12 January 2013

Autosport International 2013

The annual "must do" for all UK based motorsport fans is the Autosport International event held at the NEC.  This is the event that kick-starts the season and where many of us get that bargain race suit or helmet etc.  It is also where we see the latest offerings from the clubs and organizers.  This was my first visit for more than seven years.

Last time I attended the show was more about "Max Power" and the lads mag type of enthusiast rather than the original ethos of motor sport suppliers and clubs.  This incarnation appears to have reduced the "Max Power" influence (although pleasingly, the "grid girls" were present in abundance) and concentrated more on the participation element of the sport.  Whilst there were plenty of very interesting engineering stands, including some new start-up businesses, there were the usual suspects, (Demon Tweeks, GPR, AWS etc.).

Being in the depths of a recession, perhaps the overall ambiance that I picked up was unsurprising, so it was refreshing to speak to Anders Hildebrand of Anglo American, who told me that 2012 had been their best year to date.  He also told me that they would be supporting more series and championships next year.  Good news indeed.

The HSCC were present, with six touring cars ranging from an original Group 2 Imp through to a Vauxhall Super Tourer, via Group  A Sierra, BMW M3 and Toyota Corrolla.  This appeared to be the only historic racing club present.  Masters had a fine display of six historic Formula One cars and Lotus had a display of a '93t (Mansell) and a 25 (Clark).

Group C/GTP Racing Ltd had three Martini Lancia Ferraris on its stand.  There was also a fine display of all of the late Richard Burns' rally cars.

 The Coys auction had some interesting lots, including an Alan Mann Mk1 Escort and this Lola.  Although the Lamborghini Tractor would have been a fun buy.

On the subject of history, there was a display of Sir Jackie Stewart's cars including three GP winners.  Pity there was no space to include a Gp2 Capri but the ubiquitous Lotus Cortina was there.

The next Historic event for UK based enthusiasts is Race Retro in February.  Prior to that there is the VSCC Pomeroy Trophy at Silverstone on 23 February.  Early February brings Retromobile where you can combine a Parisienne weekend with petrol see http://en.retromobile.com/.

So, overall I felt the autosport Show was slightly underwhelming, although I hope that was just me; however, I suspect the general financial situation is finally biting the industry/sport.

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