Classic Trans Am takes the trophy at AutoFair

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Charlotte Motor Speedway: A mint-condition 1973 Pontiac Trans Am, owned by Charlotte, North Carolina resident, Mark Brantley, beat out stiff competition at the fall AutoFair and was chosen Best of Show as the four-day automotive spectacular came to a close on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 1973 Buccaneer Red Pontiac Trans Am, with almost completely original interior, was given the highest of honors as it topped all the best entries from the nearly 50 car clubs that came to AutoFair.

"It's unbelievable," said Brantley after winning Best of Show. "I didn't think I would even come close."

One of Brantley's cars had previously won Best of Show for his club, Carolina Classic Pontiac Club, but he had never placed for overall Best of Show.

The Pontiac Trans Am was originally from Maryland, but Brantley acquired the car in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. The car has been a four-year restoration project for Brantley, which certainly paid off this weekend.

Except for the carpet and dash, the entire interior is in original form. Brantley has rebuilt the engine and transmission, but has tried to keep as much of the car as original as he can. "It even has the original 8-Track and AM/FM stereo," Brantley said.

Brantley, who works as a mechanic and is on his church staff, said his first car was a Trans Am, and he has loved them ever since.

When speaking of the Best of Show winner, Fox Sports commentator Mike Joy said the Trans Am looks exactly as it would have 40 years ago in a Pontiac showroom. "I'm really proud of it," Brantley said while holding his trophy. "A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it."

The First Runner-Up Award at the AutoFair was a 1972 Opel GT driven by Keith Lundham of Cookeville, Tennessee, which also took home the award for Best Restoration by Owner. The

Second Runner-up was a 1967 Ford Fairlane GT driven by Chris and Rachael King from Minneapolis, North Carolina.

Specialty award winners included Bill Bergstrom, of Salisbury, North Carolina, winner of the Bob Laidlein Award (Most Original) for his 1941 Buick Estate Wagon; Bradley Gray, of Rockwell, North Carolina, winner of the Cabarrus Cup Award (Most Creative) for his 1956 Chevy Stepside Truck; Cleveland, North Carolina native, Brandon Garrison, winner of the Lion Cup Award (Best Paint) for his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro; and Mary Helzer, of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, who captured the Mecklenburg Strelitz Award (Ladies' Choice) for her 1976 AMC Pacer.

Each of the car clubs participating in the AutoFair was judged individually, with a Best of Show picked for each club.

The fall season of speed at Charlotte Motor Speedway continues with the Bank of America 500 race weekend from Oct. 9-11. For tickets, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit