Rod Steely was looking to bond with his son and won a rally championship along the way
It’s amazing how two people can have common interests, but experience them in such dramatically different ways. Mike Bailey, a retired civil engineer and his wife, Kris Whise, a landscape architect, both enjoy driving and competitive shooting, but that’s where the similarities end.
Kris’ daily driver is a 2015 Focus ST with a 252 hp* and a six-speed manual that fits her personality: modern, sophisticated and fun-loving. “I enjoy energetic driving and the feeling of power,” declares Kris. “And I’ve always enjoyed having a stick shift. In fact, my previous vehicle was an Escape and that had a stick.” When asked why she made such a dramatic change from the Escape to the Focus ST, she explains, “I wanted to downsize and have a little more fun—and with the ST, I could get racing stripes!”
In contrast, stepping into Mike’s original 1964 ½ Mustang Hardtop with a three-speed manual transmission is like slipping into a time machine. While a groundbreaking vehicle for its time, all of those amenities found in Kris’ Focus are noticeably absent in this original Pony car. Forget any kind of power assist, the steering is manual—as is the window crank handle. No disc brakes here, it’s drum brakes all around. As for entertainment, rock out to your heart’s content with its push-button AM radio. And the 260 V8 engine is essentially twice the displacement of the 2-liter 4-cylinder 252 hp engine in the Focus ST, but it only produces 164 horsepower.
While Kris revels in the sophisticated performance of her Focus ST, Mike enjoys his Mustang for very different reasons. “It’s not about absolute speed, it’s more about the raw sound of the old V8 and the visceral feeling of driving a car that requires more driver involvement than today’s cars do,” says Mike.
In addition to their cars, Mike and Kris enjoy competitive shooting. And once again, their areas of interest are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Kris prefers modern, sophisticated rifles while Mike leans toward rifles from the late 1800s.
And while Mike has won the Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge—the highest individual award authorized by the U.S. Government for excellence in marksmanship competition—Kris’s shooting is impressive on a different level: “I’m legally blind in my right eye—so it’s exhilarating to be able to score well on targets that are 100 or 200 yards away.”
"The fact that we both enjoy great cars and competitive shooting provides many opportunities for new adventures," says Kris. She adds with a laugh: "Really, when your spouse is spending money on something you both enjoy, you're not going to complain about it."
*Using 93-octane fuel.