With its sleek sports cars, vintage rebuilds, homegrown reality TV personalities and fried food, the AutoFair is a Charlotte tradition.
This year, the automotive festival – which started Thursday – celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Corvette, examining the history of Chevrolet’s favorite ride, as well as the historical connection between stock car racing and moonshining with a display of ridge-running, ’shine-smuggling vehicles.
With auctions, celebrity guests, custom cars and, of course, plenty of vintage wheels, there’s much more to discover at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. Here are highlights.
Look at all these cars
In addition to generations of Corvettes from the ’50s to today, the AutoFair features 50 car club displays, 1,500 collectible cars for sale in the car chorale, 7,000 vendors, and 200 others up for auction. One of the unusual attractions is an award-winning white 1954 Corvette that was discovered in a barn and restored over the past three years to nearly its original condition. Another is a 1981 “Ferrari Red” DMC DeLorean – the same model from “Back to the Future.” The Moonshiners exhibit includes a 1935 Ford Coupe formerly owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson and the 1963 Mayberry Ford from “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Look at all these stars
Carrying on the moonshine theme, Carolinians Josh and Bill – the bib overall-sporting stars of The Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” – will be on hand to sign autographs Friday and Saturday afternoons, along with Josh’s motorcycle riding rescue dog, Cutie Pie. The AutoFair also offers ’vette-heads a chance to dine with Corvette expert Dale Ledbetter, who manages Rick Hendrick’s private car collection, during a Q&A session Saturday evening. Tickets to the dinner and Q&A are an additional $22.95. For reservations, call 704-455-3216.
If the zombies attack...
...two “undead-escape vehicles” will be waiting: a Local Motors Rally Fighter and a Mercier-Jones Hovercraft prototype that will be unveiled to the public for the first time. The former is actually street-legal and emissions-compliant in all 50 states. The American made Baja-style race truck is jacked up off the ground to pummel telephone poles, curbs and hungry undead. And it’s actually for sale. The Rally Fighter comes in five levels of protection and ranges in price from $19,500 to $99,000.
Stuntwork worth seeing
• North Carolina’s King BMX Bikers will amaze adults and children alike with their flips, feats and high-flying stunts. The group has competed in The X Games and appeared on Fox Sports, “Monday Night Football” and “America’s Got Talent,” on which they performed as the American BMX Stunt Team. Children will also be treated to face painting, bounce houses and other games in the Play Zone.
• The Bearman (aka Concord’s Ron Knight) will be carving wooden sculptures with – wait for it – a chainsaw. The award-winning sculptor specializes in bears, but plans on creating two race-themed carvings for the event: a bench with checkered flags and a life-size bear waving a checkered flag. Those pieces as well as others will be for sale at the show.
Re-fuel with these treats
Other than cars, automotive-themed food like this year’s Corvette Club and spicy double Stingray Burger is one of the Charlotte AutoFair’s biggest attractions. This year the Speedway introduces the Stingray Café, featuring fried delicacies like Oil Change Fries smothered in onions and gravy, ZR-1 fried zucchini, and beer-battered onion rings dubbed Brake Rotors. Wash it all down with “Transmission Fluid” or “Antifreeze/Coolant” (aka lime and cherry limeade). Prices begin at $4.
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