In 1996 Brad Gray of Rockwell, N.C., hauled home a 1969 Camaro Pro Street that was a mess. It took him a trailer and two full truck loads of parts and pieces to get it all back to his house. Thirteen years and countless hours spent working in his garage later, Gray used that same car to haul away the prestigious Food Lion AutoFair Best of Show Award Sunday as the four-day automotive extravaganza concluded at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"I bought it from a guy down in South Carolina," Gray explained after accepting the award. "I brought the car home on a trailer and had two pickup truck loads, too. It's been a long and hard process restoring this car."

Gray logged many hours restoring the car. He painted the car red eight years ago and had the interior redone in tan and red to match. In addition to the aesthetic touches, he added a souped-up 468 cubic-inch big block engine with a 1471 Littlefield supercharger and twin 67-millimeter turbos. With that power, wheelie bar and a parachute, the 1969 Camaro is ready to make a pass down the drag strip.

"It's a Pro Street car with a full cage," Gray said. "The car has a lot of drag racing history. It was actually put on the strip back in 1972, so it's been racing all its life."

"When I got it, I put it on the street and drove it for a few years as I progressed with it and then turned it into a full-time fun show car."

Gray has won several awards over the years with the car, but doesn't see showing it off as just a hobby.

"It's not what I do," he said. "I own a diesel repair shop in Kannapolis, N.C. It's not a hobby at all. It's a lifestyle. It's something that you've got to really put a lot into.

"This car has made it through one divorce and one long-time girlfriend, so it's lasted a lot longer than most would expect."

The trophies for the award ceremony were provided by CarShowTrophies.com, the preferred award supplier of the Food Lion AutoFair, and other specialty award winners were: Lester Edwards of Harmony, N.C., who took home the Concord Concours award for Best Restoration by Owner for the 1961 Ford Starliner he rebuilt himself; Monroe, N.C., resident Jim Lewis winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) for his 1938 Ford Business Coupe; James Clements of Charlotte, N.C., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1963 Grand Sport Replica race car painted to look like it is fresh off the track with dirt and rubber; High Point, N.C., resident Danny Auman winner of the Lion Cup Award (Best Paint) for his Torch Red 1966 Chevrolet C10 Truck; and Tommy Miller of Hays, N.C., who captured the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies' Choice) for his turquoise 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.

In addition, each of the 55 car clubs participating in the Food Lion AutoFair was judged individually, with a Best of Show picked for each club.

The 16th annual Goodguys Southeastern Nationals three-day show comes to Charlotte Motor Speedway Oct. 30 - Nov. 1. Daily admission is $17 for adults, $6 for kids 7-12 and children 6 and under are admitted for free. For details, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205.