It may not come with a cherry on top, but fans attending  the Food Lion AutoFair, Aug. 25-28, can get a true taste of the South when they sample one of “Big” John Crane’s barbecue sundaes. Charlotte Motor Speedway is partnering with Levy Restaurants to add the pulled pork parfaits to the fun, fair food menu served at the world’s largest automotive extravaganza.

Barbecue sundaes will join several unique automotive offerings at the Food Lion AutoFair, including an exhibit showcasing 100 years of Chevrolet automobiles, the world's lowest street-legal vehicle, bulletproof passenger vehicles and SUVs, rock crawlers and movie and television cars.

The Birth of the Barbecue Sundae
Matthews, N.C.-resident Crane, who is the owner of Crane Construction in Charlotte, N.C., describes himself as a “backyard barbecuer.”

“I never did any events or anything like that,” he said. “But because of the economy I wanted to make a little extra money so I decided to expand into the barbecue business.”

Crane began to do some catering and took his barbecue delights to fundraisers and county fairs. It was at one fair in particular that circumstances led to the creation of the barbecue sundae.

“Because of a medical condition, my wife follows a gluten-free diet,” Crane said. “She was with me at the fair and wanted a sandwich but couldn’t eat the bun. Well I didn’t have any plates, I was just doing sandwiches and sides, but I did have a cup.”

Crane began layering pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw in the cup for his wife.

“She loved it,” he said. “A friend of ours suggested the name ‘barbecue sundae’ and the rest is history.”  

The unofficial public debut of the new barbecue sundae was made at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2010 during Carolina Christmas, one of the largest holiday light shows in the United States.

“I took a piece of cardboard and wrote ‘barbecue sundae’ on it and sold them at Carolina Christmas,” he said. “People were intrigued. Now it’s getting kind of a cult following. People see someone eating one and they gotta have one for themselves.”

The barbecue sundae consists of the three layers in a clear, 20 ounce cup.

“I put a rounded scoop of coleslaw on top of the barbecue and beans and it looks like ice cream,” Crane said. “Then I squirt the barbecue sauce over the slaw and it looks like syrup, just like a sundae.”

Crane says his signature barbecue sundae is the ultimate fair food.

“It’s a meal in a cup,” he said. “It’s highly portable and when you eat it you’ve got nothing running down your face like when you eat a barbecue sandwich. Ladies especially love it for the non-messiness factor.”

The barbecue sundae will be available for $8 each at Big John’s concession stand near the infield media center during the Food Lion AutoFair.

Food Lion AutoFair
Hours for the Aug. 25-28 Food Lion AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 per day for adults or $25 for a four-day pass; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.