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Autosport International, NEC ... covered virtually every facet of the manifold genres of motor sport


Lola T92 Indy Car

Lola T92 Indy Car

 

Birmingham, 09-12 January, 2020

The annual Autosport International Racing Car Show, in conjunction with the Performance & Tuning Car Show, was held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre between 09 - 12 January. The show occupied six halls of the venue around the north garden concourse, one of which housed the Live Action Arena. The main show covered virtually every facet of the manifold genres of motor sport, whilst the Performance & Tuning Car Show, centred in Hall 4 adjacent to the Live Action Arena, provided a varied display of personalised confections and modified vehicles. A number of these were definitely of an acquired taste, but as the saying goes “variety is the spice of life”.

The first two days of the show were geared more to the trade side of the sport, with Hall 3A dedicated to the engineering side of motor racing, featuring a diverse array of companies that provide the numerous diverse elements needed for motor sport competition. These ranged from the know-how, equipment, ranging from bearings, specialist castings, gears, brakes, engine parts and safety equipment, to complete chassis’ or engines. For the weekend this hall became the province of what may best be described as grass roots racing. There was a wide variety of club level motor sport genres, like oval racing, national rallycross, grass track racing, truck racing and even lawn mower racing, a real melange of activities to suit a number of different wallet sizes. That said, it was surprising to see some of the innovative vehicles for what are essentially low cost ways to enjoy motor sport. As an example there was a pair of beautifully engineered grass track Mini Pickups, one with a mid mounted Peugeot engine, and another even more radical one featuring a pair of Suzuki Hayabusa engines mated together.

A major celebration at the show was the 70th anniversary of Autosport magazine, with an expansive display stretching around the perimeter of Hall 1, featuring  competition cars from each decade, running from a Jaguar C-Type and Maserati 250 F of the fifties, through period icons like the Lotus 49 F1 car resplendent in its gold and red Gold Leaf livery, a Porsche 917, naturally in the famous pale blue and orange Gulf livery, a Lancia Stratos, a JPS Lotus 79 F1 car, a Jaguar XJR9 and a Mercedes W06 Hybrid F1 car, to name but a few.

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Apart from the all the vehicles on display, spanning from karts to F1 cars, via dragsters, one make series, rallying and numerous other genres, there are always interviews with motor sport personalities on the Live Stage. This year they included ex-F1 drivers Karun Chandhok and Johnny Herbert, whilst Ferrari fans had a real treat, as there was a Q&A session on the stage with current F1 driver Charles Leclerc at midday on the Sunday, which drew a massive crowd around the stage. The questions were from fans in the audience and others posted electronically, covering a wide range of topics, revealing something of the man. His passion for motor sport came from his father, when one day not wanting to go to school, he feigned sickness (haven’t we all done that!), and his father was going to a kart track, so took the poor sick child with him. His sickness miraculously disappeared upon arrival, taking to karting like a duck to water, and as they say “the rest is history”. When asked whether the different time zones for the races affected his sleep pattern, he said not normally but that he liked to sleep a lot, around 9-10 hours a day. Showing a wry sense of humour to the next question, he said “sorry, could you repeat that I was asleep”! F1 driver contracts have strict stipulations on what activities they can partake in, and he decided that he wanted to do a sky-dive, but didn’t tell anyone, working on the premise that if he didn’t survive there wasn’t much that they could do about it! Naturally the Italian Grand Prix win came up, and he confirmed that it was the high point of his career so far, paraphrasing what he said, “it was so emotional after such a hard race, winning for Ferrari on home soil and seeing the sea of fans beneath the podium was a truly special moment”. After the Q&A session he then exercised his wrist signing autographs for the masses gathered. Ferrari fans didn’t only have Charles Leclerc at the show, as there were a number of cars spread through the halls, including a pair of 308 GTB rally cars and the 488 Challenge that won the 2019 Britcar series championship, driven by Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz.

Every year there is a F1 car display feature, which this year featured examples from seven of the ten teams, Haas, McLaren, Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull, Renault and Williams, the Italian teams, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Torro Rosso being notable by their absence. The British Touring Car Championship was well represented on title sponsor Kwik Fit’s stand, featuring a colourful array of 2020 contenders from Infiniti, Toyota and Vauxhall. Fans of rally cars were well catered for, with a number of classic examples in various displays, including a Metro 6R4, Triumph TR7 and Audi Quattro Sport. However, those on the expansive BGM Sport stand stood out, providing a great array of diverse classic examples in a single space, ranging through Fords, like the Lotus Cortina, RS200 and Focus WRC, to Subarus, examples of Sunbeam Talbot Lotus, Vauxhall Chevette, and Italian thoroughbreds like the Fiat 131 Abarth in Alitalia livery, an Olio Fiat liveried Lancia 037 and a Ferrari 308 GTB with Spanish rally history.

The show provides a very popular start to the New Year, as witnessed by the number of attendees, lifting the winter blues, and also reminds one of just how diverse the motor sport scene is.

Ferrari Models on Display

Model

Colour

Chassis #

308 GTB Rally

Red

24783

308 GTB Rally

Black

27781

F355 Berlinetta

Yellow

100297

360 Modena F1

Red

119764

458 Speciale

Red-White & Blue Stripes

199290

488 Challenge

White

230280

F12 TdF

Silver-Blue Stripe

222633

488 Challenge

Red

232922

488 Spider

Red

240034

488 Pista

Blue Matt-Yellow & Black Stripes

243722

488 Pista Aperta

Red-Black Stripes

248832

 

Keith Bluemel         
01/2020