4/10/2013 - Copperstate 1000 Heads Out In Sunshine, Into Wind, Snow
Tempe, AZ - Some 90 exquisite vintage cars headed out rally-style from Diablo Stadium here on Sunday in mid-80s temperatures and sunshine, their drivers looking forward to a four-day high-speed tour of north and western Arizona on the 23rd annual Copperstate 1000 charity road rally.
Casual observers might assume April in Arizona to be somewhat balmy usually a safe bet. However, with the state's dramatic elevation changes and topographical variety, from arid Saguaro cactus-filled deserts to chaparral-laden plateaus to high-altitude pine forests, it pays to multi-task your suitcase with garb for any eventuality. Copperstaters had a shirtsleeve first day on Sunday, when they set out for Sunday lunch to the west at Buckaroos eatery in Salome, with a second leg (290 miles on the day) to the gambling mecca of Laughlin, Nevada. On the way via California 95, the escorting Arizona Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) officers reminded drivers to be cautious on the whoop-dee-doos that can unsettle a car's suspension, as well as the occasional wild burro chicane on the blacktop.
Monday morning saw sweaters and fleece donned for the run along one of the sole remainders of historic Route 66 to the Roadkill Cafe (we're not kidding) some 150 chilly miles eastward in Seligman, AZ. According to VM contributor Colin Comer, bravely flogging his 1958 Cunningham Team Lister-Jaguar, participants had "hail, winds, rain, tumbleweeds...Lister is sweet! Great heater." We think he means the side-exhaust pipes are keeping him and especially his copilot Road & Track exec editor Sam Smith in the knees-on-chin left-hand seat nice and toasty. Judging from the passenger seat size, Smith should be both deaf and medium-rare in the fetal position by the end.
From there it was a twisty scenic jaunt down AZ 89 and 89A to the historic mining town of Jerome before heading to the red-rock butte formations of Sedona and the h.q. hotel Enchantment Resort. In between, 60mph-plus winds had closed I-40 for a few hours across a 35-mile stretch from Twin Arrows to Winslow, south of the Copperstate route.
Tuesday offered chill winds and a stint to lunch at Valle Airport's Planes of Fame Museum and aerial tours in the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airplane before running north to the Grand Canyon and its Desert View Watchtower. Drivers made sure to avoid overheating the brakes on the downhill AZ 89A run on the twisties back to Sedona for dinner and a well-deserved snooze. Wednesday will see the trekkers head through Arizona's first capital city of Prescott, on the way to lunch in Bagdad, which is not in Iraq but seems as isolated and far, nevertheless. After lunch the Copperstaters have 125 miles (rally total over 1,135 miles) of mostly two-laners to make it to the awards banquet finale at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale.
If you have a pre-1974 collector vehicle and would like to apply for the next Copperstate 1000, it's scheduled for April 5-9, 2014.
For more information: copperstate1000.com
Photo: John and Sonia Breslow's one-off 1961 Vignale-bodied Corvette, just one of many unique rides on the Copperstate 1000 (photo: Mike Silverman, 2013 Vintage Motorsport)