SALT LAKE CITY — Somewhere in The Big Car Garage in the Sky, the late Larry H. Miller must be smiling over the convergence of two things he loved dearly — Ford GT racecars and charitable endeavors.
Over the weekend, former Jazz CEO Greg Miller, his oldest son, spent $2.5 million for a stunning 2017 Ford GT.
While that is a hefty price tag, a couple of autism charities must feel like their organizations and the people they help just won the lottery.
In a way, they did.
On Saturday, the gorgeous metallic blue racecar was put up for bidding in the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. Normally, the sweet machine — featuring a titanium exhaust, carbon-fiber chassis, upward-opening doors, trick inboard suspension and an engine that purrs at 216 MPH — would sell for $600,000.
Miller and others, however, continued to outbid each other until the auctioneer officially announced it had sold for an even $2.5 million — to the racecar enthusiast who bought a Toyota car dealership in San Diego after the Jazz organization restructured in 2015. Saturday's auction, televised by the Discovery Channel, turned the camera on Miller just as the Jazz's representative on the NBA's Board of Governors jumped up, screamed in delight and enthusiastically gave a high-five.
"Yeah!" Miller said, celebrating. "All right!"
Those who run — and receive help from — The Autism Society of North Carolina's Ignite Program and the Autism Alliance of Michigan also had reason to celebrate. They were selected by Miller to receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the purchase of the GT racecar donated by car collector Ron Pratte, according to MotorAuthority.com.
"It was an opportunity to support meaningful philanthropic efforts of others — in the Phoenix area — as well as an opportunity to augment the collection of the Miller Family Automobile Foundation with a car, the Ford GT, that I believe will become historically significant," Miller told the Deseret News. "Our family's relationships with Ford and Ford Performance have always been some of our most cherished relationships, and the acquisition of this car in this way will further strengthen them."
To answer your question, no, Miller's fancy new toy will not be in danger of getting its door dinged from a kid getting out of a minivan parked in the next stall at the grocery store.
But, yes, Miller will get a chance to drive it in secure situations.
"It will get some road time, probably in charitable events," Miller said. "It may get a little track time, too. I also think the car will bring a lot of enjoyment to those who are able to see it on display in our museum once we get it built."
The Millers have a world-renowned collection of Shelby Mustangs and Cobras that used to be on display at the Miller Motorsports Park before the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies opted to not renew the racetrack's lease with Tooele County in 2015.
This isn't the first time the Millers have spent a pretty penny — or hundreds of millions of them — on a car for their coveted collection. In 2014, the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum, formerly at the MMP, bought an extremely rare 1964 Ford GT40 chassis P-104 for $7 million at the Mecum Auctions in Houston. It's the second-oldest existing Ford GT40.
The Barrett-Jackson auction raised $102 million for charity, according to the Discovery video. That included the auctioning of the first retail 2019 Mustang Bullitt for $300,000 and the first retail 2018 Chevrolet Corvette Carbon 65 Edition for $1.4 million.