photos and text by: Joanna Reid/Ford Performance
THE CARS, THE PEOPLE AND THE BEACH MAKE MUSTANG WEEK A CAN’T-MISS EVENT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC — Have you ever heard of a weeklong car event that features cruise-ins, car displays, burnouts, enthusiast engagements – plus a gorgeous world-class beach? You can find all of that and more at the annual Mustang Week extravaganza as summer winds down in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. This celebration of the now 57-year-old Ford Mustang has grown into a gathering of thousands of owners and enthusiasts who visit the Myrtle Beach area each year for one of the biggest and well-known Mustang events in country. This year, Mustang Week celebrated a milestone birthday of 20 years, again including a variety of activities and meet-ups all across the area.
The idea for Mustang Week was created by Mike Clay and Rodney Melton way back in 2001 and after 20 years it’s clear to see they have done an amazing job of growing and shaping this event into what’s now a bucket-list show.
The primary events throughout the week include the official Meet-and-Greet gathering, a big Fox Body and other platform-specific cruises, and Night Meets with plenty of burnouts — but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything there is to do here (not to mention making time for the stunning beaches and atmosphere around the city itself).
With the event getting larger every year, there are many first-timers but also a core of attendees who keep coming back. With this being my 7th year in a row of attending Mustang Week, I’m well aware of what makes me come back every Labor Day weekend, but was curious what attracted other event devotees. To that end, we met up with Allison Howard and her dad, Andy, who consider themselves Mustang Week regulars.
Allison said her first Mustang Week was back when she was 6 years old, and this past Mustang Week was the first one she’s attended with her own Mustang. She’s loved seeing all the different Mustangs here every year and knew from a young age that she wanted to own one.
“The Mustang community is so warm and welcoming, and that’s what made me want to come back here year after year,” Allison told us. Her favorite Mustang Week memory is hanging out at the “Retro Party.” She said she just loves cruising there with her dad and hanging with everyone who dresses up for the party. Allison also said she’s noticed that Mustang Week has grown so much over the years – going from a great big event to a HUGE event. She believes this event will continue to grow thanks to it being on social media and leveraging all the friendships that people have made here.
As for her father, Andy, he said he first heard about Mustang Week back in 2007 and decided to check it out. He knew about Bike Week, and being a Mustang enthusiast he was hoping that Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach would be even better.
“I come back every year not only because of all the Mustangs, but because of the friends and relationships I’ve built here,” Andy told us. “I enjoy seeing the people again that I only see here each year.”
He said his favorite memory would be pretty hard to narrow down, but having a set of Mustang Week friends and being here with his family are his top picks, along with having his car featured in vendors booths.
We also talked to Harris Lue. He has become a big part of Mustang Week and was the creator of one of the big Night Meets on Wednesday evening. The Retro Party meet is where guests come dressed up from the 1980’s and ’90s and features Fox Body Mustangs as well as historic-status SN95’s. We knew that Harris had been coming to Mustang Week for a long time and had always been a huge supporter, so we were looking for his views on this special week.
“Mustang Week was always this mythical event that I heard about through the online forums after I got my Calypso 1993 Mustang in 2008,” Harris remembered. “I had always dreamed of going, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I finally got to attend Mustang Week for my 21st birthday as a gift from my parents.
“After all these years I think my favorite part about Mustang Week is the opportunity it provides. The opportunity to have fun, to take a family vacation (with both real family and your Mustang family), and to help build a career in the Mustang world. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it, and I can only hope that as it gets bigger, more people like me will be able to fall in and truly make the week their own.”
After talking to event veterans, we began looking for a first-timer who’d never been to Mustang Week before. We came across Quentin Heidt, who attended Mustang week for the first time this year.
“Getting to meet my friend all the way from California to do his first burnout in his car was great,” Quentin said. “Another highlight was getting to see Vaughn Gittin Jr. do a 6th-gear burnout with 150 mph-plus wheel speeds at Suck-Bang-Blow to cap off the night, all while it was pouring rain. That was truly a special sight to see for this kid from Kansas!”
Since he was new to the event, we asked him if there was anything else that he would like to see at a future Mustang Week.
“I would like to see a bigger autocross event and maybe a Ford booth here — giving rides in the new GT500 or whatever new Mustang is out at the time,” he said. “Also, some group discounts from certain attractions or restaurants to Mustang owners would be nice . . . and then also maybe a having a group picture or cruise. I know it’s hard to arrange such a thing, but I think something like that would be phenomenal and make it extra special for attendees.”
After hearing these stories and many more, it quickly became apparent that the common denominators for most people coming to this show are the relationships, the Mustangs and the memories made during Mustang Week. In my first year, my then-boyfriend and now-husband asked me to go with him and we actually started dating here, so Mustang Week has held a special place in my heart since! We have watched so many engagements and special moments here, and also have made so many lifelong friends from our time at Mustang Week that we can’t help but want to return each year. All of this simply means that you need to put this event on your must-see list. For Mustang fans, there is really no other venue that puts together Mustangs and Mustang people in a more beautiful, fun-filled location quite like Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach!