For the first time out of the chute, organizers say the Open Wheel Collectibles and Sports Memorabilia Expo in Indianapolis was a success. The show, held May 23-25 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, was one of the few multi-day sports collector gatherings held in the area in several years. The show supplanted the National Auto Racing Memorabilia Show which ran from 2005-2012.
“With no large sports memorabilia event in Indy, I still think that there is no better time to do this than in conjunction with the world’s largest single-day sporting event- the Indianapolis 500,” said promoter John Douglas. The show was a ‘melting pot’ of auto racing dealers and collectors and those focused on mainstream sports.
“If anything, because of a late start, we could have accommodated a lot more dealers of vintage cards, baseball and football memorabilia and autographs,” noted Douglas.
Autograph guests included Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Mel Daniels, former Indiana University and NFL standout George Taliaferro who was the first African-American drafted in the NFL and former racers Jerry Sneva, Phil Krueger and Paul Goldsmith.
Attendance on Thursday was very acceptable, according to promoters. Friday attendance was very good and while Saturday attendance was disappointing, the vendors all did business. The Indiana State Fairgrounds venue is well-known to most in the region and conveniently located.
Auction giant Heritage Auctions had a booth at the event, showcasing a million dollar auto racing collection and taking in consignments.
“I think that the folks from Heritage were pleased. I know they received consignments that ranged from a Super Bowl ring, to race-worn driver helmets, to a Walter Payton jersey, to numerous vintage basketball pieces, to mention just a few,” Douglas pointed out.
“We will look at 2014 and consider starting on Wednesday and dropping Saturday, getting a great deal more mainstream dealers, and starting everything much sooner like at the NSCC in Chicago. The 2014 event should be at least twice our initial effort,” said co-promoter Joyce Douglas.
The promoters, John and Joyce Douglas, can be reached at [email protected].