Written by Barbara Toombs
With March being Women’s History Month, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on how, over the years, women have played a large role in the collector car hobby and at Barrett-Jackson – both behind the scenes and out front on the auction block.
From the very beginning, Barrett-Jackson began with a woman’s touch. One of the company’s founding members, Nellie Jackson, was a true driver of the collector car hobby since the early 1960s. Her fondness for classic automobiles – particularly Cadillacs – began when she and her husband Russ Jackson purchased a 1934 V12 Cadillac Opera Coupe from a junkyard they passed while on vacation. Nellie served as treasurer of the Classic Car Club of America and was elected the first female Regional Director of the club. Widely known as the “First Lady of Collector Cars,” she received the prestigious Meguiar’s Treasure of the Collector Car Hobby award at the Hollywood Kodak Theatre in June 2004. From Barrett-Jackson’s inception in 1971 until her passing in 2010, Nellie Jackson was always at the wheel of The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions.
Nellie also had a heart for philanthropy and was a driving force behind what has now become a company tradition: The sale of vehicles on the Barrett-Jackson auction block to benefit charitable causes. It is one aspect of the business that Carolyn Jackson – the company’s Vice President of Brand Strategy – has wholeheartedly embraced. Most notably, Carolyn spearheaded Barrett-Jackson’s first-ever yearlong charity initiative, “Driven Hearts,” to benefit the American Heart Association (AHA). The initiative not only raised millions, it reached millions – resulting in Carolyn (and, as she is quick to point out, the “entire Driven Hearts team”) receiving an award from AHA CEO Nancy Brown for Meritorious Achievement – the highest-level award given to a layperson.
The backbone of Barrett-Jackson is also comprised of women who handle the daily tasks of running a successful sale. Of the 70 or so people who contribute full time to the auction company, nearly half are women. From the consignment and bidding departments to marketing, IT and accounting, this is more than just a “man’s world.” Two members of the 8-person executive team are women, with several others holding positions as department leads and managers.
The Barrett-Jackson auction block has played host to a number of female “movers and shakers” in the worlds of business and philanthropy as well. General Motors CEO Mary Barra – the first woman named as CEO of a major automaker – was on hand at the 2020 Scottsdale Auction for the $3 million charity sale of the very first mid-engine Corvette Stingray. American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown helped kick off Barrett-Jackson’s Driven Hearts charitable initiative by encouraging bidding on a 1988 35th Anniversary Corvette to benefit the cause. Childhelp founders Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson have made numerous appearances on the Barrett-Jackson stage over the years as well.
When it comes to buying and selling in the collector car world, women also hold their own. Tammy Allen, who had been buying vehicles and automobilia at Barrett-Jackson since 2009, sold her 80-plus car collection at the company’s 2016 Las Vegas Auction.
Michelle Mauzy can often be seen in the front row of the bidder’s chairs on the auction floor, frequently raising her hand to bid on charity cars – keeping alive the legacy of her late husband, Greg, whose heart for philanthropy was renowned.
Another longtime member of the extended Barrett-Jackson family is Ele Chesney, considered the foremost female collector of antique automobiles and automotive fine art.
A number of female celebrities from the worlds of auto racing, film and television have also paid a visit (or several) to Barrett-Jackson, including Indy Car racers Danica Patrick and Lyn St. James, drag racer Courtney Force, fastest female motorcycle racer Valerie Thompson, Bogi Lateiner of “All Girls Garage,” automotive personality Linda Vaughn (most famously known as “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter”), and actresses Sharon Stone and Valerie Bertinelli.
So, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, join us in paying homage to the ever-growing female force in the collector car world!