Last weekend (9th-12th January 2014) saw the 25th running of the Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s NEC arena. For those who are not familiar with it, the show is a large motorsport event, being collocated with the Performance Car show. It is a typical trade show, with two days of the event being for trade professionals, and two days being for members of the public. The social media world is always busy with excitement among motorsport fans ahead of the event, particularly as this is during the inter-season break for series like Formula One and the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
For those who want to see and get close to some of the cars that they watch driving around racing circuits in various parts of the world, then there was plenty of opportunity to get close to some of these vehicles.
There was the chance to see some of the cars in unusually close proximity. One of the debates through the 2013 season was how to differentiate the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenburg, with cars that looked obviously similar and helmets that were not as different as with most other team mates. A close examination revealed that the name of the driver is on the car, although may be hard to spot from a distance at high speed.
There is a live action arena too, so for those who want to witness some of these – and other – vehicles in action, then there is an opportunity to see that too. It was quite interesting walking around behind the scenes of the live action arena area, seeing the preparation, and watching the cars getting ready, and then going out into the arena area.
There were even some cars there with very familiar names on them.
Of course, as I already mentioned, the show is not just about single seat racing cars, and among the various other displays, it was good to see Robert Kubica’s name on one of the exhibits.
Another name that was much in sight was John Surtees, the only man to have been world champion at the top level on two wheels and four. There was an entire area dedicated to his vehicles, cars and motorbikes, with information about his very impressive career.
For those who enjoy collecting autographs from people associated with motorsport – which, I have to admit, does not include me – then there was an opportunity to do that for those willing to queue, including John Surtees and Martin Brundle.
There were plenty of other cars on display too, of various types.
Among the various companies, organisations and racing series on display was the local police constabulary, although their motorsport street cred was somewhat raised by the unveiling of their police McLaren, a rather speedy addition to their team, no doubt.
You could also see more details of plenty of the cars, with parts of the body casing removed to allow a closer inspection of engines and the inner workings of some of the vehicles.
If you enjoyed looking at the cars so much that you decided to buy one yourself, there is an auction that allows you to do that. I gave up watching after an E Type Jaguar got to £39000 in case I accidentally sneezed and needed another mortgage.
It was a good show, and plenty of opportunities for those who want to see and get close to motor sport exhibits and people that they might not otherwise see. One of the attractions for me was to meet up with other fans including the wonderful group with whom I attended the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, and the show was followed with a night out, which is probably best not to share, other than this picture of the Birmingham Walk of Stars, highlighting local celebrities, including Murray Walker, and in this photo, Nigel Mansell.