Phoenix Art Museum Preps for Nov. 3 Debut of Legends of Speed Exhibit

Phoenix, AZ — Nov. 3 marks the opening of Phoenix Art Museum’s first major exhibition of racing cars — Legends of Speed — showcasing a selection of more than 20 cars spanning six decades and driven by some of the greatest drivers in the history of racing, including A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and Sir Stirling Moss.

A true legend of speed, Dan Gurney’s beautiful Formula 1 Eagle. Photo: Peter Harholdt

The display will include winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500 and the Italian Grand Prix; featured marques will include Maserati, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Ford and Bugatti. The museum will be the sole venue for this exhibition that runs through March 15, 2020.

“Legends of Speed will enable our community to explore the artistry and design of these iconic cars while learning about some of the greatest races and race car drivers in history,” said Gilbert Vicario, the museum’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and the Selig Family Chief Curator. “This exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience many of the world’s most famous and successful race cars all in one place.”

It was inspired by the success of the 2007 museum exhibit 2007 Curves of Steel — the first art exhibition to explore the impact and influence of streamlining on American and European 20th century automobile design.

Legends of Speed is a first for the museum in that it will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring cars from the 1910s through the 1970s. All of the exhibit cars will be on loan to the museum by internationally-recognized collectors and automotive museums from across the United States and Arizona, including Melani and Rob Walton and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Highlights will include A.J. Foyt’s first Indianapolis 500 winner, loaned to the museum by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, and Mario Andretti’s Formula 1 championship winner, a 1978 Lotus 79. There’s also a Ford GT 40 that won the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans in France twice, first in 1968 when it was driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi, and again in 1969 when it was driven by Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver.

In addition to modern racing cars, Legends of Speed will present a number of cars engineered prior to World War II, including the original 1911 Franklin driven by Ralph Hamlin in the 1910 Desert Classic, also known as the “Cactus Derby.” Hamlin’s Franklin finished second in the off-road race from Los Angeles to Phoenix, surviving the 500-mile journey across rugged desert terrain. The exhibition will also feature a 1929 Bugatti Type 35 driven by Hellé Nice, known as “The Bugatti Queen.” Nice, whose real name was Mariette Helene Delangle, was the first Women’s Grand Prix winner and is considered the fastest woman racing professional prior to World War II.