For the third year in a row, Mustangs and Mustang enthusiasts from all over made the trip to the Great Smokey Mountains and Sevierville, Tennessee for the annual Ponies In The Smokies. The four-day-long event is packed with plenty of opportunities for participants to enjoy their Mustangs as well as the chance to show them off to thousands of fellow Mustang enthusiasts. The event features a little bit of everything from drag racing and autocross to an indoor and outdoor car show on Friday. The weekend finished off with the awards ceremony on Saturday and the “All Ford Cruise-In.” We were there from start to finish to bring you a taste of all the action!
By eight o’ clock Wednesday morning, cars were already lining up at the Sevierville Convention Center to pick up their car show registration packets and Shine Run cards. The Shine Run is basically the Ponies In The Smokies version of a poker run. The two-day event-within-the-event takes participants to various stops across the area including a Go Kart track, the Bush’s Baked Beans Visitors Center, three local moonshine distilleries, and the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort at the end of the legendary Tail Of The Dragon. Over 400 cards were entered at a chance at about 75 prizes including two grand prizes, a set of wheels from Axe Wheels and a weeks vacation to Table Rock Resort.
A new feature for the event in 2019 was the PITS (Ponies In The Smokies) Driving Experience. Smokies Stadium opened up on Wednesday morning and provided participants with several chances to push the limits of their Mustang as well as ride along with some professional drivers. The guys over at East10Drift were in charge of courses and set up an autocross track, a 0-60-0 acceleration and braking challenge, and a drifting course for their drivers to do demos and ride alongs on. Roush Performance, the Roush Road Crew and Jack Roush Jr. himself were also on hand and set up at the stadium. Jack Jr. was providing thrill rides around the autocross track most of the day in a brand new silver Stage 3 Roush Mustang – providing smiles and memories to last a life time for all those lucky enough to catch a ride with him. Meanwhile the East10Drift drivers were on hand to provide ride alongs in a some of their coolest Ford drift cars and trucks; giving participants a tire smoking ride of a lifetime across the drift track!
As the sun started to set on Smokies Stadium the Kick Off Party presented by Croftgate officially began. Mustangs filled the lot from top to bottom and their drivers headed to the stadium to stamp their Shine Run card as the stadium is one of the official stops of the Shine Run. With the drift and auto cross track providing the background sound track, Ponies In The Smokies was officially under way.
Thursday brought participants more chances to visit all the Shine Run locations to complete their best possible poker hand to have a chance at one of the top prizes. At the end of the day, the cards were all turned in at the Shine Run party “down under the bridge” behind Quaker Steak and Lube. Even rain and a little ice couldn’t keep the cars away as the Mustang’s packed the river front lot while the guys at Hot Rods & Happy Hour served up some killer tunes.
On Friday morning participants made their way back to the Sevierville Convention Center for car show day. The car show actually consists of two separate car shows, the outside show and the inside show. The outside show housed over 500 cars competing for Top 75 as well as various best in class awards and a coveted Best Of Show moonshine still. The inside show consisted of “The 56″(one Mustang of every year, 1964 1/2 to 2019), which were in a competition of their own for best in each generation as well as another Best Of Show moonshine still. There was also a Roush and Modified SVT display on the inside that also competed for Top 5 awards in each class. Various other vendor picks, staff picks and editors choice awards were also up for grabs. All to be given out on Saturday during the awards ceremony. The 108,000 square-foot convention center housed dozens of vendors and 30 or so other special display cars. The SSP display consisted of 8 Special Service Package (SSP) Mustangs, in service trim, as a teaser to the planned SSP Reunion at PITS in 2020.
Saturday morning greeted participants on the inside with “The Elite Five” which consisted of the top five finalist in the outdoor car show for Best Of Show. As the awards ceremony would play out, the cars would drop off one by one as they were called for their best in class awards, leaving only one Pony standing at the end of the day to be the outside Best Of Show. Outside the convention center, Fords packed nearly every available parking spot for Saturday’s “All Ford Cruise In.” During show day, only Mustangs, Fox chassis cars and SVT products are allowed, but Saturday’s festivities are open to anything Ford. Approximately 700 Fords turned out for the event to go along with the 150-plus cars already inside the convention center – making this year’s PITS the largest in the events short three-year history. The PITS staff is already making plans for the 2020 version and have a lot more cool things in store for participants. Early bird registration opens the week after the show and the 2020 dates are March 25th to March 28th.