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Trophy Stock Champion Bruce Winn’s 1993 Mustang Cobra
The Legacy of Fun Ford Weekend Trophy Stock Champion Bruce Winn’s 1993 Mustang Cobra Lives On
"It was supposed to be my car," said Patty Winn, Bruce Winn's widow and previous caretaker of the well-preserved 1993 Mustang Cobra you see here. That is no doubt a common story among car enthusiasts, and as the story goes, Patty's husband Bruce did eventually find himself taking ownership of the Vibrant Red machine.
Born and raised in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Patty's husband Bruce was a military veteran with over 10 years of service under his belt. He met Patty when he was home between his two tours in Vietnam, and his continued service after the war took them to El Paso, Texas, and later Anchorage, Alaska.
"He raced a Gremlin at a dragstrip in Anchorage," Patty told us. "The trans broke and my father had to ship him a T-10 four-speed from back home."
The couple returned to Indiana in 1974 and both Bruce and Patty went to work and focused on raising their son, Bruce.
Much later, in 1993, the couple went car shopping, and found themselves at Allen County Motors in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
"I wanted a Mustang 5.0 convertible, so we went to the showroom to look at one and that car [the Cobra] was in the showroom. We both looked at each other and said that was the one we had to have," Patty recalled of the day that they brought home the first-year SVT Cobra.
"I drove it a little here and there; it was a real adrenaline rush," Patty said of getting behind the wheel.
With the Cobra being the pinnacle of Ford pony car performance at the time and Bruce having an interest in drag racing, it's not surprising that the car would find itself at the dragstrip.
"We bought it as a lease and I made him wait until we paid it off because no one was going to insure it if we raced it," Patty explained.
A few years later, the final payment was made, and Bruce could flex the Mustang's muscle as he saw fit.
Around this time, the Ford drag racing series Fun Ford Weekend began to rise to prominence and the allure of an all-Ford racing event called to the Winns.
"We were originally going to try True Street," Patty told us of their initial plans to race the Cobra. But within the series, a new class called Trophy Stock caught Bruce's attention.
Fun Ford brought on the Trophy Stock class in 1995, and the rules were quite strict with regard to performance modifications. The class was open to any 1979-newer Ford passenger car equipped with a Ford Windsor engine and weighing at least 3,200 pounds. The engine needed to be stock, but competitors were permitted to change rocker arms, camshaft, exhaust headers, underdrive pulleys, and add an aftermarket exhaust system. Any DOT-approved tire could be used, but was not exceed 9.5 inches wide.
Equally, fuel-injected and carbureted cars were allowed to compete as well, seeing as Ford transitioned to EFI around 1986, but the 1993 Cobra and its factory upgraded powerplant offered a performance advantage out of the box with its better breathing intake manifold, cylinder heads, camshaft, mass air meter and throttle-body.
While Bruce's home track was Muncie Dragway in Albany, Indiana, his favorites to visit were Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, and Bradenton Motorsports Park in sunny Bradenton, Florida.
"Bruce had family in Lithia, Florida, and I had family in St. Pete," Patty recalled. "We had to drive the Windstar and he drove the Mustang. I took his mom and my mom and called it the mother-in-law express," Patty said of their trips to race at the Fun Ford Weekend season opener.
During the 1996 season, Bruce managed to run just a few events, but explained to Patty that he couldn't get enough points that way.
"I said just go to every race, so in 1997 and 1998, that's what he did," Patty told us.
The Trophy Stock class was a competitive one with the quickest cars running mid-to-low 12s in the quarter-mile. Bruce worked on his racing program throughout the 1997 season, and in 1998, he veritably perfected it and brought home the Fun Ford Weekend Trophy Stock World Championship.
One fellow Trophy Stock racer that knew Bruce well was Larry Felts of Houston, Texas.
"Bruce and I were the elder statesmen of the class and had a little bond being the older guys in the group," Larry explained. "I met him in 1996 and started racing in 1997; I would have been 50 years old then and Bruce was a couple years older than me. He was a really nice guy—a little quirky sometimes, but a really nice guy and he did all of his work on his cars himself."
Larry told us that the "Loose Cannon"—a nickname that Bruce eventually put on the hood of the Cobra—was "an experienced racer and the rest of the class was novice at best, so he did well."
Coming off a tumultuous, yet successful championship season in 1998, Bruce raced a bit here and there in 1999, as health issues prevented him from collecting points at every race. On top of that, his cylinder heads were deemed illegal and even after switching to a set of Ford Explorer heads, he couldn't keep up, despite running a best elapsed time of 12.15 at 109 mph. The lack of performance had the unfortunate consequence of preventing him from going rounds at the races he was able to attend.
It was around this time that Bruce decided to put the car back to street trim and park it in the car show at his favorite events.
"He started showing it at the FFW events," Larry recalled. "I know he got one trophy at Norwalk in 2000 or 2001 and one in Cordova. I can appreciate Bruce's attitude towards his car—keeping them nice and streetable—as that's what I did with mine. He didn't have far to go to switch it back to a show car."
Sadly, Bruce's health issues continued to worsen, and in November of 2010, he passed away.
Bruce and Patty's next-door neighbor, Ron McCoy, often helped Bruce wrench on the car and maintained it for Patty after Bruce's passing.
