Food Lion AutoFair

Autograph Session:
Meet Will Castro, owner/founder of the hit TV show "Unique Whips," Saturday April 14. The autograph session will be held in Victory Lane from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.  Click here to view the "Unique Whips" photo gallery.

Unique Autosports' high-profile clients can afford to take the customization of their modern and classic cars to insane new levels. As proof that a higher standard of bling has been achieved, look no further than a special display of seven celebrity rides during the April 12-15 Food Lion AutoFair at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart's cars suggest the racer has eclectic taste in automobiles. At one extreme is the quirky-some would say "morbid"-1984 Cadillac Brougham hearse that was the subject of a radical re-do during the second season of SPEED Channel's "Unique Whips" television program. Stewart sent the stock Cadillac to Unique's shop and a few weeks later took delivery of the most unusual station wagon ever built. The "Smoke deVille" now has a 572-cubic-inch, 600-horsepower V-8 engine, 10,000 watts worth of sound system, three television monitors-one of which is a 32-inch plasma unit that rises out of a custom console-and a scratch-built interior.

Stewart's other Food Lion AutoFair display car, a V-12-powered Lamborghini Murciélago with special-order paint to match the dark orange of his race car, features three-piece, 19-inch Maya wheels on the front, 20-inchers on the rear and Pirelli high-performance tires all around.

Atlanta Braves center fielder Andruw Jones also has a broad range of taste in cars. The first vehicle he bought after signing with the Braves is a 1968 Buick Electra 225 four-door sedan. It was nothing special or especially nice before Jones took it to Unique Autosports-Jones' wife recalls the wornout seat springs sticking her-but it had tremendous sentimental value. Unique gutted the interior, modernized the chassis and completely refurbished the body, covering it in Jones' favorite shade of silver gray. The baseball player wanted subtle modifications on his Electra, so the exterior is stock except for the 22-inch chrome wheels. A thousand watts of stereo equipment lives in the customized trunk.

Jones' 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV, on the other hand, is an office/rec room on four 26-inch wheels with no expenses spared. Unique painted the Escalade to match his $250,000 Mercedes, and installed all manner of electronic gadgetry to include the mandatory enormous stereo, but also satellite receivers, Internet access, PlayStation 2 video games, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod hookups.

Urban designer Marc Ecko recently worked with Unique on two styling projects sponsored by Nissan, both of which will be displayed at AutoFair.

The first, a Pathfinder SUV, wears an "urban camo" paint scheme on the outside and a vintage furniture theme in the interior. In modern hot rod fashion, the door handles have been shaved and a small mountain of stereo equipment inhabits the rear luggage compartment. Unique and Ecko also treated the Pathfinder's big brother, the Armada, to an interior full of imported British leather, tweed and-you guessed it-electronic entertainment.

The Unique Autosports crew created a classic landau roof appearance by covering the rear side windows with metal. Two-tone paint gives the giant SUV more pleasant proportions, and the etched 24-inch wheels look like fancy silver serving trays.

Other attractions scheduled for the Food Lion AutoFair Pavilion include an Evolution of the Stock Car exhibit; prized rides of NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jeff Green and Ken Schrader; a real-life version of "Doc Hudson" from the animated hit movie "CARS," a pair of futuristic bubbletop show cars from the early 1960s; and a 75th anniversary display of 1932 Ford hot rods.

Attracting over 160,000 visitors, Food Lion AutoFair is the world's largest automotive extravaganza. It includes a car show featuring makes and models from 58 clubs; more than 10,000 vendor spaces that offer a plethora of automotive items; and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. A car corral, which completely circles the 1.5-mile superspeedway, features more than 1,800 vehicles of all makes and models that are available for sale or trade.

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 more information, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.