Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction, Part 1

Every year about the time of the Super Bowl, Barrett-Jackson stages one of the country's biggest auto auctions in the city of Scottsdale. I am not a huge car buff but I attended a few years ago, enjoyed the experience and decided it was time to visit again. Their website boasts,

"'The World's Greatest Collector Car Auctions™', celebrated its 40th anniversary with sports and Hollywood royalty, including Tim Allen, Bret Michaels and Randy Johnson. Nearly $70 million worth of Hot Rods, Resto-Mods, pre-war classics, exotics, muscle cars and contemporary collectibles crossed the block from Jan. 17-23, at WestWorld of Scottsdale in front of a quarter of a million cheering people. Their energy charged the 40th Annual Scottsdale Auction, which featured more than 1,200 cars selling at No Reserve."

I'll vouch for most of that except that I did not see the 250,000 cheering fans. Yes, there was a good crowd and polite applause each time the auctioneer's hammer came down — but "a quarter of a million cheering people"? Please! And they probably left off some of the celebs there — I recall the Arizona Republic interviewed "Mr. October", Reggie Jackson. He is a big car buff — and had five or six cars on the auction block — and probably bought an equal number for his collection this year.

What surprises the first-time visitor is the product show that occupies half of the huge tent at West World. It seems like hundreds of vendors have stalls for selling every imaginable kind of auto-related merchandise. From artwork and models...

to antique restored gas pumps. I felt a tiny bit of nostalgia for my high school days when I worked summers at my Uncle Whitey's general store in Showell, Maryland. I pumped many a gallon of gasoline those two summers. However, my nostalgia was not sufficient to shell out the price of one of these pumps then figure out a place to put it in my townhouse — not to mention trying to convince Mizuki that it would be good idea.

My surprise, both at my first visit and this time around, was that there were plenty of items for sale that had no relationship to automobiles — at least, no easily recognizable connection.

More nostalgia since Route 66 runs through northern Arizona — and evokes fond memories of my college days when I traveled from West Lafayette, Indiana to Los Angeles, California one year during Christmas break. Naturally, we drove along old Route 66 in the days before the Interstate system was as extensive as is today.

Just south of my home in Phoenix is the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. I knew of the facility but did not know much about the curriculum. From their website,

"Dubbed the 'Fastest 60 Acres in America', first-time visitors to the Bondurant School are generally not prepared for the size, scope and energy of The Bondurant School. One look and you see that Bondurant is committed to professional driving instruction. The size and scope of the Bondurant training facility is beyond comparison.

Located in Phoenix, Arizona, adjacent to Firebird International Raceway, the Bondurant School is a multi-million dollar racing enterprise. The Bondurant School is the world's finest driving school featuring a 15-turn, 1.6 mile road course, specifically designed by Bob Bondurant for high performance, race driving, and advanced driving instruction.

The course consists of a variety of corners and elevation changes that will challenge both novices and professionals alike. Bondurant utilizes Firebird Raceway's three other tracks for selected advanced road racing and corporate group programs. In addition, an 8-acre asphalt pad is used for advanced driver training with exercises on the Throttle Steer Circle, Handling Oval, Accident Avoidance Simulator, Slalom Course, Autocross and Skid Pad.

The Bondurant fleet consists of over 200 cars, including open wheel, formula style cars. All vehicles are specially prepared for the Bondurant School."

Outside the big tent are the tents covering the vehicles to be auctioned off. Acre after acre of classic Mustangs, Corvettes, vintage cars, hot rods and more. And you can walk up to every one — but please don't touch.

And just like any festival, once you've taken in 600 cars and need a break before the next 600, you can stop for some Indian Fry Bread or whatever.

Of course the purpose of the auction is to sell all these cars — and that action takes place in the main tent. One area is set up for bidders as the auctioneer begins his chant while assistants look for signals from the bidders. They are welcome to inspect the cars — you can see a few potential bidders on stage.

Vehicles of all types are sold — I believe this is an old Ford Falcon woodie — not what I would have thought would be a "collector" car but there seems to be collectors of all types of vehicles.

Here a DeLorean is being moved up to the stage. And because of the Back to the Future movies, I always have to look around for Doc Brown as well as examine the car of the flux capacitor — neither was present.

Of course, anywhere a lot of guys convene it is quite easy to catch their attention — sex sells! In fact, these models were there specifically for photographers to practice taking pictures. And these days, with smart phones which include a camera, every guy is a photographer. It was a mob.

Next week — the cars.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com