Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum revs up for celebration with Kathy Ireland

Coming across a rare Shelby car, like winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, is partly due to luck.

“A lot of times you just have to be in the right place at the right time,” said Ted Segerstrom.

“Or you meet the right person who remembers you,” said his wife, Rae Segerstrom.

The two Southern California philanthropists showcase their private collection of cars designed by the late Carroll Shelby, which is notably the fourth largest collection in the US, at their Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine. The two-story 41,000-square-foot space houses more than 83 of the most low-production Shelby vehicles produced, along with vintage neon signs, gas pumps and oil cans.

Vintage gasoline pumps by Mobilegass and Flying Gasoline on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine.

(Kevin Chang/Staff Photographer)

“We have this museum, and we want people to come here and learn some of the history, not just of cars but the gas pumps and the neons,” said Rae Segerstrom.

The Segerstroms purchased the industrial building in 2016 and began renovating it in 2019.

“By the time we went through the city and everything, we finally opened up, and our grand opening was on Oct. 28, 2021,” said Rae Segerstrom, “COVID didn’t help matters.”

The museum is now open to the public, with docent led tours starting this month, Tuesday through Sunday at noon and 2 pm The venue is also available for special and private events including weddings.

A vintage Richfield gasoline pump on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine.

A vintage Richfield gasoline pump on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

On Jan. 20, SSEC will host its own special event, a Grand Celebration from 3 to 7 pm The event will benefit the Carroll Shelby Foundation, Shriner’s Medical Center in Pasadena and the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

Supermodel turned mogul and philanthropist Kathy Ireland, the international youth chair for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, will join Ted and Rae Segerstrom for the occasion.

“We are delighted to have Kathy Ireland join this momentous occasion with us,” the Segerstroms stated in a news release. “We both share with Kathy a strong passion for bettering the lives of children and eradicating pediatric cancer. It is a joy for us that this special place will help to further this mission.”

The couple have been collecting cars associated with Shelby, known not only as an American automotive designer but also as a race car driver. They met him in 2004 and a few times after that before he passed away in 2012 at the age of 89.

The couple even have #1002 Cobra they purchased in 2004 on display that Shelby himself signed in not one but two places.

A 1965 AC/Shelby 427 Cobra Continuation CSX1002 with Carroll Shelby's signature on the front hood.

A 1965 AC/Shelby 427 Cobra Continuation CSX1002, which includes Carroll Shelby’s signature on the front hood and on the inside of the driver side door, is on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine. This car was the second Cobra added to the collection and is the only one signed on the hood.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“He signed the nose, something he hadn’t done in about 40 years,” said Ted Segerstrom.

“But we also got him to sign the inside of the drivers door,” Rae Segerstrom recalled.

The couple said Shelby had to bend down to do the signature in the door and joked to them that he’d hurt his back.

“Every time he saw us he’d say, ‘I remember you guys. I hurt my back signing your car!’” laughs Ted Segerstrom.

Shelby, portrayed by Matt Damon the film “Ford vs. Ferrari,” won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. His role running race operations for Ford in the 1960s was instrumental in the company’s victory at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967, and his influence on the reinvention of the Ford GT40 is still apparent, as the car remains one of the world’s most collectible automobiles.

Other rare models at the SSEC include a fully restored 1966 Shelby GT350 factory drag car, one of just four factory drag cars produced in 1966, and a 1969 Shelby GT500 in jade black. It’s a rare color for any Shelby, according to the museum’s news release, but especially the 1969 GT500 convertible. The color, manual transmission and what Ford called called a “convince package” but became better known as a “Drag Pack” option are what make it one of a kind.

A sticker honoring Carroll Shelby on the windshield of a 2012/1962 Shelby Cobra 50th Anniversary CSX8950.

A sticker honoring Carroll Shelby is attached to the driver side windshield of a 2012/1962 Shelby Cobra 50th Anniversary CSX8950 on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine. Just 50 were produced, and this is the first of the limited edition, which was used for national advertising of this unique series.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The SSEC allows the Segerstroms to further their philanthropic missions, but they also hope it will help Orange County residents learn about the rich history behind the American automotive industry.

A 1965 427 Cobra CSX3000 on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine.

A 1965 427 Cobra CSX3000 on display at the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum in Irvine. This 427 Cobra is the first of the CSX3000 series.

(Kevin Chang/Staff Photographer)

“Come and learn some history about Carroll Shelby and experience some automotive history Ted Segerstrom said. “And then come back and make some memories. Have your family reunion that is really long overdue, your graduation, your wedding. Make your own memories here. Hopefully we have provided space for you to do that.”

For more information on visiting the Segerstrom Shelby Event Center, go to segerstromshelbyeventcenter.com.

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