Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum –– The Fast Life in Irvine

  • story by David M. Brown
  • photos by Coast Concierge Service Inc.
  • posted on 12/2021
  • posted in: Great Garages

Carroll would have driven, quickly, to this opening –– in, of course, a Shelby.

The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center and Museum opened October 30 at 5 Whatney in Irvine, California. With the fourth-largest collection of Shelbys in the U.S., Ted and Rae Segerstrom’s venue showcases some of the rarest, low-production and valuable Shelby’s, including one-of-ones.

“It’s a place to come see and learn about some history and to make memories with your events,” says Ted, who began the collection in 1986 when he purchased a 1967 GT500 fastback which he and Rae still own. They display it with 92 other Cobras, GT350s and GT500s, and Mustangs and the first of each Cobra series in professionally curated galleries.


The Le Mans-winning Carroll Shelby (January 11, 1923–May 10, 2012) became a successful automotive entrepreneur after a heart condition unbuckled him from the driver’s seat. Matt Damon portrayed the legend in the 2019 film Ford vs. Ferrari.

“The event center/museum has been a labor of love for both of us,” says Rae. “It’s our dream project and took us about four and a half years to complete a place of celebration, education and preservation of Shelbys, and we are extremely excited to share the love and passion we have for Carroll Shelby, his cars, antique neon signs and gas pumps.”

In 2016, the philanthropist couple purchased a 32,000-plus-square-foot two-story office/warehouse complex and three years later added a 10,000-square-foot converted office/ warehouse complex. The final 42,000-square-foot structure was designed by architect Ulf Henriksson, owner of the “The Scenic Route” in Pacoima, California, and built by contractor Tim Miller, principal of the Miller Development Company in Huntington Beach, California.


The Segerstroms’ latest addition was Shelby’s personal 2006 Daytona created by Hillbanks Motors in Irvine. “There are a few double cars in the collection which we will be selling to pare down the collection a little,” he explains.

Cars other than those by Shelby are also represented at the museum. One is Rae’s original gray 1956 Ford Thunderbird. And, the oldest is a 1942 Ford GPW Jeep. Ted: “Built from 1942–1945, Ford produced exact copies of the famous Willis Jeep for the war effort, except Henry Ford put his name on it everywhere possible –– including the original Ford tires.”

Orange County, Meet Chicago


He was born and raised in Orange County; she was born in Chicago, moved to California with her family in 1962 and then to New Jersey two years later because of her father’s job. She moved back to California in 1965 and has remained. The couple met in the 1970s.

“I got into cars when I was working on the farm and helping the farm hands with the tractors,” he recalls. “After I was old enough to legally drive, my friends and I would go to the ranch to work on our cars, and the farm hands sometimes helped us out sometimes.”

In turn, “I learned about cars because my dad felt that women/ girls should know about them as a just-in-case, so I wouldn’t get taken advantage of when I took mine in for service,” she says.


Both have family histories of Masonic membership. As young people, she joined the Job’s Daughters and he the Order of DeMolay. After they married in 2004, he joined the El Bekal Shrine in Anaheim.

Shriner’s support 22 childrens hospital across the nation, Canada and Mexico; these are free to the children and their families. “We decided that the best way we could help our cause was to build something that would endure beyond our time and help support our mission,” she says.

In the spirit of their charitable commitment, all net proceeds will benefit the Shriner’s Medical Center in Pasadena, which provides comprehensive medical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children up to 18 who have orthopedic conditions, burn scars and cleft lips and palates, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.


Also benefiting is The Carroll Shelby Foundation, which provides medical assistance for those in need, including children; the Children’s Organ Transplant Association; education opportunities for young people; and the Northeast Texas Community College’s Carroll Shelby Automotive Technology Center, she explains, adding that the museum is also working with former model and actress Kathy Ireland to assist her cancer foundation for children.

The Segerstroms met Shelby in January 2004 when he signed the nose of their first Cobra, although they already owned a substantial collection of rare Shelby automobiles. “We were fortunate to see Carroll at various events throughout the years and get to know this iconic man,” he says. “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 Many Joys of Shelbys


The Segerstrom collection focuses on rare cars. For example, the collection contains the first of each series of Shelby Cobras, excepting #2000, the first one Shelby built. And, the 50th-anniversary Cobras were produced in a very limited number, with only 50 being built for the 289 series and 50 of the 427 series. “We have the first of each series,” Ted says.

Here’s a sampling of some others:

1966 Paxton Supercharged GT350 –– This was the first one produced and the only automatic transmission out of the 11 that year, Ted explains. It was Shelby’s daily driver: “Imagine him driving a 400-horsepower GT350 around Los Angeles back then!”


1966 Shelby GT350 Factory Drag Car –– This one of only four factory drag cars produced in 1966 and one of two just back from restoration. In 1965 four GT350 cars were produced by the factory as drag racing cars. “We have at least one of each of them from each year,” he says. “One is a world record holder car.”

The only two 1968½ Shelby GT500 KR convertibles –– The Segerstroms have five GT500 convertibles from this year, three of them in Meadowlarks Yellow. Of the approximately 44 models produced that year, Shelby made only three with a yellow body, black interior, equipped with air-conditioning and a manual transmission and white top and only two were yellow outside, black interior, manual transmission, air-conditioned with a black convertible top. “Called ‘the Twins,’ they have sequential VINs and Shelby IOD numbers, so are identically produced cars,” he says.

In addition, the collection includes the only three GT500KR convertibles produced with white convertible tops, black interior, 4-speeds and air-conditioning. “We have all five of them in the collection,” he explains.

The Segerstrom Shelby_Event_Center_and_Museum_in_Irvine_California

1968 GT500 KR red convertible with a white top –– “This is my most cherished car,” he says. “It was my youngest daughter’s favorite, too, but she passed at age 7 before the restoration was completed.”

1969 Jade Black Shelby GT500 –– “It’s a rare color on any Shelby, most particularly the 1969 GT500 convertible,” he explains. “This machine, in this color, equipped with the Drag Pack option and manual transmission, is the only such example ever produced.”

The only remaining 1968½ Shelby GT500KR HERTZ convertible –– In the Hertz rental display, the museum has all five colors of the 1966 GT350H cars which were available for rent in 1966 and a 2006 and 2007 GT350-H 5-speed Executive cars which were never rented. The 2006 is one of four produced, and the 2007 5-speed is one of 17 produced.

The three lowest-production serial number Cobras in history –– The last series of Cobras are the CSX 1000 series. In the collection are CSX 1000, CSX 1001 and CSX 1002, which the Segerstroms purchased in 2004; it was signed by Shelby 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,” Rae recalls.

1999 Shelby Series 1 CSX5000 –– The museum has the first of each CSX series: CSX 3000, the first 427 Cobra; CSX 4000, the first fiberglass model, excepting CSX 4001–4010, which were 10 aluminum-body race Cobras. “Shelby had only sold three of those first 10, and we were offered and purchased the other seven serial numbers and have built out two so far,” he says.

The SSEC’s CSX 5000 is the first one of the 5000 Series 1 models. Just 249 of the original run of Series 1s were made. “After so many years of basing his cars upon other carmakers’ beginnings, Carroll Shelby decided he wanted to conceive and produce a car from scratch,” Ted explains.

Finally, CSX 6000 and 7000 are continuation series; the collection has CSX 6000 and CSX 7000.

The Segerstrom Shelby Event Center is available for special and private events including weddings, fundraisers, corporate parties, private gatherings, trade shows, new-product releases, classes, lectures, workshops and car shows. The museum is open Thursdays–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission for adults is $15; senior/military $10; and children 5 and under are admitted for free.

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