Horse Sense: After 10 great years, don't think George Gonzalez is going to rest on his laurels. We have a feeling the mastermind behind World Ford Challenge has something big up his sleeve for 2008.
They say time flies when you're having fun. We must be having a lot of fun, because it seems just yesterday George Gonzalez contacted us about sponsoring his new race, offering an unprecedented $10,000 to the winner of the Pro Mod 5.0 class. In the Super Ford days, Donald Farr and Tom Wilson jumped all over World Ford Challenge, and so did the Ford racing world. From racers and manufacturers to fans and vendors, WFC has long been a can't-miss on the calendar.
This was quite a leap in 1998. George had been a racer and a night club promoter when he hatched a vision for one big race. The existing races didn't have the kind of over-the-top excitement George craved. He wanted to put all the marbles on one weekend and let it ride. Not only was the race a big deal and the purse a huge one, but George also put forth a marketing campaign the Ford racing world had never seen. From flyers, huge ads, post-event videos, and more, it created excitement before the first car even went down the track.
This is the balloon. World...
This is the balloon. World Race Events debuted this giant triangle, which matched its ubiquitous logo from the first WFC in 1998. It was a symbol of what a big deal this race was. It had a traveling circus vibe, especially in the overstuffed environs of Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The original 1998 date is still under the "2007" patch, and Mobil 1 is no longer the title sponsor. That job was taken over by your favorite magazine. [Yes, this one! -Ed.] It was great to see this enduring symbol live on at WFCX.
We can still remember pulling into Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The longest line of cars waited to go into the race. Of course, the wait may have seemed longer because the better part of the preceding week was spent on the World Ford Challenge cruise. That's right-only a few years after the Hot Rod Power Tour began, there were Ford-only cruises to WFC. For the first two years, we caravanned to Beech Bend in Bowling Green and Route 66 in Joliet, Illinois, respectively. Those were great times and showed what WFC meant to the Ford world.
We'd love to look back on all the good times from the previous nine races here, but there's only so much space in these pages. For a full WFC retrospective, check out www.50mustangandsuperfords.com.
This year's event marked the 10th Anniversary of World Ford Challenge. Due to scheduling conflicts, there was a big move from its 7-year run at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis to the home of the NHRA's U.S. Nationals, O'Reilly Raceway Park out-side Indianapolis. It was the first Ford-only event we've ever seen there, and the facility was vast, proving more than a match for the WFC crowds.
The vibe was different at Indy, with the car show and bracket car attendance leading the way. The heads-up classes were solidly attended, and the racing was, as always, competitive with the big money on the line. Moreover, George's mastery of the weather continued, with Thursday's setup day being cold and rainy. The remainder of the weekend was straight out of the Chamber of Commerce guidebook: bright with blue skies and cool breezes. In the end, Chuck Samuel and the Kevin Marsh team drove away with the big check, and Kevin scored the Racin' Jason Memorial award. That probably makes up for all that prime rib he had to buy for the Saturday night party at the track.
Congrats to all the winners, and here's to next year. We think George is going to turn it up for WFC 11. We can hardly wait.
After many years at Gateway...
After many years at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, scheduling conflicts inspired a move to a new facility for 10. O'Reilly Raceway Park outside Indianapolis served as a giant stage for the highest-stakes Mustang race in history. Peter Del Pino made the trip from South Florida to race his 800-plus-horsepower, automatic S197.
Here's the man who turned...
Here's the man who turned a wild idea into a race that reinvigorated Ford drag racing. It was quiet in 1998, and George Gonzalez decided things needed a shot in the arm. Debuting a race with an unprecedented purse of $10,000 to win Pro 5.0, he stood the Ford racing world on its head and created the energy that led to the birth of the NMRA and a rejuvenation of the Ford racing hobby. We're happy we've been there since the beginning, and we're even happier George is still at it 10 years later.
From the outset, the car show...
From the outset, the car show has been a huge component of WFC. People often travel hundreds of miles to attend. At Indianapolis, it was set up right next to the racetrack, so attendees could scope out the races, check out the car show, and keep their rides sparkling clean without missing a round of the racing action. That's our kind of car show.
Editor Turner is a proud member...
Editor Turner is a proud member of the hardcore WFC club, having attended all 10 events. Of course it's one thing when you work at the magazine, but there are several Ford fans who make it to all the events for the love of it. One 10-time attendee was Keith Randell of Florissant, Missouri. He made sure to proudly display all 10 WFC stickers on his '92 GT, including the 10 car show plaques in the hatch area. That's dedication. See you next year, Keith.
George introduced us to 26-year-old...
George introduced us to 26-year-old Miranda Quick-nice name for a racer. It was only her second WFC, but she threw caution to the wind and ran her '93 LX in the bracket program because she always wanted to give it a try. She made it through three rounds of competition, which is good for the first time. We suspect she might turn into a regular racer in the future. Her car had only a few bolt-ons at WFCX, but that will probably change soon.