1964-1975: When the Mustang was introduced in April of 1964 at the New York World's Fair, the National Council of Mustang Clubs was founded in Dearborn, Michigan. The NCMC was born of the National Council of Falcon Clubs and for a short time these organizations were known as the National Council of Falcon/Mustang Clubs. Holmes Tuttle Ford's Falcon Owners Club was an active group of enthusiasts who loved their road and driving events. Across the U.S., Mustang Mania swept car enthusiasts off their feet and here in Tucson, out of their Falcons. The dealer representative for the clubs naturally chose a Mustang as his dealer car and was soon taking those Falcons in on trade for a new Mustang. In May 1965, the decision was made to change the club's name to The Southern Arizona Mustang Club.
Bill Laird, who was the dealer representative at Holmes Tuttle, is credited with forming SAMC (as it became to be known). Through his interest in slaloms, road rallies and a general good time with an automobile, the club flourished. SAMC enjoyed the excitement of the early years and survived the '70's slump - unlike most other Mustang clubs. SAMC is possibly the only survivor of the original National Council of Mustang Clubs making it the oldest Mustang Club in the world. In 1968, Bill joined the National Council of Mustang Clubs as the regional director for the Southwest. No one could ever replace Bill but by 1968, SAMC was a strong club and was able to carry on because of its sound organization and its association with the established NCMC.
At one time, there were over 500 dealer sponsored Mustang Clubs across the country and around the world. 1970 was the peak year with over 200,000 Mustang club members worldwide. Dealer backed Mustang clubs in the '60's ranged from 10 to 300 members. By 1974, Mustang Mania had passed and did not resurface until the late 1970's. SAMC is one of the fortunate few today who still have a dealer sponsor.
SAMC Mustangers were a fun loving group who loved racing and road rallies. Ghymkhanas, autocross, economy runs and family picnics were all part of the events held by the first Tucson Mustangers. Events were often open to all vehicles and there was always some good natured competition between the Chevys and Fords. They also became known for their Ford blue berets. Not many records or photos remain from the 1964/65 era. A club newsletter began in October 1965 and continued for several years. The National Council of Falcon/Mustang Clubs produced Rallye, their official publication and SAMC was a regular contributor to this magazine. In October of 1965, a Maverick Roundup was held to recruit new members. Rallye reported this event: "A great idea comes from The Southern Arizona Mustang Club. They recently sponsored a great Maverick Roundup. Purpose.to get new members. Cap this tho'.they gave cash prizes to the person bringing in the most paid-up members, the person corralling the most members, paid-up or not, and for the first and second runners-up. Grand prize was 50 bucks with 25, 15 and 10 going to the next in line. Imagine making money while you're selling somebody on your club.'zat how you guys now got 47 actives?"
The 1965 Maverick Hunt gave SAMC a well preserved dash plaque and its longest running member, Dave Carroll.
Tucson had two Mustang clubs. SAMC was sponsored by Holmes Tuttle Ford and Pueblo Ford had Pueblo Ford Mustang Club. There were Mustang clubs all over Arizona. Even tiny Kearny, Arizona had a Mustang Club and SAMC was invited to activities in Phoenix, Kearney and Flagstaff. In 1968, the Coconino Colts Mustang Club from Babbitt Ford in Flagstaff, Arizona held a snowmobile slalom and SAMC desert dwellers tried their skills on the gentle slopes of a frozen golf course.
Weekend events - Regionals or Roundups - were held somewhere around the country almost every weekend. From Friday night to Sunday night, there was not an hour that was not filled with Mustang related events - rallyes both navigational and gimmick, funkhanas, slaloms, concours shows and the parties, of course. SAMC participated in many of these in California and Phoenix. The Grand Canyon State Regionals were shared between SAMC and the Muscon Roadrunners in Phoenix. The National Council of Mustang Clubs would provide trophies, dash plaques and other goodies.
In April 1968, SAMC Mustangers entered the National Mustang Round-Up in San Francisco. The Candy Apple Red Two-Millionth Mustang was won by SAMC's own, Bill Forrester. What an excitement!
