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Finally Realizing an Objective--Barrett-Jackson and Hot August Nights

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by Kevin Clarke

BJ Auction Crowd with Auctioneer PicmonkeyIs it the winning bid?Watching Barrett Jackson auctions of classic and collector cars on the Speed Channel is a guilty pleasure in my house. Whether they were telecast from Scottsdale, Las Vegas or Palm Beach, they were too far away for me to consider a trip from Washington state to see them in person. I was delighted to hear it announced on a recent telecast they were coming to Reno, Nevada to partner with Hot August Nights. Though I don’t understand why, I had never attended Hot August Nights either. It is reportedly the largest gathering of collector cars in the United States and is a celebration of America’s love affair with automobiles and Rock and Roll. Well, Reno is close enough to drive and close to family and friends. So a road trip was planned to attend with my equally car crazy brother.

Jerrys 51 PicmonkeyJerry dries off after the storm. What a delightful combination of pleasures the two car events turned out to be. You could walk the streets in downtown Reno or several other venues in Sparks or Tahoe and whet your appetite for fabulous vehicles of many different eras and styles. There were over 5,000 cars being driven and displayed in Reno and most of them talked to me in some fashion.

When I talked to the friendly owners of these cars I could imagine myself having a similarly great time if I could find a desirable car to tool around in. Hey! Let’s go to Barrett-Jackson auction over at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and see what they might have up for sale. How about walking among those cars waiting their turn on the auction block? Spectators had complete access to these vehicles displayed adjacent to the auction area itself. It was an effort not to drool on oh-so-many of the gorgeous cars. The auction itself was, not surprisingly, just like I have watched on television. There were the familiar faces of Craig Jackson, Steve Davis and those on the auctioneering staff moving through the audience and ensuring that bids were recognized. Though I didn’t prepare myself to be a bidder, it was fun to watch the entire process “up close and personal”.

tomandcherie PicmonkeyTom and Cherie drove from North Dakota in their '38 Chevy. In addition to the cars offered at auction, Barrett – Jackson also held an Authentic Automobilia Auction with over 300 items such as vintage gas pumps, and all manner of auto related signs and toys in near perfect or restored condition.

I hope the new owners of the auctioned vehicles and related items are as nice as the ones we encountered on the streets of Reno. I met four car owners from Washington state, who were toweling off their cars after a heavy rain storm the previous night. Jerry Swanstrom from Belfair, WA and has been attending Hot August Nights for 20 years and participating the last ten. His car was a beautiful red and white '51 Chevy convertible, which, despite being covered during the storm, was wet inside and out. Jerry and his friends were good natured about the inconvenience and just worked hard to get their rides back to looking great.

Tom and Cherie had come all the way from Mandan, North Dakota, driving their gorgeous 1938 Chevrolet Cabriolet with rumble seat. It was their first time at Hot August Nights though they had been planning a such a trip for about ten years. They spent five years restoring the car and have taken it to a number of other venues including both the Indianapolis and Kansas City Speedways. Tom assured us the car was very fast and proudly showed us the LT1 engine under the hood.

TOPLS38 PicmonkeyLooking very original until you open the engine compartment.The entire experience was enhanced by the many other activities available in the immediate area including live rock and roll bands on the streets, great restaurants and local brew pubs and the Reno Aces, a triple-A baseball team in a great new ball park. Of course the casinos offered their special brand of entertainment, though the real attraction was outdoors among all that (mostly) Detroit iron and chrome.

I don’t know where I have been, to miss the previous 26 years of Hot August Nights in Reno. I know I will try to make the next one. If you can’t wait another year for an auction to get your own classic car you might want to head to Las Vegas where Barrett-Jackson will be holding another “greatest collector car auction” September 26-28, 2013




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