Not Just a Pretty Face- Auctioneer Known for Hard Work
Regular visitors to the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, and the millions of people who watch the collector-car bidding on Cable TV’s Speed Channel, are no strangers to the dark-haired beauty who takes center stage.
Winning bidders grin broadly as they get a congratulatory hug from Amy Sparks Assiter, a champion auctioneer who has worked the crowd as a bidder assistant for the Barrett-Jackson auction since 2002.
The Speed cameras often linger on Assiter as she energetically urges bidders to step up and buy that gorgeous car. And they remain on her as she turns to the head auctioneer to signal that, yes, this guy just raised the ante.
The stage and TV exposure has made her something of a celebrity, not just among collector-car people but those who see her on TV.
As she walks through the crowd at Barrett-Jackson, people stop to say “Hi, Amy,” and sometimes ask her for an autograph or to pose for a picture.
“I’m just a country girl, and it’s hard to get used to people pointing you out,” the 35-year-old Assiter said in a sweet Oklahoma accent. “It just feels really strange.”
Most often, the head auctioneer is her husband, Tom “Spanky” Assiter, whom she met at Barrett-Jackson and married two years ago. They live in Amarillo, Texas, and work two Barrett-Jackson auctions each year, in Scottsdale and Palm Beach, Fla., as well as other auctions around the country.
Also working on stage at Barrett-Jackson are two other members of the Texas family, Spanky’s brother, Tim, a seller ambassador, and Spanky’s son, Bandy, a bidder assistant.
Amy was hired by Barrett-Jackson after she won two prestigious auctioneering championships.
She was the Oklahoma State Auctioneers Association’s Rookie Champion in 1999, and the 2000 International Auctioneer Champion, Women’s Division, after a daylong contest in Norfolk, Va.
So, while some auction watchers might see Assiter as an attractive diversion among the sea of mostly male sellers, bidders and auctioneers, those in the know consider her a talented and hardworking member of the auction staff.
Matt Stone, a Motor Trend editor and longtime collector-car writer and enthusiast, said she’s a top-drawer auctioneer in her own right.
“She’s charming and attractive, and the guys love her,” Stone said. “But more than that, she works hard for the bidders. She’s the real deal. She’s not just a pretty face.”
Dressed in blue blazer, khaki pants and necktie, just like the male auctioneers, Assiter said she might have an advantage as a woman working with the bidders. Still, she adds, sex appeal has nothing to do with a collector-car sale.
“There’s no room for that here. It’s all business,” she said. “You can use your charm, but you can’t use anything else.”
Assiter started out this year’s auction Tuesday afternoon, as she always does, by singing a spirited version of The Star-Spangled Banner in a clear, ringing voice.
This year, she also recited a patriotic poem by Johnny Cash, called The Ragged Old Flag.
Assiter is not the only woman on stage this year.
Recently hired by Barrett-Jackson is another champion auctioneer, Johnna Wells of Portland, Ore., who turned 28 on Thursday.
This year’s gigantic main tent at Barrett-Jackson is a new experience, Assiter said, quite different from anything she has experienced.
And the extra day of auctioneering this year means more time working on stage.
“But we’ll do it because, honestly, it’s so much fun that we don’t mind,” she said.
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 20, 2006 12:00 AM