Mahrle paid less than $10,000 for his bright red
Italian roadster. Martin Gruss got his by bidding
nearly $5 million at a major international collector
car auction. But despite the gap in the purchase
price of their vehicles, Rich Mahrle and Martin Gruss
both got to enjoy their red Italian sports cars over
the course of 1000 miles (actually 1010 miles) of
Arizona highways and byways on the 19th annual Copperstate
1000 vintage sports car rally.
relatively modest 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider and
Gruss' rare and historic 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California
Spyder, a car that finished fifth in the heralded
24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1959, were among the
more than 60 cars participating on the annual road
tour staged by the Men's Arts Council of the Phoenix
MAC was organized in 1968 not to provide a landscape-sized
canvas for rolling sculpture but with the simply
mission of providing volunteer night guards for the
young museum and its growing collection of art.
in more than four decades since, the MAC has grown
to become the largest annual financial contributor
to the museum, and its biggest event is the annual
vintage auto rally that attracts car owners from
across the country, and occasionally from across
the ocean. This year's participants included a 1959
Aston Martin DB3S sports racer and its owners all
the way from Nottinghamshire, England, and a couple
of racer/car collectors from Farnam, England, who
didn't bring one of their own cars but borrowed one
from car collector friends in Phoenix.
year, MAC accepts 60-70 automotive classics for the
Copperstate 1000 rally, with each of those vehicle's
owners paying around $5000 for the privilege of running,
and risking, their cars on the open roads of the
great Southwest. Though all of the 2009 Copperstate
1000 was staged on Arizona highways, the event has
visited Nevada, Utah and New Mexico as well in recent
addition to the driving, Copperstate participants
enjoy catered lunches in some exotic locales and
stay in multi-star lodging along the route.
has been in the case in recent years, the 19th Copperstate
1000 began with the annual Field of Dreams car show
at Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of
the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. For the Field
of Dreams, the Copperstate cars are arrayed around
the outer edge of the baseball outfield, with local
car clubs showing their cars in the stadium parking
lots. This year, a special collection of classic
Rolls-Royces and Bentleys were parked along the mezzanine
level of the stadium.
the stadium, the cars followed a route that took
them east from Phoenix, past the Superstition Mountains
and up through Devil's Canyon before turning northwest
to lunch on the shores of Roosevelt Lake. (Yes, there
are lakes, created by hydroelectric dams, in the
lunch, the drive resumed, up through Payson and on
along the shores of Mormon and the Lake Marys to
Flagstaff for the first overnight.
Kenyon's 1957 Ford Thunderbird follows one 1965 Shelby
GT350 (Bruce Meyer's) across the bridge near Roosevelt
Dam, then follows another (Jere Clark's) as the cars
leave the shores of Roosevelt Lake. Below (from left)
John Leshinski's 1970 Porsche 911, Dudley and Sally
Styrron-Mason in Harley Cluxston's 1966 Alfa Romeo
GTA, Clugston's 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC and Theodore
Gildred's 1956 D-type Jaguar chase Michael Barber's
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Boano toward Payson.
Copperstate contingent faced its longest driving
day the next morning, a 300-mile route that took
them east and north from Flagstaff across the Painted
Desert to Old Oraibi on Third Mesa, believed to be
the oldest continuously occupied settlement in North
America. The route then turned south to Winslow,
made a turn past the Standing on the Corner statue
and led them to lunch La Posada Hotel, a landmark
that, like a classic car, has been restored to its
87 then led the cars across the desert and into the
Blue Ridge forest before a descent into the Verde
Valley, with a twist through Page Springs on the
way to Sedona.
Jacobs drives his 1952 Tojeiro MG sports racer past
Mount Humphries (above left). Rear view mirror captures
Roland Duce's 1959 Aston Martin DB3S in the same
location (above right).
Comer's 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 leads a parade of Copperstate
cars past Castle Butte (above). Elk, antelope and
open-range horses and cattle are among obstacles
cars such as Robert Doede's 1962 Porsche 356B S roadster
encounter in northern Arizona.
