National Mustang Day, commemorating the day the original pony car was introduced to the world on April 17, 1964, was celebrated in style — if a bit early — in Charlotte, North Carolina. Put on in advance of the big day and hosted by the people behind the Mustang Owners Museum, which is still in the process of constructing its permanent site, this was a proper send-off to the official day.

On Friday the event offered plenty of track time on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval course, where 92 entries sped around the high bank and in-field course. A large Parade Lap took place at midday, for those who preferred to tour the track at a more relaxed pace. The Mustang Owners Museum’s Preview Center was open, displaying a Mustang from each of the car’s milestones, and the Carpenter Ford Museum also opened its doors, displaying an amazing collection of all things Ford.

The Preview Center for the Mustang Owners Museum was open on Friday and Saturday. The Museum Preview Center features examples from each major group throughout the Mustangs’ history.

Topping off the evening was a gathering at Cabarrus Brewing Company, located in the historic Gibson Mill complex in Concord, North Carolina, which featured craft brews and excellent food truck grub.

Saturday brought another ‘Carolina Blue Sky Day,’ which was perfect for a car show and 132 Mustangs gathered to celebrate the Mustang’s 54th anniversary. In addition to the Preview Center and Carpenter Ford Museum, Daniel Carpenter’s personal Mustang collection was open, displaying his wide collection of rare, low-mileage Fox Mustangs, which is a sight to behold.

Daniel Carpenter’s personal Mustang collection features some of the finest rare and low-mileage Fox Mustangs. This place is probably Editor Turner’s personal idea of heaven. You never know until you ask. While touring the two Carpenter collections, we noticed the ‘boneyard’ out back. With permission, Vernon and Patty Allen and your author spent over an hour walking through rusty gold.

Seminars were also held throughout the day and those included presentations from Petty’s Garage, Holman & Moody’s Lee Holman, Team Mustang’s Art Hyde, and Ford’s John Clor. After the celebrity judging, autograph session, and awards, original Mustang designer Gale Halderman captivated the crowd at the evening’s banquet.

Retired Team Mustang member Art Hyde brought his Shelby GT350R (left) out to the event for some high-speed fun. Meanwhile, Brandon Dillard’s 2007 GT (right) is one of the 17 cars prototyped by Miller Motorsports Park to preview the 2008 FR500S.

The weekend closed out its festivities with a cruise to Petty’s Garage and barbeque lunch on Sunday and the revelation of plans for a bigger celebration next year for the Mustang’s 55th anniversary.

Photo gallery