The 2004 Barrett Jackson Auction
Scottsdale, AZ Auction, retrospect by Luis Suau.
I had been looking forward to this event for several months since it was announced. Having attended other well-known auctions, I thought I knew what I would expect. But even that was no preparation for what we would find at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale 2004. The whole point of the trip was to get up close and personal with the Sledgehammer, which had dodged me already on various occasions. Of course, the other Callaway prizes were as unique and magnificent as the Sledge. And meeting up again with Reeves, and Sue, and meeting their newborn Lili, I thought would be the topping on the cake. But as it turned out, that would only be an appetizer.
Taking advantage of the courtesy extended to the press, Chris offered me an invitation to cover & document this event for the Callaway Owners Group. Hoping to avoid the crowds that would no doubt be present Friday and Saturday, upon checking in to my hotel, I decided to drive over to West World where the event was taking place. On the way, I picked up Pete. He had no idea that Chris and I had planned, and that a press pass awaited him. Needless to say, he was in shock.
Although it was already kind of late in the day, upon our arrival we began the quest for the holy grail of Callaway Cars. The main tent was huge and longer than a football field. Greeting us at the entrance was a nice display from Dodge, including a Viper, an SRT-10 pickup truck, and a Sling Shot concept car. Looking out from the main tent was a sea of cars, some in tents, some not. It seemed as though there were 5,000 cars. How on earth could they possibly auction off this many cars in 4 days was mind-boggling. But we would find out soon enough. The task was to find where they could possibly put the best of Callaway cars. Then after 30 minutes of walking around, it dawned on us. They had to be back in the main tent. It was the only logical possibility.
Going back in the main tent, we found a section, which was roped off; only qualified bidders and the Press. These were the best of the best, and the cars which no doubt would draw the highest bids of the auction. These would be sold during the prime time of the auction, which was Saturday, and televised live on the SpeedTV. And what a sight it was. There at the end of the tent stood the best of the Callaway cars, the Ruby Red, Twin Turbo CR-1 based, 766 HP Super-Speedster; the Santorini Blue C-12 which used to belong to the late Ely R. Callaway Jr (Reeves' father); the 640 HP 1997 C7R GT Race Car; and sitting gracefully on a lift, the infamous 880 HP Sledgehammer. This area was rather calm that day so we had plenty of time to take pictures at our leisure.
The next day, I met up with Pete and Chris (who had flown in late the night before). Now that we knew where the Callaway cars were, we headed directly for them like bugs attracted to a zap-light. This time the area was open to the general public though the cars sat behind a rope. Our press credentials again allowed us to go behind the rope to take pictures up close and personal. Then the crowds began to appear. Occasionally, someone with credentials would join us. For a while it was a guy from Microsoft's gaming division who was interested in the Sledgehammer to possibly appear in an X-box based video game. Then, a rather distinguished looking gentleman in jacket.
So being that I like talking so much about Callaway cars I offered my opinion and told him how I thought, "the buy of the auction was the Super Speedster." I mentioned that I was a Callaway Twin Turbo owner. That obviously the Sledgehammer was very well known and would bring a high price. But, the Super Speedster would be a great buy in that it was almost as powerful and had one of the most beautifully styled bodies that only Paul Duetschman could design. It was then that he introduced himself. He was Paul Deutschman.
He then offered to open up the cars so we could get even closer pictures and then eventually removed the Hardtop for us. What a nice guy. Needless to say, we asked him a ton of questions about the Aerobody and his other designs until Mike Zoner, Chief Engineer for Callaway Cars joined us. We spent the rest of the morning helping Mike and Paul showing the cars, answering Callaway questions, and taking even more pictures of the cars. We were later joined by Reeves and then later by CR-1 owner Steve (Mangusta1969). It was mid-afternoon when we realized that we had not really looked through any of the other cars, and that there were two Callaway Twin Turbo cars somewhere in the field for auction. Chris, Peter, Steve and I had lunch together and then spent several hours looking around the sea of cars. Finally, we tested our ability to come up on stage with our Press Passes just to make sure we could be up close and personal during the auction, get lots of pictures, and more. The trick to their being able to auction so many cars is that they limit the amount of time a car is on stage to from 3 to no more than 5 minutes. The auctions seemed to run non-stop from 11am to 9pm.
Saturday was the big day. It seemed as though there were 100,000 people at the event. When the auctions began, the bidders pit and bleachers quickly filled up. Now huge crowds were both inside the main tent as well as outside, particularly where cars lined up to go through the Auction. We periodically had to adjust the ropes as the crowds periodically pushed on them. Sue Callaway joined us along with her newborn daughter Lili.
We figured the Callaways would go to auction sometime around 3pm. By noontime, the cars in the main tent began shuffling around and lining up for auction. Out of mere coincidence, Chris, Pete, and I wore our white Callaway Polo Shirts, as did Mike Zoner. We looked like team Callaway at the pits as we worked to maneuver the cars in place as time drew near. A final touch up from the show's cleaning crew took the fingerprints off and left them bright and shiny for the TV cameras.
Listening to the cars warm up was exiting. At one time the C7R was backed very close to a candy apple red 1941 Willy's and its exhaust cast a film on the rear quarter panel of the Willy's. Oops! We first maneuvered the cars in their order of appearance on stage and left them to warm some more. Being that the C7R is a racecar, and thus has no reverse we had a bit of work to do to move it around.
As time approached, the drivers were summoned. Reeves was driving the Super Speedster, Paul Deutschman drove the Sledgehammer, Sue Callaway drove the C12 (accompanied by Lili and their nanny), and Mike Zoner drove the C7R. Chris caught a final ride in the Sledgehammer, and the rest is history... Hopefully, you caught it on SpeedTV. For me, it was one big Callaway blast.
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2004 Luis Suau & The Callaway Owners Group.
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