Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Gary Griffith, of Greenland, cuts a corner in his supercharged 1968 Shelby GT 350 at Meadows Parking Lot in Steamboat Springs. Griffith, who is in Steamboat for the annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup, tore around the parking lot Friday in the autocross event.
Steamboat Springs The swarms of Ford Mustangs that have descended upon Steamboat Springs have been about as difficult to spot as the ski mountain on a sunny day. Basically, walk outside downtown and they dominate the view.
They weren't very difficult to hear Friday, either. Nearly 400 of the shiny dream machines roared across the Meadows Parking Lot in the autocross portion of the weekend-long Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup.
Racers tore through an elaborate maze of cones, fighting for pride and leaving evidence of their battle in long, black tire streaks.
This year's autocross course differed from years past, and many found it more difficult. The best made it through in about 50 seconds.
"It was more technical this year," said Hap Schadler, who helped organize Friday's event. "It was a lot more challenging, longer and in some regards a little faster."
The trick to successfully navigating the cones was control, many racers said.
While the tight and turn-filled track kept speeds below about 40 miles per hour, power still was key to a successful run.
"It's totally different than racing on a track," Denver enthusiast Jack TerHar said. "You're really steering using the gas pedal if you're going to be fast. If you're going around the corner, you get on the right line, you get on the gas and slide your rear end around instead of driving it around."
For many, though, the day wasn't about the fastest times and the tightest turns.
Another 200 cars are expected at 10 a.m. today for the Show n' Shine on Lincoln Avenue. The event lasts until 3 p.m.
There was plenty of Mustang eye-balling going on Friday, too.
"Mustangs, mustangs, mustangs!" Vonda Fowler exclaimed, standing near a gleaming emerald 2000 model of her own.
She's the president of a Mustang club in Colorado Springs and traveled to Steamboat with her equally Mustang-loving husband, Steve, for the sixth consecutive year.
"I'm here for the ponies," she said.
Few of the hundreds who gathered to watch the displays of speed and power Friday would disagree. Still, it was clear this celebration isn't just about the Mustang. Ford products of all sort were raced and cheered.
A Ford Lightning truck made at least a dozen laps on the course. Jason Sampson traveled from Denver with a rare Ford Python, a concept car that never entered mass production.
TerHar showed up with a truckload of sweet cars that had jaws dropping all afternoon. His 2009 Aston Martin Vantage tore up the course, blasting around tight corners. His 2005 Ford GT - packing 550 horsepower and capable of 200 miles per hour - roared as loud as any vehicle did as it rocketed down straightaways.
Its power proved too much when several drivers TerHar let behind the wheel spun out on the lot's concrete.
Just to fit in, TerHar also packed along a 2010 Mustang.
"Steamboat's a great place for this event. They are diehard Ford people, and I'm a diehard Ford guy," TerHar said. "It's just a great deal."