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Day by Day: 50th Anniversary Aero Car Reunion

 

If you do not know what an Aero Warrior is or have never been to an Aero Car Reunion, you have not lived. In 1969 and 1970 Ford and Mercury had a war on the race track with the Dodge and Plymouth drivers. Chevrolet was just an observer!. The factories went all out to build some of the wildest street cars ever seen either before or after. Horsepower had just about peaked out for the time and the only way to get more speed was through improved aerodynamics. It only lasted two years before NASCAR shut it all down.

The Blue Oval players were the 1969 Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. For the Chrysler fans, it was the 1969 Dodge Charger 500 and Charger Daytona with the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird coming to the war a little late.

The 50th Anniversary Aero Car Reunion in 2019 was held from October 10th through October 13th. It all began with fast parade laps at the Atlanta Speedway for those wishing to experience that track. Most of the attendees and some additional non-Aero Cars attended. Due to schedule conflicts, we were unable to attend this day but understand that everyone who did had a terrific time.

The second day was in Alexander City AL at the home of Tim and Pam Wellborn. They have a very large beautiful estate located in a park-like setting which provided more than ample parking for all in attendance. The day started off early, 8:00 AM and lasted well after dark. In addition to the estimated 200 Aero Cars, several celebrities were present for autographs. These included: Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Eddie Allison (mechanic), Red Farmer, Liz Allison (Davey Allison’s wife when he died), Dave Marcis and more!

Two meals were provided, wine tasting was conducted for those who paid extra and a band with an Elvis impersonator was provided for entertainment. However, the real entertainment was the cars and the people. New friendships were created quickly and old ones rekindled as if there had never been a separation. Katrina and I met visitors from Canada, Australia, Norway, and New Zealand! There were likely other countries represented that we did not meet.

 Our Daytona arrives at the Museum on Saturday morning.

The third day saw everyone move to the Wellborn Muscle Car Museum in downtown Alexander City. This too was an early day with cars arriving early in the morning and the Museum opening at 10 AM. Cars were parked all around the Museum and in a City parking lot next door which was reserved for our use. Most attendees strolled amongst the cars, talked with owners, visited the Museum and had lunch downtown. With Halloween being just a couple of weeks away and this being the 50th Anniversary of the Cars, participants were encouraged to dress in the early 70s attire. Many did so with some outstanding sights resulting. At one point there was a waiting line to sit on the wing of a Superbird and have your picture taken just like back in the day. This was almost exclusively a female thing.

This was a favorite activity at the meet, sitting on a wing.

Wellborn Museum cars, many were removed to make room for registration and participants.

The original factory wind tunnel test car!

Parts Department full of NOS parts!

Some of the outside parking at the Museum.

 

The race cars were proudly on display in front of the mansion. The big event other than the race car drivers was the unveiling of the number 42 Marty Robbins Daytona. We will have more on this in another post. Of the estimated 200 cars present, I estimate 50% were Superbirds, 20% were Daytonas with the remaining 30% being, 10% Talladegas, 10% Mercurys and 10% Dodge Charger 500s.

The evening meal was provided by the group from the New Orleans Club which has done this for the past several meets. As usual, the food was outstanding and the free alcoholic Hurricanes provided were a real treat as was the authentic Kings Cake just like those served at Mari Gra.

Waiting at Winn Dixie to head out for the Talladega Speedway.

The fourth and final day began with us all meeting up at the Winn Dixie parking lot at 6 AM for the massive caravan to the Talladega Speedway. The first group to pull out were all the cars not being trailered. Next up were all the trailers towing cars. This all began at 6:30 and rumors have it that it took 20 minutes for the last trailer to pull out because the line was so long. We had police escorts that closed all intersections and waved us through red light until we were out of town. The travel time between Alexander City and the race track is approximately one hour. It is impossible to keep that many cars along with trucks and trailers together along two-lane roads passing through small towns with red lights. Soon our group lost sight of the lead pack but we did catch up to another trailer, tucked in behind and began to follow them.

We made a turn and a large group of trailers caught up to us. We were now on a four-lane divided highway and suddenly we saw Aero Cars and tow rigs going the opposite direction. When we saw multiple rigs going the other way we assumed they knew something we didn’t and quickly made a U-turn. After several miles, Katrina and I decided that was a bad idea and they were likely just as lost as we were. We pulled off to the side and entered the Talladega Speedway into our GPS and it told us to go back where we were before we made the U-turn. Now we had people following us, people going on straight and rigs driving in circles.

We had nearly to the track when we made the first U-turn. We passed that location and soon saw the Speedway Road we were looking for and drove easily into our desired location outside Turn Three. There were not a lot of cars or trailers there so we unloaded and got in line to enter the track thinking that being lost had put us way behind. Wrong!

This is a photo from a drone that shows a portion of the cars at the Speedway. You can see a portion of the front straight in the upper part of the photo.

About fifteen minutes later the first car out of the Winn Dixie parking lot pulled in. We had gotten lost, drove in circles and still beat the first cars to pull out! I guess we found a short cut.

Katrina immediately pulled out our Talladega banner from 10 years ago and we began taking photos of Ford & Mercury cars with the banner. At past events, this had not been a big deal. At this event, it was. We were running from car to car possing owners with the banner behind their car. The MOPAR folks wanted in on the photos and we gladly obliged. Some of the photos are included here.

The cars were staged very close together in the infield straight away just past turn four. Our Daytona was parked at the front of the second row, the best parking space of the weekend! There were a lot of race fans that came out to look the cars over. Many had no idea what they were but others did and were blown away by the number present.

The real race cars were given two parade laps while we streetcars were relegated to the static display.

Over the next few weeks, we will bring you more photos of each day and some of the special attractions. I apologize for all the photos of non-Ford products but we were far outnumbered. Let’s get some more Blue Ovals at the next event!

It was a grand time and we can’t wait for 2024. However, please remember the 2020 Winged Warriors’ Reunion will be held in Murfreesboro TN at our location with ALL Talladegas, Spoilers, Spoiler IIs, Daytonas, Charger 500s and Superbirds welcome. More details will be coming as we nail them down.

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Richard

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 www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com 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 http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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