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The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge, a professional racing series co-developed by Ford Racing and Miller Motorsports Park, will come to an end this season. Series officials have announced that the season ending event at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT, is the last to be run.

Utilizing the Larry Miller-developed Ford Mustang FR500S and sanctioned by the Grand-Am Road Racing, the Mustang Challenge has been a support series to major professional road racing events across North America for the past three years.

“It is with mixed emotions that we announce the end of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge,” offered Miller Group President Greg Miller. “On a personal level it has been fun and exhilarating for me to have been a part of this series from the time of the earliest discussions between Ford Racing and MMP.”

The Mustang Challenge series was first announced at the SEMA show in November, 2007, and launched at Road Atlanta in May, 2008, when Trans-Am Champion Dorsey Schroeder waved the first green flag for twenty spec Mustang cars. Built at the Auto Alliance assembly plant in Flat Rock, MI, the FR500S Mustang made Ford history being the first-ever production-built vehicle to go straight to the track.

“The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge has been an excellent partner for GRAND-AM, so we are naturally disappointed that 2010 will be the last season of operation for the series,” said David Spitzer, GRAND-AM Vice President of Competition. “Thank you to the Miller family, Ford, and the entire Miller Motorsports Park organization for what they have been able to accomplish since the inception of the Mustang Challenge.”

Two-season champion, Andrew Caddel was the only driver ever to be presented a trophy by the series visionary, Larry H. Miller. Miller, whose empire included dozens of car dealerships in the Rockies, Miller Motorsports Park and the Larry H. Miller Charities, died in February of last year. Since late 2008, the Mustang Challenge series has generated over $100,000 in support of the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.

Two events remain in the series. Next on the schedule is at Autobahn Raceway in Joliet, IL, followed by the series finale at Miller Motorsports Park. As part of the Ford Racing Championship Package, the series champion will in the season-opening GRAND-AM Sports Car Challenge at Daytona International Raceway, early in 2011.

Officials of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation served a warrant at the premises of Classic Recreations, in Yukon, OK, last week. Several vehicles were seized and removed from the property.

Classic Recreations is a builder of G.T.500CR “restomod” Mustangs, essentially new versions of the 1967 Shelby GT500. The “Intro” model sells for $119,000 and comes with 545 hp, according to the company’s web site. High-end models start from $199,000.

At issue appears to be the removal of Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plates from old Mustangs and installing them on cars built using all-new body parts, for example those from Dynacorn. “They were basically removing VIN plates and putting them on these manufactured cars and then marketing them as classic, original Mustangs,” explained OSBI spokesperson, Gary Perkinson.

Jason Engel, the owner of Classic Recreations, is reported to be cooperating fully with the authorities. According to Perkinson, no charges have been filed, though the investigation continues.

Dynacorn, the makers of replacement sheet metal components and assembled body shells for enthusiasts, is very clear on their web site on titling issues. ON the topic of VINs in the state of Oklahoma, they say:

Your vehicle registration number will be based on the vehicle identification number (VIN) located on the body of the vehicle (body VIN). If the vehicle has a custom body without a body VIN, the OTC will issue a VIN. This number must then be die stamped onto the doorplate on the vehicle.

The OSBI maintains that anyone involved in removing the VIN plates could face charges for fraud.

Classic Recreations subsequently released the statement below.

_____

STATEMENT FROM CLASSIC RECREATIONS

Classic Recreations has an excellent reputation and has always provided its customers with a quality product that is among the finest in the world.

We are working with local authorities and are anxious to clear up any misconceptions and currently in the news.

The quote attributed to Jason Engel in a single local Oklahoma news report is second hand information that was misquoted by the local media outlet.

Classic Recreations denies any and all wrongdoing.

Like thousands of other restoration shops and hobbyists across the country, Classic Recreations builds vintage cars with original and aftermarket parts – the restoration marketplace should pay attention to what is happening here.

The shop has built a reputation for building the highest quality vehicles and delivering unrivaled customer satisfaction and will continue to do so in the future.

We are a family-run business that is proud of our hard-earned reputation for honesty and superior craftsmanship, and are confident that this misunderstanding will be cleared up quickly.

