EXCLUSIVE: Construction magnate donates Futurliner bus for auction
JUN 21, 2014 4:27p ET
It helps to know the right people.
No one knows that more than Patricia Driscoll, the president of the Armed Forces Foundation, an organization that works tirelessly to support injured troops and military families, especially those afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Driscoll, who is also the girlfriend of 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, has been a staunch advocate of veterans and has raised millions of dollars for them by auctioning off cars at Barrett-Jackson, with the proceeds going directly to AFF.
Late one night, Driscoll was at home working when she got a text.
The message was from Arizona construction magnate and well-known vintage-car collector Ron Pratte, who is selling his entire collection, valued at about $50 million, at the flagship Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector-Car Event next January.
"It was midnight and I was up working, because I work all the time," said Driscoll, in an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com. "And I thought, 'Oh, my gosh.' Somebody emails or texts you this late, it's bad. So I call him up. 'Is everything OK?' Ron's like, 'Why are you up so late?' I said, 'Because you said call me.'"
Then Pratte dropped a bombshell. "I'm eliminating my whole car collection, but I'd like you to have my Futurliner," Pratte told Driscoll.
"I said, 'Great! What is it?'" Driscoll said. "I felt like an idiot not knowing what it is, but it's a great piece of history. This really was. So I went and looked it up and I am truly blown away. But to go there and see it in person, it's awesome. We're going to have troops going through it. I'm really excited about this piece of history."
The vehicle in question is a 1950 General Motors Furturliner bus, one of only 12 ever made and one of only three remaining in its original configuration. It was used in the automaker's "Parade of Progress" touring exhibit in the early 1950s. Pratte purchased the bus at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2006 for $4 million, and now he's donating it to be auctioned there next January with every dime of the selling price going to the AFF.
"Ron really believes in our troops," Driscoll said. "He served in Vietnam. And this means a lot to him, especially that we take care of service members with PTSD. He knows how many service members came back from Vietnam with it and suffering from it. I love him. He's a quiet patriot and we became good friends that way."
Pratte has been a huge supporter of AFF, buying Steve Davis's 1964 Ford Fairlane at Barrett-Jackson for $700,000 -- all of which went to AFF -- then donating it back, where it sold a second time for $1 million.
"Every year I keep saying, 'How can I get something better?' " Driscoll said. "And I don't even try and it magically happens. That just shows you how invested people are with our cause. Barrett-Jackson's done an incredible job of highlighting the Armed Forces Foundation and they really understand and believe in the work we do, helping service members. Because they've seen it firsthand.
"So they're the big reason that this keeps happening. ... Ron is a veteran. Ron is an incredible, generous guy."