Painted Desert provides a scenic backdrop for viewing
Roland Duce's 1959 Aston Martin DB3S over the hood
of Stephen Norman's 1929 Bentley 4 1/2-liter drophead
coupe (above). More classics: Jim McDowell's 1942
Packard 180 Darrin convergible Victoria, William
Clements' 1954 Mercedes-Benz 220A cabriolet and the
La Posada Hotel (below).
on Day Three, the cars left Sedona for a sensational
and sinuous drive up and over Mingus Mountain behind
the old mining community-turned-artist colony of
Jerome. The cars then zipped across several high-desert
valleys before a short sprint on Interstate 40 and
an almost too-brief drive on a section of old historic
route turned north at Williams toward the Grand Canyon,
though it stopped miles short of the big hole. At
the Valle crossroads the Copperstate contingent stopped
at a remarkable venue, the Planes of Fame Air Museum,
which, it turned out, not only offered a collection
of vintage aircraft but also a dozen or more classic
cars. Among the museum's flying fleet is a 1929 Ford
Tri-Motor that took Copperstate participants aloft
for a stunning view of the Grand Canyon.
lunch and flights, the cars returned to the road,
heading toward Mount Humphries and Flagstaff, then
dropping down into Oak Creek Canyon and back to Sedona
for another night.
parade of Copperstate cars cling to the road that
leads up Mingus Mountain (above). Further up the
hill (below), David and Marianne Duthu take in the
view from their 1952 Jaguar XK 120 SE, a former factory
cars and vintage aircraft share the tarmac at the
Planes of Fame Air Museum (below).
rally's final day took the participants past the
red rock formations around Sedona, then briefly down
Interstate 17 before turning back across Prescott,
Skull, Kirkland and Peeples valleys to lunch at Hidden
Springs Ranch. A plunge down the Yarnell Grade and
a drive through Wickenburg led the cars back to Phoenix.
are meant to be driven...
wouldn't want a car unless I could drive it,"
Martin Gruss (at the wheel above) responds when asked
about risking such an investment in the traffic of
the open road. In
fact, he adds, living in New York, he doesn't really
get to drive this Ferrari "as much as it deserves
to be driven."
Gruss smiles, the car is almost ready for "a
paint job," a process done not at your local
Earl Scheib franchise but by experienced classic
car restoration specialists. Knowing such people
can deal with a paint chip here or there, Gruss plans
to follow up his tour of Arizona by running his car
around the famed Road American racetrack in Wisconsin
during a national Ferrari owners gathering this summer.
attitude, that cars were meant to be driven, is shared
by other automotive enthusiasts and collectors who
have brought their cherished chariots to join Gruss
on the 19th Copperstate 1000 vintage sports car rally,
an event staged each spring by the Men's Arts Council
of the Phoenix Art Museum.
Clements has missed only two Copperstate 1000s, though
for the inaugural event he was driving the luggage
truck that shuttles the participants' suitcases from
overnight stop to overnight stop, not one of his
collector cars. The Phoenix resident's collection
includes a 1941 Packard four-door convertible, an
unrestored 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SL with 120,000
miles on its odometer, and the 1954 Mercedes-Benz
220A convertible (above) he and his wife, Karen,
drove on the Copperstate this year after a two-year
absence (in 2007 the car wasn't quite ready and last
year the Clements were busy with activities leading
up to their daughter's wedding).
Martin Gruss' Ferrari was one of only 41 such long-wheelbase
California Spyder's ever created, but while not nearly
as valuable, the car driven on the tour by Rick Rome
(above right) truly is one of a kind. The car is
the 1957 Jaguar Cozzi Special (above left), built
by a teenaged Dan Cozzi and a hot-rodder neighbor,
who somehow got California coachbuilder Jack Hagemann
to form the car's aluminum bodywork.
and his friends built the car, but his father wouldn't
let him race it, so driver Nadeau Bourgeault was
recruited. The car made its competitive debut with
a third-place behind a Ferrari driven by Carroll
Shelby and a D-type Jaguar. Later, the car won its
class and was sixth overall in a race that featured
Shelby in a Maserati, Jack Graham's Aston Martin
DB3S, John von Neumann's Ferrari 500TR, and Ritchie
Ginther in a Porsche 550 Spyder.
would go on to be a successful engineer who worked
for a time for a Formula One racing team, but his
car, which he sold to help pay for college, was hidden
away in a mechanic's garage for 25 years until it
Gruss is one of 13 drivers participating for the
first time on the Copperstate 1000. So is David Sydorick,
who bought his 1961 Aston martin DB4 GT Zagato (above)
in 2000. A few years later, a car similar to Sydorick's
sold at auction for $2.7 million, and Sydorick's
car is even more special; it was built for the 1961
Turin (Italy) motor show and thus was equipped with
several special features.
Sydorick bought the car, its previous owner had kept
it parked for 31 years. Not Sydorick. He's driven
in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, displayed
it at the Villa de Este concours in Italy, and drives
it every Sunday morning in Los Angeles, and after
the Copperstate tour plans on participating in a
similar 1000-mile event this fall in Colorado.
the conclusion of the Copperstate, several awards
are given, including one voted on by the participants.
That award goes to the car they'd "kill to own."
This year, that car is Sydorick's Aston.