While many car shows remain one-day static events, some have evolved into multi-day destination events. Naturally, Mustang events are at the forefront of that movement with events popping up in many parts of the country. One of the latest to join that fray is the passion project of someone who is relatively new to the Mustang fold.
I go to all these shows, and they’re all pretty much the same. I wanted something different. — Jeff Dixon, Mustangs at Daytona
“I’ve only been in the Mustang world, the Mustang community since like, 2017. Oh, wow, you’re rolling a limo business for 20 years. The saying was if the car didn’t make money, I couldn’t own one, so everything I owned was black and luxury,” Mustangs at Daytona main man, Jeff Dixon, explained. “So when I got out, I sold my limo business in 2017 and I sold on my last toy Excursion, I said, ‘You know what? I need a sports car.’”
That car was a 2007 Mustang GT. A friend invited Jeff to a local show, and he scored a trophy right off the bat. That sent him down the rabbit hole of attending shows and modding his car. Recently he moved on to a 2014 Mustang with a 3.7-liter V6 engine and kept on attending shows. Along the way, however, he took his fresh perspective on the show scene and decided to put together an event of his own.
“The vision started late, probably September or October of 2018. I put the show together in like seven months,” Jeff said. “For the first year it drew 165 cars. It was a great turnout for what we threw together so quick. I go to all these shows, and they’re all pretty much the same. I wanted something different.”
That vision became a reality with the first Mustangs at Daytona event in 2019. With a solid foundation, Jeff was ready for the show to grow in 2020, but the pandemic put a damper on his plans. He pulled the plug, but in deference to the difficult times many experienced over the past year and a half he carried over the registrations from last year’s event to this year’s show.
The show definitely grew this year, culminating in about 300 cars entering the show on Saturday. However, leading into the event, a tragic event inspired Jeff to use some proceeds from the event.
“I got wind of the officer here who was shot in the head,” Jeff explained. “So we’re gonna donate probably about two-thirds of the proceeds from the raffle in the poker run and stuff to the officer.”
This year the show generated $1,400 to help Daytona Beach Police Department officer Jason Raynor, who was shot in the line of duty. He was still in critical condition at the time of the event, and faced a long path to recovery.
Monday: Meet ’N Greet
Events like this one are a gradual build with the hardcore group showing up early on and more participants joining the fun as the week goes on. Mustangs at Daytona started within the Destination Daytona complex in Ormond Beach, Florida. Jeff and his crew set up show at the Saints & Sinners pub there and handed out registration packets, sold T-shirts and generally got the party started for the week. It also marked the first stop on the event’s poker run for those collecting chips.
Tuesday: Kickoff Party
The following day was an easy start allowing attendees to take advantage of all there is to do in the area before heading to the Kickoff Party at the Shoebox Saloon in South Daytona. There Mustangs at Daytona participants got warmed up with a cruise-in and enjoyed some drink and food specials at the establishment.
Wednesday: Daytona International Speedway Fun Runs
Hitting hump day, the event really picked up steam. The early birds headed to Simply Ginas for a breakfast Meet ’N Shine. There they could get fueled up and talk about how excited they were for the evening’s big event. That would be fun runs around the historic Daytona International Speedway. About 60 cars signed up for this opportunity and those who went around the oval really seemed to love it.
“The guys at Daytona International Speedway were really good to us and we, you know, the pace car, ran about 75 [mph],” Jeff said. “I heard there were a lot of triple digits reached out there on the track. In all it was a great experience. I mean my wife, who said she was worried that she was gonna be bored and originally didn’t want to go, she rode, and she was blown away.”
Capping off the day, Mustangs at Daytona participants could attend the local baseball team’s game at a discounted price. Kicking off the game by throwing out the first pitch was none other than event organizer Jeff Dixon, who put his fastball right over home plate.
There was a two-fer on Thursday beginning with a cruise-in at Gary Yeomans Ford in Daytona. The car count continued to grow as participants displayed their rides surrounded by new cars. The show rides were definitely a hit with the dealership sales team, and the dealer really embraced the show by providing catered breakfast and donating some raffle prizes.
“Gary Yeomans Ford surprised me. I mean they really did it up, I mean she told me that they were going to have a setup for us,” Jeff said. “I mean they came in huge late, as a sponsor, donated a lot of money to help us out and my sign is up on the board.”
From the dealership, most of the cruise-in cars headed north for an hour-long cruise to the appropriately branded Ford’s Garage restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.
Friday & Saturday: Car Show
With a big buildup, Mustangs at Daytona roared toward the finish line by reconvening in and around the Pavilion at the Destination Daytona complex. On hot summer days, the VIP participants (and this scribe) certainly appreciating being under the cover of the pavilion, but there were certainly plenty of hot cars in the sun as well, which made it a challenge for the judges to pick the winners.
“Thank you everyone for another successful year,” Jeff concluded after the show. “We had 330 total registrations, and while they couldn’t all make it, thank you for supporting and helping grow this show. We do this for you! Congratulations to our Best of Show 2021 winner and her beautiful Boss 302 and thanks for coming down from Delaware.”
If all that sounds like fun, Mustangs at Daytona will return to Florida in July of next year, so start making your plans.
Mustangs at Daytona 2021 Winners
1964 1/2-74, First Place: Lalita Creighton, 1970 coupe
1975-1986, First Place: Mike Platt, 1985 Mustang GT
1987-1993, First Place: Otneil Cruz, 1992 Mustang LX
1980-1993 Specialty, First Place: Tom Longerbeam, 1982 Mercury Capri
1994-1998, First Place: Christopher Steer, 1994 Mustang GT
1999-2004, First Place: Bill Hamby, 2004 Mustang GT
1999-2004, Specialty, First Place: Carlos Canales, 2003 Saleen
2005-2014, First Place: Julie Atkinson, 2013 Boss 302
2005-2014, Specialty, First Place: Christopher Manciulea, 2010 Shelby GT500
2015-2021, First Place: Michelle Scott, 2017 Mustang GT
2015- 2021, Specialty, First Place: Rock Johnston 2020 ROUSH Mustang
Kids’ Choice: Alex Sandor, 2016 Mustang GT
Host Pick: Nate Taylor, 2019 Shelby GT350R
Host Pick: Romus Lee, 2019 Mustang GT
Nitrous Race Connection Best Modified: Brian Josey, 2014 Mustang GT
Bad Apple Choice: Lalita Creighton 1970 Coupe
Best Interior, Stock: Richard Lyon, 1965 Mustang K-code
Best All-Original: Lorenzo Boemi, 1969 Mustang Mach 1
Best Engine Modified: Patrick Annis
Best All-Original, Stock: Janet Mills, 1964 1/2 Mustang
Best Engine, Stock: Sergio Rodriguez 2021 Mustang Mach-E
Best Paint, Stock: Otenil Cruz 1992 Mustang LX
Best Paint, Modified: Ruskin Passaro, 1993 Mustang GT
Best Interior, Modified: Charlie Wolfe, 2007 Mustang GT
Farthest Distance: Nate Taylor, 2019 Shelby GT350R (1,163 miles)
Club Participation: Daytona Mustang Club
Best of Show: Julie Atkinson, 2013 Boss 302