Last week a new art exhibit sped its way into Phoenix. For the fist time ever the Phoenix Art Museum is featuring race cars, now through March 15th. The exhibit is called Legends of Speed and will feature over twenty classic vehicles from makes like Alfa-Romeo, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, and Maserati. These cars have been driven in some of the biggest and most prestigious races in the sport including; Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500, and the Italian Prix.
The cars on display span over 60 years from 1911 to 1978. Some of them have been driven by a few of the best drivers of all time such as; Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, and Stirling Moss.
Talking about the exhibit, Carter Emerson, co-chair of the Arizona Art Museum board of trustees said, “this is a one off, a show that is basically a collection that no one will ever get to see put together again.” Emerson said none of the owners will ever agree to four and a half months again, noting that this kind of exhibit is “absolutely unique” and the kind of thing you’d only see at Pebble Beach or Goodwood.
Among the featured cars include a 1913 Duesenberg, which was the first car to ever bear the brand name. The car’s first race came in 1914, placing 10th in the Indianapolis 500. It would later go on to win several races.
The Exhibit will also feature a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Last year this car sold for $48.4M at an auction in Monteray, shattering the record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction. That was just the third time this century that a 250 was sold publicly. Earlier that same year, another one sold privately for $80M
The display also sports a 1956 Maserati 250F. While Emerson called it “one of the most beautiful race cars of all time,” that is hardly its best endorsement of all time. Former driver of the car and legendary driver, Sterling Moss once called it, “the nicest Formula One car to drive,” adding that when it comes to “getting the most out of it with that sense of exhilaration,” it was among the best.
This marks the second time that the Phoenix Art Museum has featured automobiles. Back in 2007 the art museum had an exhibit showcasing vintage car designs called Curves of Steel. The ‘roaring’ success of that exhibit, bringing in new visitors en masse, opened the door to Legends of Speed being possible. This new exhibit took 18 months to plan and just two weeks to assemble the entire thing.
Curators of the exhibit say they are expecting as many as 300,000 visitors. The display’s 4-month duration is timed perfectly during car auction season, spring training, and NASCAR races, making it perfectly timed for visitors to drop in and see the cars. Phoenix is already a hotbed for car shows with Barrett-Jackson taking place during January. In February Arizona will also host the Lowrider Magazine Super Show car show and concert at State Farm Stadium.
The cars featured in the exhibition were all donated by private collectors and museums. The donor list includes two locals; Rob Walton former chair of Walmart and developer and investor Bill Pope.
This new exhibit comes to Phoenix right as the state is experiencing a surge in auto development. Last month the Arizona Business Journal reported that the electric car manufacturer Lucid Motors would be opening up a plant in Casa Grande. Additionally, Nikola CEO Trevor Milton also announced that the company would be making a huge investment to build a plant in Coolidge for hydro-electric semi-trucks and other vehicles.
Legends of Speed
When: Now through March 15th, 2020
Where: The Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ
Admission: $23 for adults, $20 for seniors, $18 for students, and $14 for children