Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
January 1, 2014

Mustang Alley

The Woodward Dream Cruise can be a daunting experience, as thousands of vehicles take over the hallowed Michigan road to celebrate all things automotive. We've been there during the week leading up to the official Saturday cruise, and the number of cool cars around town is impressive. However, if you're just interested in Ford stuff, there's a place for you—Mustang Alley.

For the last 15 years, Ford Motor Company has corralled all the Mustangs and other Fords in one area along the cruise route, making it easy for the Blue Oval faithful to congregate in one spot for all the Ford fans to view. This year, the corner of 9 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Ferndale, Michigan, hosted over 800 Mustangs and Fords for the passing crowds.

Of course, the headliner of the display vehicles was the '14 Shelby GT500, but it was joined by the entire '14 Mustang lineup. Besides Mustangs, Ford also showed off its other Ecoboosted performance rides, including the Tremor sport truck, Focus ST, and Fiesta ST. Of course, Ford customers were in on the display as well, with over 800 '64-to-present examples of America's favorite ponycar parked along Mustang alley.

If you've never been, the Dream Cruise is worthy of a bucket list, with over 1.5 million visitors and 40,000 classic cars on display. With next year being the big five-oh for Mustang, we can't think of a better year to hit Woodward.


High Test

School might not have been your favorite thing, but what if it was a driving school and free? That's just the gift that Ford is giving to owners of its latest vehicles in the ST line—the Fiesta ST and Focus ST. Now these are fun cars, as your editor can attest, but owners can really learn how much fun they can be at the new ST Octane Academy at Miller Motorsports Park in Toele, Utah.

"We gave the all-new Fiesta ST the highest possible fun-to-drive factor," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. "It's fast, it handles brilliantly, but it won't beat you up in daily driving. Add to that its affordability, and we think enthusiasts have reason to rejoice. It's really that good."

Inspired by the Octane Academy television show featuring Ford's sponsored drivers—Ken Block, Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust, and Vaughn Gittin Jr.— the ST academy will feature professional instruction and track time in Focus and Fiesta STs prepped with full safety gear.

The event kicks off with a reception, dinner, and tour at Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing shop. The next day, students will start in the classroom, then move into car-control exercises. After lunch, the afternoon session includes on-track instruction. Finally, there's graduation and a fun karting challenge. It sounds like a great day.

Of course, you have to cover the travel to get out there, but based on my experience at the Boss Track Attack, it is worth it. Likewise, you can opt to pay for an additional day of instruction, including driving Ford Mustang GT on the track and Ford F-150 SVT Raptor off-road. If you're going all the way to Miller, you have to do this!

Check out the website at www.stoctaneacademy.com for more info.

If you've never been, the Dream Cruise is worthy of a bucket list, with over 1.5 million visitors and 40,000 classic cars on display.


Charity Flight

Continuing its habit of building one-off Mustangs for the benefit of charity, Ford raised a whopping $398,000 for Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program. So far, Ford vehicles built to benefit this charity have raised over $2.5 million to provide introductory flights for over 1.6 million youngsters.

This year's unique Mustang was a '14 Mustang GT built as a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Edition, and James Slattery of San Diego, California, placed the winning bid at this year's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (www.airventure.org).

"The dedication and excellence displayed by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds are qualities we also celebrate at Ford," said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of the Ford board of directors. "With this year's beautiful U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition Mustang, we've captured the recognizable symbols of their stature and paired it with the innovation our Ford design and engineering teams build into all of our products.

"Through this project," he added, "we take great pride in continuing our support for EAA and the Young Eagles organization."

Starting with a '14 Mustang GT with the Glass Roof option and the unique 0001 VIN, Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt and Mustang Chief Nameplate Engineer Dave Pericak led the design and engineering teams in developing the Thunderbirds Edition. On the outside, it features a unique widebody kit incorporating custom parts from 3d Carbon and Creations N' Chrome. Filling out those widened haunches are massive Forgiato 22-inch hoops. Backing up all the appearance mods and generous application of Thunderbirds graphics is a full complement of Ford Racing Performance Parts, including the supercharger, handling pack, and GT500-spec Brembo brakes.

"Ford is a longtime, committed sponsor of EAA and AirVenture, bringing value to those who make Oshkosh the pinnacle of their aviation year," said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman. "These specialty vehicles reflect the depth of Ford's commitment, and allow EAA to provide support to its valuable programs and dedicated members in helping us grow the next generation of aviators."