For car owner Kevin Carter, restoring a car is not just about the pride of returning an old car to its former glory, but also the friendships that he forms with his fellow car enthusiasts who put in hours of hard work alongside him. Carter should have a lot of happy friends after his 1970 Dodge Challenger was named the 2012 Food Lion AutoFair’s Best of Show on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After receiving the trophy in the Winner’s Circle Sunday afternoon, the Rockwell, N.C. native said his friends deserve just as much credit for the time they put in helping to restore his highly customized bright yellow Challenger to mint condition.
The connections Carter has made working as a sound technician for big name bands like Bon Jovi and Daughtry in the music industry have helped him make similar connections with some of the biggest names in the car industry. When iconic automotive fabricator Chip Foose saw Carter’s car, he sent him a set of Foose rims. J.R. Rhodes, who works at JR Motorsports, found a split exhaust at the shop and sent it to Carter for the Challenger. And so on.
Without those friends, and so many others who invested hours of their time in everything from the body work to the paint, this car would never have come together, Carter admitted.
“I built that car, but I couldn’t tell you what it would cost to build it because it didn’t cost me anything,” Carter said. “Everybody had a part of it.”
Even his family jumped in to lend a hand.
Carter said he wanted a car that could boast 500 horsepower. He accomplished that and then some as the Best of Show winner tops out at 600 horsepower with a Mopar 440 engine that was given to him by his father-in-law. He worked on the car with his two daughters for countless hours when they were growing up, and he even shared his wedding day with the Challenger as it was the first ride that he had as a married man, with his new bride right beside him.
Despite all the time and work he put into making his car perfect, Carter said he had no idea he would even be in the running when he brought his Challenger to the show on a whim.
Carter was a guest at the Food Lion AutoFair last year, but his Challenger was parked in the back parking lot, rather than the stage in the Winner’s Circle.
“Our president at Carolina Chryslers asked me if I wanted to bring the car to the show and I was thinking, ‘heck yeah, that’s great parking there. I would love to have my car out there,’” Carter said.
Even with his upgrade in parking, Carter was excited just to win a Best in Show award from his car club and get to be recognized in Winner’s Circle. He was convinced that when he was asked to bring his car back around to Winner’s Circle at the conclusion of the awards ceremony, he must have done something wrong.
“I was shocked,” he said of being named the overall winner.
The first runner-up was a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro owned by Kayla Poteat of Mooresboro, N.C., and second runner-up was a 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS owned by Henry and Mary Brock of Charlotte, N.C.
The specialty award winners were: Chuck DeMund of Waxhaw, N.C., who took home the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) with his 1937 Buick Roadmaster; Bill Phillips of Cornelius, N.C., winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1933 Ford three-window; Lincolnton, N.C. resident James Lail, winner of the Lion Cup Award (Best Paint) for his 1953 Chevrolet 210; Ken Kluttz of Salisbury, N.C., who captured the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies’ Choice) for his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air; and Hendrik Jacobs of Greenville, S.C., who was award the Concord Concours (Best Restoration by Owner) award for his Desoto Fireflite.
Each of the car clubs participating in the Food Lion AutoFair was judged individually, with a Best of Show picked for each club.
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