Segerstrom Shelby Event Center brings racing cars to Irvine
IRVINE, Calif .– Like many Orange County treasures, the new Segerstrom Shelby Museum and Events Center is tucked away in an indescribable maze of office buildings that belies one of the world’s most esteemed car collections. American automobile history. Open the glass doors of the two-story brick building, and there are over 80 immaculate Shelby cars – many of them rare, all spectacular.
The 83-car collection includes the only two 1968-Â½ GT500KR convertibles with a black rag roof, matching interior and 4-speed transmission; a 1966 GT350 factory dredge car; and three Cobras with the lowest production serial numbers in history, including # 1002, which Shelby personally autographed on the nose and driver’s side door.
To the uninitiated, the late and great Carroll Shelby was an automotive design icon whose ideas and personality were as big as his native Texas. Best known for his work with Ford Motor Company in the 1960s, portrayed by Matt Damon in the 2019 film ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’, he was also a legendary racing driver who won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans and whose name is stands for style and performance.
It was the Shelby mystique that first drew Ted Segerstrom into his vehicles, prompting him and his wife Rae to amass what is now the fourth largest Shelby car collection in the world.
âI just liked the Mustang,â said Ted Segerstrom, whose first car was his sister’s 1966 car.
A few years later, he upgraded to a 1972 Mach 1 which he crashed on his first date with Rae in the 1970s. Then he took advantage of the 1973 Arab oil embargo when people were abandoning them. gas guzzling sports cars to mark its first Shelby Cobra – a 1967 model in green paint.
He was addicted. From there, he started looking for Shelbys wherever he could find them – a 4-speed KR in Nevada, a Paxton Supercharged in Boston.
“His knowledge, his experimental mechanics have led to modern things,” Ted said, such as the quick-change Le Mans racing brakes described in “Ford vs. Ferrari”. “There is a lot of automotive history and a lot to learn about Carroll,” he said, adding that the way Shelby was portrayed in the movie “was tame.”
âI had a soft spot for the Mustang,â said Segerstrom. âIf my first car was a Camaro, I might have stayed with Chevy, but the Mustang was popular. I had a lot of fun in them. They were easy to work with. And Carroll saved the Mustang.
It was Shelby who suggested that the Mustang be modified, the end result being the GT350. He also made 1,000 rental cars for Hertz in 1966, known as rent-a-racers, as hot rodders rented them out for weekend racing.
Several GT350s and Shelby Hertz, in the five original color combinations, are now part of the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center collection.
Before getting married in 2004, the Segerstroms grew up around cars in the 60s and 70s. When Rae’s father bought his first car, he insisted she take the engine apart and put it back together. He made him check the brakes, change the oil and rotate the tires.
âHe thought women should especially know about cars, so if you had to take him somewhere to get it fixed, they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of you,â she said.
Ted Segerstrom grew up on the family farm in Costa Mesa around âa lot of mechanics who rebuilt their own cars so they taught me a lot about engines,â he said.
The Segerstrom family helped transform Orange County into one of the world’s most lucrative real estate properties after selling part of their farm to become the South Coast Plaza shopping center. The name Segerstrom also adorns the Costa Mesa Arts Center.
Located in a town in Irvine, the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum is organized by model, starting with an area the Segerstroms call ragtop royalty “because the 1968 GT500KRS convertible is one of Ted’s favorite cars.” , said Rae Segerstrom.
Just beyond the ragtops is a Carvana-style vertical display of each Shelby model year, 1966 through 1969.
And then there are the Cobras, including the very first one the Segerstroms bought: the remarkable silver number 1002 they bought in January 2004, which was also the first time they had met Carroll Shelby in person. Shelby’s sprawling signature can be found on the inside of the driver’s side door and also on the front. The Segerstroms have since purchased numbers 1000 and 1001 in the series.
The Segerstroms will not put a number in their collection. âPeople told us it was millions, but we don’t collect them for it,â said Rae Segerstrom.
Ted and Rae Segerstrom had kept their Shelby collection in a private garage near John Wayne Airport, but it was not accessible to the public. And even with 25,000 square feet of space, they were running out of space.
âIt started because the collection has continued to grow,â said Ted Segerstrom of the new 32,000 square foot building which they purchased in 2016 and began renovating in 2019. Architect Ulf Henriksson designed the space, adding an additional 10,000 square feet by converting a mezzanine warehouse and adding glamorous details including a “Gone with the Wind” style staircase.
In addition to cars, the museum is also a treasure trove of vintage automobile ephemera, with dozens of classic neon signs promoting vintage tire brands and gas pumps.
Open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and for school visits Monday through Thursday, tickets cost $ 15 for general admission, $ 10 for seniors / military, and $ 5 for children under 6 to 12 years old. The event center can also be rented for weddings, parties, fundraisers, private gatherings, classes, auto shows and other occasions looking for a dramatic backdrop dotted with Shelby .
Well-known philanthropists, the Segerstroms donate profits from their Shelby Event Center to the Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, which provides medical, surgical and rehabilitative care to patients under the age of 18, and to the Carroll Shelby Foundation, which provides medical assistance to those in need.
The Shelby Event Center quietly opened on October 30 and was closed for the holidays. It will reopen on Thursday January 6 and have a big party on January 20.