Contributed by Tara Bush
“Mopar or No Car” is the motto at the 29 th Annual Mopars with Big Daddy at Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala. On November 5 & 6, 2016 over 400 of the wildest colored muscle cars that ever rolled out of Detroit were competing for the 85 trophies up for grabs. The Florida Mopar Association (FMA), which is comprised of various Mopar clubs around Florida, has hosted this show for 29 years. Every year they donate a portion of the proceeds to the Helping Hands of Ocala and a rotating second charity, which was the SPCA.
Since the GTX engine swap was not quite completed we once again took my 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda, met up with Glenn in his 1970 Plymouth Superbird and Christian in his 1966 Dodge Hemi Charger. The sun was barely visible as we made our way thru the back country roads towards the Ocala National Forest. The weather can go either way that time of the year. I bought ear muffs at Cracker Barrel one year and started striping clothes off another. 2016 proved to be perfect; mid 70’s, blue sky and a slight breeze.
Every year we wait in the long entrance line and hope no one overheats. Being a bit earlier than usual, we were in our parking spot in record time. The new FMA organizers will be implementing speedier registration procedures for 2017 along with many improvements to keep the show fresh, fun and exciting. The 30 th anniversary will be November 11 & 12, 2017.
Saturday’s awards were voted by the participants and Sunday was judged by the professionals. Over 26 classes were divided up by stock and modified within each body type. Classic Mopars, unlike other open car shows, are classified into A, B and E bodies instead of model types or decades. Some of the other categories were AMC, Rambler, Jeep, front & rear wheel drives, prostreets, trucks & vans, vintage and the modern SRT, LC, LX, LD & LA platforms.
The cars are not the only attraction here. Many Mopar builders come for the largest Mopar swap meet in the Southeast United States, with over 125 vendors selling all kinds of parts and pieces. After voting for the cars and shopping at the swap meet, the Museum of Drag Racing is a time capsule for anyone that enjoys the unique items that Don Garlits has preserved and collected from his early racing days. Don was even out signing autographs, voting for his favorite cars and presenting awards.
There is a lot to do and see at this show and one day sometimes just isn’t enough. This is the show that most of the Mopar enthusiasts from around the state converge on; therefore visiting with carguys that you only see a few times a year makes the time fly by. As usual, I’m not paying too much attention to announcements when I hear my name called during awards. After several years in attendance, and for the first time, I was awarded the 3 rd place E body stock trophy and it was presented by Don Garlits himself. That was the bonus finish to a great day.