Jerry Heasley
June 18, 2015

Nothing but Fords here, and that’s why they call this event the All-Ford Nationals. This clever arrangement began at The Fairgrounds on Thursday June 4 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, ending Sunday June 7.

On Tuesday, back at work after a day to recover, we reflected on the wonders of that weekend—free T-shirts from pretty girls at Ford’s display, we finally got to see the new Shelby G.T.350R in person, there was a bikini contest on Saturday afternoon to pick the new Ms. Carlisle, saw the 730-horsepower Saleen S302 Black Label Mustang, seminars with Ford legends, an autocross on the grounds, plus meeting up with old friends, and tons more stuff.

2015 turned out to be a multi-anniversary year: 10 for the Ford GT, 60 for Thunderbird, and 50 for Shelby Mustang G.T.350. (I almost forgot 30 for the Mercury Merkur, a short-lived marque that was better than the European cars of 1985-1989.) To top off this anniversary year, 2015 was the 20th anniversary of the All-Ford Nationals at Carlisle.

Over 100,000 people tramped over the grounds from Thursday through Sunday. People packed the grounds Saturday, the big day.
Don’t have a vendor space to sell parts and you only have one part? This man carried a sign on his back advertising a 1968 ½ Cobra Jet carburetor. The price was high: $2,500.

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Brian Hirneisen of Reinholds, Pennsylvania electrified a vintage Mustang pedal car to tow a wagon that was his shopping cart. The 24-volt battery “goes all day.”

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2015 was also the 10th anniversary of the Ford GT. Marci Cipriani and Joseph Limongelli (GT Joey, who drove his Ford GT around the world) co-wrote two books on the Ford GT.
The asking price for this 1969 Mach 1 with 351 and shaker was $75,000. The car appeared restored.

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The star of the 2015 All-Ford Nationals was Chuck Cantwell, project engineer on both the original GT350 street Mustang and the GT350 Competition (known as the R-model).
Douglas Fox showed his 1968 fastback powered by a ram air 428 Cobra Jet.
Charles Morris introduced Hubert Platt, one of Ford’s factory team drivers in the 1960s. Morris gave a detailed overall description of Ford’s drag racing program from the 1960s. His book, “Ford Drag Team,” is full of great information.
After his introduction, Hubert Platt joked with the crowd, “Well, Charles Morris said it all. I’ll just sit down.” At 83, “The Georgia Peach” is still a showman full of fire and life. He likes to tell racing stories. Platt called his Ford salary of $15,000 per year, “a license to steal” in the 1960s. My favorite Platt story is about a card game in which he supposedly “won the girl” with a good hand.

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The search for Ms. Carlisle was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Kristen Batchelor (center) won. Julie Tirenna (left) and Samantha Davidavage placed second and third.
One of the many historic drag racing cars in Don Fezel’s collection, this ’71 429 SCJ Mustang SS/E drag car with 192 miles, wowed enthusiasts in Building T. Paint and interior and driveline are all original, a great survivor of the Super Stock wars.
Steve Saleen signs a shirt for a kid. Saleen has to be the top autograph in the Ford hobby since Carroll Shelby left us.
Ford displayed their new GT350 R model. Brandon Badel (an enthusiast I met at Carlisle who has a chance to buy one from his dealer) says production will be limited to 100.
At Carlisle, Saleen introduced their new Mustang S302 Black Label with a mind-blowing 730 horsepower. There is also a White and a Yellow Label Mustang, which is all about performance, not color.
Carlisle has an autocross course and spectators get a full view of the track from the grandstands on a hill high above the course.

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Burnouts get insane in front of thousands of cheering fans in the grandstands. The winner gets a new set of tires.
On Saturday night, 400 Fords paraded down Hanover Street through the center of town to park, listen to a live band, and have an old-fashioned street party.

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The Carlisle Theatre in downtown Carlisle, right where parade cars parked, ran a world premier of “Demon On Wheels,” featuring the 1968 Shelby G.T.500 KR fastback displayed below the marque. The movie is about a 64-year old mechanic restoring and later driving a ’68 Mustang he kept in a barn for 35 years.