“Legends of Speed” is a rare and unusual show for an art museum to have. Its 4 month plus run at the Phoenix Art Museum, however, is both welcomed and appropriate. Three generation of our family went to see it the day after Thanksgiving, and most of us really enjoyed it. Only the younger females found it boring. Most of us went from it to see Ford V Ferrari, a very successful movie with a neat tie-in to this show. If you can’t go to Phoenix, at least check out this winning film about racing before the Academy Awards are given out in 2020.
This show at the Phoenix Art Museum includes 22 race car icons from the past 60 years. There’s lots of information about each of them both in the show and in the catalog (catalogue is the British spelling) that accompanies it. The cars seen are truly exceptional examples of the best creations in the racing world. They include winners at Le Mans, the Italian Grand Prix, and the Indianapolis 500. As a matter of fact, a few of them are on loan from this Indiana museum. They have been driven by the best risk takers in the racing world.
The 22 race icons were loaned to the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM) for this show by collectors in Arizona and across the United States. PAM expects 300,000 people to see it. This is the hopeful expectation of this museum’s deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Gilbert Vicario. I learned this from Hayley Ringler’s fine article published in the Phoenix Business Journal and available on-line. Hoping to attract occasional art museum visitors, Vicario conceived the idea for this one-of-a-kind show. I suspect that many of the men seeing it with me could be described as “occasional” museum visitors. There were many of them but also many women and teenagers who seemed to be enjoying this show too.
Lyn St. James, the 1st woman to win the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award, helped to mount this show and wrote the introduction in the catalog. I also surmise that she is the reason why a racing legend I had never heard of named Mariette Helene Delangle was included. Better known as Helle Nice, Delangle loved auto racing. A model and actress living in Paris, she drove Bugattis and often competed with men in Grand-Prix events and won. She ended her racing career with several top 10 finishes.
Two of the cars seen in this exhibit are prominently featured in Ford V Ferrari. The story told in this excellent film is repeated in this PAM show next to a 1968 Ford GT40 from the Rob and Melani Walton Collection. Yes. Rob is from THAT Walton Family. The GT40 also crossed the Le Mans finish line first in 1966 and 1967, and with a chassis 1075 in 1968 and 1969.
Phoenix is a city with a serious car culture and is home to many collectors. “Legends of Speed” began on November 3, 2019, and will be in this museum until March 15, 2020. This is an exclusive that will not travel to other museums. I hope you, like me, gets to see both Ford V Ferrari and this rare show of race winners.