'54 Chevy Bel-Air Captures Best of Show
James Chewning, of Landis, N.C., was all smiles Sunday when his red-and-white 1954 Chevrolet Bel-Air captured the prestigious Food Lion AutoFair Best of Show Award as the four-day automotive extravaganza concluded at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The meticulously restored Chevrolet classic was selected from among more than 50 Best of Show car club winners by H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I've been in the car business all my life, and this is special. It's exciting," Chewning said. I've never won anything like this before, and I never expected it."
Chewning started his own business, Quality Motors and Tires of Kannapolis, in 1957 and retired in 2003. He bought the Chevrolet on trade in 1965 for $650.
"Our sons, Michael and Jimmy, do restorations and they did all the work except for the chrome and upholstery in 2002," added Chewning. "All the running works have been changed, but the body is original. I don't know how much money I have in it. Every time my son said he needed money, we got it for him!"
Now 73, Chewning and his wife, Sadie, enjoy driving the classic Chevy.
"We never intend to sell it. We've got about 15,000 miles on it now and we drive it weekly," Chewning said.
Larry and Glenda Cleary, of North Wilkesboro, N.C., claimed the Lion Cup Award for Best Paint with their 1935 wineberry-colored Ford panel truck; while Johnnie and Rachel Garner's drive home to Rock Hill, S.C., was more enjoyable in their 1971 Ford Mustang Mach One after picking up the Best Restoration by Owner Award.
Other specialty award winners included: Donald Chamberlin, of Daytona Beach, Fla., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1934 Ford panel wagon; Bill Bruckner, of Mooresville, N.C., winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) for his 1967 Pontiac GTO; Michael McDonald of Raleigh, N.C., who captured the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies' Choice) for his 2002 silver-and-black Pontiac Trans-Am convertible; and Shane McDowell, of Denton, N.C., who won the Promoter's Choice Award for his 1929 McCormick Deering tractor.In addition, each of the 53 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 Lowe's Motor Speedway when the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals takes place Oct. 26-28. For ticket information, call 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.