Segerstrom Shelby Event Center prepares to open this winter with the fourth-largest collection of Shelby cars in the nation and a philanthropic mission.
By Sharon Stello
Anyone who has seen the hit movie “Ford v Ferrari” is familiar with automaker and race car driver Carroll Shelby, portrayed by Matt Damon in the film. Now, an Irvine museum is getting ready to open with a display of more than 80 of Shelby’s vintage vehicles.
A January grand opening is planned for the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center, founded by Newport Beach philanthropists Ted and Rae Segerstrom. Several years in the making, the center will house the nation’s fourth-largest collection of Shelby cars and other items from the Segerstroms’ private collection. The space, which encompasses more than 41,000 square feet, will serve as both a museum and event venue for weddings, corporate parties, fundraisers and more. Notably, the center was designed by world-renowned architect Ulf Henriksson, whose firm, The Scenic Route, handled interior design of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Net proceeds from the center will go to the Carroll Shelby Foundation, which provides medical assistance for those in need as well as automotive and other training programs for young people, and to Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, which offers medical, surgical and rehabilitative care for children with burn scars, cleft lip and palate, and orthopedic conditions, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.
“The event center/museum has been a labor of love for both of us,” the Segerstroms said in a press release. “It has been a dream of ours since 2009 to create a place of celebration, education and preservation of Shelbys, and we are extremely excited to open the doors to the public and share the love and passion we have for Carroll Shelby, his cars, antique neon signs and gas pumps.
“We first met Carroll in January 2004. We were fortunate to see Carroll at various events throughout the years and get to know this iconic man. We are thrilled to share our collection with his fans, performance car enthusiasts and younger generations who are yet to learn how Carroll shaped the history of the performance cars and automotive industries.”
The museum’s curated galleries will showcase an impressive display of Shelby cars including rare specimens—some that are believed to be the only one of their kind in existence. In fact, this will be one of the world’s largest exhibitions of rare Shelby models.
Among those on display will be the three Shelby Cobras with the lowest production serial numbers in history, including the No. 1002 Cobra purchased by the Segerstroms in 2004 and signed by Shelby himself on the nose and driver side door. “From then on, almost every time he saw us, he jokingly mentioned that he hurt his back getting down to sign the door,” the Segerstroms said in the press release.
The museum will also display the 1999 Shelby Series 1 CSX5000—the first one produced in the 5000 series. Only 249 were made of the original run of Series 1s. These came about when Shelby decided he wanted to design and produce a car from scratch after basing his past cars upon the beginnings of other carmakers.
Also in the collection: A 1969 Shelby GT500 in Jade Black, which is a rare color on any Shelby model, especially this one: Equipped with manual transmission as well as the Drag Pack option, it’s the only such example ever produced.
And these are just some of the rare and vintage vehicles to discover when the museum opens its doors early next year. The center will be offering self-guided visits and docent-led tours, while school groups will also be welcomed.
Segerstrom Shelby Event Center
5 Whatney, Irvine