Sunday, July 12, 2009

Unleashing Your Inner Mustang

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or links to show audio? Check out the other posts.

I’m a Michigan guy. No flies on other parts of the world, but I love four separate seasons each year and at least two attempts by the weather each winter to kill me. I’m good with that. More than 40 years living here, degrees from three Michigan schools, and the last 15 years living or working in Detroit or its suburbs.

We make cars here. And design them, market them, and – most of all – love them. It’s what we do. We bend metal into shiny, fast icons of America.

My folks dreamed of living on the shore of one of the Great Lakes when they retired, but they live about a mile inland on either side of the Mission Peninsula up in Traverse City. It’s not that they couldn’t get a place on the water. They could. It’s that the local ordinances wouldn’t let them have a pole barn to keep their fleet of Ford Mustangs. Yes, I mean “fleet.” As in more than a half dozen, two of which are national grand champions that they actually drive to the meets across the country.

We’re car people here. If you need any further proof, just try to navigate Woodward Avenue any evening in August. It’s packed full of classic automobiles of every description every night beginning in late July. And the Woodward Dream Cruise itself isn’t technically until the third Saturday in August.

You don’t need me to tell you that the automotive industry – and just about everyone else in the durable goods field – has taken it in the shorts in the last few years. It’s not easy for car people sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that we love our cars any less.

So last week I got word that Ford is doing a promotion for its 2010 Mustang. Team Mustang is giving people the chance to “unleash their Mustang sides.” What would you do if nothing were holding you back? Blow out all of the limits. Suspend everything but the laws of physics. And maybe a few of those, too, just for good measure. Forget who you are or what you are and be what you’ve always wanted to be.

Roger Keeney lost his sight 20 years ago when a piece of farm machinery let loose and whacked him in the head. It hasn’t stopped him from being productive or otherwise living what anyone would call a good life.

But Roger liked to drive. Really liked to drive. And he missed driving.

If you’ve watched the videos above, you know that Ford’s Mustang Team heeded the call. Hey, Ford couldn’t give him back his sight. Nobody can. But, like my folks and me, the folks at Ford are car people. And they understood a little about people who love speed and power and machines that look – and sound – they way they should.

So they took Roger to Surprise, Arizona, where they had arranged a customized space where a blind man could unleash a sports car and experience again that thrill that comes with it. And Roger got to share the experience with several people from the Arizona Center for the Blind.

(The best dreams are shared. Nobody knows that more than me.)

Just as the dream motivates me and motivates the pilots and aviation enthusiasts who follow Airspeed, the folks at Ford seem to get it and are out there fulfilling that same enthusiasm for power, speed, and life.

And the best part of all of this is that Ford’s Mustang Team is giving other people the chance to have a similar experience with what moves them. You can submit your ideas as part of the ’10 Unleashed event. Check out and submit your idea. You might end up having an experience like Roger. Or, better yet, an experience of your own design. Head out to the site and don’t hold back. Put all of the noise and fury into 250 or fewer words and see what happens.

“Hey, did Ford put you up to this?” In a way, yeah. Just like one’s neighbor might lean over the back fence some weekend and “put you up to” something. Because Ford people and people who work for other auto manufacturers are my clients, neighbors, friends, and squadron-mates. We fly airplanes out of Willow Run, where they made bombers. We shoot approaches over the industrial areas of Flint, Saginaw, and Jackson. We live here in Michigan where it all started and where the arterial blood of metal-bending and chrome plating still runs hot. We’re car people. And when somebody gets the big dream, I get on board.

Get over to the website, register, and enter. And, if Ford picks you and it has to do with aviation, will you fly my camera?

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