Blue Oval Muscle Flexes At The Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals

More than 47 years ago a small but dedicated group gathered for a picnic. They were there to celebrate a shared love of Shelby Mustangs and all things Ford. All in attendance enjoyed the gathering so much they decided to make it an annual celebration. Over the years it has grown into a multi-day spectacle that offers a little bit of everything for fans of Blue Oval machines.

Our event is all that you want to make of it – road course, race, cruise, show, network or sit back and enjoy… — Justin Hobbs, Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals

“Many enduring friendships and business relationships have been made at Mid America and many more will surely follow in the years to come.  There is no doubt that it is the people who make the event,” event founder Jim Wicks reflected on the event’s history. “The cars are very special but, without the enthusiastic owners who want to share their good times with other enthusiasts, these cars would gather dust in garages all over the country.”

As you would expect, there were a number of special vehicles on display at the 47th Annual Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals. One such example was John Anderson’s one-of-518 1968 Shelby GT500 KR convertible. It held court in the lobby of the Marriott Southern Hills looking like it was ready for a trip to the beach thanks to the surfboard strapped to the light bar.

From June 16-20, 2021 the Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals took over the Marriott Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as its home base. The hotel served as the site of indoor displays, the launching point for an extensive Poker Run, and the closing Cars & Coffee on Father’s Day Sunday morning. The event kicked off with a cruise-in at the city’s Blue Dome District, which is bustling with dining, entertainment and shopping options. It received an injection of horsepower as nearly 600 vehicles filled the streets on Thursday evening.

For the next two days participants flocked to Hallet Motor Racing Circuit for open-track action. Whether enthusiasts were participating or just watching, there was plenty to enjoy at the storied road course. There was a great variety of vintage and modern hardware lapping the track, which was accented by a contingent of Ford’s latest machinery. Both the Mustang Mach-E and Mach 1 kicked off the festivities as the pace cars for the vintage race on Friday morning.

“…They have been sponsoring and coming to our event for so many years now definitely making them a part of our Mid America family,” Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals Event Director Justin Hobbs said. “Their continued support and feedback continue to help us shape the event this year and to set the stage for years to come.”

“We were a part of the Ocean to Ocean Reimagined cross-country tour of the Mach-E.  However, the tour came not only with the Mach-E, but also came with a 1909 Model T and a retro Airstream-style trailer,” Hobbs added. “The fact that Ford chose Mid America to represent this tour, with so many events to choose from, is what continues to excite me about our event.”

Long a staunch supporter of the Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals, Ford Motor Company brought out a broad range of its latest vehicles for enthusiasts to enjoy. They included the new Bronco, Mustang Mach 1, Mustang Mach-E, and the Shelby GT500.

On Saturday the action kicked off in the morning with the aforementioned Poker Run, which featured five card stops along the legendary Route 66. Later in the day the action moved from the twisties to the 1,320 as participants made drag-strip hits at Tulsa Raceway Park. Much like the road course action, the drag strip featured a little of everything — from Transit vans to classic Mustangs.

The best thing about this event is that it isn’t just a static car show. Enthusiasts who are so inclined can let their Fords fly on the road course and the drag strip. It is really fun seeing everything from the latest Ford Performance machines to rare classics blasting down the track at speed.

“Saturday we were at Tulsa Raceway Park for a drag race event and had a little over 200 cars out there for the day and everyone had fun and of course the weather cooperated and just made it awesome day,” Wicks said.

Closing out the festivities back at the host hotel was a Cars & Coffee event dominated by Ford vehicles, though a few Brand X machines snuck in. On hand were huge displays by Ford and Shelby, as well as a huge turnout of Mustangs and other Fords. As many cars as were there, which numbered over 400, the throngs of onlookers were even more prevalent, as the closing event coincided with Father’s Day.

Obviously, Shelby American was present showing off all its latest, amped-up versions of modern Fords, including its top-tier Super Snakes.

“For me, the secret has been our moto: Fords, Families & Fun. We have continued to push this and over the past three years have really strived to put the family back in our event and encourage fun for everyone,” Hobbs said. “We’ve been giving out Hot Wheels every day at the venues and promote not only the show, but activities around Tulsa for the entire family. Also, our continued support of our longtime sponsors. They continue to bring new and exciting vehicles each and every year, which keeps enthusiasts coming back for a chance to see or ride in them. The sponsors are truly open to feedback for current vehicles and the next iteration.”

If the Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals sounds like a good time to you, it will return to Tulsa next June for its 48th installment, so mark your calendars.

“We are continuing to review feedback from participants, volunteers and sponsors year after year to craft tweaks to make the next year the best year yet,” Hobbs teased. “Our event is all that you want to make of it – road course, race, cruise, show, network or sit back and enjoy, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t continue to morph.”

Mark Thomure picked up his classic fastback as a 50-footer back in 1986. When a hailstorm trashed it, he took the opportunity and insurance money to turn into the Mustang he always wanted. These days it is powered by a Ford Performance Coyote swap, which he says was a no-brainer because it was much cheaper than building up a Windsor the way he wanted it. He says the car, which rides on a Gateway Performance suspension, is like a “go-kart on steroids.”

Joe Berkley proudly showed off his 2019 Mustang GT fitted with the corner-carving Performance Pack Level 2 option. He says it is one of a handful sprayed in the one-year-only Need for Green hue, and these days it wears a GT500 front fascia conversion.

Ford is honoring the original Ocean to Ocean race commissioned by Henry Ford in 1909 with its Ocean to Ocean Reimagined tour, which stars the 2021 Mustang Mach-E. The tour, which began in New York and wraps up in Seattle, made a stop in Tulsa and its trailer put the coffee in Sunday morning’s Cars & Coffee. On a warm Father’s Day in Oklahoma, the iced coffee was the clear hit.

A huge fan of Blue Oval vehicles — and the Gulf paint livery — Darroll Myers brought a true power trio to Tulsa. In addition to his Cobra Jet and Ford GT, the latest to join his collection is a Gulf-themed Steeda Q850 powered by a built 5.2-liter engine topped by a Whipple supercharger. Built by Steeda Performance Vehicles and benefiting from a full complement of Steeda upgrades, it puts down a whopping 1,103 horsepower to the rear wheels.

If you have a soft spot for SN-95 snakes like this scribe, you have to appreciate this clean 1997 SVT Mustang Cobra. Only 6,961 were built that year, and just over 1,000 of those were painted Pacific Green. Mildly modified with a Magnaflow exhaust, a short-throw shifter, and a tune, this one is a real, late-’90s time capsule.

Dan Neve brought his Hope Edition to Tulsa. This one-of-a-kind version of a Shelby GT500 Signature Edition is helping Cruise For A Cause generate money to support cancer research.

While pristine restorations are beautiful, clean survivors like Pat Ezernack’s 1970 Shelby GT500 definitely take you back the muscle car glory days.

Photo gallery

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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