Owners may come and go, but Legends are assuredly forever. In the case of this 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster, the owners have – at best – been stewards. Stewards, let us say, of what is without a shred of doubt, a hugely significant piece of automotive history.


Photos: Mecum Auctions

The fully documented history of this car begins with a slight bauble, where the name of the original buyer is unknown. That owner began the unusual history of the Cobra by rolling it on a rainy afternoon and damaging some of the body panels in the process. The vehicle was sold to a Mr. Dennis Henningsen, who determined that the chassis was not damaged and contacted Shelby American to purchase replacement body parts. In an unexpected turn of events, Carroll Shelby sold him the complete body from CSX3005 – the fourth 427 Cobra built.

A third owner actually completed the rebuild process and two more owners came and went, until the car found a degree of stability with Bill and Bud Jones, of Roanoke, VA, who acquired the roadster for the princely sum of $9,527.22. While they have carefully looked after the 427 Cobra, they have also been generous in sharing it with others. Regular appearances at Shelby American Automobile Club events have filled the brother’s shelves with awards.

At this time, the Cobra shows just 17,300 miles on its odometer. Under the hood, you’ll see the jaw-dropping 427-cid “side oiler” engine, topped by twin Holley four-barrel carbs. CSX3102’s limited slip differential and 36-gallon competition fuel tank reveal a captivating twist in its history. You see, body number 3005, on chassis 3102, is the only known Cobra body modified for a Cobra Team effort at Le Mans.

CSX3102 was to have been raced at Le Mans by Bob Johnson of Columbus, OH. At the time, however, the Shelby team began to focus on GT40 efforts and the Le Mans project was discontinued. Unfortunately, Johnson never did race the car. The balance of the carefully documented history of this Cobra reads like an inspired novel, but with its significant past firmly rooted in reality.

The next steward of this piece of history will be determined at the upcoming Mecum Auctions’ Muscle Cars & More event in Monterey, CA, on August 13 – 14, 2010. Bidding is likely to start at a level guaranteed to exclude the faint of heart and finish with two commas in the price tag. Additional information, along with an extensive and entertaining description by Ken Gross, is available at the auctioneer’s web site.

Steeda Police Program Mods Mustangs

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Lying just north of the Florida border, off I-75, the town of Valdosta, GA, celebrated its 150th Anniversary in January this year. More recently, the Valdosta Police Department celebrated the arrival of a pair of special Ford Mustang police cars.


Photo: Steeda Autosports

Aside from official livery and the usual police car equipment, local company Steeda Autosports further modified these cars. Steeda relocated a significant portion of their operations from Pompano Beach, FL, two years ago. Well known suppliers of performance and other parts for the Ford Mustang, Steeda is also active in the community.

These two cars are the pointy edge of a program that Steeda may expand nationally. According to Valdosta City Manager, Larry Hanson, the Steeda modifications focus on safety, improved braking and better gas mileage. As part of a test program, Hanson says, “We are trying this out. We are going to evaluate the performance of the vehicles and see if the modifications really do make a difference.”

Valdosta Police Chief Frank Simons says that the modifications are expected to save up to $30,000 over five or six years. The police department will also have six Crown Victoria patrol cars upgraded as well.

Steeda’s Georgia operations are set on campus of 35 acres and include a 100,000 sq. ft. design, engineering, manufacturing and support building. In addition, a 1.2-mile test track, skid pad, brake test area and dynamic road surface area were built to assist the development of the company’s performance products.

A late race crash between Joey Hand’s #97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 and Billy Johnson’s #61 ROUSH Performance Products Ford Mustang GT put Johnson out of the lead and into fourth place with just three laps to go.

Matt Bell had placed the #6 Sunoco Chevrolet Camaro on the pole, breaking the track record in the process, and led the opening laps of the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio. Jack Roush Jr. started from fifth in the #61 ROUSH Performance Mustang GT. Roush made his way through the traffic and got past Bell on Lap 14.


