With the debut of numerous technical innovations and the introduction of several new models that would forever change America's motoring landscape, 1955 holds a unique place in automotive history.

Celebrating the golden anniversary of that landmark year, the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway will feature an assortment of 1955 vehicles including a one-owner Chevrolet that Harvey Hood of Fort Mill, S.C., refers to as his "Korean '55 Chevy Bel-Air."

"While I was serving in the army, I couldn't spend any of my money," said Hood. "So when I got back from Korea, I went to Nolan Chevrolet in Pineville, N.C., and paid $1,875 for my '55 Chevy. That's why I call it my Korean car."

The dealership in Pineville and the cars it offers have changed considerably since that day 50 years ago when Hood drove off the lot, but his Chevrolet Bel-Air remains virtually unchanged.

It is a two-door post model with Harvest Gold and white paint and green interior. The car's original 235-cubic-inch straight-six engine is still under the hood and a steering column shifter works the three-speed transmission.

Hood refurbished the car in 1985, meticulously restoring its original condition. The only major change over the years has been the addition of an air conditioner, which Hood says was for the comfort of his wife.

"I've actually had this car longer than I've had my wife," Hood said with a laugh. "In fact, we dated in it."

Hood has never been afraid of hitting the highway in his '55 Chevy. He drives the car weekly and it has spent time in Colorado, Washington, D.C., and Illinois.

But the fact Hood's car is still around to participate in the Food Lion AutoFair's salute to 1955 is a bit of a miracle as the car has survived two near-disasters.

The first came when it was relatively new. Hood was living in Colorado and decided to drive home to South Carolina for Christmas. While he was in South Carolina, a devastating sandstorm hit the Centennial state.

"My timing was just right and it was a stroke of luck I wasn't in Colorado for that one," Hood explained. "That storm literally stripped the paint off cars like a sandblaster and made the glass look like it was fogged."

The second close-call came in 1975 when the Chevy was stolen. The car was missing for two days before police found it at a drive-in restaurant in Belmont, N.C. - with the thief still behind the wheel!

The 71-year-old Hood is retired from Charlotte television station WBTV where he was an engineer but stays busy working for Vintage Cars, an automotive restoration company in his hometown. And even though he has acquired other classic and historic cars, Hood is extremely proud of the 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air he purchased a half century ago.

"This Chevy is a car I drive-I don't haul it around in a trailer," Hood said. "I am excited about driving it to the Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I remember the first car show they had at the track. We always have a good time at that show, looking at cars from around the country."

Food Lion AutoFair is the nation's largest automotive extravaganza. The four-day event includes a car show featuring various makes and models from more than 50 clubs, thousands of parts and memorabilia vendors and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. A car corral, located on the 1.5-mile superspeedway, features nearly 2,000 vehicles of all makes and models that are available for sale or trade.

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. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.

Contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205.