January is here, and for many race fans in central Indiana that means - in addition to the ice and snow - that the 45th annual Hoosier Auto Show & Swap Meet is here.
Held January 20th, and 21st at the IMS Brickyard Pavilion (down the steps, on the east side of the building) dozens of dealers will be on hand offering anything and everything under the sun when it comes to racing memorabilia. One of those dealers will be Mike Thomsen
"The shows are really cool because it brings people who care about the Speedway and the racing together, so you never know who your gonna meet next," said Thomsen. "I've met a couple people who are relatives of former drivers who are like, 'I can't believe you have a picture of my brother!' and their face lights up when your selling them a $5 photo. It means something to them."
Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, Thomsen's first memories of fandom came at the age of five.
"We grew up in the era when [the Indy 500] wasn't on T.V. until the night time. So we listened to the race on the radio during the day and made our charts and do all those type of things and have a BBQ, then the race itself would come on T.V. later at night. It was kind of an all-day family event, so I got really hooked on it."
"I kept begging my uncles and my dad saying: 'Hey, I wanna go to the Speedway' and they wouldn't let me go, they said you had to wait until you were 12. So I spent the time from when I was 5 to 12 studying the math, studying the history, and learning about it., and they finally brought me.
Fast forward 29 years and he's living Indianapolis, Speedway to be exact. But what brought him to the area, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway of course.
"I wanted my entire life to have my address say Speedway, Indiana, and it does," Thomsen said.
Thomsen has taken the term 'fan' to the next level.
"Right now, as of this second, everyone alive who has raced in the Indy 500, I have their autograph. But, next year when there are new rookies again, I need those guys. There is only one person who raced from 1946 on who I don't have. Les Anderson. If you had to ask who my holy grail of autographs are, the big five, they are the four winners and Les Anderson. [laughs]"
The four winners Mike speaks of are the four he doesn't have. Of the sixty-seven Indianapolis 500 champions, Thomsen has the signature of all but Dario Resta ('16), Howdy Wilcox ('19), Gaston Chevrolet ('20), and Jimmy Murphy ('22).
Les Anderson on the other hand is a completely different animal. Of the 737 men and women to start the race, he has the John Hancock of 553, including everyone from the Hulman era ('46-current), sans 1947 & 1948 pilot Les Anderson.
While always on the search for missing pieces to his collection, the 41-year-old appraises (contact HERE), and sells & trades as well.
"What's cool about my booth this year is people know me for my autograph collection, but that's not really going to be the focus of my booth this time"
Spanned across his tables will be everything from race programs & tickets to Clymer & Hungness books, and from one of A.J. Foyt's awards to an old Gilmore helmet, and everything in between.
"I bought a racing uniform patch company that went out of business - they would actually sew the patches onto the uniforms - so I bought their entire stock of patches. I've got old Firestone patches, all stuff that was real uniform patches from the 60's, 70's and 80's. I've got some promotional decals that were given away from the Parnelli Jones turbine in '67. I have a real neat diverse group of items this year so I'm pretty proud of it."
The show starts Friday at 5 p.m. running 'till 9, and opens back up Saturday at 8 a.m. closing up shop at 5 p.m.. Admission is $5.