Photos: Grand Am

“It was definitely a handful trying to keep Jack (Roush) behind me for awhile. Considering all those things with the Sunoco Camaro, Stevenson Motorsports did an awesome job giving us a competitive car, even though it had a bit of a handicap,” commented Bell.

A total of seven full course cautions slowed the race significantly. Both Roush and Johnson consistently recovered position after pit stops and would likely have grabbed the top podium spot, barring the late race incident. Race winners Spencer Pumpelly and Steve Bertheau were not handed a freebie, having moved up from 27th place at the start, in their #41 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 997.

“We hate to win that way,” Pumpelly said. “We’ve really gotten our program together. We’ve always been there, but you still need a little luck and we got there today.”


Photos: Wes Duenkel/Mustang Challenge

In Ford Racing Mustang Challenge action, Jason von Kluge of Ann Arbor, MI, lead the race from green flag to the checkers, taking his fourth race of the season. The 45-minute sprint saw von Kluge and Tony Buffomante leave the herd behind as they both appeared to have dialed in the right settings for the Mid-Ohio track. The nose-to-tail action continued through the entire race.

“Tony was right there the whole time, he never cut me a break,” said von Kluge. “I made a mistake early on in and power slid through the Keyhole and I was really worried about that. I just managed to hold him back. He pushed me right to the end.”

Buffomante and von Kluge are now separated by only five points in the Championship points race, leaving a 24 point gap back to the third place competitor, Pratt Cole.

“In the middle I just backed up a little bit to see if I could get a run on him and get by and save the tires a little bit, but I had nothing for him,” said Buffomante. “Out of the Keyhole, he was killing me. We just have to get the car better out of the short stuff. Classic Mid-Ohio. You catch them up in the back of the track and then get out of the Keyhole and it’s over again, so that was a frustrating race.”

Ben Crosland started from third and finished there in his #25 RP Motorsports Mustang. Both series takes a bit of a break until getting together again at New Jersey Motorsports Park, on July 17-18.

Later this month, Barrett-Jackson will hold a Collector Car “event” in Orange County. If you have only ever seen their auctions on TV, you can be forgiven for assuming that the cars presented are only for retired Texas oil patch people and transplanted Hollywood production dudes.


Photos: Barrett-Jackson

We went snooping in the Orange County catalog and found a number of notable cars that won’t go for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ordinary people like you and I could easily participate in one of these auctions and might even come home with a bargain.

For example, Lot 45.6 is a 1966 Mustang convertible, with a 289 and 4-speed transmission. The car has a new top, top boot, center console and tires on GT rims. According to the owner, the chrome and trim are in outstanding condition and the car has had one high quality repaint in 2005. That paint, however, is Sahara Beige and the interior is Tan, which makes for a quite soft-spoken appearance.

This is very likely an excellent “runner” – a car that you can buy and enjoy driving to shows, events and perhaps even on vacation. You’re not going to worry about a stone chip here or there and it will never see the inside of a show trailer. Unless the Orange County location has an undue impact on general pricing, expect this car to go out somewhere in the $14K to $18K range.

Another find is Lot 105, a 1965 Ford Ranchero pickup. These were Falcons that had the rear sheet metal changed over into a pickup bed, leaving only two seats up front. With a 200-cid, inline 6-cylinder engine, this particular example isn’t going to be pulling out any stumps. However, the driveline has been rebuilt and the car sports a number of custom touches, including a leather interior and 14″ Centerline wheels.

Were this example more original, it might have potential as a representative example of the early Rancheros. The understated paint will fail to excite a casual buyer, while the inline-6 engine will keep the performance enthusiasts moving on by. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb here and suggest that a five-figure final bid for this one is possible… barely. For the right person with a sense of adventure, this Ranchero could be a dream car and a bargain, all together in one set of wheels.

Another classic that will go home with a new owner, is a 1965 Mustang convertible with a 225-hp, A-code 289 V8 engine and 4-speed manual transmission. Lot 34 is a classic red on black convertible that draws eyes from a mile away. While the paint was redone on 2009, the interior is said to be original. While the sheet metal is original, the chrome, trim, moldings and tires were replaced after the painting was finished.

