Barrett-Jackson ’09 – Beautifull Cars, Petty And Hendrick Star In The Desert

Scottsdale, AZ (January 18th, 2009) – It was that time again for the colossal 38th annual Barrett-Jackson auction to kick off the year. Even though I live in Florida, I was looking forward to the desert weather and the chance to see some the greatest looking cars together at one venue. With the economy in its current slump, it was making a lot of people nervous with popular auction known for it’s no reserve auction. There are winners and loser, but with all that said the auction did over $50 million dollars for the weekend.

The two auctions that caught my eye were the celebrity charity auction cars and what they were going to do. Saturday night was going to be the big night with stock car legend Richard Petty and current NASCAR kingpin Rick Hendrick headlining the night’s auctions. Mr. Hendrick was there in support of the Jeff Gordon DuPont Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The 2006 Monte Carlo Cup car was going to go up first (Lot #1274) with all proceeds from the sale of the car being donated to the Hendrick Bone Marrow Program. The car campaigned by Gordon intermittently during the ’06 and ’07 seasons won NASCAR Sprint Cup events at Chicagoland and Charlotte. I got to talk to Rick about 30 minutes before it went up and he was very nervous saying this was “more nerve racking then going to a race.” Hendrick arrived on Wednesday and it was his first time at the auction. He was having a great time and said he would be back again. Up until I spoke with him he had purchased six cars at the auction and said that the Barrett-Jackson staff were really good to him and was impressed by the first class operation. The auction was quite the spectacle with the colorful Gordon Chevy rolling up on to the stage. It was the unconstrained Ron Pratte with his winning bid of $500,000.00 taking the lot. Add donations from Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and others bringing the total to $550,000.00. Also of note, Barrett-Jackson doesn’t charge any house fee’s for any of the charity auctions. The bonus added to the auction was Hendrick’s promise for the winner to be his personal guest to any race including sitting on Gordon’s pit box for the event. Who is Ron Pratte? Mr. Pratte owns Pratte Development Company, Inc. of Phoenix which according to is, “one of the nation’s largest wood framing and concrete foundation companies.”

A bit later, the legendary Richard Petty drove a beautifully customized 1970 Plymouth Superbird Petty tribute (Lot #1289) onto the stage. The Superbird, was sold to benefit The Darrell Gwynn Foundation, was built by YearOne in conjunction with Musclecar TV, Bill Goldberg and Gillette Evernham Motorsports (now Richard Petty Motorsports). Goldberg and Darrell Gwynn joined Petty on the block for the sale. The car started as a 1970 Plymouth Satellite and was transformed to the Superbird with a Gillette-Evernham Motorsports race engine installed and painted in the famous Petty blue to finish off the classy chassis. This car would not have happened if it were not for Bill Goldberg and Tony Stewart coming up with the befitting tribute to “The King.” The auction made the former wrestling great Goldberg excitable and nervous. He really wanted to bring some big money for the Gwynn Foundation. The crowd really loved it as the car ended up bringing in $551,000 for a great cause.

The Barrett-Jackson is more than just an auction it is an event which brings in all sorts of collectors, gearheads and fans of all types. Some of the racecar drivers seen in the crowd were unemployed IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter and Paul Tracy. NASCAR celebrities Jack Roush and Rusty Wallace were there as was former Miss Hurst, the legendary Linda Vaughn. Hunter-Reay is still working on trying to get a deal for this year, as he was rumored for the Penske ride which Australian Will Power got. However, he said it did not work out but is confident something will come through. Tracy was also told me he was working on a ride with Jimmy Vasser and he said he is not ready to sit and watch racing, he still had something left.

The attendance was a little down and there was some good buys but there still a lot of money spent throughout the weekend.

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