Did you attend one of these events? I need to fill in my memory gaps - please drop me a note (using the feedback icon at the bottom left of this window) and let me know what you saw. I'm looking for spectators, workers, and especially the Ford folks. I'll continue to update these pages.
Once the Mustang SVO went into production, a number of people raced them in SCCA Showroom Stock and Solo-II. Ron Smaldone leveraged his experience from Nelson Ledges in SCCA Showroom Stock events. Ron was very successful in the car, although one off-track roll ended up pictured in the pages of AutoWeek. I happened to be at the track that weekend and saw the car upside down - the same position in which it was photographed. I believe it was near turn 3. I do remember it had an unusual and non-production K-member brace bolted on underneath (which I faithfully copied for my own car).
Ford had some high hopes for the Mustang SVO. They even produced what we'd call an R model today, known then as the "Competition Prep" option. It was a "stripper" model with no insulation, manual roll-up windows, no air, and no radio. This was in 1984!
There was also a national-champion autocrosser based out of Fort Worth TX who campaigned an SVO. I saw him run the car several times and it was astoundingly quick around the course. One of these days I'll look thru my archives to see if I have any pictures of that car.
Ford has a long history with Nelson Ledges. Before the SVOs were brought, Ford raced modified Escorts and even the horrible EXP. Writers from Car & Driver and Road & Track faced off against each other in these cars. In more recent years, Ford competed with an early 1995 Cobra R prototype at Nelson - with lousy results. Due to the inherently (very) poorly located rear axle, the entire axle housing moved several inches side-to-side and destroyed several tires (a malady several of us have suffered from). The budget didn't allow a fix (a panhard rod - whcih would have required an entirely new round of crash testing), so the car went into production as it was.
To my knowledge, there wasn't any testing of the 2000 Cobra R at Nelson Ledges. Instead, it was run for almost 24 hours in a combination test session and automotive writer introduction at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX. There were a very small number of pictures published showing the cars sitting in the pits. I've heard that there were some issues with the diff overheating
Ford also recently tested the Mustang GT-R prototype at Nelson with several sessions of lapping for endurance testing purposes. No issues were publicly revealed from this testing.
But, going back to the SVO, why was it important?
I'm glad to see current SVO owners preserving the history. The SVO was the first serious handling car Ford had built since the BOSS 302 Mustangs in 1969 and 1970... we may not see it's equal again. And, yes, I think it's a darned shame that Ford is no longer sponsoring this great track (and Bondurant, too). Ford has let us all down in so many ways, most recently in this overweight pig mistakenly labeled as a Mustang. The car has no sporting ability at all. And just when SVT started to look good - although hampered by terrible quality and lack of even adequate testing - the entire concept is gone. The concept of form follows function, of building a "complete" car where handling dynamics precedes power. Everything that Ford accomplished is all gone now.