Each year in April, the National Council celebrated the Mustang's birthday with Mustang Rallye Day U.S.A. The rally was held on the weekend closest to April 17th and the proceeds went to a local charity. The Council provided trophies, bumper stickers and lots of promotional items to each local chapter.
SAMC was the host of the fourth and final Grand Canyon State Regional in May 1970. Mustang Mania seemed to slip not only in Tucson but all across the country. SAMC was experiencing smaller turnouts at it's events and meetings. In 1971, The National Council of Mustang Clubs was merged with the Ford Drag Club to form Ford Motorsports Association. By 1974, that organization was gone too. It seemed impossible, but enthusiasm for our favorite car was waning. Mustang Madness was on the decline and the clubs were hurting. They closed up shop all over. Where are the Muscon Roadrunners, the Coconino Colts? SAMC was sinking too. An urgent plea went out" Special Meeting. If you care, be there!" 1975 was a low year for SAMC. Few events were held and meetings consisted of talking about how to turn the decline around.
1976 - 1990: In 1976, about the same time that Mustang Club of America was born, the "faithful few" and a few new recruits from SAMC were still Mustanging with their soon to be "classics". The faithful met and voted on a new constitution, new officers and promised new energy. Most of this group were original owners of their Mustangs. Neither an oil crisis nor a new wave of sub-compact automobiles had been able to persuade them to part with their Mustangs. What they and others had noticed was the increased interest in the Mustang as a collector's car and the interest of the new driver. The new driver was able to buy a Mustang at a very reasonable price, buy parts and with a little work they were thundering up and down Speedway - just like the old days. The collector could also buy a Mustang and with a little money and a lot of work, restore it to its original condition (or better ) and then make a good deal of money - if he could bear to part with it.
By 1978, SAMC was once again a dynamic and energetic organization. Most of the names and faces were new as were the interests of this new generation of Mustanger. The new Mustanger was not so interested in a slalom or an autocross. In fact, it was even difficult to get him to participate in a rallye - on paved roads! What he would rather do is "show off" his many hours of labor and let fellow Mustangers admire his pony as he admired theirs. Thus the car show was born.
Mustangers were treated to Mustang magazines, Mustang parts advertisements and invitations to participate in car shows all across the country. It seemed that the "faithful few" had been rewarded with a new era of Mustang Mania!
The 1980's were good for SAMC. The club had an active membership and monthly events were well attended. In April 1980, SAMC celebrated the Mustang's 16th birthday and invited the new Phoenix club, Copperstate Mustang Club, to participate. Mustang clubs were on the move once again. An All Ford Show was introduced by SAMC and held for several years at Holmes Tuttle Ford. The Mustang's birthday was celebrated in April and the 20th birthday was a huge birthday party and car show. A number of white/red 20th Anniversary Mustangs were sold on that day.
As the 25th Anniversary of the Mustang approached in 1989, celebrations were planned all over the country. The Ford show at Knott's Berry Farm was dedicated to the Mustang. SAMC was contacted by the founder of The American Pony Drive and arrangements were made for Tucson to be one of the stops on their tour across America. After SAMC celebrated the 25th Anniversary with a car show at Holmes Tuttle, many club members caravaned to California for the west coast's huge extravaganza. The Pony Drive participants had made it to California after their drive across the USA and we had our first meeting with Mustang owners from Europe and Great Britain.
The All Ford Show was an exhilarating experience for the Mustang owner. Hundreds and hundreds of Mustangs - all years - were lined up. Row after row. It was almost impossible to look at them all in one day.
SAMC members had to hurry back to Tucson because the following weekend, The Pony Drive would be arriving for a real "western" experience in Tucson. This was an experience that SAMC Mustangers would never forget
In 1987, an event happened that would forever seal the Mustangs place in history. Ford Motor Company suggested a total re-design. It was suggested that the Mustang would be a RX-7 looking version of the Mazda 626. Mustangers around the world united and wrote hundreds of thousands of letters to Ford. Most were to the point: were they crazy or just out-of-their minds? An American icon on a Japanese car? Ford got the message loud and clear and Mustangers felt a new sense of power. SAMC members were a loud voice and that voice was heard.
The 1990's As the 30th Anniversary of the Mustang approached, new challenges faced the Mustang. This time, though, it had a savior - Alex Trotman. The design team he put together had the Mustang enthusiasts interests in mind.
