A Street-Legal Radio Flyer Wagon, "Skyscrapers" and Beauties and Beasts - There's Something for Car Enthusiasts of all Ages at the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair
Driving Around Kansas
**View the Food Lion AutoFair weekend schedule here.
A street-legal Radio Flyer wagon, high-riding “skyscraper” sedans on 30-inch chrome wheels, state-of-the-art electric vehicles, the Beauties and Beasts of the automotive world and a 60th Anniversary NHRA display are just a few of the attractions scheduled for the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Radio Flyer: Fred Keller and Judy Foster, a retired couple from Wasilla, Alaska, enjoyed Radio Flyer wagons when they were growing up and decided to build a full-size version in 2009. A faded yellow 1976 Mazda B1600 pickup that once belonged to Foster’s father became the foundation for the wagon project.
Keller fashioned the legendary Radio Flyer body from marine plywood, foam, fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin. The Mazda’s instrument panel found a home in the new dashboard and Keller topped the reused steering column with a wagon wheel. He crafted the black pull handle from fiberglass-wrapped PVC pipe and made it detachable. The wagon’s wheels wear narrow Goodyear tires and are covered by flat white hubcaps with red plastic centers.
Keller’s Radio Flyer, which took 11 months to build, is 3.63 times the size of the original child’s toy. It measures 13.5 feet in overall length (the same as a Honda Fit economy car), 5.5 feet in width, and 4.5 feet to the top of its Lexan windshield. In the raised position, the pull handle reaches 8.5 feet above the ground. Cruising speed is around 50 miles per hour.
Keller and Foster took one month to tow the Radio Flyer 5,000 miles from Alaska to Charlotte, N.C., for the Food Lion AutoFair and chronicled their journey via video, posted on www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. The Radio Flyer wagon will be the centerpiece of the AutoFair’s Showcase Garage.
Skyscrapers: The latest trend in car customizing is to raise big 1970s-era American sedans high into the air by stuffing huge chrome rims and low-profile tires under the wheel wells. Chevrolet built millions of full-size sedans and coupes in the 1970s, making used Impalas and Caprice Classics easy to find and inexpensive to personalize. Most came with V-8 power and seating for six, making them ideal party cruisers.
Unfortunately, those old Chevys rode on skinny 14-inch steel wheels with cheap-looking hubcaps. Legend tells that customizers catering to Miami’s early 1990s southern hip-hop culture put the first 22- and 24-inch (diameter) wheels on sloped-roof 1971-’76 Impalas and called them “donks.” Food Lion AutoFair fans can enjoy a display of donks from Dreamworks Motorsports in the Showcase Garage.
Electric Cars: Robert Anderson of Scotland built the first self-propelled electric carriage around 1832, more than a half-century before Karl Benz perfected his gas-powered automobile, but several factors contributed to the decline of battery-powered vehicles at the start of the 20th century, including heavy, expensive lead-acid batteries and an energy source difficult to find outside of large cities. The discovery of large oil reserves in Texas in 1901 put cheap gasoline in every small town in America and very few electric car companies survived.
In the 21st century, there is a new race to develop alternative fuels for transportation and attractive vehicles that use those fuels. The Food Lion AutoFair Showcase Garage will include a state-of-the-art display of electric vehicles, including a 1918 Detroit Electric, 2011 Tesla Roadster and 2011 Chevrolet Volt.
Beauties and Beasts: The best and worst the American auto industry ever produced will be featured in a special display in the Showcase Garage at the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair. The list of Beauties and Beasts includes:
Maker - Beauty - Beast
AMC - AMX - Pacer
Cadillac - CTS-V - Cimarron
Chevrolet - Corvette - Chevette
Dodge - Viper - All K-cars
Ford - GT - Pinto
Pontiac - Trans Am - Aztek
NHRA 60th Anniversary: Six decades ago, the birth of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) put America’s drag racers under a single set of rules for the first time, giving speed enthusiasts a safe way to test their cars’ performance. The NHRA is now the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning body.
Today, the NHRA claims 80,000 members, 35,000 licensed competitors and 300 full-time employees serving 140 member tracks across seven regions, including zMAX Dragway in Concord, which will host the VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, April 14-17. The organization sanctions all manner of drag racing – from its NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League (for children age eight to 17) to Top Fuel cars that exceed 300 miles per hour in the quarter-mile.
A Showcase Garage display at the Food Lion AutoFair will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHRA with several historical vehicles.
Ray Evernham: Three-time championship-winning NASCAR crew chief, former NASCAR team owner and car enthusiast Ray Evernham is the Official Ambassador for the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He will participate in an autograph session Sunday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and will serve as emcee for the Best in Show Car Club Awards at 2 p.m. Evernham will display several of his classic cars, including a 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler and a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, in the Showcase Garage, located in the NASCAR Nationwide Series garage.
