The pulsating throb of hundreds of dual exhausts rumble as Ford after Ford rolls into the Texas Motorplex like so many packages leaving a warehouse. Eventually the cars and crowds swelled to more than 750 strong which stacked the pits and filled the parking lots of the storied track. This was no traditional heads-up race or regulated show, however. There were no fees, no registrations, and no worries for the masses of Mustang & Lightning owners looking to show up and shine!
That parade of power set the stage for a two-day celebration of Blue Oval machinery hosted by the enthusiasts that run Late Model Restoration. This is the company's fourth-annual cruise-in, which has overgrown previous locales and graduated to this massive facility in the Lone Star State to boast both a casual show and shine, and fast-paced drag racing— Texas style! This event was not only a yearly celebration, but also a way to blow out the candles on a significant milestone for the company.
This year the event offered a relaxed cruise-in, a rev contest, drag racing, goody bags, product giveaways, and opportunity to check out the LMR project cars and mingle with the company staff. No money changed hands. It was all about the hang.
LMR's slogan is 'Powered by Enthusiasts,' and that was readily apparent as the enthusiasts on staff and customers participating both seemed to enjoy the event with equal vigor. For the staff, it offers a chance to put faces with the names they hear on the phone or see on the screen, which is an extension of the company's laser-focus on customer service.
Enthusiasm certainly runs rampant, among the staff and the customers. The LMR Cruise-In 2019 embodies that spirit. From its laid-back operation to its customer-centric focus, the event drew everything from in-progress projects to the latest bolt-on machines and everything in between. The variety was just so cool to soak in, so if you are within driving distance of Texas and you are a Ford fan you owe it to yourself to check it out in the years to come.
Founded on Foxes, LMR now serves all 1979-present Mustangs and as well as the first- and second-gen Lightning crew, so it was particularly poignant when a big group of cars from the North Texas Fox Body Club came rolling in. Foxes are where LMR started, and are still a foundation of the company's business today.
Adolfo Castillo Jr. made the 673-mile journey from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Motorplex with the express intend of having LMR founder Shannon Guderian sign his dash. Mission accomplished for the owner of a 1-of-62 2003 Roush 360R. He buys all his upgrades from LMR, and the slammed New Edge looks great as a result.
"You're fulfilling customer's dreams with product." LMR founder Shannon said of his company's services. "That's what we're doing. 'Cause when he is sitting around in his garage with his buddy, all he's managing is that rush. He's getting that buzz of excitement. That brings me joy." Shannon brought a little joy of his own, when he signed the dash of Adolfo's car.
The laid-back atmosphere of the LMR Cruise-In encourages a wide variety of cars to show up, including those projects that are still in process. Jeff Gilland, a member of the aforementioned North Texas Fox Body Club, still has big plans for his 1993 Mustang. He is going for a '79 Pace Car vibe with the car.
Catching up with Felix Lopez, as he touched up the finish on his 2016 Mustang GT, we learned that he tries to make the six-hour trip from Laredo, Texas, to the Cruise-In every year. His car features several bolt-ons, including an upgraded exhaust, which he showed off during the Rev Contest.
One of the performance pickup fans at the Cruise-In described it as the best Lightning event around, and it was hard to argue with the turnout of SVT trucks at the show. The first-gen trucks made a particularly strong showing at the Motorplex. "Lightnings are just so closely related that that you can't exclude them from the family. That's what it is," Shannon said. "And they need a place to rest because not only are they Lightning guys, they value Mustang enough that they don't, they don't mind sharing the land."
Andrew Perry and Blanca Selgado shared a special moment at the Cruise-In when they and the crowd learned the couple would have a little girl when the plumes of pink smoke billowed from the rear tires of an LMR Roush Mustang on the Texas Motorplex starting line.
The excitement continued when Andrew proposed to Blanca in front of the crowd. She said 'Yes!' And so, another family of enthusiasts comes together right before our eyes.
"I think we've got the largest collection of enthusiasts in a true Mustang company," Shannon said of LMR employee cars. " When you look in the parking lot, it's real." LMR video host Landon Durham is undoubtedly one of the faces of LMR and is truly an enthusiast himself; not only did he work as the official face guy for the track and other events, he was driving project cars down the strip, hosting the rev contest, and shaking hands throughout the entire event.
Jose Franco is the frontman for the 5.0 Addicts club in Corpus Christi, Texas. Open to all Mustangs, the club focuses on hosting events to raise money for children's charities. He made the trip up in his 1993 Mustang LX, which began life as a four-banger, but is now powered by a 306ci 5.0L with a Cobra intake and an upgraded camshaft.
Bryan Mertz used the track time to help dial in his ProCharged 2015 Mustang GT. His S550 features a Tremec Magnum six-speed swap, Viking coilovers, upgraded halfshafts, and more. It puts down 730 horsepower to the rear wheels on pump gas and over 800 on race gas.
One of the most unique vehicles at the LMR Cruise-In 2019 was Ryan Zelazny's 1995 SVT Lightning. Rolling on 2014 Shelby GT500 Performance Pack wheels, the classic truck is powered by a 7.3L diesel engine from a 1997 F-250.
Scott Springer was on hand with his awesome, Highland Green 2019 Mustang Bullitt. He put the company's debuted-at-the-show line of SVE drag wheels to the test on the 1,320 with his great machine. Apart from having fun running mid-12s, Scott's skilled driving and hard launches snapped the driver side factory half shaft on the starting line. An upgrade is definitely in his future.
It's not too often you see a 1979 Mustang Cobra, especially one with the optional V8. James Gram brought out his sharp example, which features a freshened 302ci, a T-5 five-speed swap, and a '97 Mustang GT suspension and wheels. The car even repped for the 1979 model year in Ford's 50 years SEMA video a couple years ago. James made this year's anniversary Cruise-In his first show after relocating back to Texas from Washington State.
Photography by Steve Turner