Photos by Larry Edsall
Each spring, the vintage-car rally season starts with the Copperstate 1000.
As its name indicates, the Copperstate is a four-day, thousand-mile driving tour of Arizona.
While the Copperstate gets things started, it is followed very quickly by the California Mille and a series of other sometimes fast-paced drives in various parts of the country.
This year, the 24th annual Copperstate 1000 was staged on the baseball field in Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of the California Angels, before the more than 80 participating cars rolled out to explore southeastern Arizona, including the Kitt Peak National Observatory; the Mission San Xavier del Bac (aka the White Dove of the Desert); the historic Spanish settlement turned art community of Tubac; the border town of Nogales; Bisbee, which in the early 1900s was the largest city on the route from St. Louis to San Francisco; Tombstone and its OK Corral; the Pima Air & Space Museum; Mt. Lemon, site of one of Arizona’s ski hills; and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Participating cars on the 24th Copperstate included 15 Ferraris (from a 1953 212 Vignale coupe to a 1973 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder), 10 Jaguars (’51 XK 120 to ’69 E-type), eight Porsches (’57 Carrera GS/GT Speedster to ’73 911 RS/RSR), eight Shelbys (’64 289 Cobra to ’67 GT350), and seven Mercedes-Benzes (including four — count ‘em — four 300SL Gullwings!).
The oldest vehicles on the trip were a 1924 Bentley 3-Litre Vanden Plas, 1934 Lagonda 16/80 Vanden Plas-bodied tourer, 1936 Cord 810 Westchester and a 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible.
Though dominated by sports cars, the rally also included a 1954 Lincoln Capri from the Carrera Panamericana, a 1955 Chrysler C-300, 1969 Dodge Charter R/T, 1970 Ford Torino NASCAR stock car, a 1971 Pontiac Trans-Am HO and a 1973 Citroen SM.
But the rally is about more than just enjoying fantastic scenery from inside amazing vehicles.
The Copperstate is organized by the Phoenix-based Men’s Arts Council to annually raise money for the Phoenix Art Museum and for programs that support the state’s law enforcement officers. (Indeed, it was a contingent of Copperstate participants who created the 10-90 Copperstate Foundation, an IRS-recognized nonprofit, to provide emergency benefits for families and dependents of Arizona officers injured or killed in the line of duty.)