Pictured left to right: Jim Reminga and Art VandenBerg
Once landed, I met up with Bruce, a longtime friend with a similar mission-get to the track and go treasure hunting. Q-Tip had no ride, so we hauled him to the track, expecting to turn him loose. He had no plans and tagged along. We watched as cars arrived and vendors set up. We studied the cars. We scoured the swap areas. Bruce-a noted '70-'71 authority-talked part numbers and paint codes until my eyes watered. Q-Tip had a glazed look in his eyes.
When the roar of the open-track cars bellowed through the speedway, I found myself wanting to get a closer look. Bruce had his agenda, so Q-Tip and I went trackside. Once there, our conversation turned to sway bars, control arm bushings, rollcages, and center of gravity. He really knew his stuff. He shared stories about his well-known father's exploits with vintage Mustangs, Carroll Shelby, and early Trans-Am racing.
At day's end, we escorted Q-Tip to his hotel, only to find no friends or room waiting for him. So it was off to our hotel for showers, and then out for steaks and beers. We swapped stories and shared jokes. Back at our hotel, Bruce called for an extra bed for our impromptu guest but, finally around 11 p.m., his friends called and off he went.
The next day yielded better weather, more cars, more swappers, and more parts scrounging. I picked up a washer bottle, N.O.S. lights, and scored a reverse lockout rod. Bruce got some sheetmetal and interior bits. As we wandered through the 5.0s on our way to lunch, someone called after me. I looked around. He called again. It was Q-Tip. I thought he'd been through enough of "Doze and Dizz" so as to hide from us.
Instead, he introduced Bruce and me to his buddies and enthusiastically began to educate us on the finer points of modern suspension systems. He welcomed us into his world. The sun was high over head, the open-track cars were at it again, and the massive crowd was energized. After a couple hours, we parted again in search of more goodies, leaving Q-Tip and his pals to ponder the benefits of oversize throttle bodies and after-cat exhaust systems. Later, missed connections made for a quiet dinner.
Saturday-our last-yielded more parts, more new friends, more reunions, and more excitement as the event grew still larger. Notably absent was the thunder of the open-trackers as their events concluded. Also absent was the youthful exuberance, wit, and humor of Q-Tip, as he was off to parts unknown. As we sat savoring a cold beer under the hot, dipping sun, we realized we had become fans of the new-generation cars and the new generation of Mustang enthusiasts. Our enthusiasm for date codes and bolt finishes was matched by theirs for intakes, injectors, and superchargers. They were the evolution of the Mustang hobby, and never before had the lines of distinction seemed so blurred.
The 6 a.m. wake-up call came all too soon for our West Coast body clocks, but we dutifully got up and prepared to leave. As we were finishing packing, someone knocked on the door. It was Q-Tip looking for a lift to the airport.
He had no ride. Bruce and I grinned as we helped him with his bags. Our buddy was here, and we had a few more hours to hang with Q-Tip.
In early 1966, when I was 3, my dad took me to the local Ford dealer to see about a new car. His first thoughts were for a Falcon, but a '66 Mustang hardtop in the showroom caught his eye. As the story is told, I climbed into the Mustang and exclaimed, "Let's just buy this one and go home!"