Dodge Demon; Angela Cecil, of Henry, Va., winner of the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies Choice) with her 1995 Camaro Z28 which she rebuilt herself; and Lexington, N.C.'s Charles Bee, who won the inaugural J&J Tavern Award (Oldest Car) with his 1928 Chevrolet 2-Door Sedan.

In addition, each of the 51 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. 24-26. For ticket information, call 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.