The Beach Cities Mustang Club hosts a gorgeous gathering of Mustangs in Long Beach, California
By Steve Turner
During our recent visit to sunny Southern California driving the 2015 Mustang, we decided to stick around for a couple extra days. Not just because we have friends in the area or because the weather is so great. Instead, we wanted to take the opportunity to catch some car shows. The main show we put on the schedule was the newly anointed Ponies at the Pike, held along the waterfront in Long Beach, California.
This year marked both a change of name and venue for a show that has long been appointment viewing for Mustang fans in Cali. Since we had never had the chance to see the show, all of it was new to us. Fortunately, the founder and president of the club behind the show was more than happy to give us a little background on the event.
“Beach Cities Mustang Club was founded in 1996, and the show started in 1997 as ‘Mustangs at the Galleria.’ We did a show simply because Mustang clubs have shows. I think there were about 80 cars at that first show. For three years, we were at the popular Redondo Beach shopping center. Then as the show grew, we found a nice location in the parking lot in front of the Queen Mary. There used to be several shops there, and we were even given our own little office to use,” Jon Shultz explained. “The show continued to grow, and back then Queen Mary management was supportive of our efforts. After two years in a small lot next to the ship, they suggested the adjacent events park. So we moved over and the show started to take off. Soon after, we broke the 300-vehicle mark, and had to use the attached parking lot. We’ve been ‘California’s largest Mustang car show’ ever since.”
Along the way, club and venue grew apart and that led to the event moving to Shoreline Aquatic Park, near the popular Pike shopping area. With the new locale, brought a new moniker, Ponies at the Pike. With a great locale and free attendance for spectators, it makes for a great day out for Ford fans.
“…We had a pretty nice location previously, but this new park has exceeded all expectations! When you’ve become comfortable in the same place for 15 years and start to look for a new location,” Jon said. “You worry about layout changes, a new name, and wonder if people are going to follow you. Turns out that we had nothing to worry about, with this being our second largest show ever, and by far the most amount of spectators in our 18-year history.”
While many things changed this year, all seemed for the better, as most show cars were parked on the cool, plush grass along the park’s waterway instead of on hot pavement. Having been to just a few car shows on black asphalt, the change of scenery was a welcome one for us. It has to be one of the most scenic spots for a car show we’ve seen, and the weather wasn’t shabby either.
Though there was a lot new this year, the club maintained its tradition of giving away lots of awards, and stressed that the cars be judged on their own merits. As such, dash cards only display a number. There is no name or club affiliation allowed on the car, so as not to sway the judges. In all, the club gave out over 225 awards.
Of course, the most coveted award goes to the Best of Show. At this show the award holds a special significance, as it is dedicated to a noted Mustang fan that passed before his time.
“Joe Gosinski was owner of the nationally known Chicane Sport Tuning in SoCal. He was a member of the Beach Cities Mustang Club and a sponsor/vendor of our annual show (then know as Mustangs at the Queen Mary). He used to set up these 100-foot-long tents and showed of his best work. At the beginning of the day, we explain the award, talk a little about Joe, and then ask people to vote for any Ford in the show that they feel exemplifies the ‘Chicane standard of excellence.’ Basically we tell them to vote for a car that was done right. Attention to detail is essential. Because that was Joe’s trademark,” Jon explained “Joe was murdered in his shop on
December 23, 2010 by person(s) unknown. The Beach Cities Mustang Club helped to raise over $20,000 for a reward that is still being offered. We renamed our top award the Joe Gosinski Best of Show Award. It’s just one of many ways we strive to keep Joe’s name and story alive. Joe was like a brother to me, and early on I was the spokesperson for the family and am still for the Reward Fund. There are many of us still waiting for justice. For more information, visit RewardForJoe.com.”
As you can see, the club takes this event pretty seriously, and it is taking what was learned from this year and planning to further improve the event in 2015.
So, if you are in the SoCal area in September of next year, we recommend that you check it out.