Courtney Barber is best known as the founder of Team Mustang Girls, a website and Facebook page designed to allow female Mustang fans to share their photos and adventures. But in addition to being a Mustang enthusiast and web entrepreneur, Courtney is building a name for herself in the auto industry as a driver, rally racer, auto journalist and blogger not afraid to get down and dirty with an engine.
RacingJunk.com reached out to Courtney to talk about writing, driving, and taking apart her iconic calypso green ’65 Ford Mustang, and putting it back together again. She shares her path to the auto industry, her history with rally racing, and her dream vehicle — once the Mustang is finally finished.
RJ: Tell us a little bit of your background. Where are you from, etc? How did you get involved in the Auto Industry?
CB: I grew up in New Hampshire and went to college at Towson University in Maryland and my hunt for warmer weather finally landed me in South Carolina. I always loved cars and thought your vehicle should match your personality. I can still remember a debate with my mom when looking for a car during college. She just didn’t understand why I couldn’t just pick a car. I needed it to fit me. I never imagined myself being a part of the auto industry. I actually have an accounting degree and was a real estate agent for a few years. It still amazes me how a few wrong turns brought me to where I am today.
RJ: How did you get interested in cars?
CB: My father was always into cars. The gene skipped over my brothers and somehow got me instead. We used to go to cruise-ins at the Dairy Queen when I was a kid and that’s when I decided I would own a classic car one day. I fell in love with the lines and curves that gave each car a unique look and feel.
RJ: Tell us about the Mustang that has kicked off a lot of this work and recognition?
CB: I got my Mustang on a whim off of eBay. The real estate market was crashing and I was sick of driving around the Jeep I had gotten to show houses. It felt like I was driving a “mom mobile.” I found an old ’65 Mustang that I could afford and started bidding. Looking back on it now, I had no plan whatsoever but somehow it all worked out. I ended up winning the car and buying a one way ticket to Wichita, Kansas. After 1,200 miles with no heat, a broken window regulator and blisters on my hands from my first experience without power steering, I made it home with my new pony.
RJ: I know you’re working on your Mustang now. What are some of the tunes and mods you’ve been working on? What are some dreams for this or other vehicles in terms of upgrading performance?
CB: My dream is actually to stop working on the car. After doing a complete restoration in less than a year as Mustang Monthly’s Project Road Warrior, everything is new but I keep finding kinks that have to be fixed or something that could be better. It makes me wish I could go back to my junker that I parked in the bushes and threw a bike in the trunk without even thinking about putting a blanket between it and the paint. Now the list of things to do and maintain never seems to end!
RJ: You were on the Bullrun in 2011. What was the highlight of that experience?
CB: After doing over a dozen rallies now I think the highlight of my first Bullrun in 2011 was the unknown. Nothing can prepare you for a crazy rally adventure. You can’t really understand the non-stop, adrenaline fueled week until you are there and it’s happening. It’s a week long roller coaster and the ride won’t stop for you so you just have to hold on tight and keep going until you take a deep breathe and realize it’s over. Then all year long you count down the days until the next adventure and just wish you could have 10 minutes of the ride again.
RJ: What have you learned about vehicles, racing, and the industry since then?
CB: I think my biggest learning lesson is to keep it simple and stick to what you know. Driving a 50-year old car back and forth across the country isn’t always easy. People’s first question is always “What do you do when you break down?” And my answer is always the same–fix it and keep going. But the more you upgrade and get fancy, the harder it is to just run to the parts store and fix something that could be simple.
RJ: What’s the goal of the Team Mustang Girls website?
CB: I ask myself that every day! It’s a work in progress…I have lots of plans in my head but I will admit I am a lot better at working on cars then websites and short codes!
RJ: What are some of your goals in the industry going forward?
CB: Another question I’ve been focusing on this year. Have you talked to my mother? Ha ha! Honestly I just want to drive! The word industry actually makes me cringe! Sometimes the gossip and arrogance reminds me of a high school lunch room. I think it’s entertaining to sit back and watch some of the egos and arrogance in the “industry” especially by people who claim to be car freaks but can’t even change a tire!
RJ: Favorite vehicle (aside from the Mustang)? Dream car or dream changes for your current vehicle?
CB: For years I’ve wanted a ’69 Stingray or ’70’s Bronco but last year I was driving an El Camino while I was working on my car and I really fell in love. It’s like the best of both worlds. I didn’t have to borrow a truck when I got a new oven and the looks I got when I rolled up in a gold ’85 El Camino with matching gold rims were priceless. One day I was putting a case of beer in the back and actually got a marriage proposal from the biggest red neck I’ve ever seen in my life. Doesn’t get much better than that!
RJ: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the auto industry and what advice would you give to other young women interested in being part of it professionally?
CB: It’s not easy. People will doubt your intentions for choosing a male dominated industry. But if you are truly here for the love of cars and are willing to work for it, you can find a spot and make it your own.
Thanks so much to Courtney for taking the time to chat with us. Let us know if you have questions for her, and thanks to her sponsors: Kicker, Speed Direct, BFGoodrich, NPD, Scott Drake and Old Air Products.