Fun in the Sun
Carlisle Events brings an auction, a car show, and much more to Florida
By Steve Turner
Most SVTP readers are familiar with the Carlisle Ford Nationals held in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This is but one of many automotive events hosted by Carlisle Events in its hometown. However, back in 2013 the event company expanded into Florida hosting an auction and show in Zephyrhills, Florida (you’ve probably had the water from this town). The events were so successful they outgrew the facility, and this year company moved to the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, which is best known for hosting the Sun ’N Fun, the second largest airplane fly-in gathering of its kind.
A new location called for a new moniker. As such, the expanded automotive gathering is called the Fall Florida AutoFest, and it took place from November 12-14, with a kickoff event in downtown Lakeland, Florida, on November 11.
Like its predecessors, the centerpiece of this event was the Carlisle Auction, which ran on Friday and Saturday. It featured over 400 vehicles up for sale, and 120 of the higher end rides were displayed in airplane hangars, while the remaining vehicles were gathered outside. Among the vehicles for auction was a strong contingent of vintage Ford hardware, though we did find a few modern examples for sale, including a Shelby GT and widebody GT500.
There weren’t just high-end rides for sale at auction, however. The event featured sprawling car corral where vehicles of all makes and models were for sale. We spotted several interesting Fords in that group, including a sharp ’81 Mustang coupe, a SN-95 with crazy custom body work, a Fox drag car, and more. It was a lot of fun to window shop in the corral.
While the auction and corral certainly provided cars to ogle, there was a car show too. For those that weren’t looking to sell, they could enter their cars in a number of judged classes. In the general population there were a few Mustangs, but the critical mass of high-performance pony cars was in the Team Shelby show area. It not only offered a look a solid group of GT500s and other Shelby rides, but the owners and spectators had a front row seat for the motorcycle stunt show too.
Yes, there was a lot going on at the Fall Florida AutoFest. From helicopter rides and motorcycle stunts to a Russian boat motivated by an aircraft engine and a robust Smokey and the Bandit display highlighted by the appearance of legendary actor Burt Reynolds, this event offered a little something for everyone.
While this was the first event of its kind at the Sun ’N Fun facility, look for Carlisle Events to head south again for the Winter Florida AutoFest, which runs from February 25-28, 2016.
Fall Florida Autofest 2015 Gallery