I spent the day photographing as many classic cars as possible under the strong Arizona sun. What started off as a cool morning in the high 50’s progressed to a gorgeous 80 degree day. Besides turning every one of my exposed body parts bright red, I was rapidly disabused of the idea that I am any kind of flexible after walking around for hours while extensively contorting my body to take photos.
Oh, and my brain turned into oatmeal. No raisins, no cinnamon. Just oatmeal. While there’s nothing else I want more than my pillow right now, I’m going to stick it out and write up a little summary of the automotive spectacularity that went on today. See what I do for you? You can buy me a beverage when you meet me. Thanks.
While I’m at it, I’ll include some of my photographic highlights of the day. Since I took close to 600 photos, I’ll just post a few of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong, all the cars were great but some photos were a lot stronger than others due to various factors. I won’t plague you with images of my shadow filling half the frame, or my finger in front of the lens, or the family of 6 that walked into the shot and set up a picnic in front of the most amazing car you’ll never get to see.
Alright then, let’s commence:
Besides the fabulous winter weather, one of the benefits of living in Arizona is the abundance of collector cars. Consequently there are many auto events in the area; the world renowned Barrett-Jackson auction amongst them, but by no means is it the only fabulous event worth attending. A less well-known but yet a major event is the Copperstate 1000.
The Copperstate 1000 is a vintage car rally that takes participants on 1000 miles of the many gorgeous byways in the state of Arizona. The route is kept a total secret until just before the event begins; at which time it is only revealed to the participants. Surprise destinations are a fun approach to rallying. It’s the Forrest Gump box of chocolates thing. Don’t make me quote it.
Okay, Okay since you demanded nicely I’ll quote it just for you: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” There. Meanwhile, keeping the route and evening destinations on the down low also serves to preserve the privacy of entrants in this rolling entourage of automotive history. Incidentally, all the cars entered in the rally are required to be, shall we say, “of a certain age”. Examples must have been produced prior to 1974 with many from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
So it’s the end of March, and it’s the perfect time of year to have such a rally. In spring it’s far less likely that you will cook your cranium than between the months of June and October. Surely, if one was to drive their pre-air conditioning or convertible open air car in the summer months here, brains flambé would most definitely be on the prix-fixe menu. It wouldn’t be pretty. There would be gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, tempers and radiators boiling over, and the numerous participating Alfa-Romeos spontaneously and spectacularly disarticulating like meteors entering the atmosphere.
But rallies of this scale can be tricky. It has to be planned at just the perfect time to also prevent entrants finding themselves in a snowstorm. Believe it or not there’s a good chunk of the Grand Canyon State (including the rim of the Grand Canyon) that is at high altitude and can accumulate quite a bit of something vintage cars should never have to drive in or on. In fact, there was a pretty good storm or two with significant accumulations not too long ago.
However what I can say though, is that as far as weather goes, the rally planners nailed the perfect dates this weekend: sunny and a high of 80 or so in the lower elevations, and highs in the high 60’s in the elevated elevations.
Kicking off the event was a public unveiling of the cars. Approximately 90 entrants filed into Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday night in preparation for the pre-rally show-offery today. 90 cars is pretty much the maximum for the event due to limited accommodations at the evening’s stopovers. I believe I either heard or overheard someone official mentioning this fact, and is totally understandable given that much of Arizona is pretty rural and finding a place for 200 or so people to say can be quite a challenge. Especially at a time of year when everyone wants to be vacationing here.
While the “1000’s” participants’ vehicles were located around the periphery of the baseball field used by the Angels for spring training, it really was a great venue for the kick off of the event. Visitors such as myself found the location of the stadium easily accessible with ample parking. Plenty of seating was available inside the event (it’s a baseball stadium after all) should one prefer to take in the entire scene from a fixed position. Food was available, as was free coffee, and I think you will be “relieved” to know that there was access to stadium’s rest rooms. What more could you want from a kick off to a rally, really?
While it may seem as if I’m trying to sell you on going to the Copperstate 1000 kick off event. I’m not, that’s up to you, and besides you can’t sell free. Yes that’s right, this kick-off car show was free for the public to enjoy. Started by the Men’s Arts Council in 1990, this charity event has taken place every year since. As ever, access to the cars and owner/drivers is on the house.
Note that participants have a generous entry fee which, while it covers lodging and all meals for drivers and co-drivers, the substantial remainder goes to one of two charities. The first beneficiary being the Phoenix Art Museum and the second is the Copperstate 10-90 Foundation which provides emergency benefits to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
The delightful atmosphere of the event was one of camaraderie amongst entrants and attendees alike, as well as a palpable universal passion for these fantastic machines. It just felt…right. And the good vibes weren’t limited to inside the stadium either. In the parking lots around the stadium were many cars that were equally beautiful and amazing as those entered. Yes I took a few shots of them too.
I would highly recommend grabbing some motor-headed friends and making a day of visiting the future Copperstate 1000’s. It’s sure to be a special time. Hopefully, the organizers will just keep ordering perfect weather so that all involved can thoroughly enjoy the day as much as everyone did today.
I know that I surely did.