What are the chances that Las Vegas weather in April will be good? A lot better than the chances in Charlotte, and that's exactly what happened for the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration. Locals told us it was one of the hottest series of days yet this spring, with temps in the mid 80s and sunshine galore. In short, the weather could hardly have been better for a birthday party!
Held at the gigantic Las Vegas Motor Speedway facility, the venue offered more than enough space for the show fields, open track, manufacturer's displays, and oval track parade laps that were planned. In fact, it's possible the venue was actually too big, as we felt like we spent considerable time hoofing between display and event areas—with little to look at in between. No matter though, we enjoyed our time checking it all out, including daily speakers on Mustang history and evening programs to include the unveiling of the 50th Anniversary '15 Mustang Thursday night. That event fittingly took place outside the New York, New York casino/hotel, Friday night saw a gala at Shelby American, and Saturday night's banquet included notable speakers such as Bob Fria, Hal Sperlich, and Moray Callum.
One thing we did find surprising, though, was the lack of a drag racing event. According to Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration Executive Director Ron Bramlett, drag racing at both Vegas and Charlotte were canceled well prior to the weekend due to lack of interest. We say, what's with that Mustang fans?
We’re not sure of all the drivers in this photo from the open track event, but we do know they were having tons of fun. That’s J. Bittle driving his red 427-powered ’67 G.T. 500, with Tim Riley right behind in his blue Restomod Shop-built ’67 fastback.
All in all, it was a great time in Vegas, with organizers estimating around 2,500 participating Mustangs. The Mustang 50th Birthday was well attended from around the globe, with enthusiasts often wearing identifiable shirts. We spoke with one gentleman from France, who said that a group of 400 of his countrymen and women had come to Vegas for the event. Now that's dedication!
And with all the entertainment that Vegas has to offer, we dare say there was something to do even if one tired of the Mustang overload. Then again, is that really possible?
Arguably the two most famous Mustang concept cars ever, Mustang I (1962) and Mustang II (1963) were present in Vegas courtesy of the Henry Ford Museum and Dearborn Historical Society.
We found Mustang II particularly interesting, as many of the production car’s styling cues were included in this one—for example the coved body lines, twin brow dashpad, and door panel shapes.
Ford brought two ’15 Mustangs to display, which attracted crowds all weekend.
Baer Brakes had a nice display of wares, not to mention the company’s sweet ’69 Sportsroof wearing a full complement of the latest braking bling. Stance? Nailed it!
We found ourselves drooling over this Coyote–powered Shelby 6000 series Cobra. We think we got the evidence wiped up before anyone noticed.
Not many ’67 G.T. 500s look like this today!
Paul and Leticia Kerner displayed their unrestored Shelby in the Scott Drake booth, where it attracted plenty of attention. From the description, it’s been stored for about 30 years—and apparently not washed for a commensurate period of time.
The 1970 coupes don’t always get a lot of love, but this one was looking good with Grabber Orange paint, a nice stance, and attention to detail. Well done!
Dennis Meijndert came all the way from Alberta, Canada with his ’68.
The hot-red fastback features a turbocharged 331 based on a Dart block, and much more.
Ken Berger owns this unique ’65 Mustang wagon, custom built by former Ford designer William Sibo. It runs a 429/C6 powertrain, along with rack-and-pinion, coilovers, A/C, and more.
While being a vintage magazine, we can’t help but offer up our thoughts on the best vintage vibe on a newer model that we saw all weekend. That award would go to the ’12 Boss 302R which Biskup Motorsport was hot lapping on the track. The ’69 Bud Moore team paintjob looked absolutely perfect, and makes us wonder why Ford didn’t opt for this on the ’12 Laguna Seca cars, rather than the strange orange trimmed themes they went with.
Ford offered rides and drives around the infield road course, in a wide variety of new model Fords. Aptly called “Ride and Drive,” it proved a popular event with the crowds.
Showgoers were scooping up official memorabilia left and right.