Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 1, 2003
It may have been slim pickins in the show field with just five late-model and one vintage Mustang, but there were Mustangs everywhere else at the Year One Bristol Bash. We saw everything from mid-'80s hatches to '03 Cobras strutting their stuff down the 1,320 and around the SCCA-designed road course. With the addition of the new Year One '65-'73 Mustang catalog and the Bristol Bash annual growth expectations, Mustang presence should be even bigger in 2003.

Horse Sense:
If we didn't get a picture of your 'Stang at the '02 Bristol Bash, or you just want to see more coverage, check out www.yearone.com/bristolbash/bristol.htm. We enjoyed this year's event so much, we're looking forward to becoming even more involved in 2003. Keep an eye on our 5.0 News column for show dates.

Attending automotive events isn't always the fun it's cracked up to be. Usually when a car show or drag race pops up on the Houlahan family calendar, the wife and kids are jumping over each other to make excuses why they can't come with me. Now, I'm a fun guy to be around, but more often than not, these events put the car first and the attendees second. That may seem like the right thing to do, but if you want to get your family involved in the event, it's not. Take it from a veteran of those long, silent drives home.

For clubs, the "car is the star" perception typically holds true as well. After all, if you didn't have a great fondness for a certain car, you wouldn't be in the club, owning one or more vehicles and attending the shows that promote that make or model. For years, events basically boiled down to a bunch of married men, by themselves, spit-polishing their cars for a judge, or tinkering with their engine for the next race. Even if the wife did show up, she sat in the show car reading, or in the tow vehicle keeping herself busy. This is not the way to a happy, lengthy marriage. Thus many fans, after showing their cars for a season or two, ended up selling them-or driving them, which isn't a bad thing, of course.

When the folks at Year One came up with the idea for the Fall Automotive Nationals and the Bristol Bash, the first item on their agenda was family involvement. The first year's event had many family-oriented activities, including a children's play area and tours of the Bristol Motor Speedway. There was also hot racing action, autocross cone busting, and a show-car area full of everything from '60s musclecars to new performance cars such as Firebirds and-of course-Mustangs. The event was a hit, and everyone seemed to come away happy.

Our drive to the Bristol Bash began with one of the Year One caravans (ours originated in Tampa, Florida). By far the longest trip, we drove to Year One's offices in Georgia on Thursday, and then left Friday morning for Bristol, Tennessee. Our group had 60-plus cars in it, and was a sight to see. Those of us driving modern cars such as the 3g GT didn't have to gas up as much as the vintage guys. Gotta love that overdrive!

Fast forward to the second-annual Bristol Bash held in October 2002. Plans for this event had been in the works practically since the day after the '01 event had ended. While the first Bristol Bash was a success, Year One president Kevin King and his staff wanted the '02 event to be even better-not just "more cars" better, and not even so much "more attendance" better, but "more family-oriented" better. For 2002, Kevin set out to enhance the show with many activities for the entire family.

The '02 version saw the introduction of go-cart racing for the kids; a full-size ice-skating rink; Hot Wheels giveaways, trading, and racing; and a slot-car racing track. Additional fun was added to the children's play area with more slides and moon-walk rides, a rock-climbing wall, and the return of face painting and clowns. For the adults, there were tours of the facility and a NASCAR racing simulator featuring Sierra's excellent NASCAR Racing game. For the ladies, there was a tower suite dedicated to giving manicures (shouldn't they be called womanicures?) and hand massages, along with a shuttle to the nearby Bristol Mall for shopping. Adults were also welcome to enjoy the slot-car racing and ice-skating. Of course, there was plenty of racing action, as well as the car show and the competition for the Year One Cup and its $5,000 gift certificate.

These additional activities were a much welcome change of pace to the usual events we visit throughout the year, and the smiling faces and large number of couples and families in attendance told us this is an event not to be missed. Best of all, the gate entry fee pays for everything (except food, of course). You get the fun of a fair, but with a theme-park pricing structure-no ride tickets to buy, no "sorry, you can't have your face painted because we spent all our money on other stuff," and so on.

So keep your calendar open for October 2003, and we'll see you there.

Racing action was hot and heavy Friday afternoon and all day Saturday at Bristol, with everything from street cars to vintage Funny Cars in attendance. There were plenty of chances to see history go down the track with exhibition passes by famous racers from the '60s. Lots of Mustangs, as well as the mandatory jet car or two, were there as well.

The rain may have dampened the drag racers' spirits, but the road racers in the group smiled all the way around the course. Set up by the Eastern Tennessee Region of the SCCA (www.etrscca.org), the road course saw plenty of Mustang action too. The Year One staffer who owns this red GT was one of several Mustang owners not afraid to push their Mustangs' adhesion and braking limits in the wet stuff.

Another alternative to the cancelled Sunday drag racing involved the scale-model vehicles. A large track was set up in the main vendor area where up to eight racers could challenge each other for awards and bragging rights. Open to kids and adults alike, the booth was busy all weekend with fans who like to turn left.

Every child who entered the gate for the Bristol Bash received a coupon for a free Hot Wheels car (redeemable on site). The kids were encouraged to bring their own cars as well since Year One had a Hot Wheels trading area that included a racetrack, manned here by Year One staffers. The track (designed similar to a Boy Scout Pinewood Derby track) allowed several cars to race at once.

Chuck Hanson (foreground) and Joe Elmore of Horsepower TV were at the '02 Bristol Bash. The previous year, the TV duo had a match race in equally prepared "Black Bird" Firebirds. Chuck won then, but for 2002 they moved up the ladder class-wise to a pair of identical (save for the color) Mustang GT convertibles. Joe took Chuck in the first race, but Chuck stepped up his program and took the next two for a best two-out-of-three finish, making him the winner two years running. Watch for Bristol Bash coverage on both Horsepower TV and Hot Rod TV.

New to the kids' zone, which included face painting, a clown, and moon-walk rides, was this rock-climbing wall. Popular with the preteens as well as the younger crowd, the attraction was busy all weekend with adventure-seeking children.

For those who enjoy their racing in front of their home PC, the opportunity to race against real opponents in the NASCAR simulator was a tough one to walk away from. This semitrailer held races all weekend long in full racing rigs that included steering wheels, shifters, racing seats, and more. It was a great place in which to stay dry on Sunday and talk smack against your friend's racing abilities. A visit here is a must for 2003.

The awards presentation on Sunday was under the Year One tent (except for the Year One Cup, which is announced at the base of the track tower). Each winner drove his or her car in, accepted the award, had a photo taken, and then pulled through. Year One, after only the second outing, really has the event down to a science with few, if any, noticeable snags. The Year One Cup was a difficult choice, but in the end a (gulp) nice Chevy II with a Corvette LS1 engine in it took home the beautiful crystal cup and the $5,000 Year One gift certificate. Next year, the Mustangs will have to step it up to take the cup.

Mustangs Making Their MovesWhile only in its second year, we've already seen an increase in Mustang and Ford-powered attendance at Bristol Bash, and we wanted to let you know that several of these vehicle owners even took home awards. Congratulations are in order for these fine individuals waving the Blue Oval flag.Car Show '79-current Mustang classWinner: Paul Hall Jr., '01 Mustang, First Place

True Street Competition (37-mile cruise with three back-to-back passes)Winner: Nick Yarber, '95 Mustang Cobra (supercharged 347), Second-Place times of 10.64, 10.74, and 10.77 (average time 10.72)

Muscle on the Mountain (Open to any car Year One sells parts for. The car must be titled and registered, with current insurance)'79-current Mustang classWinner: Richard Markland, '87Mustang LX, 11.026 at 119.94 mph 5.0