An Insider’s Look at One of the Biggest Mustang 50th Celebrations

On April 17, 1964, a legend was unveiled and the world changed. That was the day at the New York World’s Fair when Ford Motor Company first unveiled the Mustang, and from that moment on the car has generated a huge fan base. To celebrate the Mustang’s golden anniversary, two big parties were thrown by the Mustang Club of America, one in Las Vegas and the other one in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Great American Pony Drive gathered hundreds of Mustang owners in Norman, Oklahoma, to caravan to the location of the two celebration events. You can read our updates on the road trip from Norman to Charlotte here.

As expected, the event in Charlotte was enormous, with the entire infield of the speedway full of Mustangs, Ford displays, racing and pretty much anything else you can think of that’s Mustang-related. Bill Ford, Jr., Ford Motor Company, Executive Chairman and Edsel Ford, Ford Motor Company Board Member, were at the event and participated in many of the activities.

The festivities kicked off on Thursday morning with the opening ceremonies, when the 2015 Mustang was shown to the crowd, giving many of them their first in-person look at the car and a chance to sit in it.

The infield of the racetrack was filled with Mustangs dating from 1964 to 2015, and outside the oval were even more Mustangs, a tent of rare Mustangs and a swap meet. Even non-automotive enthusiasts in Charlotte had to know something was going on, as the entire town was overrun with Mustangs. That was no more apparent than during the Mustang cruise to nearby Kannapolis, North Carolina, on Friday, April 18, 2014. In an attempt to break the previous Guinness World Record of one car model in a continuous line of 621 cars – which also happened to be Mustangs – nearly 1,000 Mustangs gathered at the ZMax dragstrip next to the speedway and cruised to Kannapolis. The only downside to the cruise was the hard rain that fell, but they soldiered on.

Inside the speedway, there was something for everyone. When you weren’t looking at all the beautiful Mustangs on display. There were both indoor and outdoor manufacturers’ midways and an open-track event where car owners could drive on the speedway oval and road course (Ford also had drivers there to provide rides for people who were a bit intimidated by the fast track, and the line for a ride was quite long). There was also a Ford display with all 50 years of Mustang models and question-and-answer sessions with Team Mustang engineers, including Gale Halderman, who created the initial pencil drawing of the very first Mustang all those years ago. Also in an indoor display was a black 1964 Mustang convertible that was one of the original display cars in the 1964 World’s Fair, with all the historical documents and photographs to take you back in time.

The party was concluded at a banquet on Saturday night as Ford and Team Mustang engineers and Ford executives presented awards and provided more details on the new Mustang. Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang Chief Engineer, provided a fun and informative presentation showing some of the engineering feats in the new 2015 Mustang that were previously known only to the engineering team.

Here’s to another 50 years!

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