A magnificent 1961 E-Type Jaguar convertible and an historic 1965 Shelby Ford Mustang owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, will appear at the fourth annual Celebration of Automobiles, scheduled for Saturday, May 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Vintage car owners and automotive enthusiasts from around North America have flocked to IMS the last three years for the event, which pays tribute to the rich heritage of automotive development at the track for more than 100 years.
This year’s Celebration of Automobiles will be held in conjunction with the running of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the newly reconfigured IMS road course. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be the first ever IndyCar Series road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The winner of three championships and 24 races in the CART open-wheel series, Rahal has enjoyed his visits to the three previous editions of the IMS Celebration of Automobiles.
“This is a fantastic event that’s only going to get bigger and better,” Rahal said. “I think the history of these great cars, whatever they may be, and getting them in front of the public is fantastic. The public, to a large extent, are all car people anyway, and so to have these great cars on display and the stories behind them and what have you, I think is all great.”
An event still in its infancy following its third rendition last year, the Celebration of Automobiles is already considered one of the world’s premier classic car shows, which comes as no surprise to Rahal.
“That’s because it’s Indianapolis, right?” Rahal said. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the mecca of motor racing and the automobile for that matter, in this country. There’s no more appropriate kind of place to have this kind of thing than the Speedway and the city of Indianapolis.
“If you really go way back, the auto industry really started in Indianapolis and Indiana to a large degree, as much as it did certainly in Michigan, so I think this is the right place and the right venue to have this kind of event. It’s already drawing people, but it’ll even draw more people as it starts to create its own history, and it’s going to get more and more people in the years to come.”
A classic car aficionado, Rahal is proud of his collection of automobiles from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s stored in his garage at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill.
“My collection represents the era when I was a young man not old enough to drive for the most part, and you kind of dreamed of having these kinds of cars,” Rahal said. “It’s fun for me to be able to experience these cars firsthand to drive them, to look at them and be able to appreciate them for what they represent, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of that for all those who attend the event.”
As much as car collectors enjoy owning their cherished automobiles, many of them equally relish the unique stories that come with finding their prized possessions, and Rahal’s cherished Shelby Mustang that he’ll bring to the Celebration of Automobiles has a backstory all its own.
“My car is the fourth from the last built in ’65 and it sat in the backyard in Riverside, California of the guy who bought it originally, and I am the second title owner of the car,” Rahal said. “It sat in his backyard for about 35 years and I was introduced to the car by a friend and everything in the car was absolutely original. It needed some work, and the paint of the blue stripes had been burned off of the car because of the sun, but thankfully there wasn’t any rust to speak of. So it has the original engine, the original transmission, the original wheels and the original everything. It’s been restored, for sure, but it’s the same stuff and you don’t see that often. Most of those cars got ridden and ridden hard, and they paid a price for that, so it’s really a very original car brought back to life beautifully by a fella in Illinois that works on my cars, so it’ll be exciting to share that car with everybody.”
Another car that Rahal will bring to IMS for the Celebration of Automobiles is his 1961 Jaguar E-Type that he’s equally proud of.
“I’ve always felt that the E-Type Jaguar might be the sexiest car ever built,” Rahal said. “In fact, Enzo Ferrari claimed that the E-Type Jaguar, when it started in 1961, was the most beautiful car he’d ever seen, and that means something when he says that. I have a convertible and the ‘61s were kind of the purest of the breed and it looks fast, and they say the body and the design is very sexy, and I’m anxious to share that too.”
Source: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Read about the restoration of Rahal’s Mustang in Mustang Quarterly