Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
September 1, 2008

As the '08 show season approached, the conversation around the Mustang water cooler speculated that high fuel prices and a slumping economy could hurt attendance at the summer shows. The June 6-8 All-Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, gave us our first glimpse of how Mustang and Ford fans would react to the higher costs of traveling to major events. If what we witnessed at Carlisle is any indication, then we have to assume that everyone is scrimping and saving in other areas in order to get their fix at the shows.

When have you seen a magazine editor lift anything heavier than a camera? At Carlisle, Georgia Ford dealer and noted Ford collector Jacky Jones stumbled across an all-aluminum FE engine-block, heads, and water pump. He snatched it up, of course, but ended up trading the rare big-block to Bob Perkins for an undisclosed amount of rare parts from Bob's extensive collection.

Despite a heat wave that smothered central Pennsylvania in mid-90-degree temperatures, car owners and swap-meet shoppers piled into the Carlisle Fairgrounds on Saturday. According to Carlisle Events, there were more than 2,000 Mustangs and Fords on display for at least 40,000 attendees. Judging by the lack of visible green grass on the show field and the difficulty in maneuvering through the crowds in the main aisles, we'd have to say that if attendance was down from previous years, it wasn't by much. That's a good sign for the Mustang hobby and parts industry.

As always, Ford fans were treated to a number of special Carlisle gatherings, including the Invitational Display in Building T with several special Mustangs, such as Rex Turner's '72 Olympic Sprint convertible and Tina Johnson's 30,000-mile '65 Mustang convertible. The SVT Owners Association celebrated Ford SVT's 15th anniversary with a huge display of Cobras, Lightnings, Contours, and new Shelby GT500s, along with a well-attended Q&A session with former SVT engineers. Carlisle also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Cobra Jet with a CJ Reunion that incorporated a number of "135" lightweight drag cars and autograph sessions with former CJ drag racers Al Joniec, Sam Auxier Jr., Phil Bonner, Barrie Poole, and Vince Liska.

Nearly a dozen of the original 50 early production "135" Cobra Jet Mustang race cars were displayed in Building J. The first production CJ Mustang, now owned by Jacky Jones, was there, along with cars formerly raced by Phil Bonner, Bill Lawton, Bill Ireland, and Al Joniec.

Next year's All-Ford Nationals is set for June 5-7. Keep an eye on the Web site at www.carlisleevents.com for information.

Pennsylvania Pony Trails
For the past eight years, Mustang Monthly and CJ Pony Parts have hosted a Pony Trails cruise on the Friday before the Carlisle All-Ford Nationals. This year, we were worried about participation due to the higher cost of fuel, but we should've known that nothing stops Mustang owners from enjoying their cars. Nearly 100 Mustangs departed CJ's parking lot for a beautiful tour through the Pennsylvania countryside.

Our thanks to Jim Krupa for arranging the route, which was slightly shorter than previous Trails in consideration of fuel costs. We'd also like to mention that Jim had nothing to do with the drizzle at the beginning of the cruise, nor was he responsible for the delays due to road work. Jim came up with the route just five days before in an attempt to avoid our typical wranglings with Pennsylvania road repairs. However, as luck would have it, we ran into two lane closures and one total road blockage, not to mention a painfully slow farm tractor. Thankfully, everyone made the detours and got around the tractor to end up at the AACA Museum in Hershey.