For the third year in a row, Mustangs and Mustang enthusiasts from all over made the trip to the Great Smokey Mountains and Sevierville, Tennessee for the annual Ponies In The Smokies. The four-day-long event is packed with plenty of opportunities for participants to enjoy their Mustangs as well as the chance to show them off to thousands of fellow Mustang enthusiasts. The event features a little bit of everything from drag racing and autocross to an indoor and outdoor car show on Friday. The weekend finished off with the awards ceremony on Saturday and the “All Ford Cruise-In.” We were there from start to finish to bring you a taste of all the action!
By eight o’ clock Wednesday morning, cars were already lining up at the Sevierville Convention Center to pick up their car show registration packets and Shine Run cards. The Shine Run is basically the Ponies In The Smokies version of a poker run. The two-day event-within-the-event takes participants to various stops across the area including a Go Kart track, the Bush’s Baked Beans Visitors Center, three local moonshine distilleries, and the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort at the end of the legendary Tail Of The Dragon. Over 400 cards were entered at a chance at about 75 prizes including two grand prizes, a set of wheels from Axe Wheels and a weeks vacation to Table Rock Resort.
Participants line up early Wednesday morning at the Sevierville Convention Center to pick up their registration for the weeks events. The folks from Clearshine handed out the popular Shine Run cards while the PITS Staff handled registration and merchandise sales.
A new feature for the event in 2019 was the PITS (Ponies In The Smokies) Driving Experience. Smokies Stadium opened up on Wednesday morning and provided participants with several chances to push the limits of their Mustang as well as ride along with some professional drivers. The guys over at East10Drift were in charge of courses and set up an autocross track, a 0-60-0 acceleration and braking challenge, and a drifting course for their drivers to do demos and ride alongs on. Roush Performance, the Roush Road Crew and Jack Roush Jr. himself were also on hand and set up at the stadium. Jack Jr. was providing thrill rides around the autocross track most of the day in a brand new silver Stage 3 Roush Mustang – providing smiles and memories to last a life time for all those lucky enough to catch a ride with him. Meanwhile the East10Drift drivers were on hand to provide ride alongs in a some of their coolest Ford drift cars and trucks; giving participants a tire smoking ride of a lifetime across the drift track!
Jack Roush Jr. was tearing up the autocross at Ponies In The Smokies all day on Wednesday giving dozens of ride alongs to participants in his Stage 3 Roush Mustang. This was just a nice warm up for Jack as he would lead the Roush Roadcrew across the legendary Tail Of The Dragon on Thursday.
Formula Drift driver Jonathan Nerren brought his Team Shelby drift car out to show off in front of the crowd as well as display it for everyone to look at Friday and Saturday at the Sevierville Convention Center.
As the sun started to set on Smokies Stadium the Kick Off Party presented by Croftgate officially began. Mustangs filled the lot from top to bottom and their drivers headed to the stadium to stamp their Shine Run card as the stadium is one of the official stops of the Shine Run. With the drift and auto cross track providing the background sound track, Ponies In The Smokies was officially under way.
Thursday brought participants more chances to visit all the Shine Run locations to complete their best possible poker hand to have a chance at one of the top prizes. At the end of the day, the cards were all turned in at the Shine Run party “down under the bridge” behind Quaker Steak and Lube. Even rain and a little ice couldn’t keep the cars away as the Mustang’s packed the river front lot while the guys at Hot Rods & Happy Hour served up some killer tunes.
The "PITS Wall" down under at Quaker Steak and Lube has became a tradition for Mustang enthusiasts traveling through the area. Not only is it a must to have a photo of your Pony in front of the PITS graffiti during the week of the show, many people stop during their trips to the area in their daily drivers, work vehicles or whatever they are traveling in to grab a photo all through out the year!
