Jerry Heasley
June 21, 2019
Contributers: Jerry Heasley

The 2019 Mid America Ford and Shelby Nationals is THE event for Ford enthusiasts in the heart of the country, between the coasts, held in Tulsa, OK every June for the last 45 years. This event gives owners of any kind of Ford product, but especially owners of Mustangs and performance Fords including Shelby Mustangs and Cobras, a chance to road race, drag race, be judged at a car show, and cruise.

Early registration began on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at the host hotel, the Southern Hills Marriott, then road racing began on Thursday, June 13th, 35 miles west of Tulsa at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit and continued through Friday. Friday night was the banquet, followed on Saturday by drag racing at Tulsa Raceway Park, and finally the car show took place on Sunday to close out the event that is known simply as "Tulsa" to regular attendees.

Vintage Road Race Winner is Jeff Garrett in a 1967 coupe.

For 2019, Tulsa had its problems, but if you're going to have problems, have good problems, like cars "wrapping around out on Lewis," an entrance road to the car show. Event organizer Randy Robers said, "Twice we blocked the roads and got in trouble with traffic."

A similar problem plagued the Cruise Night on Thursday, June 13th, the first day of Mid-America. Police on motorcycles escorted the cruise from the hotel to the brick streets of the Brady Arts District downtown.

"Cruise Night was stupid. We couldn't even park them all. We just kind of gave up at the end and they had to find their own (parking space)," Roberts commented.

Second Place was Jason Childress in his prolific Gateway Classic Mustang '67 coupe.

The event kicked off on Wednesday, June 12th at the host hotel with early registration, but the real start, problem-wise, was 7:30 AM the next morning at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Roberts said, "We filled the track with 125 cars. That's the number we cap it at and we hit capacity both Thursday and Friday."

Participants raced (the races are actually "exhibitions") in groups 1, 2, and 3, which presented another problem: Group 1 is race-prepped and group 3 is beginner. In the middle is group 2, which was so large that next year it will have to be divided into two different groups. Friday at Hallett packed the stands around the track to watch the two feature races—er, exhibitions—one for vintage Fords (Vintage Exhibition), and one for late models (Late Model Technology).

Friday's major problem was getting back to Tulsa for the big banquet. Mid-America likes to get this lallapaloosa-style dinner, complete with speakers, movies, and about a thousand door prizes. People complain the banquet goes on too long, but we didn't see anyone leaving early.

Third Place was Steve Coleman in a 1969 Boss 302.

Saturday, drag race day, usually kicks off in the morning, but the threat of rain forced Roberts to move the start time to 2:00 PM. Newsflash: it didn't rain all day, but the later time proved popular with the participants. Overcast skies held down the temperature to the 80s, almost a freeze-warning for Tulsa in June. The stands were pleasantly full, the highway patrol got called three times for blocking the road to the entrance to Tulsa Raceway Park, and the Ford tee shirt giveaway set a record.

The track closed that night just before 10:00 PM under a full moon, which was still visible early Sunday morning for the car show with more problems stemming from more record-setting that recalled Mid-America in those halcyon days of the 1970s and 1980s.

Like we said, if you're going to have problems, make sure they're good problems, like they were at the 2019 Mid-America Ford and Shelby Nationals! In this story are all the photos from Day One of the show, at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit on Thursday and Friday. Stay tuned for the action from the drag racing, cruise, and car show portions of the show coming soon!

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Photography by Jerry Heasley