Collecting hand signed motor racing memorabilia can be a great hobby or small business for the motor racing enthusiast as you are able to combine following your heroes with building a motor racing memorabilia collection.

A paddock pass with access to the pits is the most effective way of making contact with the motor racing fraternity otherwise the member's car park is always a good bet especially after the meeting is concluded, before racing starts teams are too preoccupied to be approached.

I have always found drivers to be most considerate and obliging when it comes to signing autographs and meeting enthusiasts, the cost of attending events can well be compensated for by the increasing value of your collection.

Formula 1 is the obvious choice and it is the second most watched sport in the world followed by soccer.

Early records show automobile racing as having originated in France at the end of the nineteenth century where drivers would compete from one town to the next ( 1894 Paris to Rouen is the first recorded race) these races were known as endurance tests and became increasingly popular, it was a natural progression that was to become  Grand Prix.

The Automobile Club of France organised the first official Grand Prix at Le Mans in 1906

Motor manufacturers were soon eager to become involved and sought to sponsor drivers by contributing large sums of money to aid the design of competitive cars, even the Nazis became involved and encouraged Mercedes and Auto Union to further the glory of the Reich.

By the time the Monaco Grand Prix was first run in 1933 motor racing had become established a big business sport, with motor manufacturers and sponsors reflecting in the glory of race.

Categories and specialised areas

As with collecting any sports memorabilia, it is always prudent to specialise in a nominated category, categories are defined as pre-war and post war, motor sport collectables from the modern era although desirable will not usually merit the value of earlier examples.

Once would be collectors have established which era they will concentrate on they need to consider where to specialise, examples would include race attire, helmets, caps,  rare autographs, hand signed photos, event programmes and framed  presentations

It is always important to consider the condition of sports memorabilia, although one must be realistic and bear in mind age and usage.

Motor racing memorabilia which I have personally collated, to name but a few I would be personally interested in, would include the following popular drivers James Hunt, Nikki Lauda, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Emmerson Fittipaldi, Enzo Ferrari, William Grover Williams Hermann Lang, Richard Seaman, Henry Seagrove, Stirling Moss, Malcolm Campbell (yes he was a Grand Prix driver), the list goes on, it is all about personal choice and opportunity.


Motor memorabilia sales and auctions

Sports memorabilia auctions are always a favourite of mine as they usually include lots of cricket, rugby and football collectibles which are also of interest to me, motor racing is usually also included

A good start would be Knights sporting auctions or Bonham’s auctions Chester.

It is important to do your research make sure you order an auction brochure prior to the event and compare items for sale against prices previously realised.

Attend the sale for viewing, check the provenance and condition of the items you have researched and list them, remember not to get carried away when bidding as the bid price can be way above the guide price quoted in the brochure. Write down a maximum you will bid up to and stick to it, not forgetting you will also be paying up to 25% in commission and incidental fees.

Check out the terms and conditions

Online bidding

When bidding online for hand signed motor racing memorabilia the costs are higher and in my opinion you really need to attend the viewing and sale.

If you have to bid on eBay it is important to research the vendor and always ask for formal authentication, UACC or AFTAL.

I cannot emphasis enough the buyer beware syndrome which appertains to popular internet sites

I have recently written an article which you can find on my website called Rare autographs real or fake, I strongly advise you to read this.

Good luck with your collecting and let me know how you get on.

Tony Selby