Copper mining was a major economic engine in early Arizona, along with the other four Cs – cattle, cotton, citrus and climate – so it only seems fitting that the state’s premier classic car road rally be named in honor of the state’s longstanding nickname: The Copper State.
This year marked the 27th annual running of the Copperstate 1000, organized to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum, and as usual, the rally brought together a stunning variety of rare and historic sports, GT and race cars, the oldest of them being a pair of massive 1929 Bentley 4½-liter touring cars.
The public sendoff for the four-day tour of southern Arizona was held Sunday, again on the baseball field at Tempe Diablo Stadium where the California Angels hold their spring training games. The 80-plus cars ringed the outfield, down the third-baseline and around home plate.
The Copperstate 1000 is not a competitive rally but a grand tour in incredible cars – including Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Shelbys, Jaguars, Porsches, Corvettes, Aston Martins and such rarities as a 1953 Studebaker race car and a 1947 Tatra T-87, which is a Czech luxury car with a V8 engine in back and a soaring rear wing.
During the rally, drivers can choose their own, usually rapid speeds on the two-lane back roads, although under the watchful eyes of state-police officers escorting the group on motorcycles.
Several hundred spectators were on hand at Tempe Diablo near Phoenix to see the cars close up before they got under way, and then watched in the grandstands as each car was introduced European-rally style and driven out through the gate for the first leg of the 1,000-mile journey.