A prime example is Mahoning Valley Mustangs, which celebrated its 16th anniversary as a regional affiliate group of the Mustang Club of America a few months ago.
Ironically for a car club, MVM largely owes its existence to its founding members’ distaste for long commutes. As of 1995, the nearest club for local Mustang owners and enthusiasts was the Northeastern Ohio Mustang Club, which is based in Streetsboro, some 50 miles to the northwest. According to Joe Horne, one MVM’s co-founders, the monthly trip got to be a source of annoyance to many of the club’s Mahoning Valley members, especially during the snowy winter months. “We felt after driving up there for a couple of years that there was enough interest locally to start a new club,” he said.
Horne and his wife Dee got together with some other Youngstown-area members (including Robert Macabobby, whose excellent 1971 Mach 1 was the Pit Row feature car in the Dec. 9, 2010, Town Crier) and discussed the idea of creating a local Mustang club. In order to gauge reaction to the idea, the group placed a classified ad announcing a meeting at the Boardman A&W for anyone who might be interested in joining.
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with 40 people attending and signing inquiry forms. From there, the die was cast, and the new club held its first meeting April 9, 1995. Today, Horne estimates membership at 90 member families, with 140 members total, and nearly 700 cars that have come and gone over the years.
Lancaster says that members tend to join because of the cars, but remain because of the people they meet and the friendships that form over the years. A cameraderie deeper than Mustangs was revealed when talk turned to a pair of longtime members who passed away in the last year, Jim Bradshaw and club co-founder Mike Quinn.
In addition to monthly meetings and dinners, MVM activities include tours and road trips to places like Virginia Beach, Detroit, Charlotte, N.C., and Nashville. Track events are also on order at facilities like Nelson’s Ledges, Quaker City Dragway and BeaveRun in Wampum, Pa.
The club actively supports local charities along with in the course of its fun, with more than $60,000 donated over the past 15 years to organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Easter Seals, Second Harvest Food Bank and Tod Children’s Hospital.
Of course, new members are the lifeblood of any organization. Towards that end, the club held its annual Mustang Night membership drive event July 29 at the Quaker Steak and Lube in Austintown. According to club president David Lancaster, membership is open to anyone from the Mahoning Valley or western Pennsylvania who owns a Mustang or who simply has a love for Ford’s pony car. All Mustang years and generations are welcome, too. Lancaster says that club members’ cars represent the entire history of the model, from Kathy Miller’s 1964 1/2 coupe (which she has owned since new) to Edward Sullivan’s 2012 Boss 302.
Interested Mustang owners and fans can learn more about the club at www.mvmustangs.org.
Photo by Richard Sberna
Members of the Mahoning Valley Mustangs club gathered for a recent meeting of the ponies at Boardman Park. They included, from left: Edward Sullivan of Youngstown with his 2012 Boss 302, Davis Lancaster of Mercer, Pa., and his 2004 convertible, Mary Sheffield of Youngstown with her 2005 convertible, and Jim Pence of Austintown and his 1995 Cobra SVT.