There’ll be a whole lotta shakin’ going on at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend, but it won’t be the rumble of NASCAR drivers.
The annual Food Lion AutoFair, which runs through Sunday, is getting a Memphis-style makeover – blinged, bedazzled and bacon’ed in the spirit of the King himself, Elvis Presley.
For the first time, Graceland is loaning one of Presley’s prized vehicles to an outside auto show. Among the 1,500 vehicles and car club displays at this year’s AutoFair will be Presley’s 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II – a car with its own rich history. Presley purchased it while on tour in Florida after fans discovered his previous Lincoln in a hotel parking lot and wrote messages all over it.
“Next to the pink Cadillac, it’s an iconic car from that time period,” said Angie Marchese, director of archives for Elvis Presley Enterprises. “He drove it to New Orleans when he filmed ‘King Creole.’ He drove it when Natalie Wood came to town and visited Elvis in 1957.”
Never miss a local story.
Presley eventually traded the car and joined the Army. In the ’80s its owners loaned it to Graceland to display as part of Presley’s vast car collection. It was auctioned 1989.
“It was sold to a guy in Texas who had it displayed in his mattress shop,” Marchese said. That owner sold it to Greg Page, the yellow Wiggle from the children’s TV series “The Wiggles.” “He is a huge Elvis collector. About a year ago he contacted us and said, ‘I’m ready to see it back home at Graceland.’”
The Mark II found its way home.
The car isn’t the only Elvis item that Marchese, who is accompanying the vehicle, will exhibit. The AutoFair includes artifacts from Presley’s 1968 movie “Speedway,” which was filmed partly at Charlotte Motor Speedway and includes appearances by NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.
While Presley didn’t visit the speedway during filming, the race scenes were filmed here. The movie memorabilia includes the original movie poster featuring Presley and Nancy Sinatra, his script, his navy suit from the film, and an illuminated “Speedway” prop sign.
Elvis weekend will also include an Elvis Tribute contest and plenty of Elvis-themed menu items, including peanut butter and banana sandwiches and a potentially heart attack-inducing confection called the Graceland Delight – banana pudding with whipped cream and bacon crumbles.
The King’s car collection wasn’t just for showing off.
“He always drove his own car,” Marchese said. “He chauffeured everyone around. It wasn’t unusual, especially here in Memphis, to pull up next to him on the street driving his Ferrari or his Cadillac.”
Presley would even toy with fans for fun as an actual captain on the Memphis police force. He had police lights installed in the dashboard of his car. “Every now and then he’d pull people over on the interstate when he was on his way home at 1 or 2 in the morning,” she said.