DEARBORN, Mich – If you are a frequent visitor of the Enthusiast section of Ford Performance.com then you know we post hundreds of stories throughout the year as we hit the road to bring you weekly updates on show coverage, upcoming events, notable rides and Ford fans living the enthusiast lifestyle. As we close the books on yet another memorable year, we often start looking ahead by filling our Ford Performance events calendar with can’t-miss shows. Before we fully commit to ringing in 2018, we thought this would be the perfect time to look back at what we consider to be the “Top 10” Ford enthusiast moments that we had captured for you over the past 12 months on FordPerformance.com. Choosing the finalists for this list is a near-impossible task after posting so many exclusive stories over the past year, so this time we added a few to an “Honorable Mention” list so that we could sleep at night. Please join us in reflecting on the top features of 2017 as we turn the page and ring in the New Year.
DEC 21, 2017 | FORD PERFORMANCE STAFF
TOP 10 FORD PERFORMANCE.COM ENTHUSIAST STORIES OF 2017
When the Ford Wixom Assembly plant opened back on April 15, 1957, it was one of the most expansive and modern automotive production facilities in the world. It was built as the “Lincoln Assembly Plant” to become the exclusive producer of Lincoln vehicles and to house the luxury marque’s new headquarters after Ford Motor Company had established it as a standalone brand. The plant would later be renamed for the suburban Detroit town of Wixom, Michigan, which grew up around it. After expansions, it would become Ford’s largest, most profitable and highest quality auto-making factory. With 2017 marking the site’s 60th anniversary, the massive assembly facility is now long gone, but the legacy of the premium vehicles that were built here remains.
Over 2,400 aftermarket companies filled the 1-million square-foot Las Vegas Convention Center for the annual SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show, which seems to become bigger and better every single year, For the 2017 show, we had our very own Ford Performance insider, Isaac Ireland of the Ford Performance Info Center, attend with his camera with only one goal in mind – to give you an insider’s view of this industry-only trade specialist event.
We headed out west during Arizona Car week, but our invitation was not for the famed Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction where thousands of enthusiast participate in the sales of restored classics produced decades ago. Instead, we attended an event hosted by the folks at ClassicCars.com, based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, called the “Future Classics Car Show” (FCCS). This show highlights vehicles produced since the mid-1970s which will likely, one-day, find their place on an auction block in the future. The goal of this event is to shed light on young enthusiasts and give them a chance to share the automotive limelight with the owners of high-dollar classics selling Barrett-Jackson stage.
With the purchase of every Focus RS comes a once-in-a-lifetime driving experience at the RS Adrenaline Academy at the Utah Motorsports Campus. While hundreds of hot-hatch enthusiasts have made the trip to the Ford Performance Racing School, Focus RS owner Shane Heid took things to the next level by planning a 1,500-mile journey from Wisconsin to Utah while taking his Focus RS to some of the coolest driving destinations in country. They include: a 14,120-foot hike across the Rockies; trail-riding at the famous Moab off-road parks; and speed runs at Bonneville’s famous salt flats. We talked with Shane about his cross-country adventure, his love of his Focus RS, and his experience at the RS Adrenaline Academy.
During a wonderful conversation with retired Ford VP of Design Jack Telnack, it was suggested that the Ford Performance communications team should relay a little-known fact about the life of the legendary Canadian racer Gilles Villeneuve. Any enthusiast knows that Villeneuve spent six years in Grand Prix racing with Ferrari, winning six races and widespread acclaim for his performances before being killed in a 140-mph crash during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. But few know that Gilles was a true Ford guy. For “car guys” who are fans of the Blue Oval, it’s a great story within the legendary Villeneuve narrative, which remains as alive today world-wide as it was 35 years ago before Gilles' tragic F1 accident in Zolder, Belgium.
Sturgis, South Dakota, is a veritable mecca for folks of the two-wheeled variety. In recent years, however, this unassuming town on the edge of the famous Black Hills has also become a popular destination for enthusiasts seeking four-wheeled fun. Car clubs of all makes and models visit the area each year – but let’s be honest, there’s really only one manufacturer that matters, and not just because its logo is a cool Blue Oval. In fact, of all the car events that take place in and around Sturgis every year, the annual Sturgis Mustang Rally held over Labor Day weekend is the biggest of them all.
A little over a year ago, Aaron Vince, a Ford Performance.com staffer, was sitting at home streaming the Goodwood Festival of Speed and came to the realization that “one of the most revered automotive events in the world” would be a great setting for a father-son trip. After 11 months of planning, Aaron and his father took the trip to the U.K. this past June to attend the famed festival, and he recounted for us his journey enjoying the “trip of a lifetime”
This summer, Monica Katzen took a special cross-country journey in her 1967 Mustang Convertible, a car that has symbolized freedom and independence since purchasing it five years ago. Monica’s 3,332-mile trip from Connecticut to Seattle in her car, “Mustang Sally,” symbolized all the things she faced on the “road of life” as she embarked on her 50th birthday. She takes us along for the ride during her trip in an exclusive three-part series where she recounts her collection of experiences along the way.
George Conrad is successful businessman who enjoys the fruits of his labor. He started making thermocouples in 1989 using credit cards a means of financing his business venture. Through those early financial hardships, he had told himself that if the business ever did well enough, he would buy himself a few cars. Today, George owns over 140 vintage, specialty, and limited-production Ford cars in a private collection. Ford Performance received an invitation to join the North Coast Mustang Club of Ohio for a tour of this member’s-only event. Isaac Ireland, our Ford Performance Info Center staffer-turned-photographer, went along for trip and captured an insider’s gallery of George’s collection.
Courtney Barber of “Team Mustang Girls” took us on a journey of a lifetime by driving a 1965 Mustang from South Carolina to Alaska and back last summer. As summer came and went, Courtney recalls her 11,000-mile travels around the U.S. She covered some of the same ground from her past travels, but also visited new places and brought along some new faces as well. Courtney has never been one to “baby” her ’65, so her trips are always of the hardcore variety as she continues to check off items that you could find on every enthusiasts bucket list.