"I thought about selling it, mostly in the winter when I couldn't drive it," Patty said. "I thought someone needs to use it; it can't just sit there." Come summertime, though, Patty would fire it up and take it out for a spin and realized she wasn't ready to part with it yet. In fact, it would be another eight years before Patty was ready.
In 2018, Dennis Fahey of Brooksville, Florida, was just finishing up a restoration on his black 1993 Cobra and he and his wife Jennifer started talking about adding a Vibrant Red Cobra to their growing collection of Fox-Body Mustangs.
Dennis' friend, Jason Hamrick of Fort Wayne, Indiana, recalled parking next to one such car some 20 years ago at a local car show.
"Jason said he was pretty sure it had been drag raced a bit, had a cage in it, but was pretty low-mileage and had original paint," Dennis told us. "The last word on the car was that the owner had passed away 8 or 10 years ago, his wife had the car in storage, and if you ever asked her about the car, you'd get politely sent on your way."
Jason eventually found out that he knew Bruce and Patty's neighbor, Ron McCoy, and a few phone calls later, a date was set for Jason to check out the car, which was surprisingly enough located just five short miles from Hamrick's job.
"Jason and I spoke on his way to see the car to discuss expectations and what the car was worth. In passing, the last thing I said to Jason as he pulled in the driveway was to ask the owner if she had any photos or memorabilia from when the car was raced," Dennis recalled.
About 30 minutes later, Dennis' phone rang with Jason on the other end. Thanks to 2018 technology, it was a FaceTime call so Dennis could get a live video of the car.
"He wanted to show me the condition of the car as he inspected it, but more importantly, he wanted me to see the real reason why I was going to want to purchase the Cobra. As Jason walked me into the owner's home like he was going to the refrigerator to get himself a drink, he walked through the kitchen to the living room, turned the corner and panned the phone left to what I call our 'American Pickers moment,'" Dennis said.
The sight was an impressive one—a wall of photos and awards for Bruce Winn's 1998 FFW Trophy Stock championship-winning 1993 Mustang Cobra. Jason proceeded to tell Dennis that Patty would sell the car and that all of the memorabilia would go with it, along with every stock part that was removed.
The deal was struck for what now is a steal at just $18,000, and several weeks later, Jason returned with an enclosed trailer from mutual friend Chet Zeidler to put #2926 on the first leg of its journey to its new and only second owner. The 40,000-mile machine was loaded up and all of the included parts filled up the unoccupied space in the 20-foot trailer.
"It was the way they approached me that helped me make the decision," Patty told us. "I'm sad, but never been sorry. I'm 75 and not going to be doing much driving with a stiff clutch and a five-speed!" Jason later hauled the Cobra to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he and Dennis swapped the precious cargo from one trailer to another.
Once the Cobra was pulled into Dennis's garage, a plan was formulated to give the car some much-needed attention.
"Our intent with the car from the onset was to preserve the car's DNA and Bruce's legacy with it," Dennis explained. "We just freshened up the plugs, fuel filter, added fresh fuel, and paint-corrected the exterior."
One other update that Dennis performed was to buy a new set of Weld Rodlite drag wheels, which is what Bruce had on the car when he raced it, and it was likely that change in particular that caught the eye of someone familiar with the car.
As the Fahey's plan was to show off Bruce's Cobra, it's first outing was the 2019 NMRA Spring Break Shootout, and Dennis' friend, Matt Lazaic, asked him to park it in the National Parts Depot booth in the manufacturer's midway.
With the Cobra facing the very same staging lanes that it once rolled through on its way to a championship-winning season, the gleaming Weld wheels and Vibrant Red paint caught the eye of a particular NMRA racer.
"A gentleman came up to us and asked if this was really Bruce Winn's 1993 Cobra. When we confirmed that it was, he went on the say that he was from Indiana, like Bruce was, and that he used to follow Bruce closely back in the '90s and was at many of the races he competed in," Dennis recalled. "Bruce had inspired him to race his low-mileage Teal 1993 Cobra and he even incorporated a lot of elements of Bruce's car into his own." Much to Dennis' surprise, he was talking with Darin Hendricks, the reigning and defending NMRA G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock champion.
As much as Dennis has been great about keeping in touch and keeping Patty Winn up to date on what's been going with the car since he brought it home, she actually made the trip down to Florida and dropped by the NMRA season-opening event with family for one more Spring Break adventure.
"It was very exciting and heartwarming that people remembered him. We got to talk with some people that raced with him," Patty told us of her time at Bradenton Motorsports Park in March of 2019.
The next event on the Cobra's calendar was the grand opening of the Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina, and once there, the owners asked the Faheys to leave the Cobra with them on display for several months. Dennis took the time away from the car to refocus his efforts on completing the restoration of the aforementioned black 1993 Cobra, which you'll see in an upcoming article here in Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine.
Bruce Winn's Cobra proved to be a winning combination on track, and now with a worthy steward to care for the car for another 25 years, another winning combination has been made.
"I'd like to thank my wife Jenn, who not only supports my efforts within the Mustang hobby, but shares my passion for these cars and the stories behind them. Thank you to Jason Hamrick for being the snake charmer that not only located the car, but also helped persuade Patty Winn to sell it, and then delivered the car to us. A big thank you goes to my very close friend, Matthew Laszaic, and the entire team at National Parts Depot for their continued support and dedication to the car hobby. Lastly, I'd like to thank Patty Winn for entrusting us with the Cobra and her husband Bruce's legacy."
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Photography by Wayne Stewart