The Southern Arizona Mustang Club was invited to be one of the locations to preview the new 1994 Mustang which was held in October of 1993. The preview was held at Ventana Resort and over 150 local Mustangs came for the event. There was lots of press and a grand party plus the new Mustang stayed until the following weekend for the Great Pumpkin Car Show at Old Tucson. Holmes Tuttle continued the celebration with a 2-day party at the dealership a couple months later.
The All Ford Show at Knott's Berry Farm in April 1994 was a special celebration for the 30th Anniversary of the Mustang. SAMC had over 30 Mustangs that caravaned to the show. SAMC attendance was the largest out-of-state attendance from a car club.
Since the 1980's, SAMC members have enjoyed events that involve a road tour. The annual car show in Pinetop, Arizona often had 30 or more cars in the caravan. Each year, the members planned a little mischief that always attracted attention and was very enjoyable for the participants. SAMC began the tradition of lining up all Mustangs by year and then paraded to the show areas as one group. Cars would pull off the road as we rolled by.
An out-of-town event always begins with a meeting place and a caravan. SAMC has participated in car shows in many Arizona cities, in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and California. Mustangers have discovered the pleasure of driving their Mustangs once again.
Local car shows or "cruises" have become very popular in the '90's. 150-200 cars will gather at Little Anthony's Diner and other local watering holes. SAMC always has a good representation and the summer months will have a car event every weekend. SAMC members look forward to getting together with their friends on a weekly basis.
Rallye del ano Nuevo
SAMC's oldest event is Rallye del ano Nuevo. It was first held in January 1966. SAMC Mustangers were avid fans of the road rallye and the 4 hour, 125 mile navigational rallye was a big hit with members. During the '60's, the Rallye was a navigational rallye and not for the weak. Slide rules (does anyone know what that is?), stop watches and clip boards were standard equipment. Course routes were not necessarily on paved roads and those early Mustangs were driven like they were Baja prepared. Some of the early rallye results still exist and the names read like a who's who of Mustangers.
The National Council published a "Road Rallye Instruction Book" which was to be used for all rallyes. In addition, the National Council also had a manual on how to form a Mustang Club complete with instructions for rallyes, slaloms, funkhanas and ghykhanas. During the 1970's, the enthusiasm for a long road rallye disappeared. Husbands and wives refused to ride together. It's true. Some club members headed their ponies to Divorce Court.
Rallye del ano Nuevo was fortunately revived in the 1980's. This time as a gimmick rallye. Rules of the game changed from rallye master to rallye master and the rallye purist left and joined SCCA. But the rest of the membership enjoyed the relaxed rallye and settled back and just enjoyed the Arizona scenery.
The Great Pumpkin
SAMC's second oldest event is The Great Pumpkin. That first Pumpkin was held November 1, 1967 and was a rallye - a gimmick rallye. How could it be anything else when all the participants were dressed in Halloween costumes? The first rallye was at night and SAMC watched for the Great Pumpkin to rise from the Pumpkin Patch at a party following the rallye. In later years, a few Pumpkin Rallyes were held during the day to try to "boost" attendance.
Not many of us are still around who remember those early "Pumpkin" events. Former Mustanger, Todd Scholler was the rallye master who came up with the idea of a Halloween rallye. He was also rallye master in 1969. In September of 1969, he had flown from his job with Ford Motor Company's Total Performance Show to Riverside, California with a HUGE pumpkin-so large the GP was strapped in the seat belt and was almost required to purchase a ticket. There was a Regional Mustang Meet that weekend in Riverside and many SAMC members had attended the event. It was one of those terrific California regionals. At the banquet on the Saturday night, the pumpkin had been transformed into huge jack-o-lantern and someone had obtained sparklers. They dimmed the lights and with Jack and the sparklers, everyone was invited to The Great Pumpkin Rallye. Those attending that banquet probably still remember SAMC because they bombarded them with orange 76 balls! That's how the 76 Ball tradition began.
Old Pumpkin memorabilia is very scarce. It is hard for us to imagine now not recording every minute of a Pumpkin for posterity. But no one could envision in 1967 that it would be The Great Pumpkin - a rallye - that would be one of the events to survive for the long haul.
