Each spring for 40 years, the Hornets Nest Region of the AACA has held AutoFair at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and it has grown into an event quite unlike any other in the U.S. The event is truly an experience for car fans of all stripes, and this past weekend’s edition did not disappoint, despite some inclement weather.
Held on the grounds of one of the most famous racing complexes — a sprawling facility in Concord, North Carolina, that includes a 1.5-mile quad-oval super speedway with road course option, a quarter-mile dirt track, and a four-lane dragstrip — the spring AutoFair encompassed a major AACA meet, some 10,000 vendor spaces, over a thousand collector cars for sale, a whole bunch of smaller car shows put on by many local clubs, and even some automotive craziness, such as the near-continuous drifting demonstration conducted this past weekend at an improvised bullring track in the infield paddock.
This year’s Spring AutoFair opened on Thursday, April 5, with vendors setting up the day before. With so many spaces, the swap meet rivaled the scale of Hershey. From the big guys in the infield, such as Coker Tire, which arrived with its show-ready tractor trailer to promote its tires and wheels, to the many, many private individuals spread across several fields outside the oval track’s stadium, it would seem to have been all but impossible to take in every vendor without several long days, lots of dedication, and some stout walking shoes. Fortunately, a big swap meet like AutoFair still offers that “treasure hunt” feeling as you wander the aisles looking for either specific parts or whatever might catch your fancy.
Like most swap meets, plenty of cars in just about every condition, from roadworthy to a stripped-down chassis, were on offer from the many swap meet spaces, but AutoFair also conducted its usual and massive car corral that accommodates up to 1,200 cars for sale, all lined up completely around the oval track. It was hard to get a true count of cars for sale, given that some owners probably had people waving them down before they even entered the oval and some cars were doing slow laps, amid the crowds and the cars, demonstrating their rides to prospective buyers. Still, the Hornets Nest Region’s general estimate of some 2,500 cars for sale in total (swap meet and car corral) seemed a reasonable number.
For the annual AACA Southeastern Division Spring Meet, held on a paved lot just outside the stadium on Saturday, April 7, unseasonable cold, wind, and rain scared off some entrants, but approximately 150 cars and owners braved the weather in makes and models of all stripes, from Full Classics to vintage trucks to a swarm of muscle cars to a pair of charmingly inviting, unrestored, and nearly entirely original Model Ts. There was even a vintage drag bike entered in what must have been its own class. We’re guessing that leaving that lot on an old, hard slick in the cold and rain was no mean feat. The Saturday rain also drove a fair portion of the swap meet vendors to pack up and leave, but there were still plenty of hardy sellers manning their tables both Saturday and the following Sunday.
For both Saturday and Sunday, dozens of local car clubs, representing all facets of the hobby, put on their shows, some of them calling pit and paddock space their home for the weekend, while others were spread out among the pedestrian concourses in the stadium seating area. There were a variety of Chevrolet-themed clubs, including those for Corvettes, Camaros, Corvairs, and other Bow-Tie legends. Clubs for muscle cars, Mustangs, Galaxies, Internationals, Opels, Chryslers, BMWs, Toyotas, and plenty of other makes, models, types, and perhaps just some like-minded gearheads who like to hang out.
Truly an event like no other, AutoFair remained a fantastic experience, even with the less-than-perfect weather. We have posted some photos below to give you just a glimpse of what that experience can be.
The Hornets Nest Region returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Fall Charlotte AutoFair from September 6-9, 2018.