Burke's Blazer "Top Gun" at Food Lion AutoFair
The highly customized, white-and-chrome sport-utility vehicle was judged best-of-the-best from among some 1,800 show cars present during the four-day automotive extravaganza.
"This is pretty awesome. It's my first time here and winning makes it really worthwhile," said Burke, a 29-year-old staff sergeant who paints fighter jets at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C.
"I get more enjoyment, though, out of people just seeing the car. That's what's most important to me¿seeing people's reactions to it."
After spending more than a year and $15,000 customizing the stock Blazer, Burke said the key to the project was simple¿"a good, understanding wife."
Burke polished everything under the hood or replaced it with chrome and installed six televisions, a DVD player and a fiberglass stereo system. The Blazer's most unique feature, though, is also Burke's most original¿a black-and-white patent leather interior that covers the seats, dash, console and door panels.
"I wanted something nobody else has and I'd never seen a patent leather interior before," added Burke. "I'm into things nobody else does, and as you can see here, it pays off!"
Chesnee, S.C.'s Leslie Horn also returns south of the border with some hardware. He grabbed the Lion Cup Award for Best Paint (as chosen by Food Lion's Dave Godfredson) with his hot red 1968 Chevrolet Camaro; while Mike Mondy's 900-mile drive back to Laingsburg, Mich., will be more enjoyable in his 1960 Mercury Comet after picking up the Concord Concours Award for Best Restoration by Owner.
Other specialty award winners included Fayetteville's William Weslowski, winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1955 Frankenstein green Chevrolet delivery van and Charlotte's Keith Sheggrud, winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) for his 1973 Cadillac Eldorado coupe. Johnny and Deborah Bonnette of Lugoff, S.C., captured the Mecklenburg Stelitz Award (Ladies¿ Choice) for their 1931 Ford coupe, modified with an extended cab and 383 stroker Chevrolet engine.
In addition to these winners, each of the 52 car clubs participating in the Food Lion AutoFair was judged individually, with a Best of Show picked for each club.
The fall installment of Food Lion AutoFair takes place Sept. 16-19 at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway in conjunction with the Golden Corral Dirt Late Model Championship at The Dirt Track @ Lowe¿s Motor Speedway on Sept. 18. For information, call 1-800-455-FANS.