ALS Can’t Keep Craig Reagan’s Mach 1 Down!

Reflecting on one’s high school experiences brings up many memories. Some of them are good, and some…maybe not so much. The story you are about to read has deeply touched many lives, and we have the pleasure of being a small part of it. In Craig Reagan’s words, “We attended New Caney High School in New Caney, Texas. Although many of us did not realize it at the time, we have all been blessed to have attended this school together.

“Back then gangs were unheard of (to us) and gatherings centered primarily around pep rallies, sports games, weekend parties, bible studies, and…cars (trucks included). We were in an era when we were at the DPS office to get our license as soon as the calendar allowed. Everyone eagerly anticipated the day they could legally drive, though many of us were driving well before then. Getting to drive to school was a whole new level of freedom. Getting to drive to school in a ‘ride’ you could call your own was a statement!”

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The reveal day for Craig.

That brings us to the subject of this article, a 1973 Mach 1 Mustang. It was in those early years of Craig’s high school tenure when he realized the Mach 1s were now “old enough” to be within his price range, he began picking up any Auto Trader he could find and looked through every page—probably multiple times. Back then, his best friend’s brother had a big nose Mach 1 (’71-’73) and it was beautiful. It was red with a ram-air hood, black racing stripe, and the must-have Cragar S/S wheels. Craig soon located a 1973 Mach 1 in Baytown, Texas, and decided to check it out. It had the anemic 302 with a three-speed manual transmission, but it looked great, was in good shape, and in his price range. That Mach 1 would now make its home in New Caney, Texas.

The fate of the 302 and three-speed was soon sealed, probably with a little help from good friend Bryan Quinn. In its place would be an awesome 351 Cleveland with a four-barrel. According to Craig, the ports were so big you could fit your fist in them! As you can imagine, that led to a lot more horsepower and a lot more fun. The car had a reputation for street racing, and that very car took Craig through graduation and beyond. Craig vowed to never get rid of it and to one day do a thorough restoration. Over time, some upgrades were done and parts were bought for future use. But, as happens all too often in these situations, life gets in the way.

Mach 1

Fast forward 37 years from graduation and Craig now has a wife, three beautiful, adopted kids, a house, a degree from Texas A&M and all the adult responsibilities that go with it. He also has something no one would ever want…ALS. Craig was diagnosed with this horrible disease on July 29, 2016, with friends Staci Ryan Wood, Kathy Hale, his wife Nancy Reagan, and father-in-law, Clayton Smith, by his side.

Nothing can prepare someone for a diagnosis of ALS. He had to shudder two profitable businesses due to this disease, businesses he and his wife built from the ground up. After years of building custom homes for others, he is now medically retired and requires round-the-clock care. He is unable to feed himself, groom himself, or otherwise care for himself. He’s 55 years old. His speech is very slurred, and he communicates online by typing with his eyes on an eye gaze device.

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The 351 engine that powered the Mustang all through high school has been rebuilt and still powers this ride.

Since his ALS diagnosis, Craig has become a leading advocate for ALS patients to gain access to promising drug therapies. He and his friend Mike Henson, who also has ALS, founded the Facebook group No More Excuses! ALS WatchDog Group, which has grown to almost 14,000 members. This group and its admins were instrumental in getting the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS bill through Congress and onto the President’s desk. This bill provides $500-million, over the next five years, targeted specifically for research and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. This bill was signed into law on December 23, 2021. Craig has been to Washington, DC multiple times to fight for ALS patients’ rights, advocated in the halls of Congress to the White House for a body bag protest, to a protest at FDA headquarters, to the offices of ALSA. Three visits were with top FDA employees where he pleaded for the agency to get promising therapies to ALS patients more quickly. Craig continues to fight for ALS patients today.

Recently, Craig attended his 37-year class reunion where several of the guys had their big boy toys and a few brought theirs to display. They got to enjoy Brett McMath’s ’69 Mach 1, Mike Silva’s ’34 Ford, and Richard Watson’s ’69 Camaro (which should be called “Against All Odds” since mid-restoration, it got covered in floodwater in one of Houston’s big floods). Richard and his friend, Robert Easterling, have a man cave called Rusty Nuts Garage that would be the envy of any gearhead. Here, they hang out, work on classic cars, and bring automotive dreams to life, as a hobby. The Camaro was in the man cave when SJRA opened the floodgates from Lake Conroe and Rusty Nuts Garage was soon inundated with more than 5 feet of murky floodwater. Richard and Robert were determined to recover, and they certainly did. That Camaro turned out so awesome that even Blue Oval guys would be happy to have it around.

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During conversations with some of the guys, Craig mentioned that he still owned his 1973 Mach 1 from high school, but it was not running, and he hoped to restore it. They were listening more than he knew. Richard got together with Brett, Mike, Curtis Smith, and John Davis and formulated a restoration plan, Robert was kind enough to agree. The following week a Facebook post from Richard Watson appeared.

“As most of my friends know last weekend some friends from high school threw a sort of impromptu reunion. During the party, I discovered that Craig Reagan still has his high school ride, a 1973 Mustang Mach 1. Well, Craig has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), it’s the most debilitating and frustrating thing I’ve ever seen. Imagine your brain is 100% but you can’t move any part of your body. Anyway, over the years he has accumulated a lot of parts to restore his car until he was diagnosed with ALS. Well, a few alumni and I have decided Craig needs to go for a ride, so Rusty Nuts Garage is up for it.”

“We’re going to pick the car up this Friday (7/22) and bring it to the shop. We are going to create a GoFundMe to pay for parts, of course, no labor and anything over cost goes to Craig and his family. If anyone wants to be involved monetarily, turning wrenches, to see the car, or just want to make sure this is legit, message me and I’ll tell you where we are located. It’s basically halfway between Dayton and Huffman, off FM 1960. I’ll set up a project album on Rusty Nuts Garage Projects page, so everyone can see the progress, if you’re not a member just message me, and I will invite you… Thank you.”

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It took some time, but after a yearlong, extensive restoration, Craig was able to see the finished product. The completed ALS Mach 1 was returned to Craig in an awesome reveal event on July 22, 2023. The event was attended by friends, family, and fellow pals. This is where Craig took his first ride in the ALS MACH 1 in almost 24 years! For a complete breakdown of the restoration check out

About the author

Eddie Maloney

A resident of Las Vegas, Eddie has been involved in drag racing most of his life. Currently an NHRA tech and photographer, he has served 17 years in the military.
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