Frank McKnight, of the International SN95 Late Model Mustang Owners Club & Registry, passed away on July 3, 2012 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Frank was many things to many different people. He was a proud Mustang owner, dedicated car club president, and good friend. His familiar face was a welcome sight at Mustang shows around the country. He was, without a doubt, one of the most passionate Mustang enthusiasts I’ve ever known.
A Mustang Enthusiast is Born
Frank began his journey in Charleston, West Virginia on January 6, 1967. As a young child growing up in Hurricane, West Virginia, his father, Frank E. McKnight Sr., would take young Frank to local car shows and car lots on weekends. The two would spend hours admiring all the beautiful rides. Frank Jr., who was born with Cerebral Palsy, enjoyed the outings, as they helped provide needed exercise while strengthening his legs. Frank’s sister, Teresa McKnight Barron, recalls that Frank and his father, an avid Mustang enthusiast in his own right, would sometimes spend all day looking at the cars, discussing how much they cost and how they were made. When Frank received his driver’s license, his father brought him his First Mustang, a Black SN95 V8.
The International SN95 Late Model Mustang Owners Club & Registry
In 1993, Frank founded the International SN95 Late Model Mustang Owners Club & Registry. The club, which focused on all 1979 to present-day Mustangs, touted more than 725 members. As Frank explained on the club’s website, “Our Mustang club is for the next generation of Mustang owners who love, enjoy, show and collect the new Mustang SN95 style. Like MCA (Mustang Club of America), we feel the 1979 an up Mustangs may be collectible cars in the future. For this reason, we have started this club and registry to see how many Mustangs the Ford Motor Company will make and how rare they will become.” The club also offered a newsletter for club members, which contained technical tips for 1979-2003 Mustangs.
Mach 1 Mustangs
On Labor Day of 2002, Frank attended the Mustang Club of America Grand National at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was there he was given the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of Team Mustang Engineer Scott Hoag’s personal Azure Blue Mach 1 Mustang. No doubt, Frank was an avid Mach 1 enthusiast through and through. In 2003, his Mach 1 Mustang was featured in Mustang Monthly magazine after being awarded a Top 20 Trophy at the 2009 NMRA First National Carolina Event. Editors from the magazine said, “You still see an occasional Mach 1 on the street these days, but Frank McKnight’s Blue ’03 is nicer than most.”
In 2009, Frank launched the McKnight Late Model Mustang Part Store, which sold parts for 1979- 2012 Mustangs.
News of Frank’s passing generated countless dedications from friends and enthusiasts far and wide. Jamie Allison, Ford Racing’s Director said, “We are very sad to hear the news. Our deepest condolences and prayers from all of us at Ford to Frank’s family and friends.”
Dean Hillestad, of Mustang Matters, said, “Frank lived the Will Rogers way; he never met a person he didn’t like.” Frank’s friend Michael B. further explained, “Frank was about fun. No matter what you looked like, nor how much money you had, he would be your friend regardless.”
In addition, the 2003-2004 Mach 1 Registry Owner’s Club dedicated a thread on their message boards to Frank, where friends can post tributes and memories of Frank.
When I think of Frank, I remember, not only his deep admiration of the Ford Mustang, but his dedication to the Pittsburgh Steelers and his love of Hooters Car Shows. I can confidently say he was one of the most passionate people I’ve ever known. In spite of his illness, he never lost his enthusiasm for the things he loved most. In my last conversation with Frank, two weeks prior to his passing, he told me he was ready to go to a Mustang car show.
In thinking of Frank and his life, I’m reminded of a quote by the famous Irish poet Oscar Wilde. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” There is no doubt about it, Frank lived, with enthusiasm and passion. I’m sure he’s up there right now discussing GT350s and GT500s with Mr. Carroll Shelby in the great beyond. Frank, you will be missed.
A memorial service will be held for Frank McKnight on Monday July 9th at 3 p.m.
Forrest Burdette Memorial United Methodist Church
2848 Putnam Avenue
Hurricane, WV 25526
Monday July 9th at 3 pm.EDT
The family has requested that donations in his memory be made to American Cancer Society. A Memorial Car Show and cruise are being planned for a later date along with other tributes.
Originally published 2012 About.com, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company.