The Saleen Club Of America set its sights on Charlotte, North Carolina, for the location of its 2018 Saleen Nationals, an annual event that highlights the Saleen Mustang and encourages the participants to get out and enjoy their cars over multiple days of driving events from August 2-4, 2018, capped off with a car show on Saturday.
Thursday’s schedule was jam-packed with four stops around the Charlotte and surrounding areas planned for the participants. The morning started off with a trip to RK Motors in Charlotte, one of the countries largest collector car dealerships. There the participants not only toured the main show room, but RK owner Rob Kaufman's private collection rarely scene to the public as well. From there it the schedule took participants across town to Detroit Speed Inc. where toured the company’s manufacturing facilities. After a bite to eat at local favorite The Untouchables Pizza, it was off to GoPro Motorplex just up the road in Moorseville, North Carolina, for some serious competition style karting. Even the man himself, Steve Saleen, got in on the action, reportedly using the old chrome horn a couple of times on unsuspecting racers. All and all it was a jam-packed day that was a great start to the weekend, but left the Saleen crew begging for more.
The event traditional travels around the country, with previous events being held in Colorado, Alabama, and New York. With this year’s event centered around The Queen City, there would be no shortage of things to do thanks to all the of NASCAR and other motorsports-related activities in the area.
From a Wednesday evening kick-off party to the traditional “See Ya” breakfast on Sunday, the schedule was jam-packed in between with tons of awesome automotive events. We were lucky enough to tag along with the crew for the majority of them in a borrowed Saleen of our own.
We jumped in on the activities in a Saleen of our own thanks to SCOA member Travis Smith, who was nice enough to loan us his 2005 S281SC, #1241. Painted in beautiful Legend Lime, the car really racks up the compliments and looks everywhere it goes. Rest assured it was a blast to drive as well. (Be sure and watch for a full story on that coming soon.)
Our loaner Saleen (pictured above in the lower right of the shot) delivered us to Thursday’s first stop, Daniel Carpenter Mustang Restoration Parts. There we were given the tour of their factory as well as Daniel’s extensive low-mile Fox Mustang collection. We also got a quick peek at his father Dennis Carpenter’s garage, which featured some cool vintage Ford iron.
With quality aftermarket Fox Mustang parts being its main focus, Daniel Carpenter Mustang Restoration Parts manufactures and sells a variety of Mustang parts for many different years of Mustang to various wholesalers across the country that bring them to the public. A smaller product line and a small group of employees means attention to detail is key for the company. Only top quality parts leave this warehouse.
Daniel Carpenter has put together one of the most impressive low-mileage Fox Mustang collections we have ever seen. An 11-mile Indy pace car, a 37-seven mile 1986 GT, and an 80-mile 1990 Saleen just to name a few; not to mention walls full of rare Ford memorabilia.
When we walked up Daniel Carpenter's shop we knew we were in for a treat when we were greeted by a couple of old Ford trucks, some vintage Ford signs and a cool 1957 Ford car. Inside, the collection did not disappoint. Featuring mostly Fords, there was a little bit of everything from early ’30s Ford cars and Ford trucks to some of the baddest 1960s Ford muscle cars to ever leave Detroit. It was quite a treat to get a quick look inside Dennis’ personal collection.
After the tour of the Carpenter family compound we moved just across the way to the future home of the Mustang Owners Museum. We toured the current building, which houses just a small sampling of things to come when the main building opens next April.
That collection included SCOA Southeastern Region Event Director Troy Raby’s uniquely painted Sunburst Gold 2000 Saleen Mustang S281 SC. The museum will add another key attraction and draw to Charlotte for both the Mustang and automotive world when it opens. We cannot wait.
Next it was time to put the ponies in the wind for the ride across town to Uptown Charlotte and the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Even a rainy day could not keep the Saleen owners from getting their cars out and enjoying them. Once inside the NASCAR Hall Of Fame, the members toured the facility. It featured plenty of Ford memorabilia, including a nice display in this year’s Hall of Honor featuring one of the newest Hall Of Fame members, legendary engine builder, Robert Yates.
The real highlight of the Hall Of Fame was the NASCAR I-Racing-based simulators where SCOA members took to a digital version of near by Charlotte Motor Speedway for some intense rivalries and competition! Friday night concluded with a Taco dinner and cash bar at the host hotel, the Embassy Suites in Concord, North Carolina. There club members had a chance to talk and mingle among themselves late into the night. Mr. Steve Saleen along with several other Saleen employees were on property chatting and answering questions for those in attendance.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame, located in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina is full of NASCAR memorabilia including several iconic Ford cars. Pictured above is an early 1940s Ford from the earliest days of NASCAR, the famous #28 Davey Allison Thunderbird, and a #88 Dale Jarrett Ford that was on display inside the Robert Yates section.
Cabarrus Arena hosted to the car show on Saturday which attracted at last count 87 Saleens, a dozen or so other Mustangs, as well as several vendors including an impressive display by Saleen themselves. Participants voted on the awards in numerous categories, which were handed out to deserving Saleen owners.
Steve Saleen himself was on hand to sign autographs during the day. He and wife Liz made their rounds through the parking lot at the end of the day signing dashes in the Saleens, a cool addition that is a must for any Saleen loyalist.
After the awards ceremony, the event moved over to Charlotte Motor Speedway where the dinner banquet was held in the racetrack’s Speedway Club. The dinner featured several special awards, Mr. Saleen himself as the guest speaker as well the announcement of the 2019 Saleen Nationals, which will take place in Deadwood, South Dakota, June 26-30, 2019. Visit the SCOA online here for all the info.
Saleen brought out quite and impressive collection of vehicles for their display. The highlight was the all-new Saleen S1 carbon fiber supercar. Although the company’s latest Mustang, its all-new F150 and a one-of-a-kind Saleen Tesla earned their fair share of attention from spectators and participants alike.