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MAA Events: 1996 Vegas to Atlanta Drive

Mustangs Monthly Magazine

"3000 Mile Stampede - December 1996"

Article by Jerry Pitt and Mary Jean Wesche

 


The call of the road is a deafening sound. Combine that with the thunderous roar of a stampede of Mustangs, the four-wheeled variety, and the results are hard to describe. In 1994, Mustangs Across America came together as group of people ready and willing to make new relationships. Each strived to please the other and a consensus was realized. We went the distance keeping an eye out for each other. The result was a fun, but grueling trip with enthusiasts who displayed a high degree of community. Best of all, we reached our goal - arriving and celebrating together the 30th Anniversary of the Mustang. This new found family had a good time traveling together. In 1996 the goal was to travel to and take part in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Mustang Club of America. The mode of transportation , Mustangs, and many of the people were the same. But the ante was up Some had taken this tour group for three consecutive years, in 1995 a trip to Bellevue Washington. This time the tour was not just one, but two trips over a span more than two weeks. Anticipations were high and all realistically anticipated the problems-the mechanical, the weather, the traffic, and other unpleasantries But now we were seasoned, we were veterans, and we “know how to do it“.

The ‘96 trip was far different from the first one, not necessarily in concept, but in spirit. There was a different sense of belonging. Instead of belonging to the group of cars caravanning across the country, we were a group of Mustangs traveling together. The hysteria of 100 Mustangs traveling in a tight caravan created havoc in 1994, so in an effort to take pressure off local stops and interchanges, a decision was made to allow cars to travel at a pace comfortable to them and spread out the group. That was difficult for those who found sanctuary in the group buy appreciated by those who wanted to find out what their Mustang could do. To call it Mustang utopia would be Orwellian. That fact is that with this trip under our belt, we have a new found appreciation for what it takes to successfully travel together. It takes more than Mustangs, more than a good map and directions, it takes common spirit and an ability to celebrate each other's strengths.

 

Because a trip like this is impossible to document in detail, in the pages that follow, we present our point-of-view by illustrating select highlights from each day. In addition, we have a series of mini-features to illustrate a handful of the cars that took part in the stampede. In 1994, the attempt in the Mustang community was to state that a new trend was developing while another was going away. "Driving is in, showing is out," was the cry. The truth is, Mustanging is still in regardless of how you do it. Mustang people will always do what comes naturally to them, as long as we as a community allow for individuality and celebrate our differences. Mustanging is allowing each of us to do exactly what we enjoy.

DAY ONE: Las Vegas, NV to Gallup, NM

Kick-off dinner last night at Roadhouse Diner...first driver's meeting 7:30 AM...keep safe distance... lights on...safety, safety, safety...roadwork 16 miles out of Vegas near Boulder City...could be a one hour delay...Boulder Dam, no parking, watch for falling rocks... "Break, break for a radio check," crackles the CBs...friendly waves from the 40 cars on the first day...stop in Kingman at 10:00 for a break...Koko the
gorilla drives the Bergeron's trailer-bound 7-Up Give away convertible...Weather ahead in Flagstaff according to westbound truckers... rain... rain...rain... find the overpass... Tonneau cover on the Saleen Pace Car stored in the nick of time...hail.."Where is the Wal- Mart?" aka staging area for after-lunch departure...read your travel guide...Peter Bullock runs out of gas on the Flagstaff off ramp...beautiful terrain...imagining images of Navajo warriors along the ridge on horseback... Gallup, New Mexico...Hotel EI Rancho...lots of ambiance...rooms named after movie stars...Have any comments for our Web-site? ...stress release...pranks lead to room redecorating...payback, 1:00 AM...Mr. Pitt there's a fire in the hotel...come out now, don't worry about getting dressed...Today's mileage:439

DAY TWO: Gallup, NM to Amarillo, TX

7:30 am driver's meeting...everyone here?..speeding ticket for Chuck Brown in his '68 GT-5OOKR...78 in a row...Sorry Chuck, had to mention it. SVO has a stuck throttle... thanks to the Rio Grande Mustang Club for meeting us on the highway...lunch for some in Albuquerque...for some, wait until Santa Rosa...approaching Amarillo...trucker comments that with this many nice Mustangs to look at out on the highway he's happy to be a driver...Cadillac Ranch...Tony Sousa's Shelby spins an axle bearing...motor on in to Amarillo to meet the Texas Panhandle Mustang Club who hosts a party at John Chandler Ford...great party...front sales lot emptied for the caravan to park and show their cars...service area immaculate as dinner is served...door prizes given out Japanese TV crew filming a documentary...local TV stations interviewing...cakes for dessert...we made the 10:00 news on two local television stations... Today's mileage: 427

DAY THREE: Amarillo, TX to Mustang, OK

Staging at Westgate Mall in Amarillo...Hector Brignoni from Fort Liption, Colorado joins in driving a Cobra R...no radio...no A/C...no passengers...Hey, Hector, how many songs did you sing along the trip to keep amused?. Pace Car in the rear of the group...race to speed up to the front to meet the State Police escort into Clinton, Oklahoma...no ticket, though...Mayor and other dignitaries from Clinton greet us at the Route 66 Museum...Sam Haymart is presented the key to the city...Route 66 tour...lunch at Route 66 diner...pick up Boss Mustang give-away drink cups at Hardee's...let's head out..."headlights on"...keep a safe distance..."we're at mile marker 75".slow down...can't keep up...if the Pace Car leaves a parking lot at 1:00and travels 68 mph and you leave the parking lot at 1:20 and travel 68 mph, how long will it take you to catch the front of the pack?.....on to Mustang, Oklahoma... lots and lots of hospitality...rain, again!...police escort to the Mustang McDonald's... lots and lots more hospitality...Oklahoma Lt. Governor Mary Fallin welcomes us...rain...ride into Oklahoma City...drive by the bomb site, high range of emotions... Today's Mileage: 248


 

 
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