NMCA car show awards a home track beauty.

Grandfather tricks out a Mustang to please kids and honor veterans.

NORWALK, Ohio – Ten years ago as Rob Horner cradled his grandson Noah in his arms, the wheels started turning.

“I ride Harleys,” said Rob Horner, North Ridgeville, Ohio. “I said, 'How am I going to take my grandson on my Harley?' So I bought a Mustang.”

That tricked out pony won Best Ford and Editor's Choice awards at the National Muscle Car Association car show at the J.E. Pistons NMCA Muscle Car Nationals August 23-25, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

From the beginning, the competition orange 2004 Ford Mustang Mach I rocked fun into the grand relationship, then developed it.

“I bought it new in February of 2004,” said Rob Horner, a repairman at the Ford Econoline plant in Avon, Ohio. “Noah was 13 months old. He's been coming to shows with me since he was 16 or 17 months old.”

No trailer, Rob Horner tools the Mustang to shows. The drive mixes into the adventure.

When Noah needed a car seat, Rob Horner ordered a custom booster seat with black and red leather matching the leather patterns on the seats of the Mustang.

Like many car show participants, Noah and Rob sit in folding chairs in the back. But the Mustang trunk opens to a television mounted on the trunk lid, playing a “Scooby-Doo” movie, for a new take on the phrase, “drive-in movie theater.”

Other kid-friendly perks show up at the Horner Mustang exhibit. Many times the Horners pass out glow sticks for free, and allow youngsters to sit in the Mustang.

“It's fun,” Rob Horner said. “Kids love it. I spoil the kids.”

Older car lovers find plenty to appreciate, too. The Mach I arrived with 20-inch Carroll Shelby wheels; Rob Horner added splash.

“I like the old hot rod wheels where they had them painted to match the car,” Rob Horner said. “So I painted the wheels orange.”

And he commissioned Chris, from Aerographics in Elyria, Ohio, to paint horses on the car.

Under the hood, Rob Horner honors United States veterans and service men and women in every conflict since World War II – as well as victims and survivors of attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001 – with a collection of coins, belt buckles and mementos. Some he gathered while visiting memorials. Others he found online.

Also, the underside of the hood sports red, white and blue stars on a black background.

“It's a tribute to the military to honor them,” Rob Horner said, “and to show people that we care.”

“My dad was in Korea,” Rob Horner said. “I was in the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army. I was in during Vietnam, and I was treated like garbage.

“I didn't go to Vietnam,” Rob Horner said. “When I came home on leave I wore my uniform. I was proud of it. Just because I was in the military I was spat on and called, 'baby killer.'”

Sensitized by injustice, Rob Horner honors all United States military personnel.

On Saturday of the National Muscle Car Association car show, the Horner military tribute Mustang won a Special Recognition plaque, and a First Place Editor's Choice award from Fastest Street Car Magazine, and Flowmaster, the exhaust technology company.

“He's just a detailer,” said Ron Fetter, director of the NMRA and NMCA Car Show Series. “And the horse on the back, whoever did that, whoa! I'm an old sign painter.”

On Sunday the tricked out pony won the Best Ford award, also.

“I'm really glad the NMCA decided to come to Summit (Motorsports Park),” said Rob Horner.

And with the confidence gained by polishing a show-stealing Mustang with his grandfather, 10-year-old Noah's growing into the world of motorsports, too.

For results from the car show at the 7th Annual J.E. Pistons NMCA Muscle Car Nationals August 23-25, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, click on: A beauty of a tribute!

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