Mustang enthusiasts might be feeling the urge to pack their bags and polish their ponies right now, but that’s just out of habit. This week would traditionally mark the annual pilgrimage to Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. However, this year there’s been a bit of a tuning adjustment in the routine, as Mustang Week is moving from July to early September.
To find out why that is happening and what it means for one of our favorite events of the year we hit up our old friend Mike Clay, one of the principals of this event, to find out what this year’s event has in store. Before we get there though, it‘s best to start at the beginning, where Mustang Week started as a simple cruise-in at the Hard Rock Café in Myrtle Beach some 15 years ago.
From car shows and autocrossing to burnouts and drag racing, Mustang Week offers just about any kind of automotive activity you can imagine. This year it is expanding with a trade show-style manufacturer display as well.
“Rodney Melton had the idea for a long time to bring a Mustang event similar to the bike events already held in Myrtle Beach,” Mike explained. “We had been hosting Mustang cruise-ins around the Greensboro and Raleigh areas with great success and that gave him the courage to give it a shot.”
From that simple inception, Mustang Week has grown into one of the most popular and most emulated events on the Ford scene. Its combination of automotive events against the backdrop of a family friendly beach town led to an gathering that has grown year after year, as just about anyone can talk their family into spending a week at the beach.
…We work hard every year and really don’t rely on what we did in the past. — Mike Clay, Mustang Week
Getting there took some time, however, as asking people to commit to an event that long requires more than the average one-day car show. However, the diversity of the activities —from cruise-ins and car shows to autocrossing and drag racing — quickly set Mustang Week apart from the throngs of static car shows, but making a splash on the scene took some time for event the event’s creators to realize when it truly “made it.”
“We knew we made it when Steve Turner showed up,” Mike joked about your scribe. “That’s a tough question to answer, though. I see this event as a company that needs to earn the participants’ business. We are asking people to give up a week of vacation and spend their money to make the trip so we work hard every year and really don’t rely on what we did in the past.”
Brad Worley, Mike Clay, and Rodney Melton are the core of the team that works all year to put on one of the biggest Mustang events of the year — Mustang Week.
That commitment means the trio behind Mustang Week — Rodney Melton, Brad Worley, and the aforementioned Mike Clay — continue to evolve and tweak the event. This year marks the biggest changes on record for the long-running event. From relocating the Meet ’N Greet and Drag Night to changing the dates, the triumvirate is making big moves in 2017.
“As the late Bill Jones told us under-promise and over-deliver,” Mike said. “When you ask people to take their vacation and come to your event you need to show them a good time and be honest with what you have to offer.”
We did not want to move Mustang Week from Myrtle. — Mike Clay, Mustang Week
A victim of its own success, Mustang Week needed to make a change in order to sustain itself for the future, which meant moving the event to September 4-9, 2017, rather than its traditional mid-July timing.
“We had pretty much outgrown the area anyway, but the mall we had been using for years is going to be remodeled and we lost the location,” Mike explained. “We have had our eyes on the convention center for many years but never had a July date so we took the September dates and moved forward. We have been all over Myrtle and if you suggest a venue we have already looked at it and there’s a reason we can’t use it. The convention center in September was the only option. We did not want to move Mustang Week from Myrtle.”
With many changes on tap for Mustang Week 2017, we asked Mike Clay a few questions about what we can expect from this year’s event.
We want to bring the excitement of industry-only, closed-door events to the general public for free.— Mike Clay, Mustang Week
Besides moving the dates and the location, Mustang Week is innovating in a way that could make it the event for both enthusiasts and aftermarket suppliers. The event is adding trade show-style displays in and around the convention center.
“We will have over 70 of the top names in the industry inside and out,” Mike enthused. “I think the trade show will be a new experience for attendees. We want to bring the excitement of industry-only, closed-door events to the general public for free.”
Another new wrinkle is that participating in the annual drag night won’t require an hour-plus trek away from the beach. This year the action will take place much closer to the action at the revamped North Myrtle Beach Drag Strip.
“We will be watching closely,” Mike says of this change. “We hope the 15- to 30-minute closer drive will make people a lot happier. We have been watching this track for many years and we believe the latest upgrades and staff will make it very cool.”
Beyond the actual changes in the events, the change in timing for this year’s event should make attendees Mustang vacations a bit more affordable and enjoyable.
“You should see lower prices on rooms, less traffic, and hopefully cooler temps,” Mike said. “Plus the chance to see some of the best Mustangs in the country and check out the biggest names in the industry. With all of the official events, plus the club and sponsor after-hours events, the action will be non-stop.”
2017 Mustang Week Schedule
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Meet ’N Greet
Broadway at the Beach
1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
BFGoodrich Autocross Driving School
Myrtle Beach Speedway
10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
BFGoodrich Track Day
Stifflers Fun Runs & Gateway Classic Autocross
Myrtle Beach Speedway
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
SVTPerformance.com Burnout Contest
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Mustang Week Test-n-Tune
North Myrtle Beach Drag Strip
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Friday, September 8, 2017
14th Annual Mustang Week Car Show
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Check-In: 8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Judging: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 a.m.
Awards: Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
East Coast’s Largest Mustang and SVT Cruise-In
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Car Show Awards and Raffle Drawing: 3:00 p.m.
Despite the initial blowback from the change in timing, the early returns on this year’s Mustang Week are quite favorable. The big car show sold out in an instant like it normally does, but with a bit of a twist.
“I would say so,” Mike said of a quick sell-out. “We have also had a lot of ‘this will be my first time’ phone calls and emails.”
Even with all the tweaks to this year’s event, there is a bit of nostalgia to add a few more good memories to this year’s event. The event that kicks off the week, the official Meet ’N Greet is returning to where Mustang Week began — the Hard Rock Café parking lot, though the Hard Rock itself is relocated from its iconic pyramid to a new spot inside the sprawling Broadway at the Beach complex.
“Never gave that any thought but I would say it’s pretty cool,” Mike reflected. “I have always enjoyed the unofficial Monday night events there. They have the same unorganized feel that our first events had.”
It definitely sounds cool and we are excited to see what a new and improved Mustang Week has in store this year, so you if you are still on the fence, you can get all the details at the official site right here. We will be on hand covering the whole week, so we hope to see you in Myrtle Beach. It will be here before you know it.