Roswell Rod Leads Custom Fin Lineup at Food Lion AutoFair
For a generation of car enthusiasts raised on radical 1960s dream machines, the outrageous Roswell Rod will bring a feeling of déjà vroom when it headlines a custom fin display during the Sept. 10-13 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Since its introduction at the 2005 Detroit Autorama, the Roswell Rod has drawn favorable comparisons to Ed Roth's best work. It will make its Carolinas debut as part of a custom fin display at the Food Lion AutoFair that includes the 1953 Chevy VooDoo Kreeper, 1961 Cadillac Maybellene and 1990 Chevy Nomad.
The term "Roswell rods" was coined in 1996 to describe the snake-like airborne streaks often seen in the background of slow-motion digital camera footage. Named for the desert city of Roswell, N.M., which is ground zero for the UFO culture, video experts maintain the streaks are nothing more than optical illusions caused by the movement of insects or birds. However, more-interesting theories suggest extraterrestrial connections.
When Fritz Schenck - an artist and custom car builder in Kansas City, Mo., - created a mysterious and otherworldly vehicle in 2005 with a futuristic bubble canopy and supersonic style, he named it "Roswell Rod," in recognition of its seemingly alien origins.
Schenck is student of the late Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, whose custom fiberglass creations defined the show car circuit throughout the 1960s and much of the 1970s, and the Roswell Rod proudly carries forward the Roth aesthetic tradition. Even Schenck's process of building his projects by forming a papier-mâchè body around recycled components is true to the Roth method.
He began the Roswell Rod with a salvaged 1970 Buick Skylark front clip, then fabricated his own frame rails, to which he attached a four-link suspension and General Motors axle. Up front sits a heavily chromed Chevy 327-cubic-inch V-8 wearing a pair of Edelbrock four-barrel carburetors and a massive supercharger. In the cockpit, the driver shifts with an automatic GM transmission and takes direction by way of an aircraft-like steering control. The contoured bucket seats are covered in white vinyl and outlined in Zodiac Red Flare piping and sit low in the body. The trademark bubble canopy hinges rearward on a single hydraulic damper.
Unlike the UFO conspiracy version, the four-wheeled Rod is not invisible. It is, in fact, impossible to ignore with its Roswell Radiation Flow paint, a lot of pinstriping detail and wide whitewalls on period-correct Astro Supreme wheels. In our modern era, when car design demands the use of a flush-mounted, aerodynamic high-intensity discharge lighting system, Schenck created an old-school "face" for his dream car by installing four round headlights. Below the lights sits a simple, '60s-style hot rod grille and a delicate pointy beak that would never pass even the slowest government-mandated crash test. The four-pointed star in the center of the grille was made from a Ford Model A wishbone.
For the finishing touches on this alien craft, Schenck gave the Roswell Rod's tail a pair of perfectly flat wings that look like a drawing from an insect encyclopedia and a row of six round '60 Ford Thunderbird tail light lenses that sit in a recessed chrome panel.
The Roswell Rod will join a host of other attractions at the Food Lion AutoFair. Additional highlights include an autograph session with Saleen Mustang creator Steve Saleen; a display of old and new Ford Mustangs, Dodge Challengers and Chevrolet Camaros; a group of customized tailfin cars; and personal rides from NASCAR drivers.
The fall Food Lion AutoFair annually attracts more than 100,000 visitors to Charlotte Motor Speedway. It features more than 50 car club displays and more than 7,000 vendor spaces that offer a huge array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
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 while children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. On Friday, Sept. 11, in honor of their public service, all police, fire and emergency workers showing a badge or ID will receive free admission to the Food Lion AutoFair.
For more information, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit the Food Lion AutoFair event page.