Skillman has been longtime customer of Mecum Auctions


Automobile dealership owner Ray Skillman is frequently asked which classic car he likes the most.

“It depends on which day it is,” Skillman said. “I had a guy ask me if the building was burning down which one would I roll out first.I said, ‘I’d probably think about it so long, I’d burn up.’”

Skillman holds the No. 9 bid for all Mecum Auctions. Dana Mecum’s 36th Original Spring Classic is set for May 12-20 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

“I’ve been collecting for most of my life,” said Skillman, an 81-year-old Greenwood resident.

Skillman has a classic car collection in Greenwood.

“Even before I had the museum, I had them at home and other people’s garages and some in dealerships,” he said. “Then we built our building in 2006, and it’s about 45,000 square feet, so we have room to store some cars and work on cars.”

The museum  is open by appointment at 1280 U.S. Highway 31, Greenwood.

“We don’t have enough people to man the place because they are busy working on cars,” Skillman said. “Some of the stuff is a little fragile.”

Skillman said it houses about 200 automobiles. There are also bicycles, motorcycles and neon signs at the museum.

There are probably 80 Indianapolis 500 cars, sprint cars, midgets, stock cars and dragsters.

“We have Corvettes, Camaros and Chevettes and stuff like that,” Skillman said. “We have a few hot rods and street rods.”

Skillman, who has 18 dealership locations, all in the Indianapolis area, attends some Mecum auctions in other states as well.

At one time, Skillman said he spent almost every day at the Mecum auction in Indianapolis.

“Now, I go on the days where the cars I’m interested in are running,” he said. “I usually go for three days.”

Skillman said the adrenaline rush of bidding is fun.

“There are cars you’ve watched for years, and they’ll show up at a Mecum sale and it’s fun to acquire cars at sales,” he said. “We buy a lot of cars from estates, from people who have passed away or are getting older and they don’t have a reason to be involved with cars anymore. We’ll buy one car or 50 from a person at one time.”

Skillman said sometimes they sell cars at Mecum but are not planning to sell anything this year.

“There’s never been a year where we haven’t bought something,” Skillman said. “We bought six or seven cars from them last year. One of the cars was the one that Mario Andretti ran at Indy and took his rookie test in it and ran third in it. Then he won a couple championships in that car.”

Skillman said he likes the Indy 500 cars from the 1950s and 1960s the best, the roadsters and Dan Gurney’s Eagles and the Lotuses.

“There were four Turbine cars that ran in 1968 and we have one of them that Graham Hill ran,” he said. “We do have the 1997 winning car that Arie Luyendyk ran.”

Skillman said he has purchased several cars that cost more than $1 million each, including the Andretti car and Turbine.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has three of Skillman’s cars on display.

Skillman grew up in Owensboro, Ky., but his father started bringing him to the race in the 1950s.

Skillman also likes muscle cars from the 1950s and 1960s.

“It’s kind of the cars that you grew up with, and mostly the cars you couldn’t ever own,” he said. “I’m living out my childhood again.

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