CONCORD, N.C. — CMS/John Davison Photo –Three years after the last spring Charlotte AutoFair, there’s a new top car in town as Tim Helms took home the coveted Walt Hollifield Best of Show Trophy on Sunday with his immaculately restored 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad.
Helms said he’s not a car collector, but he’s always held a special place in his heart for the Tri-Five machines, a reference to 1955, ’56 and ’57-era Chevrolets.
“I actually drove a ’55 Chevrolet to high school, so I’m kind of partial to the ‘55s themselves,” he said.
The root beer brown classic station wagon now sports plenty of modern updates throughout, but getting it into show-winning shape was a project three years in the making. According to Helms, he found the car on a Tri-Five Facebook group in Oklahoma.
“We live out in the country. When the transporter got there with the car, me and my son pulled it up to the house with an ATV and a rope. It was nothing but a rolling hull. We went from there – just started collecting parts and finding the right people to do the work.”
Standing in Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the Best of Show trophy in hand, Helms said the car in front of him wildly exceeded the vision he had for it all those years ago.
“It’s beyond what I was expecting, especially the detail under the hood. I told the fab shop, the painter and the interior man, No. 1 on the list was attention to detail when we started this build, and they nailed it. They nailed it.”
The Best of Show award was named for Charlotte-area car expert Walt Hollifield, who has been an invaluable part of AutoFair for more than 40 years. Hollifield presented his eponymous award to Helms in winner’s circle, alongside NASCAR on FOX analyst and renowned car aficionado Mike Joy.
Four days of family-friendly fun and glistening cars throughout Charlotte’s 1.5-mile superspeedway also included drift car rides, Xpogo stunt shows and displays saluting iconic cars like a screen-used Ford GT-40 from the “Ford vs. Ferrari” movie and NASCAR legend Rick Hendrick’s $5 million LaFerrari. Guests were also treated to a one-of-one 1966 Cannara, a vintage AMC display and a collection of the award winners from SEMA to Autorama.
In addition to the Walt Hollifield Best of Show, on Sunday, judges presented specialty awards to:
Best of Show Runner-up: Tommy Loftin, 1958 Chevrolet Corvette
Best of Show Second Runner-up: Paul Haddock, 1969 Buick GS Stage 1
Best Foreign Car Award: Stefan Ashby, 1991 Toyota Crown Royal Saloon G
Best Millennial Car Award: Morgan Batley, 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Best Restoration Award: John Jancic, 1970 Plymouth Superbird
Sam Bass Award (Best Paint): Alan Middlebrook, 1966 Ford Mustang
Best Truck Award: Erv and Becky Steinly, 1956 Chevrolet 3100
Hagerty’s Young Judges Choice Award: 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ecto-1 Ghostbusters machine
Most Creative: Tom Logano, Custom International Trash Truck with a Leach Hopper, retrofitted with a custom gas grill and beer taps, pulling an Airstream
Fans can purchase tickets to upcoming speedway events online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).
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.