Revving to race | SteamboatToday.com

Revving to race

Mustang Roundup allows drivers a lap on the course

Kristi Mohrbacher

— It’s hard to hear anything over the rumble of the ’66 Ford Mustang GT 350 poised at the starting line.

The dashboard resembles a cockpit with glinting dials and needles itching to bury themselves in the red. The seatbelts should belong to a rollercoaster, not a car, and the fire extinguisher between the seats hardly is reassuring.

“Screamin’s OK : but : peein’ your pants ain’t,” screams a volunteer near the starting line.

Driver Mahlon Miller looks at his queasy passenger and shouts, “You’re gonna love :” but he’s cut short by the screech of his tires on the pavement. The crowd is screaming as he peels out, speeding for the first turn.

This is not Miller’s first time behind the wheel. He’s been racing for about 10 years, and this is his eighth year coming to Steamboat Springs for the annual Rocky Mountain Ford Mustang Roundup, which is taking place for the 20th time this weekend.

The Mustang Roundup brought about 500 Mustang owners from across the state and beyond to the Yampa Valley. Friday’s autocross event at the Meadows parking lot on Pine Grove Road gave about 200 drivers the opportunity to try their hand – and foot – at racing, regardless of experience.

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Kevin Youngers of Greeley brought his ’07 Ford Mustang Shelby GT this year. An experienced driver, he said he likes the freedom to play around at the autocross.

“You can push ’em hard, slide ’em, nobody cares,” Youngers said. “It’s not as dangerous up here.”

Rick Wallford drove from Colorado Springs and said his brother came in from Utah. Both are volunteering at the event.

Many of the cars tell stories from the past. Miller’s car is painted tangerine orange. It’s the color of the car he won his first big race in and the number – 63 – represents the year he was born. His license plate reads FDNY.

“It’s a tribute to the firefighters in 9/11,” Miller said.

The autocross is for those without a driver’s license, too. Fifteen-year-old Nico Acevedo came from Denver and sat in the driver’s seat of Miller’s Mustang while his friends took pictures on their cell phones.

“Oh man, my fingers are shaking,” Nico said. “The seats : oh man : I think I’m gonna cry.”

Miller can’t explain his passion for cars. He said his heart rarely speeds up anymore when he races. But as he finishes his lap, he pulls into the line of Mustangs waiting to race again and while taking off his helmet, he says, “that smile on your face is what it’s all about. I love to show other people how it feels to race.”