Debra Neil knew something wasn’t right. Her customary parking spot at Cruise Night in Newport, N.H., was taken by a truck that she’d never seen before. It didn’t take her long, however, to figure out that it was the Demon of Sceamin’ himself, Steven Tyler.
Neil, a resident of Claremont, N.H., eventually parked her 1970 Chevy Camaro in its usual location, but not before getting the inside of the hood signed by the lead singer of Aerosmith.
“Hey, he was in my spot,” joked Neil, who was one of nearly 150 car owners that took part in Saturday’s 22nd annual Custom & Classic Car Show at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Vintage vehicles were lined up on the outside of “The Magic Mile” front stretch, which will host next month's SYLVANIA 300, the second race in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship on Sept. 23.
Her ’70 Camaro – which she bought for $6,800 in 2001 and has put an estimated $10,000 into – is a near identical copy to the ’74 yellow and black-striped Camaro known as "Bumblebee" in the movie Transformers.
“I’ve actually never seen the movie, but people come up to me all the time asking if it’s the same car,” said Neil. “This is a ’70 and that’s a ’74, but it’s pretty much the same car. It definitely draws a lot of attention to it because of that movie and people are fascinated by it.”
The bright car, fit with a yellow steering wheel, yellow and black dice door locks and gold-wall tires, certainly stood out. That was a difficult task given the other classics that surrounded it, such as Bob and Marie Whiting of Penacook, N.H., who showed off their 1949 Chevy 3600 truck; Roy G. Peterson of Madison, N.H., who displayed his 1932 Ford Roadster; and a 1928 Dodge Sedan, owned by Robert and Irene Marden of Gilford, N.H.
Neil and her husband, Gary, are members of the Car Nutz Car Club out of Newport, N.H., and spend April to October taking their cars to different shows throughout the Northeast. But coming to NHMS is always one of their favorite stops.
“We were here not too long ago to see (NASCAR Sprint Cup driver) Ryan Newman,” said Neil. “It’s always a lot of fun to come here and see so many new and familiar faces.”
The car, which has won over 125 trophies in competition, is constantly being tweaked and modified. Neil is hoping to replace the interior soon and may, down the road, be willing to make an even more drastic change to the classic muscle car.
“You never know, I’m always thinking about different things we can do with it,” said Neil. “Maybe someday I’ll just change the color.”
Transformers fans hope she doesn’t.