Pete Epple Technical Editor
August 1, 2009
Photos By: Steve Baur, John Moore

On April 17, 1964, the automotive world changed and would never be the same. Flushing Meadows, New York was alive with activity as the World's Fair was getting underway.

The people on hand didn't yet know the significance of what they were about to see, but they witnessed history. Here Ford Motor Company first unveiled the Mustang, and it quickly became more than just a car. A cult-like following ensued and almost a half-century later, it's bigger than ever.

On April 17, 2009, Mustang fanatics from around the globe came together in Birmingham, Alabama, to attend the 45th Anniversary Celebration of our favorite ponycar--the Mustang. Thousands of Mustang enthusiasts flooded Barber Motorsports Park (BMP) for four days of festivities, all geared around the car that has united us for so many years.

As the activities began, hundreds of show cars filled the picturesque hills of BMP. Beautifully restored classics, wild customized late-models, and everything in between were on hand, bringing back memories for some and supplying ideas for others. An abundance of early Mustangs paid homage to the roots of the Pony, while the highly modified late-models exemplified how our hobby has transformed over the years.

Over the four-day celebration, the MM&FF staff met many wonderful people from all over the world. Meeting Mustang owners from 14 different countries opened our eyes to just how widespread the Mustang family has become. In addition to enthusiasts from the United States, Mustang-lovers came from as far as Aruba, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and Sweden. Members of the Mustang Club of France traveled to Atlanta and picked up 45 '10 Mustang rental cars before driving to Birmingham. The club proudly displayed its Mustang pride, lining all of its rentals up in an impressive display.

If you found time to pull yourself away from all of the incredible cars in the show, the action on the track was just as exciting. Factory-built race cars and open-track racers took to the 2.38-mile road course, testing their iron against the 80 feet of elevation changes and 17 turns. A slew of FR500Ss hit the track in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge series. The 45th anniversary celebration was a double event for the series, and a great chance for drivers to gain points in the fight for the Miller Cup. Twenty-two FR500Ss started both races, but it would be an all Ted Anthony Jr. weekend as he took the win in both races.

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The Mustang Club of France rented 45 '10 Mustangs once they landed in Atlanta, Georgia. The group lined up all 45 in a very impressive exhibit.
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NMRA Real Street racer Tim Matherly turned wrenches for Gene Evans Ford.
Mmfp_0908_17_z Mustang_anniversary Kenny_brown

Ford Motor Company came out in grand style for the 45th; the incredible exhibit of cars was an impressive display of the accomplishments Ford Racing has had with the Mustang. Among the FR500Ss on hand, Ford Racing also showed the first R-series Cobras to roll off the assembly line from 1993, 1995, and 2000. Ford also displayed such iconic Mustangs as the Super Stallion, the new Cobra Jet, and many road-racing Mustangs of the late '80s and early '90s.

In addition to Ford's presence, Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) also had an impressive display of new parts, engines, and accessories available for the Mustang. FRPP even had two work bays set up so you could have your new parts installed at the show. NMRA Real Street racer Tim Matherly was on hand, turning wrenches for Gene Evans Ford, which coordinated the installs.

Speaking of hot parts, the manufacturers' midway left nothing to be desired. Three hundred and fifty companies and vendors came out to offer products and services to show-goers. From hard-to-find vintage parts to the latest in superchargers and fuel systems, there truly was something for everyone.

Over the course of the celebration, many distinguished guests walked the grounds at BMP. Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally walked much of the car show before meeting with the teams in the Mustang Challenge pits. He spoke at the opening ceremonies and even turned a few laps in an '09 Shelby GT500 convertible. Brian Wolfe, director of Ford Racing, also took in the sights and sounds of the racetrack as Vaughn Gittin Jr. showed him the turns in his '10 Formula Drift Mustang. Gittin Jr. was one of two Formula D drivers at the show promoting the series and opening people's eyes to the world of drift racing. (Your author was lucky enough to grab a ride with Gittin Jr. for two laps around the track at BMP. Visit www.musclemustangfastfords.com for some web-exclusive content.) Back in the manufacturers' midway, Steve Saleen met fans and signed autographs after unveiling the first sketches of his SMS '10 Mustang.

The 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Mustang was truly an incredible experience. Incredible cars, phenomenal racing action, and everything the aftermarket has to offer made for a great weekend. If you weren't lucky enough to make it out, don't miss the 50th. We'll see you there!

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