This would be a fun car as a driver and for regional shows. Sure to be well considered in any participant-voting exercise, this classic Mustang is likely to hold up well. Someone attending the Orange Country event is likely to pick up this Mustang in the low $20K range.

Sure, this show is also going to see its share of fifty and sixty and hundred thousand dollar plus cars, but there are some good deals and perhaps even a few bargains to be found. You won’t know unless you try.

Faultless weather blessed the enthusiastic crowd that turned out for this Memorial Day weekend’s racing at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. Saturday was to be an epic day of racing… something that guests at Lime Rock have become accustomed to seeing. They would certainly not be disappointed when the Grand Am racing got started.

Due to the relatively short length of the track (1.53 miles), each class in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge would have their own race. A total of thirty-one cars would start in the Grand Sport (GS) class, including eleven Mustangs and three Camaros. Multimatic Motorsports was out in force, fielding a pair of Boss 302R competition Mustangs, while Racers Edge Motorsports, CMA Motorsports and TC Motorsports each brought one more.


Photos: Grand Am

Multimatic has been continuing development on the BOSS 302 racer, enduring several bouts of racing luck, while amply demonstrating the car’s potential. In the first four races of the year, the #15 Multimatic Motorsports BOSS 302 Mustang has started on the front row.

Scott Maxwell, co-driver of the #15 entry explained, “Unfortunately, Lime Rock Park is traditionally not a good track for us. For whatever reason it’s not suited for the Mustang. I’m not overly optimistic, but then again there have been tracks where I thought we had a good chance and we didn’t do so well.”

Tradition would not hold up to Maxwell’s forecast, as six Mustangs lined up in Top Ten starting positions before the race. Jack Roush took pole position in the #61 ROUSH Performance Mustang GT, while Maxwell would start beside him. The Camaro GS.R’s of Stevenson Motorsports also fared well in qualifying and occupied fourth and sixth places on the grid. Their Riley Technologies-built racers have shown competitiveness right out of the box.

Jack Roush Jr. ran the best portion of the 147-lap race, eventually being brought in for a driver change, fuel and tires with about 30 minutes to go. In the meantime, Joey Hand and Michael Marsal had worked their way up from 16th at the start. Billy Johnson took over from Roush and returned to the race in third place.


Jack Roush Jr. (foreground) took Pole position for the race, while Billy Johnson brought the Mustang home just three tenths of a second out of first place.

“I tried to work my way back up through the field after that pit stop, and once I got to Joey, I was all over his bumper,” Johnson explained. “It was tough at the end. Joey was one of my instructors here at Lime Rock, and we raced each other clean. It was good racing.” Johnson posted the fastest lap of the race – a 57.622 (89.485 mph average) – near the end of the race.

When the Turner Motorsports BMW M3 and the ROUSH Performance Mustang thundered across the finish line, there was a scant 0.298 seconds between them. Turner Motorsports had celebrated their 200th professional racing start this weekend, so the victory was certainly meaningful to the team.

The #52 Rehagen Racing Mustang GT finished in fourth place, the #9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GS.R in sixth and the #62 Mitchum Motorsports Camaro GS.R arrived in seventh.

The Grand Am show moves along to Watkins Glen, NY, for the next event this coming weekend. The 150-mile race starts at 10:15 a.m. EST on June 5th. The field has grown to 35 GS-class entrants, including two Camaro GS.R’s from Momentum Race Group – absent from the series since Homestead – and a BOSS 302 Mustang from Jim Click Racing.

Finally, the BOSS Mustang is Coming!

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
In that rarefied spectrum of Mustangs which we reverently call “Special Editions” are the most revered, the most significant and possibly the most expensive of all Mustangs in their time. Often, special edition models are used to drive sales when market forces are not cooperating. However, they can also be used to build showroom traffic, even if only the top few percent of customers could afford it.


Photos: Ford Motor Company

The 45-year history of the Mustang has seen many special editions. Some, such as the BOSS 302, are unforgettable, while others, such as the late 70’s MPG and Olympic editions, are eminently forgettable. Following the release of the S197 Mustang in 2004, a number of modern special editions followed. The 2008 Bullitt is likely the most memorable, while several regional special edition models are unlikely to appear in any but the most thorough history books.