Auction Action: Nothing grabs a car enthusiast’s attention quicker than rare collector vehicles selling without a minimum bid. Dealer Auctions Inc., of Denver, N.C., will offer 20 “no-reserve” classics during a two-day sale at the Food Lion AutoFair. The no-reserve lots cover a wide variety of automotive interests including musclecars (1970 Pontiac GTO coupe), trucks (1959 Chevrolet Apache pickup) and convertibles (1970 Cadillac Fleetwood, 2003 Jaguar XK-8).
The Dealer Auctions Inc. Collector Car Auction, which takes place on the speedway’s concourse, is open to the public and starts Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. Bidders and consignors must either register through the Dealer Auctions website (www.dlrauctions.com) or in person at the event. No-reserve vehicles will be offered on Saturday.
Deep-Fried Peaches and Other Fun Fair Foods: In addition to the usual lunch foods of hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, Food Lion AutoFair participants will discover new favorites in the form of deep-fried peaches, “bologna-q,” “lug nuts” mac-and-cheese balls and a breakfast “sundae.” These non-traditional items will be available at the Levy concession stand near the Time Warner Media Center in the infield.
Sock Hop and Lunch in The Speedway Club: Charlotte Motor Speedway’s members-only dining experience above the track’s finish line will be open to AutoFair attendees for lunch Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Lunch will be buffet-style on Friday and Saturday. Dinner will be served from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday night The Speedway Club will host an old-fashioned Sock Hop, complete with ‘50s and ‘60s music and trivia, dancing and dinner. Tickets to the Sock Hop are $50 and all proceeds go to support Speedway Children’s Charities.
Kid-Friendly Fun with Powerade Play Zone, Lego Build Zone: The Powerade Play Zone will be located near the ARCA garage in the infield and is a kid-friendly area with bounce houses, face painting, concessions and Lug Nut appearances. In the Lego Build Zone, children will have a chance to construct small-scale Lego race cars and test them on an indoor track with the help of local Lego experts. As they snap the pieces together, the young car enthusiasts won’t realize their growing brains are learning the basics about math, creativity and engineering. Sessions will be held at the Time Warner Media Center in the infield.
Tom Cotter to Sign New Book About “TV” Tommy Ivo: Tom Cotter will be on hand at the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair to sign copies of his new book, “‘TV’ Tommy Ivo: Drag Racing's Master Showman.” The book serves as the official story of the incredible life of Ivo, who abandoned a successful career in television to focus on drag racing. In 2005, Ivo was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame and was ranked 25th among the NHRA’s top-50 drivers. Cotter will sign on Friday in the Showcase Garage from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
AACA Meet: The Antique Automobile Club of America will hold its Southeastern Spring Meet on Saturday of the AutoFair. The show field is limited to 225 cars, all pre-1985 models that are factory original or restored. Vintage race cars will be driven on the speedway’s fifth-mile track behind Gate 26.
Legend Car, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster Test Drives: Food Lion AutoFair attendees will have a chance to test drive real race cars, the Legend Car, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster, on the speedway’s 1/5-mile track behind the 1.5-mile oval. Bandolero drives are $50 and drivers must be eight and older and Legend Car drives are $75 for ages 14 and older. Minors must be accompanied by an immediate family member. Thunder Roadster drives are $75 for those ages 16 and older with a valid drivers’ license and minors under 18 must be accompanied by an immediate family member.
Taste of Food Lion: Event sponsor Food Lion will return with its popular Taste of Food Lion sampling area next to the Manufacturers’ Midway.
Johnsonville Big Taste Grill Sales to Support Speedway Children’s Charities: The Johnsonville Big Taste Grill will set up near the Showcase Garage in the infield during the April 7-10 Food Lion AutoFair. Weighing more than 53,000 pounds and measuring 65-feet long, this giant grill requires its own semi-truck to haul it from one location to another and has the capacity to cook more than 750 brats at a time. Johnsonville will sell brats for $5 each on April 7-9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and April 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the proceeds benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities.
Car Club Shows: At the heart of every good car show is an active car club, but when more than 50 clubs get together on the same weekend the result is one of the nation’s largest annual collector car events. Car clubs participating in the spring Food Lion AutoFair on Saturday and Sunday include Carolinas Chrysler, Ford Owners Association, Mid-Atlantic Olds, Queen City Corvette, Southern Scouts and Euros at the ’Fair.
Automotive Art: Famed automotive artists Dan McCrary, David Snyder, and Roger Blanchard will have a mini-gallery in the Showcase Garage all four days of AutoFair.
Huge Car Corral: More than 1,500 vehicles available for sale or trade will circle the 1.5-mile superspeedway and the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will have an on-site office to process the paperwork.
Giant Flea Market: One person’s junk is another’s treasure and 10,000 vendor spaces, located both inside and outside the speedway, will offer an extraordinary array of automotive parts and memorabilia.
Manufacturers’ Midway: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage and its surrounding parking areas will be filled with manufacturers and distributors of aftermarket parts and accessories. From welding equipment to car care products, the Manufacturers’ Midway is the ultimate shopping destination for automotive aficionados.
Awards Ceremony: The ceremony for car club awards, and to determine the overall Best in Show at the Food Lion AutoFair, will take place Sunday at 2 p.m.
AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults; 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 the website at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.