For the first time in the sanctioning body's history, the National Mustang Racing Association made a mid-June visit to Milan Dragway in Milan, Michigan, about 50 miles southwest of Detroit.
Besides the usual track action where 6-second Pro 5.0 and 7-second Super Street Outlaw Mustangs are the norm, there was a nice collection of Mustangs on the show field. Even though Milan is a new location for an NMRA racing event, it didn't deter enthusiasts from all over southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio from making the trek to show off some cool vintage and late-model Mustang iron. In fact, as the sampling of cars from the Laurel Mountain Mustang All-Ford Auto Show proves, you can be sure the love of all things Mustang is alive and well-especially with the town of Flat Rock less than 20 miles from the track.
South of suburban Detroit, Flat Rock is the location of the Auto Alliance International assembly plant where the current S197 Mustang is built. Since AAI is in Milan Dragway's backyard, it was a fitting track to visit for a weekend of converging Mustang faithful of the racing and show 'n' shine variety.
Ford Racing Invitational
During the NMRA race weekend at Milan, Ford Racing Performance Parts staged the Ford Racing Invitational, a bracket-race event that brought various magazine types together for the chance to run a dozen new Mustangs, a pair of F-150s, and a pair of Factory Five Cobras down the track. Editors in attendance included Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords' Evan Smith, Mustang & Fords' Mark Houlahan, and Hot Rod Detroit Editor Bill McGuire. Mark and I drew the two Factory Five Cobra replicas. Although they aren't Mustangs, these spec racers use stock Fox Mustang 5.0 drivetrains with 2.73 gears. With its light weight, my red car still ran low 13s at around 104 mph, even with my marginal driving ability. I went out in the first round, but didn't feel so bad when MM&FF Editor Smith also went out in the first round-and he's an accomplished racer in the NHRA's Sportsman ranks.
When a '68-'70 Mustang is equipped with a 428 Cobra Jet engine, it instantly gives the car an exalted status. Whether it's a coupe, convertible, or fastback, these burly big-block Mustangs have an appeal that can't be duplicated by cars with smaller engines.
Scott Vorrath's '68 GT coupe is a great vintage Mustang in its own right, with a beautiful Acapulco Blue finish and matching blue interior. When we discovered it was factory-equipped with R-code 428 Cobra Jet power, it became our pick for the Mustang Monthly Editor's Choice award at the NMRA Milan show 'n' shine event.
A documented car with a complete history, Scott is its third owner. One of his good friends, Mike Riemenschneider, is the original owner, who took delivery new from Parma Ford in Parma, Ohio. Another friend, Jerry Turchetta, wisely held onto the car for 32 years. At a Mustang club meeting, Scott heard from Mike that Jerry was planning to sell the '68 R-code and asked if Scott would be interested in buying it, which he very wisely did in 2004.
Three years later, Scott has done things here and there to make the unaltered and super-clean Cobra Jet coupe better than ever. Several of the car's rare and original components were retained in boxes, such as the emissions-control equipment, which Scott has reinstalled. He often bought original-type resto parts only to discover the parts he just bought were in a box that came with the car. He also says he has the original Goodyear Polyglas tires and wheels-a rare treasure to be sure. With those in storage, 15-inch Magnum 500 wheels and Goodyear Eagle ST radials are the current combination.
With a C6 automatic and stump-pulling 4.30 gears in the 9-inch rearend, Scott has a lot of fun driving the Mustang to various functions. When asked what he likes most about the car, he says, "I love the history of the car and I love driving it. It's still fast-I've surprised a number of Chevys and Mopars."