Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

By Kamala Kirk | March 11, 2021

After shifting to online auctions at the onset of COVID-19, Barrett-Jackson marked its return to live events by hosting the first fall auction at WestWorld of Scottsdale in October.

The event was a success and proof that the world’s leading car auction house could safely host live events while helping to support the community and local businesses. Barrett-Jackson is looking forward to hosting its next live event, the Scottsdale Auction, from Saturday, March 20, to Sunday, March 27, at the same venue.

“This was a year that nobody saw coming,” says Carolyn Jackson, vice president of brand strategy and CEO Craig Jackson’s wife.

“While October did look a bit different from our typical events, we had tremendous engagement online and the action on the auction block was just as exciting. When we return to Scottsdale in (March) it’ll be different as well, but it will feel the same in the sense that there will be that shared passion and camaraderie. Seeing how happy everyone was to return to the events really drove home how much people care for each other and share this passion for cars, and how they couldn’t wait to have those experiences together.”

Committed to putting the safety of customers and the car community first, Barrett-Jackson will incorporate the same extensive protocols in accordance with CDC guidelines at the Scottsdale Auction as it did for the previous one.

Several months prior to the October event, Barrett-Jackson met with Scottsdale and WestWorld officials to discuss ways it could innovate and upgrade the safety of the event. These enhancements included limited attendance, the addition of sanitizing stations throughout the venue, an increase in custodial staff to clean common areas, as well as advanced filtration and air treatment technologies.

The venue site was also reimagined to create more physical space between attendees and employees, along with plexiglass partitions, contactless cashiering and requiring people to wear masks.

“After working diligently with the team to put all these safety protocols into place to keep the collector car community healthy, I was absolutely thrilled that we were able to return to live events in such a responsible manner,” Jackson says.

“We were very conservative because we take this very seriously. We examined best practices from other events and set very high standards because we wanted to prove that we could do it safely. The pandemic accelerated the pace of innovation across the board.”

Barrett-Jackson hosted the fall event not only for the sake of bringing back entertainment to the devoted car community but also to help drive revenue to local businesses that had suffered as a result of COVID-19.

“There is an economic impact whenever a major event like ours is canceled, and there are so many people that depend on these events happening and help make them happen,” Jackson says. “People have bills to pay, and if these restaurants and hotels don’t make it, then the landscape of the city is forever changed. I don’t want to imagine a world where those businesses don’t exist.”

Another important aspect of Barrett-Jackson events are the charity auctions, where they partner with celebrities and high-profile individuals to raise funds on behalf of different charitable organizations.

Former President George W. Bush, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon are among those who have donated cars and helped raise funds for various nonprofits. At the Scottsdale Auction, Olympian Michael Phelps will donate a car to raise money for the Michael Phelps Foundation, his nonprofit that promotes water safety and emotional health among children and young athletes.

“There are so many needs right now, with mental health being one of them, especially during the current crisis,” Jackson says.

“It’s painful to see what isolation from lockdown is doing to people, including young children. I’m so impressed by Michael’s ability to share his story and start his charity. It’s going to be a great opportunity to raise awareness for mental health.”

At the October auction, Barrett-Jackson achieved a 100% sell-through rate of rare and unique collector cars, in addition to setting multiple world records and raising $845,000 for charity. Through the donation of three charity vehicles that were sold on the auction block, critical funds and awareness were raised for Team Rubicon, an organization that supports American military veterans; Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit that builds and modifies homes for veterans and their families; and the HeartStrings Foundation, which donates guitars to veterans, music therapy programs and children’s hospitals.

“One of the most important elements that touches me the most are the charity cars,” Jackson says.

“Just knowing that we have the opportunity to raise money and awareness for these charities that are in desperate need of funds is very exciting. Early on in the pandemic, (racing CEO) Richard Childress stepped up and donated a Dale Earnhardt car from his collection for our online auction in May, which went to benefit COVID-19 relief efforts. It’s always inspiring to see what members of the car community will do to help others.”

Jackson has seen her fair share of impressive cars throughout the years, but one of the vehicles that came across the auction block that spoke to her on a more emotional level was a 1934 Cadillac coupe. It was previously owned by Nellie, her husband’s late mother.

“That was the car she drove him across the country in that he says started it all,” Jackson says. “It’s one of my favorites because it belonged to his mother, who was such a strong woman.”

The Jacksons took another trip down memory lane during the pandemic when they were going through storage units that contained various items belonging to Craig’s parents. Among those items were old films and tapes, which offered a glimpse into his life growing up.

“I didn’t get to meet Craig’s parents or brother. They had all passed away by the time I met him,” Jackson says. “Getting to see videos of them and hear their voices really helped me understand how far they’d come and their love for all this. We’re looking forward to highlighting those memories and so many others leading up to Barrett-Jackson’s 50-year anniversary, which is on the horizon.”

Barrett-Jackson looks forward to celebrating its golden jubilee in 2021, which will include revisiting the company’s history.

“I feel privileged to work every day in an industry that is rewarding, exciting and dynamic,” Jackson says. “Over the years, I’ve worked in different industries, but the passion, commitment and energy in the collector car industry is such a gift. And I feel incredibly privileged to play a role in it.”


When: Various times Saturday, March 20, to Sunday, March 21

Where: WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road

Cost: Tickets start at $12 for children; $18 for seniors, military and students; and $25 for adults