Rallyes continued to be the Pumpkin event through the '70's. In 1980, The Great Pumpkin was expanded to a two-day event. The "rallye" on Saturday was really a tour out west Speedway and over Gates Pass. For the first time, the Halloween party was held at a hotel on the Saturday night. Mustangs were displayed on the grass. Sunday morning was the judged car show. Also, for the first time, there were a number of Mustangs from out-of-state. Trophies were presented around one p.m. and then good-byes were said. A new tradition had begun.
In 1981, there was again a tour on Saturday. This time to Sabino Canyon where we were treated to a catered lunch in the Canyon. The news media got word of our event and for the first time, The Great Pumpkin made the tv news.
The Copperstate Mustang Club from Phoenix has always been very active in the Pumpkin. I'll bet most of you do not know that in 1982, the Pumpkin was hosted by the Copperstate Club in Phoenix! That group has always had a terrific time and a decision was made to "trade off" years for the show. But SAMC missed being hosts for the Pumpkin and never let it go again. Instead, Copperstate created their own Roundup.
Over the years, the Pumpkin has gone through many changes. The car show dominated the 1980's and 1990's. Many Mustang friends from around the southwest, planned their vacation around the October show. The judged show slowly evolved into a People's Choice ballot and finally a "car show". There are still lots of opinions on whether to-judge or not-to-judge. Mustangers who are just getting into the hobby, like to be rewarded with a trophy. Old-timers prefer a commemorative plaque for the wall. Another change was from strictly a Mustang Show to an All Ford Show.
What made The Great Pumpkin unique from any other rallye or car show was the Halloween Costume party . After months of planning and then setting up, judging, scoring and all the other details involved in putting on an event, the Halloween party was the fun part where everyone lets down their hair and just has fun! Costumes are planned and secreted away for months and when the hour finally arrives, the fun begins.
The car show format for the Pumpkin made a tremendous change in 1995. A new committee decided that a new and improved Great Pumpkin was due. Thus, the Ford-Aganza was born. The new Great Pumpkin Ford-Aganza has attracted national attention and was promoted in all the Mustang Magazines. A 6-page color entry form enticed Mustangers from all across the country and even some very big names in Mustangs and racing. Steve Saleen attended with a full show rig and crew. The Bill Elliot race car a nd rig were at the 1995 show along with Bigfoot and many other Mustang collectors. John Coletti was Grand Marshall and made the whole weekend very special. The show was a benefit for Tucson's local Ronald McDonald House.
In 1996, Jack Telneck, VP of Ford World Corporate Design was Grand Marshall and Corporate Ford took notice of a little Mustang Club in Tucson, Arizona. Ford brought three concept cars to Tucson for the Ford-Aganza including the Indigo. Several collectors brought historic Ford race cars. The show was well attended by the public and enjoyed by all Ford lovers from Southern Arizona. The car show was a benefit for The Blake Foundation and thousands of dollars were raised to benefit this local charity.
The Great Pumpkin continues to evolve and change. No one knows exactly what The Great Pumpkin 2000 will be, but as long as there is an SAMC, there will be a Pumpkin.
As we prepare the 30th Anniversary celebration of The Great Pumpkin, SAMC is enthusiastic about all the beautiful Mustangs and Fords that will gather together and all the new friends we will make. For many SAMC members, the Club has been the center of their lives for almost 30 years. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters have played together. Many long-lasting friendships have been established because of the Pumpkin
History prepared by Dave & Gloria Carroll
1997 - Present!
It has been 12 years since SAMC’s history has been updated and a whole lot has happened to the club in those 12 years. SAMC club membership has grown, our children have grown up and now drive Mustangs, some Mustangers have moved on to other interests and a few have moved to Higher Rewards.
In 1997, the clubs priorities and concentration focused on one event – The Great Pumpkin Ford Aganza. The 30th Anniversary of The Great Pumpkin was a huge affair with a four page color brochure, show cars from every part of the country, Steve & Liz Saleen as Grand Marshals and a Mustang Fastback as a raffle prize to benefit The Blake Foundation. Our local basketball coach and hero, Lute Olson, personally signed the Mustang. The 30th Great Pumpkin was a huge success and we celebrated with the traditional costume party.
