Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
National Parts Depot: Pony Trail Cruise
National Parts Depot held its annual Pony Trail cruise on Friday, January 10th followed by its huge 20th-annual weekend car show at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida. NPD’s police-escorted cruise goes from its main warehouse in Ocala through miles of horse farm country (about 68 miles) with the destination of scenic Cedar Key. Round trip, the cruise takes about three hours and it is well worth it.
It was still dark out when I got out of bed to get the day started right for NPD’s annual Mustang cruise. To get ready, it was time to quickly wash the ’06 Mustang GT, fuel ‘er on up, and make the hour plus trip up I-75 to NPD’s main warehouse in Ocala.
While feeding the beast at the pump, my glasses became unhinged with the smallest of screws nowhere to be found. With one arm still keeping them on my face, I would have to worry with it once I made it to my destination.
Coming up to the exit for National Parts Depot, I could stop checking the GPS as I pulled up behind a herd of Mustangs obviously heading toward the same location. Once there, I pulled into a parking lot and was greeted by a sea of Mustangs in all shapes, colors and generations and with an hour left to spare.
Luckily, upon trying to find some tape (yes, tape) to rig up my glasses, a lady named Yvette kindly brought me over to her Dove Grey Fox-body sitting in the parking lot where she fixed me on up with her glasses kit. Pointing to her husband, Tony, she said she needed to be prepared for such situations and, man, am I thankful for that. Tony – stay clumsy, my friend.
With a little time to kill, it was time to check out the ponies in attendance and a few had already caught my eye. Among the blue ovals was the only 2013 Saleen S351 prototype painted bright Orange County Orange, Shelby vehicles old and new, countless modified GTs, a handful of new Boss 302s, a couple old-school resto-mods, classic ‘Stangs for days, Foxes, and more. That doesn’t include the rare cars that grace the inside of NPD’s exclusive car collection which I just had to browse.
Once everyone had their fill of donuts, coffee, and social time, Rick Schmidt, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at NPD, pulled us in close for a quick meeting to make sure everyone was familiar with the cruise rules.
Once everyone was updated, it was time to saddle up and roll out. Leaving the warehouse, police escorts kept every intersection and stop sign blocked so we could all stay together as a herd as best as possible.
Being sunny and in the 70s, the weather was beyond perfect for January despite the misty morning up the interstate. With 150+ plus cars manning the back roads, roadside workers gawked at the amount of ponies and old Fords galloping through the area. Windows and convertible tops were all down as we cruised our way in to Cedar Key.
Now, Cedar Key isn’t a busy place by any means, but a small coastal town on the Gulf full of great restaurants and fantastic scenery. Residents must have been expecting us as they sat outside in lawn chairs, waved and welcomed us as we rumbled our way into town.
We met up for lunch at Steamers (excellent place if you ever get the chance) and took in the town as the fog was still making way for the sun to shine on the water. After hanging out with other Mustang folks and some of the NPD guys, we made our way back to our cars to make the scenic trip back to Ocala to get ready for the weekend’s show.
With that said, be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s Pony Trail. We will be sure to give you the dates as soon as we receive them.