Pair of Mustangs at Rolling into Roanoke come with happy ending

Steve Federspiel (left), of Roanoke, stands beside his 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350 while Blake Caley, of Markle, stands beside his 1967 Shelby Mustang GT350. Tony Cotterman, of Fort Wayne, won the cars in a national contest in March, but was unable to drive them due to a physical disability. Federspiel and Caley stepped up and purchased the cars from Cotterman for more money than the contest’s cash prize alternative. Both vehicles and all three men will be at this year’s Rolling into Roanoke car show on Saturday, July 22. Photo by Steve Clark.
Steve Federspiel (left), of Roanoke, stands beside his 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350 while Blake Caley, of Markle, stands beside his 1967 Shelby Mustang GT350. Tony Cotterman, of Fort Wayne, won the cars in a national contest in March, but was unable to drive them due to a physical disability. Federspiel and Caley stepped up and purchased the cars from Cotterman for more money than the contest’s cash prize alternative. Both vehicles and all three men will be at this year’s Rolling into Roanoke car show on Saturday, July 22. Photo by Steve Clark. Photo by Steve Clark.

Tony Cotterman was surprised when he won a pair of Ford Mustangs in a contest earlier this year.

What’s even more surprising is that he almost turned them down.

Cotterman, of Fort Wayne, was awarded a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT350 and a 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350 in the Mustang Dream Giveaway. The contest, which is open to residents of the United States and beyond, is conducted annually by Dream Giveaway Promotions, an organization that raises funds for charities through prize drawings. Cotterman made a donation and entered the contest last fall.

After years of buying scratch-off lottery tickets and coming up empty-handed, Cotterman had a feeling his fortunes were due for a turnaround.

“One day I got to thinking, I wasn’t getting any money and I thought, ‘Well, one of these days my luck’s going to change,’” he recalls.

“‘And I sure as hell don’t want it to change on a $10 scratch-off.’”

Cotterman’s instincts were right. In March, he received a call from the contest’s organizers informing him that he’d won the drawing.

Cotterman welcomed the good news, as it came at a time when he had been receiving mostly bad news. Cotterman’s ability to walk had been declining since he underwent a surgery to alleviate pain from a spinal cord cyst in the winter of 2015-16. By the following winter, he had lost the ability to drive.

When Cotterman got the call, he was ill and had been in the hospital for a month. Between his inability to walk and present health, Cotterman contemplated turning down the cars. In their place, he considered opting for the contest’s cash prize alternative, which was $100,000.

Before making his decision, Cotterman sought the opinion of his close friend, Steve Federspiel, of Roanoke. Federspiel, in turn, conferred with his friend, Blake Caley, of Markle, who works as a financial advisor. By the time taxes were deducted from the prize money, the two determined that Cotterman would wind up with significantly less money than the cars were worth.

“I said, ‘Tony, if you take the $100,000, you wouldn’t wind up with, maybe, $65,000 in your pocket after it was over with. Don’t do it, please,’” recalls Federspiel.

Despite the advice, Cotterman remained tempted by the money.

“Finally, I said, ‘Tony, I’ll give you more,’” states Federspiel. “So, I made him an offer.”

Caley also joined in on the deal, offering to purchase the ’67 model, which is a car he had admired for years.

“The Shelby’s always been on kind of my bucket list where if I ever had a chance to own a real Shelby – a real, documented Shelby – I wouldn’t mind having one in my collection,” he states. “They only built just a handful of those.”

“I just kind of threw it out there to Steve,” continues Caley. “He wasn’t calling me wanting me to go in with him on buying it, but the more we talked, you know, it made sense for him. He could get the newer one, drive it and have fun with it and I could get the old ’67, throw it in my collection and we’re both happy.”

With Federspiel and Caley’s offer on the table, Cotterman decide to claim the cars. In late March, Cotterman’s brother-in-law, George Mason, accepted the car keys on his behalf at an awards ceremony in Florida. After that, Federspiel and Caley made arrangements to have the vehicles transported to Indiana.

The cars are now in Federspiel and Caley’s possession. Their next stop is the Rolling into Roanoke car show on Saturday, July 22, where they’ll be featured alongside other Ford makes and models on Main Street as this year’s tribute cars.

Cotterman will be joining Federspiel and Caley at the show. He’s excited to see both cars together, as well as thank Federspiel and Caley for looking out for him.

“He’s a nice guy,” says Cotterman of Federspiel, whom he’s known since high school. “If you’re a friend, he’ll do anything for you.”

“(Caley) was very nice, too,” he adds.

For as much pleasure as the cars have brought Federspiel and Caley, they’re just as happy about having been able to lend Cotterman a hand.

“I’m glad I could help,” says Caley. “I’m glad that I could be a part of making him have a better financial situation than he would have.”
Federspiel says he was glad to be there for an old friend.

“They’re the ones that mean something,” he says. “The ones that were friends back when we were kids getting in trouble.”

In addition to Fords, this year’s Rolling into Roanoke will also pay tribute to the cars from “American Graffiti,” George Lucas’ famed 1973 film about early ‘60s car culture. Cars identical to the ones from the movie will be at the show.

To help capture the feel of the movie even further, Rick Fischer, the show’s chairman, had a large banner printed that depicts Mel’s Diner, which is the spot where characters in the film socialized.

Other special vehicles at this year’s show include drag racing cars with superchargers and nostalgic funny cars and gassers.

A new attraction at this year’s event is a chassis dyno machine that will give drivers the opportunity to test the horsepower and torque readings on their cars and trucks. Drivers can pay to pull their vehicles onto the machine, says Fischer, and the car and truck with the highest combined horsepower and torque ratings at the end of the day will receive $500 prizes.

“A lot of people like to hear some of these cool cars run and this is kind of like a controlled environment to hear them run,” says Fischer.

The testing will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Roanoke Park. The park will also play host to a truck corral, which is another new feature at this year’s show.

As has been the case with previous shows, proceeds from the event will go toward the Roanoke Beautification Foundation. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg and National Automotive and Truck museums, both in Auburn, will receive a share of profits, too.

The show will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with activities at the park running until 8 p.m.

For more information, visit www.RollingIntoRoanoke.com.