Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 1, 2007

You just never know in Florida. As the residents say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes-it will change." That statement held true for the week prior to the National Mustang Racer's Association, when cold temperatures and rain marred the Chamber of Commerce marketing pitch. By the time the NMRA gang rolled into Bradenton Motorsport Park for the Nitto Tire Spring Ford Nationals March 9-11, the nasty weather had slid off into the Atlantic and was replaced with spring's typical warm and tropical sunshine.

The promise of a spectacular weekend convinced local car show participants to uncover their Mustangs and Fords to head out to the track east of Bradenton for the Laurel Mountain Mustang All-Ford Auto Show, which took place adjacent to the quarter-mile dragstrip. Even Craig Wells brought out his seldom-driven '66 Shelby GT350H-a 32,000-mile example that's driven only on nice days. He joined nearly 200 other car show participants on Saturday. The effort earned him a Mustang Monthly Editor's Choice award.

Car Show Results
Best Classic Mustang
First: Jim Lowe, '65 Mustang fastback
Second: Curt and Ken Smith, '69 coupe

Best Modern Mustang
First: Chris Merkel, '06 GT (tie)
First: Steve Procko, '97 Cobra (tie)
Second: Wayne Rhode, '03 Cobra

Special Interest
First: Steve Naeger, '65 Shelby CSX (tie)
First: Victor Perez, '07 Shelby GT500 (tie)
Second: Bob and Carol Swearingen, '05 Roush Mustang

The Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Ford Nationals attracted a varied lineup of Ford and Mustang vendors for the Manufacturers' Midway. Steeda Autosports was there showing off a couple of Steeda Mustangs and several aftermarket performance parts.

Popular Vote
Best Engine
First: Chris Merkel, '06 Mustang GT
Second: Steve Procko, '97 Mustang Cobra

Best Stance
First: Carl Poleschner, '84 Mustang
Second: Wayne Rhode, '03 Mustang Cobra

People's Choice
First: Michael Misoff, '05 Mustang GT
Second: Kimber Rook, '03 Mustang Cobra

Best '65-'70 Mustang
Anthony Greco, '67 GTA (tie)
Carlos Maranda, '68 fastback (tie)

Best '71-'78 Mustang
Larry Tamburino, '71 Mach 1

Best '79-'93 Mustang
Warren Goldman, '93 Mustang Cobra

Best '94-'98 Mustang
Greg Kuhn, '03 Mach 1

Best '05-'07 Mustang
Chris Merkel, '06 GT

Best SVT Mustang
Jesse Faulkner, '04 Cobra

Best Tuner Car
Bob and Carol Swearingen, '05 Roush (tie)
Vincent and Rhea Cook, '02 Saleen (tie)
Steve Kish, '06 Roush

Best Shelby/Boss
Victor Perez, '07 Shelby GT500 (tie)
Clarissa Parodi, '07 Shelby GT500 (tie)

Ken and Curt Smith's Winter Blue '69 Mustang hardtop was looking sharp with Halibrand wheels and a Maier Racing rear deck with spoiler. Originally powered by a 200ci six cylinder, the car is now equipped with a 351 Cleveland.

Best Daily Driver
Carlos Ramos, '03 Mach 1

Under Construction
Jan Legacy, '78 Mustang II

Popular Vote
Best Paint
Dennis Boyd, '03 Mach 1

Best Engine
Bob Golden, '03 Steeda Mustang

Best Interior
Tony Bunder, '88 Mustang GT

People's Choice
Chris Merkel, '06 Mustang GT

Best of Show
First: Chris Merkel, '06 Mustang GT
Second: Steve Procko, '97 Mustang Cobra
Third: Dennis Boyd, '03 Mach 1

Photo Gallery

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Editor's Choice
We've been attending Florida Mustang shows for the better part of 25 years, so we were surprised to spot a super nice but unfamiliar '66 GT350H with Florida tags in the Laurel Mountain show field. Owner Craig Wells nonchalantly explains why: "I don't take it out very much. Just around town, and maybe to a car show once a year."

That explains why the 32,000-mile car remains so clean and detailed, and why we've never run across Craig and his GT350H. Restored 20 years ago by a previous owner in Ohio, the former Hertz rental car has been in Craig's possession for the last 10 years. He didn't add many miles to the odometer to participate in the NMRA's Laurel Mountain Mustang All-Ford Auto Show-he lives in Parrish, Florida, just a few miles up the road from Bradenton Motorsports Park.

Shelby American produced 1,000 GT350H Mustangs for the Hertz Sports Car Club. Most were painted in the Hertz corporate colors, black and gold, similar to Craig's car, although 200 in batches of 50 each were delivered in white, red, blue, and green. The GT350Hs incorporated all the standard GT350 modifications, including the 289 Cobra engine, sidescoops, and glass rear-quarter windows; Shelby performance suspension, traction bars, and metallic brake pads and linings. That explains the warning sticker on the instrument panel reading: "This vehicle is equipped with competition brakes; Heavier than normal brake pedal pressure may be required." Because the cars were created for rental car clients, most of them came with automatic transmissions. Craig's GT350H is 1 of 85 that came with a four-speed.