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DECATUR - For anyone who has ever built a car or motorcycle, whether for shows or races, you know it's a labor of love.

Only true love can endure the time spent getting every last detail right. And that's not to mention the dollars spent.

All the above, and more, is true for Decatur's Larry Bullock, winner of the Herald & Review's online Hot Wheels contest. Area auto aficionados were asked to submit photos of their prized possessions, and readers of the H&R Web site voted on their favorite.

Bullock's 1967 Chevrolet Camaro has without a doubt been a labor of love since he purchased it in 1975 and used exclusively for drag racing until the late-'90s.

"When I bought it, it was partially wrecked," Bullock said. "We started racing it in late 1975 or early 1976.

"Most of the work was hired out. The roll cage was done by Dave Russell, and the race motor was built, and rebuilt, every year by K-Motion Racing in Lafayette, Ind."

Bullock raced his Camaro throughout the Midwest, achieving a 6.15-second, 110-mile-per-hour run on an eighth-mile track, and a 9.75-second, 135-plus mile-per-hour run on a quarter-mile.

Of course, for the 66-year-old Bullock, racing has been in his blood for some 50 years.

"I'd been drag racing since I was 16," he said. "I had put together a '62 Chevy, a '66 'Vette and then a '65 'Vette.

"Then I settled down for a while and had kids until I got this car.

"Around '97 or '98, we bought the motorhome and couldn't afford both, so the Camaro was retired."

That's not to say that it still isn't capable of another squirt down the track, though.

For his 60th birthday, Bullock took the Camaro for a run down the dragstrip. In July, he brought it out again for a burnout at the Veterans War Memorial Charity Car Show at Decatur's Chevrolet Hall of Fame Museum, where the car is now on display and where the award-winning photo was taken.

Longtime friend Randy Flaugher submitted the photo of Bullock's Camaro doing the burnout. When submitting the photo, Flaugher wrote:

"Larry and his car have been retired from drag racing for many years. Larry decided to return his car to service (for one day only) in honor of the Veterans War Memorial Charity Car Show, which was held at the Chevrolet Hall of Fame Museum in Decatur.

"The car show took place on July 18, 2009, which is the date this picture was taken. Larry demonstrates very clearly that he still knows how to put his foot into it and that his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro is still capable of delivering a lively response."

Bullock's Camaro has certainly provided him a lifetime of memories.

"It was kind of a relief from work," he said. "It was a way to get away from the routine of running your own business."

rpansch@herald-review.com|421-6983Other winners:

Second Place

Terry and Lisa Robbins

MAKE/MODEL: 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback

Third Place

Adam Fritzgerald

MAKE/MODEL: 2001 GMC Sonoma

LENGTH OF BUILD: 3½ years

BUILDER(S): Adam and (his father) Greg Fritzgerald

OTHER VENDORS: Decatur Automotive Finishes, suicidedoors.com

POINTS OF INTEREST: "The first year and a half I spent redoing the chassis to make it into an air ride suspension, and for the rest of the time I spent doing the custom body work, building a custom enclosure for the bed, and then painting. For me to complete the project, I spent nearly $7,000 over that time.

"I did the entire project by myself with help from my father Greg Fritzgerald.

"As for other information, I had to do a lot of extra modifications in order for me to finish this project. This includes everything from notching out part of the bottom of the cab to make room for the drive shaft, to cutting out 12 inches of frame and welding in a step notch that allows the rear axle to go higher and, in turn, lets the frame of the truck sit on the ground.

"Also, instead of springs and coils for suspension, I have air bags that let me control the ride height. For the body work, I have shaved off the door handles, the third brake light and the antennae. I also welded-up the tailgate and welded in a crooked license plate holder.

"This paint job was my first overall custom paint job, and I created the design myself.

"During the time that I was working on this project, I was attending Millikin University, where I received my bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in chemistry in 2009, while working for ADM Corporate Maintenance."

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