While the car show was a huge success and SAMC and the event was covered by many of the Mustang magazines, club members who had worked for several years promoting this one event found their enthusiasm waning. After much discussion, it was decided that maybe we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket. We all know that in any organization there are usually a core few that are the leaders and shakers and within SAMC, they said, “we’re tired”.
Don’t be discouraged! This story has a happy beginning. Without the pressure of a once-a-year huge show, SAMC club membership and activities took off like a rocket dragster! SAMC discovered we could have fun all year long with the club’s own events and other community and other club’s activities.
Rallye del ano Nuevo is SAMC’s oldest event that began in 1966. SAMC continues the tradition with a variety of driving events. Some of the club’s favorite rallies and tours have been to Tombstone and Bisbee. Bisbee has the School House Bed and Breakfast and it was a really fun place for an overnight event. But our numbers soon outgrew the location and we moved to the Copper Queen Hotel or down to Tombstone at one of the local hotels there. The 2007 Rallye was an overnighter in Tombstone. We had a great dinner at Nellie Cashman’s and a public “hanging” of one of our members. The Tombstone Vigilantes gave us a great show.
A couple of times, SAMC has used Rallye del ano Nuevo for a Wine Tour (4) to Arizona’s wine country in Sonoita. After tasting the wine at a few of the wineries, we have dinner at one of the restaurants in Sonoita.
The Garage Tour (5-6) is also a popular genre for the Rallye. January 2009 was the latest tour. Over twenty Mustangs and Fords began the tour first to Hi Speed, a custom vintage and rod shop. A beautiful, immaculate shop where all kinds of cars were either in progress or complete. Next we toured three club members’ garages, each unique to their talented owners. Everyone went home with garage plans in their dreams.
The Great Pumpkin, our second oldest event, has gone full circle from a rallye to a huge car show to a Halloween Party. This is everyone’s favorite because there is no pressure unless you are competing to win the Best Costume.
In 1998, SAMC joined hundreds of Mustang enthusiasts in Las Vegas for the Bright Lights City Cruise. Ford representatives were there to present a huge 1.5 million dollar check to begin the planning of the Mustang Museum. Clubs and individuals were asked to make donations and to become “Founding Members” of the Mustang Museum. SAMC ponyed up and made a nice contribution. We proudly displayed the Mustang Museum emblems on our Mustangs. Someone, somewhere has dropped that ball. No one seems to be able to tell us what happened to the plans – or the money! Recently, we did hear some chatter about a Museum for Mustang’s 50th Anniversary in 2014.
For over 20 years, SAMC has had a caravan of Mustangs to the Fabulous Fords Forever Car Show at Knott’s Berry Farm.(12) Held in April, always close to the Mustang’s birthday on April 17th, the show is a huge show with more Mustangs and Fords gathered in one place than anywhere else on the west coast. The 40th Anniversary of the Mustang was in 2004 and SAMC had a caravan of about 30 Mustangs. SAMC was treated to special parking because it was also SAMC’s anniversary. Dave and Chris Carroll were invited to participate in a radio broadcast interview about what is was like to be a Mustang enthusiast for 40 years and how father and son enjoyed the Mustang hobby. Each year, SAMC has representation at the Knott’s show and really appreciate all the work that the California Clubs do to present this excellent show. Oh, some of our members love the Knott’s show just so they can shop at Camp Snoopy. Wonder why?
SAMC hosted the American Pony Drive II (13-17) in April of 2004. They were on their Mustang 40th Anniversary of the Mustang across America. There was not as big a group from Europe as there was in 1989 and there were just as many US cars but everyone was very friendly and we had a great time. We brought out the world map that everyone had signed in 1989 and asked the Pony Drive II participants to also sign it. The new 2005 Mustang was also on tour and was in Tucson at the same time the Pony Drive so that was also on display.
