‘On the Road Again…” and for the 25th time, the Copperstate 1000 celebrated 25 consecutive years of some of the finest, most pristine sports and classic cars manufactured before 1973 challenging over 1000 miles of some of the most scenic mountains and deserts that Arizona (and this year southern Utah) has to offer. The Copperstate gives more than 90 vintage cars and their drivers and navigators the opportunity to explore Arizona’s spectacular back roads in their prized automotive treasures.
In the most recent and anniversary edition, the motorcade assembled at Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of the Los Angeles Angeles baseball team, for a car show before blasting out of the stadium Mille Miglia-style to the first overnight stop nestled at the base of the San Francisco Peaks and Humphreys Peak at Flagstaff. At elevation — Humphreys towers above 12,000 feet — the evening was chilly, but participants were wired for an early start the following morning for the drive into Utah with an overnight in the town of St. George.
The caravan of cars looked stupendous in the glorious natural wonders of Zion National Park, where massive sandstone cliffs of pink and red rise into a deep blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.
That caravan ranged from elderly but still spry vehicles including a 1929 Bentley 6.5 Litre, 1930 Bentley Speed Six and 1932 Lincoln KB boattail speedster to post-war Ferraris, Jaguars, Maseratis, 300SLs, Porsches, Alfas, Astons and nine Shelby GT350s in this, that car’s 50th anniversary year.
For the event’s 25th anniversary, the rally started a day earlier than usual and stretched to nearly 1,300 miles in a feast for all the senses encompassing sight, sounds and aromas of the blooming flowers in the spring desert and a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains.
From the stunning box canyon views on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the cars trekked south back through Flagstaff and tall pines and Aspen-laden forests to the majestic red rocks of Sedona for two nights at the luxurious Enchantment Resort at the head of Boynton Canyon.
On Tuesday, the Copperstaters enjoyed dose of the magnificent Grand Canyon and refreshed at the Hagerty Hospitality RV at the Grandview Point overlook. The rock layers of the canyon that serve as a window into time provided a fantastic natural backdrop for the colorful classic and sports cars.
A quick jaunt through the artist enclave of Jerome gave the participants and their machinery a good workout on the challenging the twisty roads of Mingus Mountain.
The final leg of this incredible journey took the cavalcade of motorcars through historic Prescott and a catered lunch at the beautiful Hidden Springs Ranch, where some of the finest thoroughbred stallions in the world are bred and trained.
After lunch, a drive along Carefree Highway and past a monumental stand of saguaro cactus took the tour to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa for the Suds & Suds car wash and awards banquet.
Among those awards, the Participants Choice for the car they’d most want in their own garages went to the 1930 Bentley Speed Six owned by Clive Cussler and the Louis E. Laflin III Spirit Award went to Jim Ballinger and Marc Cavness.
The Copperstate 1000 vintage rally is staged by the Men’s Arts Council to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum. For more information on the event, and on the new Copperstate Overland off-road adventure planned for this fall, visit the Men’s Arts Council website.
Photography by Howard Koby