October 7, 2009

Coming to Milan, Michigan, for the third year now, the 6th Annual Aeromotive NMRA Ford Nat-ionals brought a compacted schedule and cooler weather to the event for the first time. The compacted schedule, while surely a money saver for the NMRA, allowed local enthusiasts, as well as the racers and spectators, to enjoy the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday (the NMRA event was held Friday and Saturday only this year). This meant only two days of racing, late into the evening, and only a single car show day on Saturday. We thought the reduced schedule was a great idea, and apparently so did the racers. Saturday's car show was down a bit from past events due to the threat of rain (which drizzled on us for maybe 10 minutes), but nonetheless, the turnout of cars was impressive. From '60s era muscle to the latest and greatest from Ford, there was certainly a lot of interesting Ford iron in the car show area; ably run by the NMRA's Lisa Bodrey and the Milan event's host club, the Motor City Terminators (www.motorcityterminators.org/).

Of course this also marks the third year of the Ford Racing Invitational as well. With FoMoCo right in Milan's backyard (Ford and Ford Racing have been known to come out on test-n-tune nights with products like the new EcoBoost powered Flex and the FR500CJ), it's one of the best NMRA events for a Ford fanatic to really see the newest rides coming from Ford. Not only were there a bunch of great-looking Mustangs on display for the Invitational drivers (including yours truly, but more on that later), but also an EcoBoost Lincoln MKS, two F-150 Raptors, F-Series Harley Davidson models, the new 2011 Fiesta (in UK trim), and more. If you're within a day's drive of the Milan event you owe it to yourself to check this one out, and don't forget to bring the family.

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For the third year now Ford Racing has invited select Mustang magazines to participate in its annual Ford Racing Invitational, where we get to beat on its products and come away with a better understanding of what it has in store for Mustang owners like you. From suspensions to exhaust, blowers to wheels, the lineup of Mustangs it had featured many of the top-selling products. Even a few '10 Mustangs were available, including a GT500. We scored this yellow '08 example (see below), wearing big brakes, suspension, GT Supercar wheels (fronts at all four corners), and the Ford Racing/Whipple supercharger. Defending our win from last year meant coming in hard and not giving up an inch, while also learning to drive a new car with 550 hp. Qualifying went down on Friday, where we got several runs in. My best light, a 0.094, put me right in the middle of the ladder, getting me in the lanes first thing Saturday for eliminations. Coming into the water box, I was lined up with Sam Abuelsamid from Autoblog.com, someone I put on the trailer last year on my way to the winner's circle. I guess that payback-is-a-you-know-what saying holds true, as I came out of the burnout and staged the yellow GT and promptly sputtered off the line when the tree came down. Turns out our failure to launch wasn't entirely my fault as I realized upon hitting the return road I had lost the serpentine belt (no power steering, water pump, or alternator). So I had no blower either and the engine didn't quite run how it should when I mashed the go pedal, screwing up my launch. At least the trophy did stay with the Source Interlink Media Tampa, Florida, office (Steve Baur from Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords went all the way this year) and we hope to get it back next year. Check out our website for more photos of the Invitational shenanigans.

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Modified Mustangs & Fords Editor's Choice
Andy Braden's '07 Mustang GT Coupe

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When we walked up to Andy Braden's Mustang, the first thing that caught our eyes was the custom upholstery. It's easy to bolt on a cold-air induction kit, or a brake package and a set of 20-inch wheels, but we get a little disappointed when the interior remains untouched (we feel the car should be modified as a whole, not just power, or just handling, and so on). Even back in the Fox Mustang days we'd see all sorts of power under the hood, suspension mods of all manners, yet the stock gray Fox interior. So we were already excited to see the nice upholstery work and other interior bits when we started talking to Andy, only to find out that as a person of young age, he's paying for the GT and all of the mods himself.

Sure, pop had to co-sign the loan, but Andy is responsible for the monthly payments, maintenance, insurance, and so forth, and he finds a few extra dollars in his paycheck from time to time to modify his baby to his liking. Speak- ing of mods, Andy's pretty much worked his GT from fascia to fascia with body upgrades (such as head-light splitters, wing, chin spoiler, hoodscoop, stripes, and more), suspension enhancements, and a set of Enkei LS-5 wheels that set the car off just right too. There's even more under the hood where you'll find custom airbrush work, a cold-air kit, Midwest Composites strut covers, a body color intake cover, and other subtle mods. But don't take it from us. Besides our Editor's Choice award Andy walked away with the show's Best Interior trophy. See, we weren't the only ones who noticed Andy's interior!