Dale Amy
October 8, 2012

Our continental weather is such that outdoor automotive events have to be shoehorned into just a few short months of the year, at least in the more northern jurisdictions. Up in Pennsylvania, they celebrate the beginning of car season in major fashion with the Carlisle Ford Nationals, typically scheduled just as the calendar flips to June. This is an all-round gathering of FoMoCo faithful that combines a huge show area with an equally expansive vendor midway, and a gigantic swap meet. It's garnished by some eighth-mile drag racing, auto-crossing, a burnout contest, a bikini contest, and a Saturday evening cruise that ends up taking over Carlisle's downtown core.

Every event has its own personality, and, despite its tremendous size, Carlisle is a laid-back, low-key affair that welcomes all Fords from Model Ts to modern GTs and everything--and we mean everything--in between. If it wears a Blue Oval or any other FoMoCo corporate logo, you're bound to find it on display here

Not surprisingly, Fox-and-up Mustangs have become dominant players on the event's massive show field in recent years. Nope, this isn't a hardcore race event, but is a great excuse to shake off the winter blues and check out thousands of other Blue Oval rides, scour for some needed parts or swag, or just enjoy some of the scenic undulating terrain of south-central Pennsylvania. The season's short, enjoy it.

Horse Sense: Hotels fill up fast for this event, so if you have any thoughts of heading to next year's Nationals (June 7-9, 2013) book your accommodations early, even if you're thinking of camping on-site.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery