Mustangs Stampede in Lakeland, FL for the Winter Autofest

Hidden beneath an early morning blanket of fog, Carlisle Events Winter Autofest at Lakeland, Florida’s Sun & Fun campus adjacent to the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport & Florida Air Museum quickly gave way to acres of collector cars and miles of sunshine February 22-24th.

For years, gearheads of all kinds flocked to Carlisle’s massive sun-kissed event featuring a collector car auction, celebrities, swap meet, free cruise events and automobilia not to mention, great food and the always popular Mustang and Corvette shows and displays.

American Muscle such as this Mopar drew big crowds and bidders eager to take one of them home.

“We plan our trip around this event every year,” said Cal Lasko of Champaign, Illinois. “You could be here all weekend and never see it all. This place has everything.” Testament to Cal’s statement, hundreds of vendors filled every available space assuring visitors that if you needed it, it was for sale at Winter Autofest.

From automobilia to auto parts and entire cars, If it's for sale, you'll find it at Winter Autofest.

The big draw of course is Winter Autofest’s always exciting auto auction. From classic muscle cars to daily drivers, the auction block was a beehive of activity as bidders inspected lots, secured vantage points and kept interested buyers on speed dial.

From early morning until late afternoon, what seemed like a never ending line of gleaming cars and trucks was often peppered with cheers and excitement as someone realized their automotive dream with each drop of the hammer. For first timers Mark and Anita McDonald, the experience was like none other.

“We had no idea what a live auction was like,” said Mark. “This is really cool! I was a bit worried about coming, but I found some unique things while walking the vendor area, and reasonably priced, too,” Mark’s wife Anita added.

Proving again, that there’s something for everyone at Winter Autofest.

Carlisle’s auction block was a bee hive of activity with bidders and spectators alike watching great cars go under the hammer.

Mustang Stampede

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Hundreds of Ford Mustangs await to enter the 22nd annual “Mustangs & Mustangs” show held in conjunction with Winter Autofest.

As if this three day event isn’t already a can’t miss, the wildly popular Mustangs & Mustangs show hosted by Imperial Mustangs gives participants the opportunity to get up close and personal with both car and airplane. This unique experience brings together two formidable examples of the Mustang nameplate on land and in the air.

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The always popular P51 Mustang aircraft was a big draw for fellow Mustang owners.

A nearly overwhelming blue oval display of hundreds of Ford’s iconic pony car wound its way through Winter Autofest, giving notice to all who entered that Central Florida was Mustang country. From late models to Ford’s early pony cars, fans of every year could find a favorite at Mustangs & Mustangs.

Young and old alike found plenty in common at Mustangs & Mustangs.

The competition heated up nearly as quick as the sun rose with participants making last minute preparations for the day’s events. Late model Mustangs seemed to outnumber classics early on with plenty of Ford-powered examples of other marquees sprinkled in for good measure.

A healthy selection of Ford’s favorite pony cars included Shelby’s, Boss Mustangs, Saleen’s and Cobra’s in virtually every color under the beating Florida sun. Situated on some of Winter Autofest’s prime weekend real estate, this “show within the show” captured plenty of attention and had more than a few curious Bow Tie brethren from the nearby NCRS display giving them a long look.

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Late models of every color were in full force at Florida’s Mustangs & Mustangs.

Now in its 22nd year, Mustangs & Mustangs has established itself as the premier Mustang show to kick off Florida’s show season. With participants coming from as far away as Chicago, North Carolina and Alabama, The Imperial Mustang Club has raised the bar in Central Florida.

Be sure to mark your calendar for plenty of sun and fun next year!

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About the author

JP Emerson

My affliction with vintage iron is matched only by my knowledge of classic Rock ’N Roll. Although a heavy lean to all things Ford blue, I have a sharp appreciation for all makes and models, especially those that gulp gas and drop oil to mark their territory. Having provided work for multiple magazines, manufacturers, SEMA, and a top secret list of celebrity and auto insiders, I understand the bond between cars and owners.
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