And with that very important piece of advice from my friend Christina, my Barrett-Jackson experience began.
If you’re not in to cars, don’t tune out – this blog is as much about my experience as the Auction. The Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction is the world’s premier auto auction. If you’d like to read more about the Auction’s history, click here. I’ve wanted to attend for years after watching the coverage on Speed. I found the Auction and event to be completely fascinating…and being a car enthusiast made it all the more appealing.
My experience was probably not the average attendee’s. Through a business connection, I had Sponsor passes, which enabled us to go on stage. Here are some highlights:
- On Stage – we spent all of our time there (when not shopping) on the stage (or “on the block”) with the bidders and cars. It was such fun to see the Auctioneers doing their thing and watching how the Auction is produced from that angle. Barrett-Jackson really has it down in getting the crowd involved, the bidders excited and selling the cars for as much as possible. From what I learned from the many people I spoke with, car values were down between 15-30% over last year – and it’s a non-reserve auction, so you get what you get. Even with that, plenty of cars were selling for six-figures. Many of the cars that come across the block are one of a kind and worth every penny.
- The Ride of My Life – I was fortunate enough to meet a consigner from San Diego Classic and Muscle Cars named Joe. Just like that he made my dream a reality and allowed me to drive up onto the block in one of his cars – which turned out to be Eddie Van Halen’s 1956 Chevy. (pinch me!) It’s one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. There are 5,000 people in the audience watching, plus TV viewers plus the Speedtv.com streaming coverage, not to mention riding in THAT car. It sold for $85k! Wild…
- Amy Assiter, one of the popular Bidder’s Assistants was nice enough to take a photo with me and chat with me a bit in between cars. Yes, she’s as nice as she looks.
- Kindred Spirit – I had a lovely chat with David Burroughs, the CEO of Bloomington Gold, the longest running continuous Corvette show, about the importance of marketing strategy – and the lack of it in many companies. It was great to meet someone who understands it’s critical to not only have a solid strategic plan – but to implement it.
- Dana “My Sugar Daddy” Forrester – One of the running jokes of the weekend was I was really in town to find a “sugar daddy.” (Anyone who knows me knows this couldn’t be further from the truth). Dana specializes in painting water colors of Corvettes. He painted a picture of the 1997 black Corvette Coupe (that looks an awful lot like mine) that I’d been dying to purchase. Well, for once my procrastination paid off…not only did Dana autograph it for me, he signed it “From Your Sugar Daddy.” Now that will be a one of a kind!
- History in the Making – GM sold a group of cars from their private collection that were never available before. A 1989 Corvette ZR-1 Coupe “Snake Skinner II” sold for $160k!
- A Phillie (or former Phillie) Sighting – Pat Burrell, the former left fielder for the Phillies was on stage. I told him the city was going to miss watching him play here very much. (he’s off to Tampa Bay)
From a communication perspective, my BlackBerry was indispensible. My friend Rick was IMing me every time we were “sighted” on TV or Speedtv.com, I was able to provide updates on my Facebook page, not to mention sending texts to everyone I knew who might be close to a TV. Who would have thought even five short years ago that we could communicate so easily and quickly on a little hand-held device – in real-time.
To top it all off, I missed the 5 degree weather we had back east. Every day was 75 degrees and sunny.
I highly recommend attending if you ever have the opportunity. Barrett-Jackson also has Auctions in Palm Beach FL and starting 2008, Las Vegas. My wish for you is to have the same amazing experience.
Much thanks a few people for making this all happen:
- Soni Dimond- had a blast with you. – thanks for going with me! Thanks for all your support and enthusiasm and friendship.
- Christina McKay – for sharing your experience and for making sure we got right up front on that stage. I’m so glad we met last year! Palm Beach in April???
- Rick – for all the IMs letting us know what was going on and how we looked 🙂
- Al Maag for connecting me with Phil to get the passes and for taking time out of your schedule to discuss the Business Marketing Association. Your help and guidance will enable us to launch the Philly chapter.
- Phil Neri – the VP of Marketing at Barrett-Jackson, for hooking us up. I owe you big time!
- Brian the van driver who shuttled us back and forth from the hotel to the Auction a million times – we had a blast with you!
- Greg the “Crowd Control” guy on stage who tried his hardest to keep me in line. You didn’t succeed though… 😉
- David Burroughs, from Bloomington Gold for an engaging conversation about marketing strategy.
- Kevin McKay from Corvette Repair Inc. (and more importantly Christina’s husband!) for making me blush too many times.
- Lance Miller from Carlisle Events and his friends for making us laugh and for explaining things to me when I had questions (and just for being a really good guy). Hey Michele – we really missed you!!!
- Susan Matthews – for actually watching and because you’re the most supportive and best friend in the world.
- Tom Mellett from Car Store of Glenside and Zane for taking photos of me in my “ride” and for sharing my excitement!