For years, we here at 5.0&SF have been missing out on Carlisle’s annual Ford Nationals event, thinking it was still primarily a showcase of vintage iron. Not so any more, as it turns out. While still offering the whole historical gamut of wildly interesting Ford/Lincoln/Mercury hardware, this three-day affair in south-central Pennsylvania has attracted a robust Fox-and-up presence in recent years. In fact, it’s catering more and more to our beloved Mustangs all the time.
Far more than just a car show, the Nationals event now features eighth-mile drag racing, autocrossing, as well as a well-attended burnout contest guaranteed to bring tears of joy to any tire vendors on site. Now there’s even a cruise to a Saturday night street party that fills the heart of downtown Carlisle with row upon row of the Blue Oval’s finest. Back at the fairgrounds, a huge manufacturer’s midway and an equally large swap meet area and car corral compete for spectator attention. That’s not even mentioning the specialty displays and demos occurring in various buildings throughout the weekend on the massive fairgrounds property.
Both Ford corporate and Ford Racing have a commanding presence at Carlisle. On the consumer side, Ford constantly shuttled attendees to a new-vehicle ride-and-drive facility just off-site, while Ford Racing’s contributions to the event included not just its usual king-size midway displays of cars and parts, but also the sponsorship of an on-site Coyote-into-Fox swap, and even the giveaway of a complete new Coyote crate engine.
Last we heard, there were around 2,400 vehicles registered at the event, surely making this one of the biggest all-Ford gatherings on the calendar. Bottom line? If you’re bored at this gig, perhaps you need another hobby. We’ll likely be paying more attention to the Carlisle Ford Nationals in the future.