Speculation is fun and harmless, but ultimately unfulfilling. Past online discussions in enthusiast forums have long centered on the possibilities and the why’s and why-nots of a BOSS special edition. Trademark issues were raised as a possible deterrent, but the fact is that – usually – when Ford wants something badly enough, they find a way to get it.

For example, in order to use the “MPG” mark in the mid-1970’s, Ford had to license its use from the Maine Potato Growers association.

Recently, things have become more interesting. In time for the Daytona 24-hour race this year, Ford Racing introduced the BOSS 302 race car, designed to compete in the Grand Am GT-class of the Rolex series. That would apparently suggest that is there were any trademark issues with the BOSS name, they have been resolved.

Far more encouraging are the following comments, attributed to Mark Fields, executive vice president, Ford Motor Company, and president, The Americas, at the recent Ford 2010 Dealer Show.

“We did the Bullitt, we did a Mach 1, we did the C/S. I can’t tell you what the next special edition Mustang will be, but I can give you a hint.”

At that point, a 1970 Boss 302 drove across the stage.

Fields quipped, “Is that a subtle enough hint?”

A few years ago, Fields pre-announced the 2008 Mustang Bullitt at an industry event, well before it became available, so this revelation is not without precedent. Certainly, the return of the 5.0-liter engine presents an opportunity to create another collectible modern Mustang. A street legal car could not use the ‘Cammer’ 5.0-liter engine, as it was not designed for emissions compliance.

Now, a new round of speculation can begin about the content and pricing of a new BOSS Mustang. At least, there is now a significant chance for fulfillment.

Most events seem to gravitate to either the East or West coasts. One of the long standing exceptions to this is the Mid-America Ford Team Shelby Nationals, now gearing up for its thirty-sixth year running.

For additional information or registration, check out the event web site.


Photo: Mid America Shelby Nationals

The event runs June 16th – 20th, 2010 in Tulsa, OK, and if you have anything to do with Shelby cars, Ford or Ford-powered vehicles, you’ll be there. The turnout at this event is staggering and the variety and significance of the vehicles that show up is staggering.

Nearby Hallet Motor Speedway is a prime venue for those with a need for speed. If both you and your ride can handle the pace, there is track time available every day during the event. Saturday’s opportunities might draw you to Tulsa Raceway Park for a change of pace, though.

You can get a feel for the track at Hallet from this video, taken last year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcR8s6DrE_A

For those interested in more than just track time, there will be additional activities throughout the five days. These include a banquet, flea market, cruises, Concours-level judging show, an All-Ford Super Show, drag racing, educational seminars and evenings downtown in the historic Brady District of Tulsa.

5.0’s Begin Arriving at ROUSH

Friday, April 30th, 2010
While ROUSH is still in production on the last of the 2010 model year Mustangs, they have also officially begun building on the 2011 chassis with the new 5.0L engine, which have started arriving from the Flat Rock, MI, assembly plant.


Photos: ROUSH Performance

The first cars will be transformed into ROUSH Mustangs with the addition of a Sport, Stage 1 or Stage 2 package. These versions will use the base 2011 Mustang GT powered by the 5.0-liter engine producing 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque as a platform for cosmetic, interior and suspension modifications. These models should start showing up on the dealer lots in the near future.

Already shaking up the pony car world, the standard production Mustang represents an amazing value propsition. Add in some distinctive looks, improved handling, OEM quality and a measure of exclusivity with the ROUSH name, and you’ve surely got a beacon of driveway envy.

“I expect that the 2011 Stage 1 and Stage 2 ROUSH Mustangs could come close to matching the performance of some ROUSHcharged Mustangs we have offered in prior model years which will make them extremely exciting to drive and at a reasonable starting price point,” commented Jack Roush.

The 2011 Roush 427R Mustang is currently under development with Roush engineers who are hard at work developing the 2011 model year ROUSHcharger. Roush engineers are also planning what kind of modifications can be done to the new 5.0-liter engine but don’t expect the 427R model until mid-year sometime.

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