Concord’s John Wayne Stowe’s 1969 Ford Torino Talladega takes home Walt Hollifield Best of Show at AutoFair

A local car enthusiast with strong NASCAR ties, Stowe found his way to Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway with his carefully restored 1969 Ford Torino Talladega
John Wayne Stowe, of Concord, and his 1969 Ford Torino Talladega won the prestigious Walt...
John Wayne Stowe, of Concord, and his 1969 Ford Torino Talladega won the prestigious Walt Hollifield Best of Show award at the Charlotte AutoFair.(CMS/John Davison)
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 2:02 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Concord native John Wayne Stowe and his 1969 Ford Torino Talladega took home the Walt Hollifield Best of Show title and a one-of-a-kind custom trophy from Cold Hard Art as the fall AutoFair wrapped up at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Stowe is no stranger to Charlotte Motor Speedway, having attended races at the famed 1.5-mile superspeedway since the mid-1960s. For a time, he even lived on the property with legendary NASCAR mechanic Harry Hyde. But in all those years, Stowe said he never imagined seeing himself in Victory Lane, his car crowned king of the world’s largest auto extravaganza.

While the Torino Talladega is a rare find – by Stowe’s count, only 742 were ever built, and only about 90 remain today – it always held a special place in his heart.

“I’ve been in racing most of my life,” Stowe said. “I’ve seen Richard Petty and David Pearson drive the same car. My dad had one, so I wanted one, but thought I’d never get one. A guy down in Atlanta called me and told me he had one. I went down there the next day to get it, sight unseen.

“It was in a bucket. I paid $7,500 for it. I did the whole restoration myself – the motor, the transmission, the whole works.”

Despite years of meticulous work to bring the car back to its former glory, Stowe was stunned to win the Charlotte AutoFair’s most prestigious award.

“I’ve taken it to car shows all over the place, but it’s never won anything because people don’t know what it is. The car never wins. When you get the Best of Show, it really just turns your stomach and your nerves. It felt like a NASCAR win.”

The one-of-a-kind trophy, which stands nearly four feet tall, was constructed on-site during the three-day AutoFair weekend using parts found throughout the show’s expansive vendor areas by fabricator, artist and gearhead Thomas Patsis from Cold Hard Art.

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Three days of family-friendly fun and glistening cars throughout Charlotte’s 1.5-mile superspeedway also included drift car rides, world-renowned chainsaw artist Mountain Mike, and displays saluting iconic cars like a screen-used Corvette from “Animal House” movie and a 1966 Batmobile replica complete with a jet turbine engine, among other stunning vehicles.

In addition to the Walt Hollifield Best of Show, on Sunday, judges presented specialty awards to:

  • Best of Show Runner-up: Kelly and Keith Cross, 1961 Chevrolet Corvette
  • Best of Show Second Runner-up: Matt Timberlake, 2018 Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5
  • Best Foreign Car Award: Patrick On, 2020 Toyota GR Supra
  • Best Millennial Car Award: Angela Naff, 2022 Tesla Model S
  • Best Restoration Award: Keith Robertson, 1959 Ford Fairlane 500
  • Sam Bass Award (Best Paint): Phil Heitman, 1966 AMC Marlin
  • Best Truck Award: Cindy Lisk, 2018 Ford F150
  • Most Creative: Heath King, 2017 Chevrolet Camaro

TICKETS:

Fans can purchase tickets to upcoming speedway events, including the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 23-25 and the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 action, Oct. 7-9, online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).