While most Formula 1 fans have to settle for collecting Hot Wheels or Matchbox versions of their favorite drivers, or meticulously assembling scale models, Juan Gonzalez, chairman of the board of Mission Foods, is fortunate to be able to collect the real thing. .
What’s the point of having such fantastic toys without being able to show them off to your friends? In Gonzalez’s case, “friends” include like-minded enthusiasts who visit the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
It was there that he sent 11 of his coolest F1 cars of the modern era to display in the museum’s Charles Nearburg Family Gallery. The lot includes a 1987 Lotus 99T, a 1994 Williams FW15D, a 1995 McLaren MP4-10, a 1999 Ferrari F399, a 2005 McLaren F1 MP4-20, a 2008 McLaren F1 MP4-24, a McLaren F1 2011 MP4-26, a 2013 Ferrari F138, a 2017 Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 and Fernando Alonso’s brightly colored 2018 McLaren MCL33.
Gonzalez’s Mission Foods is a McLaren sponsor, so it’s no surprise to see plenty of McLarens in the collection. “Since the 1970s, I’ve been passionate about the story of (team founder) Bruce McLaren,” Gonzalez explained. “How he started out as a racer, then he built and developed his own car factory and racing team, designing and developing Can-Am and F1 racing cars.”
Selecting these specific purchases comes down to a mix of their driver history and team success, as well as technically interesting aspects of the car’s design, Gonzalez said. Plus, there’s an old fanboy enthusiasm at work. “The F1 drivers I consider my heroes are Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Fernando Alonso, Alain Prost, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button,” he explained. All except Prost are represented by the cars in this exhibition.
As for the cars themselves, Gonzalez insists he has no favourites, but when pressed he admits to putting Ayrton Senna’s bright yellow 1987 Lotus at the top of his list personal.
A common attribute of these cars of the last 35 years is that they are very narrow, in order to minimize aerodynamic drag. It’s fine for the young guns who raced them back then, but it’s not great for older riders today, so Gonzalez admits he was never able to ride one of those cars because it can’t fit in their cockpits.
Regardless, he always has older, more spacious cars he can drive, including a 1973 Shadow DM1. he noted. We’ll have to settle for eyeing Gonzalez’s cars rather than driving them. Visit the Petersen Automotive Museum by June 5, 2022 for the chance to see these beauties in person.