The annual gathering of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) took place in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, over the past week. And in addition to drawing thousands of strange and wonderful flying machines and over half a million of their fans to this world-famous aviation event, it also marked the 15th year that Ford Motor Company provided a car to be auctioned off to help support the EAA's "Young Eagles" program. This time around, the vehicle was a new 2011 Mustang GT that had been given a unique aeronautical theme and serious dose of bad attitude courtesy of two legendary names in FoMoCo performance history: Carroll Shelby and Jack Roush. Dubbed the SR-71 Blackbird -- for Shelby and Roush as well as for the famed stealthy spyplane, this high-profile one-off drew a winning bid of $375,000 when the auctioneer's hammer finally dropped at the AirVenture show.
Built at Roush's facility in Livonia, Michigan, the 2011 Ford Mustang SR-71 Blackbird is finished in custom matte black and silver and features a glass roof with its own unique screen-print graphics. The 5.0-liter Ti-VCT in the SR-71 Blackbird is crowned with a V8 2.3-liter Whipple Twin Screw Supercharger that gets Ford Racing calibration, sits on a Roush intake and helps bump output to 512 horsepower. Downstream, a Ford Racing tuned-exhaust system abets breathing and adds its own sonic dimension to the mix. Suspension tweaks include the Ford Racing Handling Pack and SVT Track Pack staggered-size (19-inch front/20-inch rear) alloys.
Inside, the 2011 Ford Mustang SR-71 Blackbird gets a full roll cage and loses its rear seats but gains a set of custom Recaro race buckets embroidered with the signatures of its two design doyens. The high-output theme is reinforced by a competition-inspired steering wheel, Ford Racing gauges and modified navigation screen and instrument cluster. In addition to the other unique ID touches, the car also carries the actual signatures of Shelby and Roush on a special dash plaque.
While the EAA's AirVenture is always a favorite stopping-off place for veteran pilot Jack Roush, this year's visit ended before it even began when the multitalented patriarch of high-performance crashed his Beechcraft Premier 390 bizjet as he attempted to land it at the Oshkosh airport. Roush and his sole passenger walked away from the incident that totally destroyed the plane, but he did suffer a number of facial injuries that sent him off to a local hospital and subsequently to the Mayo Clinic, where he's currently convalescing. In April 2002, the eminently successful and remarkably lucky chairman of Roush Industries managed to survive an even-more-serious incident when he crashed an experimental propeller-engined aircraft into a lake near Troy, Alabama. No word yet as to when the famed Cat in the Hat will be back in the cockpit -- or back trackside to oversee the exploits of his Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR teams.