For decades Carlisle Events has summoned enthusiasts to the fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the full range of Blue Oval machinery. This year was no different as the 2018 edition of the Carlisle Ford Nationals drew over 3,000 vehicles and 50,000 spectators over the course of the event.

The sheer size of it all and the fact that you can see 100 years of production in one place is what sets it apart. — Michael Garland, Carlisle Events

Suffice it to say that if you love Fords, you should but this gathering on your event bucket list, as there are few on the calendar that gather such a large number and wide variety of Henry’s progeny.

Each year the Ford Nationals kicks off with a parade through downtown Carlisle, which let’s locals and visitors alike get an idea what kinds of cars will fill the show field. This year none of the vehicles was cooler than the latest Ford GT rolling through town. (Photo Credit: Carlisle Events)

“The sheer size of it all and the fact that you can see 100 years of production in one place is what sets it apart,” Michael Garland, Public Relations Manager at Carlisle Events, explained. “Plus, there is a heavy representation from Ford corporate at the show, eager to talk with and listen to their enthusiast base. Guests also love the new products showcased by Ford, the chance to have installs done at the show, and the unique displays.”

Not only does Ford bring out its latest hardware, including a preview of the 2019 Mustang Bullitt, its performance parts division is on hand installing upgrades onsite. Likewise, Roush, Shelby American, and Saleen were on hand showing off their latest machines, amongst a host of aftermarket parts vendors and swap-meet sellers.

Ford and Ford Performance were both on hand showing off a variety of the company’s latest vehicles and offering on-site upgrades for the Blue Oval machines already on the road.


New and used hardware is definitely cool, but what really make the Ford Nationals special are its celebrations of various vehicle anniversaries. Among those celebrated this year were the Bullitt Mustang, Cobra Jet, Focus, Shelby GT500KR, and Torino. So, while Mustangs are always popular at the show, showcasing these specialty marks makes it a true celebration of the Ford world.

“The Mustang always does well at Carlisle, as guests are showing and looking at every year of production,” Michael said. “Fifty Years of the Torino was a big draw this year, anchored by one that was screen used by Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 7. Another popular draw was the Ford tractors display.”

One of the specialty displays this year celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Bullitt movie and showed off production Mustang Bullitts from all eras, including 2001, 2008-2009, and the forthcoming 2019 model.

Yes, this show has everything from Mustang to tractors. If you missed out on all that variety this year, Carlisle Events is already gearing up for the 2019 Ford Nationals, and some of the specialty displays are geared toward cars that are definitely near and dear to our hearts.

“We will showcase Fox Mustangs, Mach 1s, the Boss, Eliminators and more, plus even more test drives from Ford, a show field of over 3,000 Ford-branded cars, product walk-arounds, and more.” Michael added.

The burnout contest is always a fan favorite. This year saw a wide variety of vehicles destroy their rear tires. Classic Ford trucks had a strong showing with Patrick Poston taking top honors in his 1978 F-150.

If celebrating 40 years of Fox Mustangs and more sounds like fun to you, next year’s event will take place from May 31-June 2, 2019, so make your plans now.


While the Focus might be headed for extinction in North America, the Ford Nationals took the opportunity to celebrate 20 years of the compact car at this year’s show. Specialty models and factory performers — including the RS, ST, and SVT models — highlighted the display.

The Miss Carlisle contest remains a popular one and this year’s winners were Christina, Ashley, and Joann.

More than just a static car show, the Ford Nationals includes the Autocross Real Street Shootout, which lets attendees carve up the cones. A variety of cars took on the challenge, but nothing tops a new Ford GT in action.

In honor of its 50th anniversary, the Torino received a special showcase at the Ford Nationals as well. A wide variety of the ’68-’71 classics were on hand along with other Torino memorabilia.

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