Another annual event that many SAMC Mustangers enjoy is the Santa Cruz Valley Car Nuts car show in Tubac. The show is in January and sometimes the weather can be very cold. But we have been lucky with good weather a few times. In 2000, it was a beautiful day and we were enjoying ourselves in our folding chairs by our cars. The British Car Club was enjoying the perfect picnic weather and was having a little wine and cheese. Bang! A cork from one of their bottles flew over to our location. Thus began a friendly yearlong “battle” and culminated in 2001 with a “war”. We had marching soldiers; flag bearers and SAMC had a captive – an M G English car. When the war was over, we disarmed and invited the British subjects to something totally American, apple pie. A truce was declared. The following year, 2002, SAMC was prepared with a precision Lawn Chair Drill Team – mostly for our enjoyment but for the entertainment of our fellow car show attendants.
SAMC members have a long history of racing their Mustangs on the slalom course and at the drag strip. In 2004, Kelly McLearran started Quarter Mile for a Cure, which is a drag race and car show to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. Even if you don’t want to race, it is fun to watch and enjoy the Burger Burn at the drag strip. Test 'n tune nights are also popular or wherever the barbecue ends up.
Holmes Tuttle Ford has been our sponsor since the very beginning. SAMC has always appreciated their support. 2003 was Ford Motor Company’s 100th Anniversary and Holmes Tuttle celebrated with a huge event and invited SAMC to host a car show for the event.
We were happy for Mr. Frank McClure when he retired from Holmes Tuttle but sad to lose him as an advocate. Club members restored an original Mustang pedal car and presented it to him on his retirement. Now that Jim Click is partner in both Holmes Tuttle and Jim Click Ford, SAMC is getting to know and appreciate Jim Click’s interest and enthusiasm for racing and SAMC’s activities. He is a big supporter of our biggest car show called Fords on Fourth. In 2008 and 2009 the show has been in February and is fast becoming a hit with the general public. Fords on Fourth is one of the few shows where all Fords are welcome and we hope it will continue to receive support from the other Ford clubs in Southern Arizona. The 2009 show will celebrate not only the 45th anniversary of the Mustang but also SAMC’s 45th Anniversary.
SAMC members enjoy driving their Mustangs and besides the car show at Knott’s Berry Farm quite a few members venture to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for the car show and slalom. We also like to drive to Flagstaff for the Route 66 Car Show or the Route 66 Tour from Seligman to Oatman on old Route 66. The newer models are usually the Mustangs for these longer journeys. A few with older models still attend Run to the Pines in Pinetop but since they only allow older models, there is less interest in the show.
SAMC has had a monthly newsletter, Hoof Beats, since 1978. Before that time, we had a monthly event flyer. With the advent of the club’s website (www.southernarizonamustangclub.org) and the editor’s advancing age (that is supposed to be a joke), Hoof Beats was retired. Events and articles are featured on the website for all to read and enjoy. However, Hoof Beats could be revived whenever interest dictates.
SAMC hosts an event each month plus as a group we participate in other local car shows and events. We still participate in car shows at Little Anthony’s Diner, Cops and Rodders shows, benefit events for local schools or charity events. Members can participate in an event almost every weekend. Our attendance is in much demand.
First, 1st Saturday Cruise. SAMC hosts a cruise on the first Saturday of each month. Sometimes we have more Mustangs at this event than we do at our monthly meetings. We meet at a pizza place, a member plans a cruise route and away we go around Tucson, through Tucson or up a hill to stop and see the city lights. We have learned about Tucson and its history with our history cruises. Sometimes we have stopped to ride the trolley or to tour the old train station or to observe the stars at the observatory. We always end up somewhere for an ice cream or coffee.
SAMC members are a busy bunch and in between all the activities, cruises and car shows, they find time to modify or restore their Mustangs. Members help each other with projects and trade parts or watch ebay for bargains.
We love our classics but really love to drive the latest model. We are excited each year to see the latest model of the Mustang. A new model insures the continuance of our favorite car and our hobby’s future.
From 1964 to 2009, SAMC has changed and grown. We have learned to appreciate all years Mustangs and the different personalities that come with each Mustang enthusiast. Not every event appeals to every Mustanger. Some Mustangers only want to participate in car shows. Many more enjoy driving their cars on road trips or in competitive racing events. SAMC is successful because there is something for almost everyone. We have learned not to concentrate on only one thing but to enjoy each piece of the whole. We look forward to the next decade as we grow older and welcome a new generation of Mustangers.
History prepared by Gloria Carroll