It’s only fitting that of the thousands of cars on display at the fall Charlotte AutoFair this weekend, one with NASCAR ties found its way to Victory Lane as the Walt Hollifield Best of Show winner. Moravian Falls, North Carolina native Gary Powers had only attended AutoFair in the past as a spectator, before bringing his 1955 Plymouth Belvedere out for this weekend’s automotive extravaganza. “This is unbelievable,” Powers said in Victory Lane after receiving the show’s top prize. “This is my first time at the Charlotte AutoFair as a car owner. We drove 83 miles this morning and arrived at 6:30 a.m. to shine the car and ended our day in Victory Lane. I’m just tickled.” While the immaculate paint scheme and flawless interior upgrades turned heads, it was ultimately what the car was sporting under the hood that earned top honors from judges Dave Ankin of ToyMakerz, Kelvin Locklear of Outcast Kustoms and legendary car builder and the trophy’s namesake, Walt Hollifield. Powering the mid-50s masterpiece is an R5P7 engine that had previously been raced in a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series machine. The car, which has been tuned down to a modest 580-horsepower, was the brainchild of builder Rick Talbot, who alongside his son, poured over three years of work into the project before ultimately selling it to Powers, but not before taking a few rides himself. “My son built the engine and I built the rest of the car,” Talbot said. “We began building the car in 2008 and finished the car in 2011. “I have hit 120 mph, but I love riding in it at about 40 mph in third gear because it sucks you back in the seat,” he added with a smile. In addition to the Walt Hollifield Best of Show award, judges presented specialty awards to: Best of Show Runner-up: Michael Bradford, 1965 Ford Mustang Best of Show 2000 & Up Winner: Hilton Toney, 2002 Chevrolet Corvette 206 Best of Show 2000 & Up Runner-up: Terry Blanton, 2003 Chevy 206 Best of Foreign Car: Peter Ashby, 1996 Toyota Supra Toymakerz Choice: Eveie & Jeff Coley, 1968 Chevy Camaro Best Restoration: Bobby Bonds, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Sam Bass Award (Best Paint): Scott Preston, 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1 Best Truck: Tim Leonard, 1955 Chevy T 3100 Most Original: Jeff Cannon, 1962 Ford Falcon TICKETS: Fans can purchase tickets to upcoming speedway events, including the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 22-24 and the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 action, Oct. 6-8, online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267). KEEP TRACK: Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway and stay up to speed with all the happenings at the speedway, The Dirt Track and zMAX Dragway by following on Facebook, Twitter or on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s mobile app.