Attending the Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals should be at the top of the "to do" list for every Ford fan. Not only has this show been going strong for 38 years, but it seems that every person I spoke with had been attending for years if not decades! That kind of enthusiasm for the event has fostered a true "family reunion" tone among attendees. Walking around it was easy to hear people catching up with one another, whether they had not seen each other in a year or merely at a show last month. And it seems that everyone knows everyone else! The car show cliques did not seem to be in effect here.
Starting off Wednesday at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit the Team Mustang Driver's School allowed drivers to really push their cars to the limits. Both novices and seasoned drivers were welcome to spend time on the track. From daily drivers to purpose built race cars the entire gamut was represented on the road course. During the parade lap session one person even took out their new Raptor! Seeing that behemoth rise from behind a sweeping corner was truly an unusual sight. Walking through the pits was a great way to meet people from all around the world, including many people from Hawaii and even a New Zealand native! This event really does draw people from everywhere.
Thursday's highlight was the evening cruise from the host hotel to the Brady Arts District of downtown Tulsa. People began lining up for the cruise early in the afternoon. By 6 pm the line of cars wrapped through the parking lot, down the street, and back into the huge parking lot. Event organizer Jim Wicks was kind enough to toss me the keys to a 1964 Ford Galaxie 390 4-speed decked out in black on black. Nothing beats the feeling of a big car with a big block and a stick shift. The cruise meandered through some of the more scenic parts of Tulsa including a stretch long the river. A number of streets had been blocked off and parking was a breeze thanks to the well organized volunteers.
Friday night's banquet was not to be missed. Speakers did not ignore the passing of Carroll Shelby, but they also did not make it the focus of the evening. This was a celebration and celebrate they did! Guest speakers included Henry Ford III, Steve Ling from Ford, and John Luft from Shelby America, Inc. Later in the evening Austin Craig and Allen Grant gave an amazing presentation about the Shelby racing operation. Allen was a team driver for Shelby and his first hand accounts of events were priceless. And of course there was an abundance of door prizes, some of which were auctioned off to benefit the Carroll Shelby Foundation. More than once bidding rose into the thousands as the crowd cheered on bidders.
As great as the road course action was, getting to the Tulsa Raceway Park on Saturday was a welcome change of pace. Even better, several cars that had been lapping the road course were now in the staging lanes at the drag strip! One of the most amazing dual duty cars was David Williams and his juiced Cobra. The owner of Fast Lane Classic Cars spent several days pushing the Cobra around Hallett, then came to the drag strip. With big-n-littles bolted on David's little silver Cobra yanked the front wheels off the line every time! I later learned that he not only races the car, but drives it on the street all the time. You have to love that kind of dedication. Henry Ford III was spotted making a few passes as well.
By Sunday everyone was ready for a nice, quiet car show. The parking lot of the Marriott was packed with Fords of all years, makes and models. It was great to be able to stop and appreciate someone's car and maybe even strike up a conversation. There were no strangers in this crowd when it came to talking about Fords.
Leaving Tulsa it was hard to not think about how different this event was from most car shows I attend. The team of organizers kept things moving like clockwork for all five days. Considering that there are four separate locations involved with this show it is impressive to see everything fall in place. It seemed that Jim Wicks had cloned himself as he was everywhere you looked making sure any problems that did occur were quickly solved. A big thanks to him and his team for making this one of my new favorite cars shows.
Report: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals
The Ultimate Ford Family Reunion.
Gallery: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Road Course Action
Carving corners with Ford power!
Gallery: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Road Course Paddock
Walking around the paddock at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit.
Gallery: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Cruise Night
Fords invade downtown Tulsa's Brady Arts District.
Gallery: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Drag Strip Fun
Walking around Tulsa Raceway Park.
Gallery: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Drag Strip Action
Tulsa Raceway Park thundered with Ford power!
Gallery: 2012 Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Car Show
The capstone of a great event.
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