Jeff Ford
February 1, 2004
Contributers: Jeff Ford, The Mustang & Fords Archives Photos By: The Mustang & Fords Archives

Last month we wrote about the three heavies in the attendance wars. The winner and still champeen are the folks who put on the Mustangs Northwest show. Once again, we'd like to thank them for their time and effort in achieving that goal.

Of course, not every Pony Trail will make the top three. But we still want to salute the other folks who sallied forth, and brought home some impressive numbers for the size of the shows. We'd also like to remind you that it doesn't have to be a Mustang to run with us. It just needs to be Ford-powered.

We can't thank those of you who attend our trails enough for your time and effort. Without you we would not be able to have Pony Trails. For those that keep coming back, you have our heartfelt thanks for your dedication to our little idea.

Now, let's get to the rest of our trails. Who knows, if you went, your photo might just be here.

Fantasy of Flight '0335 Ford-powered vehiclesWeather: ExcellentAttendance: A little low

The Fantasy of Flight show is a neat one that brings in an average of 200 Ford-powered vehicles for a one-day show at the Fantasy of Flight complex in Polk city, Florida. The show has grown to an impressive level over the last few years, and we have to say we are always glad to see a show like this stay healthy. One neat side benefit of the show is the arrival of three to five WWII/Korea vintage P51 Mustangs.

The trail was not what we expected. And that might have been our fault on two fronts. The directions had a misprint (my fault), but the correct road name. Fine, if you were coming from Tampa, but not, if you were coming from Orlando. The other problem was starting it the day of the show, something we've never done before-and we'll not do again. Still, we all had fun and enjoyed blazing through the Florida countryside as we scrambled to beat the 11 a.m. cutoff time. We made it with minutes to spare.

CarlisleAll-Ford Nationals '0398 Ford-powered vehiclesWeather: ExcellentAttendance: Record for Carlisle All-Ford

I have been to the nationals every year since I started in '96 as the editor of Mustang Monthly. And every year I fall in love. One year it was a draw between life-sized cutouts of Captain James T. Kirk or the Three Stooges, another year it was an Aussie XB GT 351 in yellow with a Ginger interior (still say it would of looked spiff next to my Yellow '72 Mach 1). It's always something and I always find a cool part (like the floor shift for the Ranchero, which I got from Perogie).

The trail was great, and lovingly picked out by local resident Barry Warfield. there were hazards, like the striping crew in Pennsylvania that decided to stripe right as we accessed the road. There were no warning signs and our first indication of trouble was when the car in front of us crossed the stripes and turned yellow. It would have been nice if the state had put out warning signs along the route and at the access roads.

Mid-America Shelby Meet '0362 Ford-powered vehiclesWeather: ExcellentAttendance: Average for Tulsa

The Mid-America Shelby meet is a show that offers "a little bit of all of it" for the enthusiast. We've done a couple of Pony Trails here with moderate success, and we think we've finally figured out why we haven't blown it out with larger numbers. Simply put, there is too much to do; ergo there is no place to put the trails so they don't compete with other things. For instance, Thursday and Friday are open track days at Hallett Raceway. For a fee you can hot lap around the track in your own ride, making it your very own theme park. And if that isn't enough, Friday night there is a cruise, one that shuts down a street in Tulsa for the evening. On Saturday they have a Ford-powered drag event, and a show on Sunday. We always leave Tulsa tired, but we always enjoy ourselves. We saw a decent attendance this year at a trail that enjoyed Ripley, Oklahoma, and all its local color in the personage of Rick Kirk, one of the nicest Ford nuts we know. Rick's collection of Ford parts and cars is varied and unusual, and a sight not to be missed. We also stopped by Kicker for cookies, cold drinks and a tour. Maybe it's just Oklahoma, but everyone there pulled out all the stops to make us welcome.

Intermountain Mustang and All-Ford Stampede76 Ford-powered VehiclesWeather: ExcellentAttendance: NEW

This show and trail are new to the scene, but they will be back next year guaranteed. We were well received and enjoyed the crowd that trailed with us. The sights around Heber are breathtaking at every turn, and we couldn't have asked for a better turn-out (well, we could have, but since the show only pulls about 200 cars, the attendance was really spot on). We'd like to thank Mike and Joyce Epperson for bugging us into coming and doing a trail. If you live in the area, we highly recommend a visit to the Intermountain Mustang and All-Ford Stampede.

The show was laidback and well-done, even though it was threatened by rain. Two hundred Ford-powered vehicles, including one of the 30 automatic-sifted Cobras, braved the intermittent thundershowers and storms to attend the event. We attended all the scheduled and unscheduled events, like the watermelon bust (which we found out was a fancy way of saying everyone sits down and eats watermelon together), the mud drags-an unassociated event that just happened to be held at the local horse racing track-where a good time was had by all. and the slow drags, a race in which cars are timed not for speed, but for how slow they can go. Pretty fun stuff all the way around.

Mustang Club of America Grand National53 Ford-powered vehiclesWeather: ExcellentAttendance: Average

OK, so the trail at Bellevue was almost bigger than the show at Augusta. The floorshow at the Bell Auditorium on Saturday night was worth the trip, but more on that in a second. The folks in Augusta put on a heck of a show and had some great Mustangs in attendance. As usual, the Concours stuff held sway, but there were some awesome restomods that caught our eye. One was Reggie Triggs' '68 Concours drag car. You'll just have to wait to find out about that one. Another was a simple, but elegant '69 SportsRoof Mustang built by our cuz, Perry Ford (he really isn't related that we know of, but all us Fords gotta stick together).

The show was awesome, but we've never seen anything like the banquet we attended Saturday night. The local members and their friends get up on the stage at Bell and perform. Most of it was pantomime, but what a riot. All banquets should make you laugh this hard.

The trail was a trip back in time for us, and our vehicle was a super-fine piece of Shelby history, loaned to us by Jim Chisum, the guy in charge of the Mustang 40th Anniversary (see the news section page for details). Jim's gracious loan of a '65 GT350 made the drive one that left a smile on my face all day long. Thanks again, Jim. Since the areas around Batesburg are my old stomping grounds, we enjoyed the trip and the gracious hospitality of Bob Oswalt and his staff at Oswalt's Mustang.

The End?We just returned from the Vegas Trail and you can see an overview in the News section, page 14. We can't wait for the '04 season, and we've already started work on the '05 trail season. Looking forward to seeing you on a trail with us soon.

Overall, the Pony Trails season was a huge success. We enjoyed every one of the places we visited, and hope that the locals, as well as out-of-town attendees had fun. We had some awesome trails-some with super attendance, and some with a great down-home feel. We can't say enough good things about all the folks who helped to make Pony Trails a success for 2003.