The Charlotte Motor Speedway gets all the attention for hosting the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America 500 motor sport events, and justifiably so. These two annual NASCAR races are the biggest ones on this North Carolina racetrack’s calendar, but when it comes to attendance numbers the semiyearly Food Lion AutoFair brings in just as many people, if not more.
Spring 2013 AutoFair
The next Charlotte Food Lion AutoFair is scheduled to run from April 4-7, 2013, and yours truly plans to be in attendance again this spring. Our spring and fall write ups from last year offer details about past shows including 15 reasons why you should go.
This blockbuster event defies easy description as it is one part classic car show, another part collector car auction and yet another part massive vendor display. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of manufacturer representation, add a dash of kid zone fun, toss these ingredients together and the by-product is four action-packed days of automotive saturation.
Croon Like Elvis
Not every event at the AutoFair is automotive related. The Kids Zone is designed to keep young children occupied with bounce houses, carnival rides and games at the ready. Other special events change with each show and this spring the AutoFair will host the preliminary round of this year’s “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.”
Contestants able to croon like Elvis will have the opportunity to sing on Thursday and, if deemed worthy, will be invited to move on to the semifinals on Friday and Saturday. Taking place on the Showcase Pavilion, five finalists will be selected to sing beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with the winner crowned the regional champion. Prizes, cash and the opportunity to compete in the national semifinals in Memphis this August await the regional winner.
Yes, there is a car connection here too: one of the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s personal vehicles — a 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II — will be on display. The two-door hard top coupe is on loan from Graceland, offering perhaps additional inspiration for Elvis crooning aspirants.
Thousands of Vendors
Nearly ever square foot of the Speedway land encompassing the 1.5-mile track is occupied when the Charlotte AutoFair takes place. More than 10,000 vendors will be on hand selling automotive parts, racing regalia and an assortment of paraphernalia that may or may not have anything to do with cars. Think of the largest flea market you have attended and multiply its size by 10 or 20, and you begin to get a picture of what takes place in and around the track.
Vendors spend days on the grounds and may put whatever they want on display. That rust-covered bumper you see on the ground in front of a slapdash display of miscellaneous and used automotive parts may not mean much to you, but it can mean the world to the guy who is restoring his ’49 Hudson Commodore. Its seller may have found the bumper lying in a field, but he had the eye to know its potential value and hauled it with him as he made the trip out from L.A. — Lower Alabama.
Wheeling and Dealing
The amount of money that changes hands at the AutoFair may not retire our national debt, but it could certainly make a dent. While the vendors are taking in tens, twenties and fifties, the big bucks are being exchanged at the classic car auction and all around the 1,500-vehicle car corral that rings the racetrack. Most cars on display offer a history of car-making Americana from the 1920s through the 1970s, with the occasional newer model or foreign make found here and there.
The dealing can be intense especially on the final day of the fair where a seller may realize that he really does not want to haul his ’70 Mercury Cougar convertible back to Michigan. In pristine condition his 429 cubic-inch V-8 powered dream might fetch upwards of $30,000, but he knows that at half that price he can part with it and still walk away with a profit. Moreover, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles makes finalizing a transaction simple as its temporary infield office is open all four days.
The Last HEMI
Speaking of hot cars, the last documented car to leave a Chrysler factory with a factory-installed 426 HEMI will be showcased. This 1971 Dodge Charger was recently restored and will be making its first public appearance at the Charlotte Food Lion AutoFair.
Dubbed “The Last Hemi,” the Charger was restored by RKM Performance Center, located just 20 minutes from the Speedway in Mooresville, NC. It is a car that managed to get built despite Chrysler finishing production of all such models a few weeks earlier. Finding new old stock parts was a challenge as very few models were made. Still, the restorers have managed to bring the car back to its factory good looks, a 425 horsepower beast that makes 490 foot-pounds of torque.
AutoFair Ticket Information
You can see the Dodge Charger, and other classic cars up close, at the AutoFair. Tickets are $10, while children 13 and under can get in free. Special discounts are also offered for four-day visits or by visiting local Food Lion stores leading up to this spring’s Charlotte AutoFair.
Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.