Miles Cook
January 3, 2006
Photos By: Stephen Kim

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After running an '01 Bullitt GT on four separate occasions over the past two years, we decided to run our well-used '69 fastback down the course. The car ran perfectly the entire 90-mile run, and had no problem averaging 109.84 mph. We can confidently say this isn't your average magazine project car, since it's been on the dragstrip and a chassis dyno several times. We've also been all over California, Nevada, and Arizona on numerous road trips and at cruise nights, and have slogged through horrendous Los Angeles traffic dozens of times. It's been involved in more than 40 stories in Mustang Monthly and our sister magazine, Mustang & Fords, and now we've had resounding success in the Nevada Open Road Challenge.
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Frank Bohanan, from Los Angeles, also caravanned with us to Ely Friday afternoon and evening in his heavily restomodded '65 fastback. After leaving Las Vegas, we drove north on Highway 318 to determine speedometer and odometer error; a good idea, we thought, in our early Mustangs. We traveled to Ely from Las Vegas by driving Highway 318 in reverse of how the event is run (going south). Using the course notes supplied to each entrant, we were able to stop at the finish-line mile marker, note our odometers, and stop at the start line exactly 90 miles later, thus determining odometer error for Sunday morning's event.
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In our pre-event group photo shot before Sunday morning's run, we caught up with Ron Silva's beautifully restored (and mildly restomodded) Emberglo '66 GT coupe. Ron ran his car in the 100-mph division.

A little more than two years ago, we caught the high-speed bug one gets when participating in the Nevada Open Road Challenge/Silver State Classic Challenge events, run twice yearly in the wide expanse of the Eastern Nevada desert. We reported on that first-time experience in our Sept. '03 issue when we ran an '01 Bullitt Mustang GT against numerous other late-model Mustangs.

Having run the Bullitt a total of four times, we decided to go the vintage route for our fifth trip down Nevada's Highway 318 by running our '69 Mustang fastback project car. And while classic cars of all makes and models have always proven popular on Highway 318, the contingent of vintage Mustangs has been relatively small since we began participating in May 2003.

This time, we were happy to see the best turnout of fast early Mustang iron we've ever encountered. And while a total of three cars isn't exactly a herd of Ponies, we hope it's enough to get you thinking about doing something like this with your classic Mustang.

For those of you who don't recall our Sept. '03 story, the NORC and SSCC host two identical events--in May and September, respectively--to provide a chance to drive your car as fast as you want on a closed public road. Drivers compete in 15 speed classes, ranging from 95 mph to unlimited. Set in 5-mph increments, the classes are run somewhat like a rally, where the objective is to average your target speed, which is determined by the class you select. For example, if you enter the 110-mph division, you win by averaging that speed as closely as possible. Those with global positioning systems (GPS) and competent navigators often hit their target speeds to within 1/100 of a mile per hour. So, these events aren't races in the traditional sense. The only exception is the Unlimited Class, where the car that completes the 90-mile course in the shortest amount of time is the winner.

As we noted in 2003, the Silver State organizers will give your safety equipment a complete once-over. For the 110-mph Touring Class we've run each time, this means a securely mounted fire extinguisher, a helmet with a minimum Snell Foundation SA 95 rating (not a motorcycle helmet), a pair of driving gloves, metal valve-stem caps on the wheels, and new (or near new) Z-speed-rated tires. Tires are, for obvious reasons, the most closely scrutinized component and if they're not up to snuff you won't be allowed to run the event. If a tire has sidewall cracks, tread repairs, or inadequate speed ratings, it will not be allowed to run.

As in 2003, we still consider running the NORC/SSCC in a properly prepared vintage or late-model Mustang a great way to spend a weekend in the Nevada desert. In fact, by the time you read this, we will have run our second event in our '69 project car, in large part because it's just as much fun in a vintage Mustang as it is in a newer one, if not more so.