Honoring cars, body and soul

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Traditionally in awards shows, presenting an Oscar, Emmy or

Grammy involves handing an inanimate object - a petite statuette - to an

animate object, such as a person.

The AutoRox awards are different. In the first place, there will be no red

carpet parade for the nominees, but rather a "red driveway." The nominees will

be dressed not by Dior but by Detroit. And there will be no boring acceptance

speeches, because the winners will all be cars.

For example, in the "Chick Magnet" category - one of 13 - the 1974 Jaguar

XK-E type, if it gets the nod, will be piloted from its parking spot in an

airplane hangar in Los Angeles to the podium. Perhaps the Jag will have its

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throttle blipped - a short snort through the exhaust. But no "thank yous."

SpikeTV is the driving force behind the AutoRox ceremonies, which are to be

televised tonight at 9 and in part reflect the public's growing appetite for

TV shows about autos. The network is no stranger to car-guy programming: it has

"Ride With Funkmaster Flex" and "Car and Driver Television," among others.

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Actually, there will be an exception to the sheet-metal honorees - a human

named Carroll Shelby, who will be toasted as the first AutoRox Automotive Icon.

Shelby is the legendary designer and builder of the Cobra, one of the

fastest production cars ever made. A driver of some repute, he was part of the

team that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. A heart ailment later sidelined

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him to the pits.

"I confess, I don't know what the hell an icon is," the 82-year-old Shelby

said last week from Los Angeles. "When you do something you want to do, you get

up every morning and spend 14 or 16 hours doing it."

Perhaps the ultimate American car guy, Shelby was one of the few in the

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industry to meld his competitive acumen with commercial savvy. His modified

Mustangs of the late '60s were hugely successful. Later, he followed his old

boss Lee Iacocca from Ford to Chrysler Corp.

"I've been a consultant back with Ford for three years now," he said,

"where we're working on a Shelby version of the new Mustang." Not only that,

the Texan, who once owned a chili company, is developing a new recipe and also

is involved in a foundation to help indigent children with heart or kidney

problems.

At Touracos, the Car of the Year '05 award pits American muscle against

German thrust, with a small bouquet to the British. From Detroit comes the

Covey Corvette and new Mustang GET; from Stuttered, the monster Mercedes-Benz

SILK AM and Parsec 911 Carrier S. Rounding out the class is the nimble Lotus

Elise from the United Kingdom.

Spike commissioned a panel of writers, designers and enthusiasts to

nominate the vehicles, and the list was posted on a Web site in late November

for public voting. Among the nominators were race car driver Tunica Patrick,

Mark Gullies of Automobile magazine, Rolls-Royce chief stylist Mark Daredevil

and Will Castro, who designs and builds custom jobs for celebs at Unique

Gosports of Long Island in Bohemia.

The awards, which were taped on Saturday night, will feature a performance

by Kid Rock. And in case you thought the weird factor of Touracos wasn't weird

enough, Carmen Electra will be the host.

[CORRECTION: Because of an editing error using a spell-check program, the final

three paragraphs of a television story on the AutoRox Awards in yesterday's

Part 2 contained a series of errors. The paragraphs should have read:

At AutoRox, the Car of the Year '05 award pits American muscle against

German thrust, with a small bouquet to the British. From Detroit comes the

Chevy Corvette and new Mustang GT; from Stuttgart, the monster Mercedes-Benz

SLK AMG and Porsche 911 Carrera S. Rounding out the class is the nimble Lotus

Elise from the United Kingdom.

Spike commissioned a panel of writers, designers and enthusiasts to

nominate the vehicles, and the list was posted on a Web site in late November

for public voting. Among the nominators were race car driver Danica Patrick,

Mark Gillies of Automobile magazine, Rolls-Royce chief stylist Marek Djordjevic

and Will Castro, who designs and builds custom jobs for celebs at Unique

Autosports of Long Island in Bohemia.

The awards, which were taped on Saturday night, will feature a performance

by Kid Rock. And in case you thought the weird factor of AutoRox wasn't weird

enough, Carmen Electra will be the host.pg. A22 ALL 01/26/05]

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