AutoFair Display Commemorates NASCAR's 75th Anniversary
For three-quarters of a century, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (aka NASCAR) sanctioning body has been home to countless firsts, speed records and unforgettable motorsports moments. Its continuing legacy will be celebrated during the April 13-16 AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a special “Lane of Legends” display.
Two dozen race cars and personal cars of legendary competitors will be part of a carefully curated collection that sums up the NASCAR experience since its founding in 1948. The exhibit timeline starts with a 1936 Ford Phaeton owned by Glenn “Fireball” Roberts (winner of 33 Cup Series races from 1950 to 1964) and ends with a 2021 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, representing the final year of the Generation 6 Car of Tomorrow. Some display highlights include:
- Jeff Gordon’s T-Rex Jeff Gordon won 93 Cup Series points races in his career, but it was his victory in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1997 All-Star Race that many motorsports fans remember most. Gordon’s no. 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for that 70-lap, invitation-only event was built with some unique, but strictly legal, features that gave it an edge over the competition. Gordon started last in the field, quickly moved to the front of the pack, and took home a check for $1 million. NASCAR’s Bill France told Gordon’s crew chief Ray Evernham that he never wanted to see that car again.
- Smokey Yunick’s 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle tribute car Thirty years before Gordon’s T-Rex, another famous Chevrolet raised the blood pressure of NASCAR’s race inspectors. Car builder and team owner Henry “Smokey” Yunick had taken quite a few liberties with a 1966 Chevelle—modifications that did not actually break any written rules but blatantly stepped right over them. Yunick had massaged the bodywork for aerodynamic improvements, including making the undercarriage perfectly smooth. He also moved the body rearward two inches on a frame he built in his Daytona Beach shop. Legend says that the Chevelle was physically smaller than it should be, but its measurements were identical to a stock model. The so-called “7/8-scale Chevelle” was never allowed to race.
- Louise Smith’s 1939 Ford coupe tribute car Louise Smith was the first woman elected to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and has been called the “First Lady of Racing.” She did not win any of the 11 NASCAR Cup Series races she entered, but her career stats show 38 victories in other professional series. Smith was a crowd favorite wherever she competed. She was particularly well known for her many crashes, and it is claimed that she broke almost every bone in her body before retiring as a driver in 1956.
The NASCAR 75th Anniversary collection will be displayed in the Showcase Pavilion during the April 13–16 Charlotte AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Other show highlights include The Munsters’ Koach and Drag-u-la, a trio of “What is That?” one-offs, an array of customs representing the hobby’s “Best of the Best,” and an autograph session with monster truck builder and racer Dennis Anderson.
The new-look AutoFair will transform the famed 1.5-mile speedway throughout the weekend. The latest technology, trends, parts, and products will fill the Manufacturer’s Midway. Guests can test drive the current line of Chevrolet vehicles, ride shotgun with professional Ford Performance Racing School drivers and visit all-new themed areas that explore the latest from the worlds of electric and off-road vehicles. Additionally, the reconfigured swap meet, hosted by the Hornet’s Nest Region AACA, will provide a wide array of hard-to-find parts and memorabilia.
On Sunday, the inaugural Smith Heritage Invitational will bring together a distinguished collection of some of the most sought-after vehicles in an assemblage on par with the world’s most exclusive car shows.
Adult single-day tickets are $10 on Thursday and Sunday and $15 on Friday and Saturday. Admission is FREE for children 12 and under with an adult. Guests can upgrade their AutoFair experience to include high-end hospitality in the Paddock Club, featuring private appearances by industry leaders, food, VIP parking, and more. Tickets are available online at CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com or at the gate.
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