This is a very old thread but nevertheless some might find it of interest. I began collecting autographs many years ago when it was easier to approach drivers/riders in the paddock. I bought a nice colour picture of Nigel Mansell in a local toy shop, posted it to him when he lived on the Isle of Man, and it came back a few days later, signed. I was chuffed but it was a shame he hadn't signed it with a Sharpie as the light blue ball point pen autograph is fading. I decided to concentrate on F1 World Champions (I'm now up to about sixteen) and motorcycle racers, mainly from the 60s and seventies, Much of the fun in collecting is searching for their contact addresses, many of which are available on the Net. I tend not to go to the Goodwood Festival of Speed these days for a number of reasons. I hate crowds for a start, also I hated seeing 'dealers' with satchels laded with photographs asking drivers to sign a few dozen of them knowing that they would soon be on eBay and sold.
Another sadness is that my heroes are now old men and are dying off. I had a nice pic of works Honda rider Ralph Bryans who I narrowly missed at Goodwood, and who died a few months later.
Another thing is the increasingly poor standard of autographs. 'My' J-M Fangio and Jackie Stewart autographs are beautiful and written with care, some others are 'footballer' scribbles.
I almost never ever buy or sell autographs, it seems somehow dishonest although I did buy a Schumacher and a Valentino Rossi once.
My latest task is that I bought a photo on eBay of riders Ron Chandler, Paddy Driver, Peter Williams, Dan Shorey and Joe Dunphy, and after a bit of searching I have located all of their addresses. Half of the fun is in the searching.