My list of favorite things in life definitely includes but is not limited to: fast cars, fried food, and lots and lots of money. And since I have never really been into sports, I have seldom felt a real kinship with lots of perfect strangers at a large event like sportsy folks do at big games. The good news is that I have found a place that fulfills those desires on my list and happens to be full of likeminded folks I can call my friends.
It all happened on Saturday afternoon when I laid eyes on the majesty that is the Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. It was quite literally love at first sight. I reckon that it is probably “meant to be” when the first thing you see from the parking lot is a track with professional drivers doing hotlaps in brand new Vipers and Corvettes. They were just screaming, and I couldn’t get enough. Alongside the track was a tiny drag strip where two Challenger Hellcats were strutting their stuff. I hadn’t even shown my ticket to get in and I was absolutely giddy. (Video to come later when technology becomes more cooperative.)
That was my introduction to the Barrett-Jackson festivities, and a great big check on the “fast cars” item on my favorites list. And one of the things I liked best aside from the excessively fast and loud cars was the fact that I knew that everyone else that was there liked it all too. You don’t just happen upon an auto auction you have to pay to get into and think, “Huh. I think I’ll stay.” No, you’re there because it’s the best and you know it. (And I would have paid for it because it’s awesome, but here’s a quick shout out to my brother’s friend who got us in for free. That was cool.)
I think one of the other reasons I like it so much is because Barrett-Jackson looks like a lot of Southerners that happened to be able to afford really cool, historical, and typically American-made cars got together to throw a week-long party. There are carts and carts of fried food I normally expect to see at the county fair (no complaints here), the aforementioned sports cars running to redline and destroying their rear tires, local and no-so-local artists selling their auto-themed goods, and rows upon rows of beautiful cars waiting to be auctioned. No complaints regarding any of those things, really. The only thing missing was a Confederate flag.
For anyone that may not be aware, Barrett-Jackson is a huge auction held at the start of every year in Scottsdale, Ariz. and other cities throughout the country. Many a collectible car will pass over the auction block over the course of the week-long event. And when I say “collectible,” we are talking painstakingly restored to “as new” condition, or meticulously preserved as a token of automotive history. But it is more than that too.
The auction takes place at a huge venue with the previously mentioned outdoor track where the Big Three had performance cars to ride in, and tamer models to test drive. It isn’t a giant track, but it’s enough for the professional drives to scare you a little bit and make those cars roar. There were huge tents with cars waiting to be auctioned off, as well as rows and rows of models inside a giant warehouse on display before they changed hands.
My brother, Kyle, and I thought that the racecars with original damage were pretty cool, and a Ferrari F40 wasn’t bad either. I heard later that this one might be a reproduction, but there was supposed to be a real one there too. I never saw it, but the black one was pretty sharp.
Kyle and I discussed what kind of collectible we each would like to own. (For your information I have always loved the second generation Corvette, and just like every other white conservative male in America, I want a split window Stingray.) We also discussed the merits of the Chevrolet Nomad, which is another personal favorite. Kyle said that the world needs more two-door wagons like the Nomad today. I agree wholeheartedly.
Inside were also brand new models on display for the general public, including the BMW i8, which got a lot of attention from the crowd. Also, the new Mercedes-AMG GT S was there, though with much less gawking from the crowd, even though it would be my personal choice between the two. Either way, it was fun to see two sexy models I hadn’t seen in the flesh before.
Back to my list of favorite things: fast cars [check], fried food [check], and lots of money. Well, there’s a check in the sense that the people buying and selling pristine automobiles from both recent and bygone eras shows that there is a lot of money in and around Barrett-Jackson. Unfortunately none of that money is my own, but I suppose I shouldn’t give up on the future. In the meantime I am happy to walk the rows of those tents and that warehouse to see the beautiful automobiles that the thousands of other people there also appreciate. They’re perfect strangers, but we share a bond created by our love of all things cars.