INDIANAPOLIS– When Hoosier native and avid car enthusiast Mike Simmons moved to downtown Indy about four years ago, he had a bit of a problem: he had a collection of cars he needed to store but nowhere to put them.
Initially, he looked for a more modest set-up. That was until the old Harrison College Chef’s Academy went up for sale.
That’s when Simmons decided to go bigger.
He bought the building located at 644 E. Washington Street and completely transformed the space into SILO Auto Club and Conservancy.
“We decided to turn it into more of a club… Kind of a community element for multiple folks who want to participate in it and be members of the club,” Simmons explained.
We’re getting into the month of May spirit with a visit to any car lover’s ultimate dream garage on this trip In Your Neighborhood.
“I’ve always been a car guy,” said Mike Simmons. “[I] grew up on the farm. My dad and I worked on a number of cars together.”
So it’s no surprise that he also grew up as an Indianapolis 500 fan.
“But [I] grew up really pretty modest means so we didn’t even go to the 500 until I think I was 15 or 16 when I went with a friend of mine. So, that is probably where it began,” he added.
Simmons’ passion for cars and racing evolved throughout life as he went from car enthusiast to collector to founder of SILO Auto Club and Conservancy.
It’s a first of its kind collector and exotic car storage facility here in Indy.
Right now, it’s filled to capacity with vehicles of all makes, models and stories.
Including some that belong to big-name owners.
“Alexander Rossi, who won the 500 a few years ago, his pace car that he won with that… we store it for him while he’s out of town,” Simmons shared. “So he comes and takes it out, typically in May.”
SILO also has an ongoing partnership featuring cars from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
“We’ve got one of their race cars thats here today and we’ll be swapping those out over time,” he said.
Of all the impressive and sometimes quirky cars kept here, Simmons has some personal favorites including his 1969 Lamborghini Islero, which he recently drove on a 5-day 1,000 mile tour in Arizona alongside other car enthusiasts.
“It’s kind of a unique car. One of a couple hundred that were built,” he explained. “With the Lambourghini V12 [engine] that sounds great.”
One of the other vehicles he keeps there is a sentimental favorite.
“It would be hard for me not to call my dad’s ’63 Corvette convertible one of my favorites.” Simmons explained. “He passed away a few years and [we] had done a lot of car stuff together. So after he passed, I ended up with the ‘vette… It’s a car I’ll never sell.”
Not only is SILO a vehicle storage facility but it also serves as an event space and social club.
“A couple people have called it ‘the country club for car folk’ and that’s pretty much what we’re trying to do,” he noted.
Although membership is included for people who store their cars here, anyone can become a social club member.
They’ll enjoy benefits like members-only events, classes and shop talks and access to the lounge.
“It’s really got kind of a sports bar kind of a vibe and we really want to have a facility where people can come and use it when they want,” he said.
When SILO first opened in late 2018, they were able to host several events but—like other many other businesses over the last year—COVID-19 restrictions essentially took all of that of the table for the past year.
Fortunately, things are seem to be getting back to normal.
“We’ve done a number of concerts, small concerts lately… It’s one of the things that we’re doing more of from a couple of different folks who have sponsored those. So that’s really what our objective is,” he explained.”Our longer term goal is to have a full-time chef here online and really be open for lunch and dinner 3-4 days a week along with the other events.”
If you really want to get in the racing spirit, try out one of the RaceCraft1 simulators on site.
“It’s really a crazy set-up,” said Simmons. “My experience with simulators before was kind of an Xbox in front of the TV and this is nothing like that. [They are] full motion racing sims… So our members get access to that through the membership but it’s also an option for events.”
Four Things You Need to Know About Silo Auto Club & Conservancy:
- SILO Auto Club and Conservancy was founded by Hoosier native and car enthusiast, Mike Simmons. His initial goal was to find a modest space to store his car collection after he and his wife moved to downtown Indianapolis, but when the former Harrison College Chef’s Academy went up for sale, he decided to expand his vision. Now, SILO is a first of its kind collector and exotic car storage facility here in Indianapolis.
- In addition to storing some incredible cars (including some who belong to some local big names like Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi), it also serves as an event space and social club. “If someone has a car stored here, membership is included in that. But people can become social members without necessarily having car storage,” Simmons explained.
- Right now, SILO is at capacity when it comes to car storage; however Simmons noted they are happy to do a waitlist. He said they are also in the process of looking into some alternatives including a possible expansion. In the meantime, they are still welcoming new social club members and starting to host some small concerts and private events, which they hope to do much more in the future as COVID regulations permit.
- Another cool thing you can find at SILO are several of the high tech RaceCraft1 driving simulators, which are the same ones many IndyCar drivers and other professional racers use to practice. They even have one of the simulators in the lounge area. “Our members get access to that through the membership but also for events it’s an option for folks,” Simmons explained.
For more information about SILO Auto Club and Conservancy, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
While in the neighborhood, check out these other local hot spots nearby: