The Aiken businessman, who died in March after a brief fight with brain cancer, amassed quite a collection of race cars and related equipment. Now, the bulk of his collection will be auctioned off Tuesday.
“Mr. Phelon was a lover of speed. It shows in his collection,” said Will Lilly, an auctioneer with Iron Horse Auction Company. “He did not waste any money in his love of automobiles.”
The Rockingham, N.C.-based auction company will hold the auction beginning at 10 a.m. at Phelon Motorsports, 3980 Richland Avenue West, in Aiken.
A total of 542 lots will be auctioned off, but the items with the most interest will be the 27 cars and three motorcycles up for bid. Lilly said that eight of those vehicles are titled, or legal to drive on the street, and the rest are for racing.
The 1969 Lola Can-Am Series car could be the showpiece of the auction, Lilly said. According to Phelon’s Web site, the race car was originally owned by Roger Penske and driven by Mark Donohue. During the 1969 Mid-Ohio race, the Lola’s half shaft failed and the car did not finish. Penske dropped out of the Can-Am Series and focused on the Trans-Am Series, and he won that instead.
Phelon purchased the car in 1994 and installed a 486-cubic inch Chevrolet big block engine that puts out 850 horsepower.
The “sleeper” of the auction could be the 1983 Roush Ford Mustang, Lilly said. It was originally owned by Jack Roush and raced on many circuits, including the Trans-Am Series. It was upgraded in 1989 and features a 1993 paint scheme.
“Like they say in NASCAR, that was the car that was always in the front,” Lilly said. “It was always in the top of the pack. That’s going to be a car in high demand.”
A variety of other race vehicles, including Mustangs, Camaros and trucks used in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series, are also up for auction. Lilly estimated that several hundred people could show up for Tuesday’s event.
Online bidding has already begun, and Lilly said he expects interest to be high.
The auction style is absolute for the race vehicles and racing equipment, which means the highest bid wins with no reserve.
“The street cars do have a reserve but they’re going to be so low it’s not going to matter,” Lilly said.