Established in 1996, Autographed Collectables prides itself on being the world’s leading motor-racing memorabilia company and is run with commitment, honesty and integrity. We spoke to founder and managing director, Miguel Ramos on his journey to becoming a world-renowned, 100% authentic memorabilia man.
Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner are just some of the racing legends who completed their first signings with you. Do you ever get starstruck?
I’ve worked with Valentino now for 20 years, and Casey since 2002, so I wouldn’t say that I get starstruck but I certainly realise that I’m in the presence of some very special people that have achieved things that not many people in this world get the opportunity to achieve. I feel very lucky and privileged to have this opportunity to work with them.
You were only 20 when you had your first private signing opportunity with Muhammad Ali. That must’ve been surreal?
Yes it certainly was, an opportunity of a lifetime, and one which led to a 10 year relationship working with him. I recall when I was growing up and hearing about my dad talk of Muhammad Ali and his achievements, not only inside the ring, but also for what he stood for as a man outside of the ring. I will never forget this moment, and then several years later being able to take my dad to meet him.
The race season must be a busy one for you, encompassing lots of time and distance. Do you travel to all the races and how do you decide on what to take?
I go to about half of the MotoGPs, and we do Formula One, World Superbike, it varies. It can be a little bit tricky, we certainly consider the types of items that we had on display the year before and how many of those have sold – that gives us a bit of a starting point on what to display and how many to take. We do like to take extra stock so customers can take the pieces away with them if possible, rather than having to wait for us to ship them.
Do you ever become really fond of certain memorabilia, and decide not to sell it but keep it?
Yes – there are many pieces! It becomes tricky because I’m fortunate enough that I’m in a position to have some really cool, one-off types of pieces from the guys that I work with. It’s very easy to want to keep everything for our own collection, but that’s not possible. I think now, having a young family, my priorities have shifted as well. You can’t keep everything and there are things that I’ve let go of recently that I’d held onto for many years.
Do you have quite a collection yourself then?
I do, in fact I don’t have a lot of pieces on display because of limited office space but for many years, the company would keep number ones of everything that we ever released. We’ve probably still got 95% of that collection but sadly they’re unframed in photo drawers and stored away. That’s a collection that I probably need to start making available for race fans! There’s some really nice pieces from many years ago.
Travelling the world and meeting racing legends is an enviable career. What have been your highlights?
The last 20 years have been a fantastic journey. Travelling the world, getting to meet and become friends with many of the athletes we still work with today, 20 years on. There really isn’t one highlight, it’s just collectively the life and experiences that I’ve had over 20 years that I’ve been very very grateful for.
Do you get to spend much time with the fans?
Absolutely, when we’re at the races and with the products on display within our shop, I’m there and working away with the guys. We’ve just had our 22nd year in a row in Philip Island and I haven’t missed one. I’ve built up great relationships with customers all over the world – I’ve had fans that I’ve seen their kids grow, from being in the womb to being born and they’ve been every year. It’s been very special.
And your customers are undoubtedly superfans?
They certainly are! There are a lot of very dedicated fans and I think the motorcycle community have the best. I’d say the most dedicated fans are probably hanging out at the back of the garage, trying to get a photo with their hero, whoever that may be. I certainly have customers, one in particular, who keeps a spreadsheet of all of his pieces. I think he’s up to about 130 something at the moment and he just supports the sport in general and has many of the different riders in his collection. He’s probably on the top of the list!
You must have a pretty good relationship with the riders, management agencies and photographers too?
I do – we’ve worked with many for a long time. It’s a business relationship at the end of the day and while I am friends with many of them, there’s also the mutual respect for what everyone’s doing! I try not to cross the line in any way either and I think to some degree, that maybe explains the longevity I’ve had with a lot of these different athletes, photographers and mangers – which is important. We’re there to get a job done and I need to respect their position and time as well.
Do you get time to watch the races?
I do watch the races, not always live. If I’m at the race working, I don’t really get to watch it until I get home. If I’m at home in Los Angeles, I won’t get up and watch them live at 5am but I’ll certainly watch them in the morning with my coffee shortly after. I do try to follow all Moto 3, 2 and GP and World Superbikes when I can aswell but it’s hard to stay on top of them all!
What have been the most memorable MotoGP moments over your career?
There’s been a few! I have to say I respect all the riders, I don’t favour one or the other. But some that come to mind are seeing Nicky Hayden win the championship in 2006 was very special – he hung in there and fought hard and was able to make it happen in Valencia, watching Mick Doohan win his world title in ’98 in Philip Island in front of a home crowd, Casey also winning his second world title in Philip Island in 2011, and also Valentino winning his first race with Yamaha in South Africa in 2004 was very special too because no one really expected that victory and that success of the season. I think we’re in for another fantastic season in 2020 with some great racing!
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