On Friday morning participants made their way back to the Sevierville Convention Center for car show day. The car show actually consists of two separate car shows, the outside show and the inside show. The outside show housed over 500 cars competing for Top 75 as well as various best in class awards and a coveted Best Of Show moonshine still. The inside show consisted of “The 56″(one Mustang of every year, 1964 1/2 to 2019), which were in a competition of their own for best in each generation as well as another Best Of Show moonshine still. There was also a Roush and Modified SVT display on the inside that also competed for Top 5 awards in each class. Various other vendor picks, staff picks and editors choice awards were also up for grabs. All to be given out on Saturday during the awards ceremony. The 108,000 square-foot convention center housed dozens of vendors and 30 or so other special display cars. The SSP display consisted of 8 Special Service Package (SSP) Mustangs, in service trim, as a teaser to the planned SSP Reunion at PITS in 2020.
Ponies In The Smokies is famous for some of the most unique car show trophies around. From their moonshine jugs to the two coveted best of show moonshine stills, these are trophies that have everyone gunning for them!
The SSP Mustangs commanded the attention of the crowd all weekend in preparation for the SSP Reunion in 2020 at PITS. Reunion organizers Mike Medley and Bobbie Edwards tell us they expect to have fifty or so SSP cars there in "full service dress" along with dozens of other retired ssp cars now in civilian form. On the left, four SSP cars surround the eventual Best Of Show winning Saleen of Dennis Fahey's for a quick photo opp as the sun set over the Kick Off Party Wednesday night. Center, a lone wolf Camaro belonging to PITS vendor Cale Parrott of Smokey Mountain Supershine let everyone have a little fun and some great photos as the entire SSP fleet surrounded the car. On the right, as the awards ceremony was about to begin, the lights dimmed at the convention center as the SSP owners gave everyone a light and siren show to the tune of Bad Boys playing over the Hot Rods and Happy Hour speakers.
New for 2019 and replacing the previous two years Saleen special display was the Roush display. Also returning for a second year was the SVT display. However, this year instead of all original cars it featured highly modified examples.
The convention center was also filled with a few special cars that were just too cool to turn away. Two of these Coyote swapped Ponies scene above will soon be on the pages of Fordmuscle.com in full feature form! Stay tuned!
Saturday morning greeted participants on the inside with “The Elite Five” which consisted of the top five finalist in the outdoor car show for Best Of Show. As the awards ceremony would play out, the cars would drop off one by one as they were called for their best in class awards, leaving only one Pony standing at the end of the day to be the outside Best Of Show. Outside the convention center, Fords packed nearly every available parking spot for Saturday’s “All Ford Cruise In.” During show day, only Mustangs, Fox chassis cars and SVT products are allowed, but Saturday’s festivities are open to anything Ford. Approximately 700 Fords turned out for the event to go along with the 150-plus cars already inside the convention center – making this year’s PITS the largest in the events short three-year history. The PITS staff is already making plans for the 2020 version and have a lot more cool things in store for participants. Early bird registration opens the week after the show and the 2020 dates are March 25th to March 28th.
Photo Credit: Speed Trap Productions
At the end of the day, there could only be two Best Of Shows winners. On the left, the outside best of show winner, Stacy Moore's 1965 Coupe. On the right, the inside best of show winner, Dennis Fahey's 1988 Saleen.
Saturday's all Ford Cruise In brought out several cool classics as well as a few modern Fords as well.
Ponies In The Smokies title sponsor National Parts Depot had center stage in the convention center and their "Snake Pit" display did not disappoint. Featuring a 1993 Cobra of every color along with a GT350, and SN95 Cobra and a Terminator, this display got plenty of attention all weekend. Mix in the huge American flag in the background and it made for the perfect photo opportunity.
There were certainly no shortage of Fox-body Mustangs at Ponies In The Smokies 2019. From the SSP display, the 56, and a handful of very impressive 1993 models on the inside to a couple of dozen foxes in the outside car show, its safe to say this was one of the most impressive Fox collections put together in a while. Be sure and be on the look out for our "Top Ten Fox-body Favorites" article!
The coolest swap meet find of the weekend had to go to this 1970 Boss 302. With the same owner for over 25 years, the car had been preserved in very solid condition. While it would be an amazing candidate to restore, personally, we would rather just drive it and enjoy the patina like it is!