Human Interest


Ellie Haga turns her attention from her 1924 Type 35 Bugatti and squints through the glare of the morning?s rising sun. Less than 30 meters from her is a four-wheeled memory, a former pride and joy.

By Nate Hansen
Larson Newspapers

Ellie Haga turns her attention from her 1924 Type 35 Bugatti and squints through the glare of the morning?s rising sun. Less than 30 meters from her is a four-wheeled memory, a former pride and joy.

Bill Jacobs, of Illinois, walks slowly behind Haga as she strides quickly to his 1952 Ferrari 212/225 Barchetta.

Above the piercing squeals of delight, Jacobs says the car once belonged to Haga. He bought it through a dealer in California eight years ago, he says.

?I hate that you bought this car,? she laughs, grasping the steering wheel tightly, reliving a previous life from the driver?s seat.

According to Haga, she continued the restoration of the Ferrari two years after her late husband?s death. The classic roadster?s estimated worth is around $3 million, she says.

Haga, a sculptor in Sedona, says restoring and driving

vintage cars is a pastime.

She looks back toward a crowd gathered around her Bugatti and adds, though it?s a ?pastime,? there is much to be said about the present.

?They call my Bugatti a ?man magnet,?? she laughs. ?Every time I take it out there?s 100 men around it. But that?s OK. I like it like that.?

Early Tuesday evening, 80 pre-1973 vintage cars filled the parking lot of Sedona Rouge Resort & Spa. Each car was a participant of the 17th annual Bell Lexus Copperstate 1000 Road Rally.

Beginning Sunday morning, the select cars left Phoenix on a four-day tour taking them to the Grand Canyon, St. George, Utah, Sedona and back to Phoenix.

The 1,000-mile journey and fundraiser is one of three annual events created by the Men?s Arts Council to build funds for Phoenix Art Museum.

Scott McPherson, road rally chairman, says this year?s trip is amazing. Aside from the scenic landscapes, the sponsorship and support is what keeps the tour moving.

This year, there are four mechanics in addition to a small fleet of baggage handlers and a tow truck.

Bell Lexus, the primary sponsor, not only donates thousands of dollars, but it also provides six Lexus luxury cars in case vintage cars break down.

All six are being used, McPherson adds.

Peter Phillips, first-time participant of the rally, stands in front of his French classic, a 1961 Facel Vega — one of only 480 models made.

As he wipes the dead bugs of yesterday?s trip off his front end, he gives a brief history of his ?baby.?

He says he and his wife, both avid walkers, would venture out each evening to exercise around his Paradise Valley neighborhood.

One evening he saw a car parked in a neighbor?s yard and immediately recognized it as a Facel Vega, despite being covered with a tarp.

From that moment onward, he and his wife chose nightly walks from their street corner.

?This way, that way, or Facel Vega,? he says.

After curiosity finally took the best of him, Phillips approached the owner of the home where the car sat. He asked if it was for sale.

Long story short, five years later, Phillips is finishing the final leg of a famous road rally and benefit in the same car.

Fred Astaire owned the car originally, Phillips says, but that?s a longer story.

Straddling one of Arizona Department of Public Safety?s BMW RS 1150 motorcycles is Sergeant Larry Kenyon.

He smiles wide as he looks past an Alpha Romeo and a Jaguar toward a 1965 AC Cobra.

During each day of the tour, Kenyon leads a fleet of Arizona highway patrol motorcycle officers designated with duties to escort and guide the nearly 100 vintage, sponsor and support vehicles from point A to point B.

The main reason for his joy comes not from the cars, but because the road rally also raises thousands of dollars for DPS Family Support Group.

Last year, the vintage car owners raised $55,000 for DPS to fund everything from grief counseling to ?putting a roof over someone?s head.?

Despite the charity, Kenyon and his team still enforce the law.

?We?ve only had to hand out five citations so far,? he says. ?But be honest with yourself, when you drive one of these things, you have to run it wide open sometimes.?


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