Aero Warrior ReunionCar StoriesFeaturedTalladega Family Reunion

Talladega Family Reunion Show Report

By: Richard Fleener

From left to right: Last Talladega, First Production Talladega, Banjo Prototype Talladega

Katrina and I just returned from the First Annual Talladega Family Reunion held in conjunction with the 2010 Forge Muscle Car Show in Kingsport, TN. It was both an excellent collection of cars and a family reunion for people who own the cars, worked on the cars and loved the cars. It was a car show unlike any other we have ever been to. The convention center was full of beautiful cars in addition to the fantastic examples of the 1969 Ford Talladega, Mercury Spoiler and Spoiler II. There were well beaten unrestored cars, drivers in excellent condition, race cars, show cars and trailer queens. There was camaraderie between these Aero Warrior car owners in the air that permeated the entire hotel convention center complex.

These are some of the NOS Talladega & Spoiler II parts stored in the Banjo Trailer!

Unlike most shows, this one has no awards or trophies. You go to the Forge Show and the Talladega Family Reunion for the cars and the people. This was not about any ones car being more correct than your car or his car sold for more at Barrett Jackson than yours. The emphasis is not focused on who spent the most on a restoration or the correctness of the restoration; they were there to share stories, information, good sources of parts and enjoy each others good friendship. Now, don’t take me wrong most all of us want our cars to be as correct as we can get them and there are some excellent resources at the event to help. Most in attendance are proud of their car regardless of condition and most participants spent as much time looking at the driver quality cars as they did the master pieces. These cars are so rare all of them are stars!

As Katrina and I drove the four hour plus trip home from the show on Sunday we could not stop talking about all of the terrific people we met and what a great group of men and women (and kids) that these Ford Aero cars attract. Neither of us had one bad experience during the entire weekend with anyone at the show; participant, spectator or hotel/convention center employee. Let me share with you one memorable event.

The very first Talladega off the regular Production Line

On Saturday Katrina and I were in the hotel restaurant having lunch to re-energize for the afternoon activities. We both were attired in our “Motor Craft” red, white and blue shirts with vintage patches. We were immediately approached by a gentleman who, like ourselves, is a member of the Baby Boomer Generation. Barley able to hold back the tears he told us how wonderful it was to see all those beautiful muscle cars.

He and some other veterans of the Vietnam War were meeting in the hotel and happened onto the show the night before. You could see the rush of memories that these cars had brought back to him; he was nearly overwhelmed by them. He went on to share with us that after the visit to the show he and his friends went into the bar and one of the Family Reunion participants had purchase a bottle of wine for them to share. He then stated there were some vets from WWII and Koren conflict there who also joined in.

The “Banjo” Prototype (restoration just completed week before show)

Although neither Katrina nor I had anything to do with his encounter he kept thanking us for the show and telling us how wonderful it was to see those cars and how nice all of the car people were. As he walked back to his table with tears in his eyes we looked at each other and were reminded that there is a reason for bringing these cars out to shows that is far more important than the joy we get in showing them.

Obviously we enjoy the cars a great deal and are fortunate enough to be able to actively participate in this wonderful hobby. However, not all families are so lucky. For many the cars are a far off dream that will never be realized but they can attend a show and relive memories of such cars and the good times they had in them. Often it is a memory of their parents or siblings.

It is not unlike the memory rush you get when you get a whiff of an aroma out of the past. It may be the smell of fresh baked bread or the smell of fresh brewed coffee. For some gearheads it is the smell of alcohol fuel at the race track. For me, it is the difficult to find smell of a 1950s 5&10 Cent Store. I can’t describe it, but it is the mix of fresh salted nuts, fresh chocolate candy and the random merchandise such a store sold. On a very few occasions in my life I encountered such an aroma. However, when I do I am immediately transported back to the mid 1950s when I was 9 years old and shopping for the first time on my own for a Christmas present for my mother. These old cars can provide an intense memory rush for attendees at a car show. Please remember that the next time someone says to you “I use to have one just like this!”.

The original, unrestored Banjo Matthews trailer.

Here are a few of the first photos from the Talladega Family Reunion. We will be bringing you more over the next few days and weeks as I sort through the 900 photos I took at the event. There will also be Feature Cars plus a photo of every Talladega, Spoiler and Spoiler II that was in attendance. You will also see many of the cars’ owners and we have some exciting announcements about the 2nd ANNUAL TALLADEGA FAMILY REUNION TO BE HELD ON SEPTEMBER 9-10, 2011.


Talking parts…anyone guess or know what this is?

Barry Miller and his Benny Parsons Talladega Race Car

Spoiler II Dan Gurney owned by Michael Troell (on right)

“W” nose Dan Gurney Spoiler

Wayne and his Spoiler II

Spoiler II Drag Car, we will have a Feature on this car.

Cale Yarborough Spoiler II

Not all cars were show cars, here is a good example of a driver/original car. Drove in all the way from Wisconsin!

Muscle Car Review was there doing photo shoots for upcoming publication.

Last production Talladega and owners James and Marlene Myers.

Katrina and Ford Legend Rick Toombs talk engines.

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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  2. Jason, you and your dad did an unbelievable job restoring the Banjo Matthews prototype. It is beautiful and an important part of our cars’ history. To think you did all that and play such an important part in getting the first annual Talladega Family Reunion to become a reality is a tribute to your abilities and willingness to put in the time to do what ever it takes to make your efforts a success. Wow, I am charged up to do it again!

  3. I really enjoyed the show, seeing the cars and meeting people. Enjoyed sharing stories and learning new things. The Banjo Matthews display really blew me away. Next year I hope to have a car there if I have to push it in. Thanks for a great show.

  4. Alan, great comment. A Talladega, Spoiler or Spoiler II in any condition is welcome. These cars are so rare if you have one in any condition it is worth showing!

  5. Richard, Jason, Clarence, et. al.,

    I’m so sorry that I couldn’t attend this year. However after reading Richard’s article, I almost felt like I was there. Great job, as always, Richard.

    Jason & Clarence, I am really looking forward to next year.

    As a fellow Talladega owner/enthusiast I can’t tell you just how much I appreciate what everyone did to help promote not just the general knowlege that these cars exist to the public, but, the extra information that we are all seeking about Ford’s forgotten muscle car that owned the superspeedways during the aerowars.

    Thanks again,


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