A LASTING LEGACY: Brian Jackson was a “Car Guy’s Car Guy”
Brian and Craig Jackson


Russ Jackson’s eldest son Brian was 26 years old when his father partnered with Tom Barrett to form the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company in 1971, but by then he was already well-indoctrinated into the automotive world.

Born in 1945 in Biloxi, Mississippi, where Russ was stationed in the Air Force during World War II, Brian had a love for cars from the get-go. His first car was a 1936 Ford that remains a treasured vehicle in his younger brother Craig’s collection to this day.

The elder Jackson son was a true baby boomer who grew up in the era so well-portrayed in the film “American Graffiti” and wholeheartedly embraced the high-powered, high-speed muscle cars of the day. While still in high school, Brian crossed paths with Phil Hill – the only American-born driver to win the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, which he accomplished in 1960. The two became fast friends, and the summer after Brian graduated from high school, Brian accompanied Phil to Europe for the filming of the 1966 action movie “Grand Prix.”

Brian with his friend and racing legend Phil Hill when they traveled to the Bugatti factory in France while on location for the filming of the 1966 movie “Grand Prix.”

Like Phil Hill, Brian was drawn to the roar of souped-up engines and squealing tires in the world of racing, and when not helping out his father and Tom Barrett at auction time, he could often be found on the racetrack. He was among the first to become involved in vintage sports car racing in the mid-1970s, often racing in the famed Monterey Historics, and often behind the wheel of his treasured 1965 Shelby GT350, a car that also remains in the Jackson family.

Being 14 years older than his brother, Brian was often relegated with the task of “babysitting,” which in his world meant taking Craig along to Phil Hill’s races at Riverside in California and the Stardust in Las Vegas, on trips to the Beeline Dragway (in its heyday one of the premier racing destinations in Arizona), and putting him to work in his race shop as he and his friends worked on their cars.

“I learned an awful lot from my brother,” remembers Craig.

Brian in the shop working on a massive V12

“He taught me about the inner workings of cars and how to restore them. Because of our age difference, Brian was often the ‘front guy’ at the auction and I dutifully played the role of little brother,

which often meant doing the things he didn’t want to do. But as a result, I learned so many aspects of the business, from building the auction site from the ground up to doing the metal work on a high-end collector car.”

Brian and Steve Davis, now president of Barrett-Jackson, became friends at the auction when Steve was a consignor, and the two would meet up at the Monterey Historics whenever Brian was racing. “I started consigning cars with Barrett-Jackson back in the late 1970s,” recalls Steve, “and I soon developed a strong relationship with Brian. We bonded because of our shared enthusiasm for Shelbys and the auction in general.”

While Brian had been involved in the family business since the early days, working primarily with consignments and operations, the auction became an all-important part of Brian’s life in the early 1990s, when he took over management of the company while his father Russ struggled with and then, in 1993, passed away from colon cancer. A year later, in 1994, the reins were formally in Brian’s hands when Tom Barrett retired from active participation in the auction.

Brian driving the 1932 Duesenberg Model J, which was the first car to sell for more than $1 million at Barrett-Jackson.

Those close to the auction scene were impressed, noting that Brian took on the responsibility very seriously and did what needed to be done. “He was outgoing, caring, personable and approachable,” another auction associate remembered. “He was a really solid guy.”

Among Brian’s visions for Barrett-Jackson was enhancing the lifestyle aspect of the auction experience, creating an event that lovers of the classics and new car enthusiasts could all enjoy. The first step towards that goal was achieved in 1995, when Brian and Craig signed Detroit “Big Three” automaker Chrysler as the first presenting sponsor of the auction. As part of its sponsorship, Chrysler set up a huge product display that included not only the company’s latest portfolio of vehicles but many of its historic classics.

The two brothers also discussed expanding the auction by adding an East Coast venue, and were considering Florida or New York. Although Craig didn’t know it until after his brother had died, Brian had even gone so

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By: Barrett-Jackson
Title: A LASTING LEGACY: Brian Jackson was a “Car Guy’s Car Guy”
Sourced From: www.barrett-jackson.com/Media/Home/Reader/brian-jackson-the-car-guys-car-guy/
Published Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2021 16:45:32 +0000