Local Automotive Enthusiasts Are Building More Than Collections, They’re Building Communities
We were pleased to speak with Mike Simmons, founder of SILO Auto Club in Indianapolis, Jay Farmer, a principle of The Motor District in Westfield, and Chris Diasio, president of Putnam Park Road Course in Greencastle. All three of these automotive enthusiasts have something in common besides being enthusiasts and collectors—they are building a community that is bringing together current and future automotive collectors in a fun and unique way.
Simmons, Farmer and Diasio are thrilled to be sponsors of the 15th year of Artomobilia—Indiana’s premier automotive event featuring a weekend of exhilarating experiences and its flagship event that is hosted in the heart of Carmel, Indiana.
We spoke with each of the three aforementioned sponsors about their respective properties and the enthusiast/collector culture that they are building.
SILO Auto Club – Indianapolis
What started out of necessity for car storage became a passion for bringing car enthusiasts together for a more social aspect of car collecting. Simmons moved from Zionsville to downtown Indianapolis and wanted easy access to his collector cars. He purchased a building that was more space than he needed, and the SILO Auto Club was soon after established. Today, the club has evolved into a vibrant and hip social club for its members.
“We ended up building out the club, put in a kitchen and got a liquor license,” Simmons shared. “We’re a private club for car people. We’ve got members from the Lockerbie area and throughout downtown that have relatively expensive real estate but no room for car storage. We also have folks from Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, the southside and from all over who keep their cars at the club. We also host a number of events at the club on a regular basis.”
The SILO is hosting a new series, “The Pitz’ Stop with John Pitz,” in collaboration with Artomobilia co-founder John Pitz.
“We’re starting to do more events with music, and we asked John [Pitz] to help us out,” Simmons shared. “He’s such a great guy, and we’ve started a monthly series kind of thing where we’ll do car-oriented panels and interviews. The first one was with John and Paul Page, which was a lot of fun. We might do some around vintage racing, rallies and around [car] collecting. So, the series will be an automotive enthusiast-themed topic every month as we go forward.”
The SILO Auto Club houses 60–65 cars in its main facility, and Simmons shared that they have recently expanded into another building just down the street that can house an additional 40–50 more.
“We’re looking at potentially expanding the building and looking at other storage options there in the building,” Simmons said. “As we come out of COVID, we’re beginning to think about [expanding] a little bit more proactively.”
For more information on SILO Auto Club, visit siloautoclub.com/silo-auto-club-conservancy/.
Motor District – Westfield
The Motor District is working to become the center of gravity for the Hamilton County automotive community “with our 12-acre campus and the 13 buildings we have planned that will house 120–150 garages for collectors, enthusiasts and hobbyists of all types. The campus also includes three supporting commercial business buildings. Motor District is a unique venue that caters to the community and lifestyle needs of those with a passion for their interests,” Farmer said. “Without exception, it’s the perfect home for automotive enthusiasts, but it will also be a community for many other interests, hobbies and passions—motorcycles, boats, RVs, ATVs and home office, urban cabin or getaway.”
This spring, Motor District broke ground on its Phase 2 buildings that will be completed by summer. “Phase 2 buildings have a new variety of sizes and configurations,” Farmer stated. “The pace of interest and sales in both Phase 1 and Phase 2 indicates that we’re on to something.”
The Motor District is more than simply storage; it offers a private, secure community that its clients own and customize to meet their needs and the needs of their families. “As a result, we see a wide variation in the build-outs and uses, some that are focused on collection display and entertainment, others around recreation and still others focused on the practical aspects of extending the footprint of your primary residence,” Farmer shared. “From an investment/financial perspective, ownership at Motor District makes a lot of sense when compared to alternatives both financially and practically. Motor District makes it very easy to own and customize with everything you need and nothing you don’t need; the ability to own and access a space anytime you wish is compelling.”
The Motor District is a great community venue for all types of events, not least of which are automotive-related. “We are expanding our events that we host each week beyond our open houses featuring partners like Pristine Auto Spa, Hagerty, Dynamat and others, to include Cars & Coffee—we’re calling it Mocha District—Garage Club events and even IndyCar and Formula 1 Watch Parties,” Farmer said. “You’ll also see our owners host an increasing number of private and public events in their spaces. In fact, recently, one of our owners hosted a fundraiser for a local children’s charity and included Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan.”
For more information on Motor District, visit motor-district.com and check out the gallery of photos.
Putnam Park Road Course — Greencastle
Putnam Park is so much more than a racetrack for racing teams, car clubs and enthusiasts alike. It is a 200-plus-acre park and country club for members, and they host social events for the members and their families as well. Additionally, Putnam Park offers on-site storage for car collectors. Diasio shared what makes his racetrack, facilities and garages unique from others in the region.
“Putnam Park is not just for racing,” Diasio emphasized. “It’s for car clubs and car enthusiasts. Even though it’s 30 miles west of Indy, it’s still an integral part of local car enthusiasts, especially in Zionsville, Carmel, the northside and southside of Indianapolis. We have lots of people who are interested in our facilities. We have everything from Hondas to exotics running together. Groups are based on your experience level, not necessarily your car speed.”
Diasio shared that his goal is to get a lot of people who own beautiful cars to bring their cars out of their garages and take them out to Putnam Park track to “stretch their legs.”
“What I’m really trying to do is get people who aren’t necessarily into just ‘track days,’ but people with nice cars who just want to stretch their legs and don’t care about lap times,” Diasio expressed. “You can do it in safe environment, a few times a year at least, and enjoy the car for what it was designed for. I don’t think Enzo Ferrari designed these cars thinking, “God, I hope they sit in garages and never get driven—that would be my ideal situation!”
Diasio also spoke about the social aspect of his racetrack and clubhouse.
“It’s also about the social aspect of the club,” Diasio stated. “The members come out, drive the track and then they go hang out at the clubhouse, get on the simulators, shoot some pool, have some drinks at the [clubhouse] bar and talk about cars, work and life. We have members with Mustangs and members with Ferraris. They all have their own passions, but just like at Artomobilia—we all come together because we love cars.”
Putnam Park also offers climate-controlled garages with TVs and first-rate security systems.
“I’m not building anymore of the old-style, private garages,” Diasio explained. “You’re isolating yourself. I opened this ‘open-concept’ garage in 2020 that holds 12 cars—six and six—and you’re surrounded by all these beautiful cars. It’s like you’re in your own little [car] museum. We’re also different in how we construct our garages. It’s all concrete block construction. Race teams love our garages because they are topflight garages that other tracks that are considered great tracks don’t have. The teams have a great environment to work in, and they feel comfortable.”
For more information on Putnam Park, visit putnampark.com.