Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
August 1, 2004
Photos By: Miles Cook, Ford Motor Company, Josh Bolger, Keplinger Designs

There's no need to mince words on this one. Simply put, the Mustang 40th Anniversary Celebration, hosted by the Mustang Club of America at Nashville Superspeedway on April 15-18, was the most outstanding Mustang show/event/race/cruise ever staged in the Mustang's 40-year history. From Jack Roush's barrel-roll in his World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane during opening ceremonies to the final fiddle notes from Charlie Daniels' event-closer concert, the Mustang 40th eclipsed previous anniversary shows in terms of participation, spectator count, and number of celebrities and special Mustangs.

Saturday, in particular, was an impressive day. With beautiful sunburn weather covering Tennessee, over 70,000 people crammed Nashville Superspeedway to view over 3,000 display Mustangs, 300 concours cars, vendor displays, and the Saturday open track, which included competitive racing events for vintage Mustang race-cars and "celebrity" late-models. Underneath the huge grandstands of the Nextel Cup facility, spectators were elbow-to-elbow checking out some of the most immaculately restored or perfectly preserved low-mileage Mustangs in the country, while thousands of other Mustangs were displayed outside, early models on one side of the grandstands and late-models on the other.

Nearly everyone who is someone in the Mustang hobby or industry made an appearance, including Carroll Shelby, John Force, Steve Saleen, Jack Roush, Mustang Chief Engineer Hau Tai-Tang, Mustang Marketing Manager Paul Russell, former Mustang Chief Engineer Art Hyde, former Bullitt and Mach 1 Project Manager Scott Hoag, and MCA President Bill Johnson. Current Ford dignitaries on hand included Ford President Steve Lyons and Edsel Ford II, while the Heritage tent provided autograph opportunities with some of the original Mustang team, a lineup that featured Don Frey, Joe Oros, and Gale Halderman. Lee Iacocca was invited, but declined due to a previous engagement at the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Unique and special Mustangs were everywhere, starting with the first production Mustang, a white '64 convertible now known as Mustang No. 1, and the '62 Mustang I two-seater prototype, both on loan from The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn. To showcase the future, Ford brought a trio of '05 Mustangs. Other notable Mustangs scattered about the speedway were SVT's Boss and Super Stallion Mustangs, Dallas Mustang's new Terlingua hardtop, a special gathering of Super Stock '68 Cobra Jet fastbacks, the original George Follmer '69 and '70 Trans-Am Boss 302s, and Tommy Kendall's Roush Racing-built Trans-Am Mustang.

Weekend highlights included Thursday's opening ceremonies, a panel discussion with a number of Mustang personalities, Thursday night's cruise to downtown Nashville, Friday night's Grand Ole Opry, Saturday night's Evening with Ford riverboat cruise (for those lucky ones who ordered tickets early), and Saleen's 20th Anniversary Party with the Pink Flamingo show band. Open track on the Nashville Superspeedway was held each day, culminating with competitive races for vintage Mustang race cars and late-models on Saturday. An estimated 17,000 people filled the stands to watch former Trans-Am Mustangs battle Shelby GT350s in the vintage race, while performance parts competitors such as Steeda Autosports, Kenny Brown Performance, Latemodel Restoration Supply, Sean Hyland, Roush Performance, and Mustang Racing Technologies got a chance to face off on the track.

No more mincing words. Just check out the photos to relive the 40th-or to see what you missed.