Motorsports

Who Will Attend Preston Henn’s Funeral Today?

The late Swap Shop owner and former racer is likely to attract quite a crowd to his final appearance

At 4 p.m. today Florida time, in a big Episcopalian church in Boca Raton, services will he held for Preston Henn, who died on April 30 in his massive beachfront home in Hillsboro Beach, where his neighbors include Ed Brown, the IMSA-racing Tequila Patron CEO, and Howard Sussman, the glue-marketing genius who came up with the TV commercial for Krazy Glue of the guy hanging from a hardhat that had been glued onto a surface. Sussman died, and the house sold for $7.5 million. It is likely “a teardown,” reported one news outlet.

Henn, of course, was the owner of the Swap Shop, the massive flea market that turns into a 13-screen drive-in movie theater at night. He spent much of his fortune on cars and racing, and the Swap Shop houses an unlikely collection of very valuable supercars, including the gorgeous yellow 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale, which may the most valuable car in the world, possibly worth more than $100 million. I once sat in the car, and immediately my butt tripled in value.

And Henn liked to race — first off-shore power boats like his movie theater-owning dad, then sports cars. Henn and his teams did OK, winning the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1983, with fill-in driver A.J. Foyt helping out Bob Wollek and little Claude Ballot-Lena. Henn raced at Sebring and Le Mans, too. And most of his winning race cars are on display at the Swap Shop.

So, as we head to his funeral, we wonder: Who, and what, might be there?

Lawyers, probably: Henn loved to sue, and often got sued. He was the guy who recently sued Ferrari for declining to sell him the limited-edition Ferrari Aperta. He dropped the suit, suggesting he liked his new Acura NSX better. After all, in his declining years, Henn largely judged supercars by how easy they were to get in and out of. Then there was the lawsuit regarding his home in Aspen, Colorado, where Henn and his wife of 60 years, Betty, sued, a developer who wanted to build a 25-foot sidewalk so renters could more easily get to the $7,000-a-night home. But they trespassed on Henn’s lawn, and lawsuits ensued. And there were the suits against Henn, mostly for unknowingly allowing the sale of counterfeit goods at his Swap Shop. Louis Vuitton settled out of court, as did Coach, for a reported $5.5 million. So yeah, lawyers.

Racers, probably: Plenty of them, ranging from Foyt to Al Holbert to Danny Sullivan to John Paul, the drug trafficker who has been on the lam for years. Might Paul show up? After all, he used to work for Henn at the Swap Shop. Look for the guy in the back with sunglasses.

Circus performers? Unlikely. Henn kicked them out of the Swap Shop, elephants and all, reportedly to make more room for his car collection.

Car collectors? Most likely. They may be hovering around the Henn family trying to get a lead on whether the cars in Henn’s collection will be sold off, especially the ’64 Ferrari 275. (News to them: It won’t, Henn told me shortly before his death.)

Casino employees? Possibly. Henn and his wife loved to gamble, spending the week before he died in Las Vegas, where he was a whale among whales. In one of his recent court cases, it was revealed that the Henns lost $27 million at the Hard Rock casino just up the road — and wrote it off on their income taxes.

Oops, almost there. We’ll know who else is coming soon enough.

Preston Henn by Richard Dole

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