By Richard Thomson
So, where can you see live motorsport in the UK in January? The Jack Frost Stages, I hear you cry? Well yes, but I was thinking of somewhere where you didn’t have to contend with the wind/rain/sleet/snow/sun, (Not very likely this last one!!), whilst spectating. In fact, I was thinking of the Autosport International Show at the NEC near Birmingham
It had been a few years since my last visit, and this year I decided to take along my two and a half year old, car mad, son Stewart for the first time. Having let the train take the strain we arrived at the NEC at lunchtime. If you have never been to the show before, the thing that will amaze you is just how much there is to see. In fact you could probably spend the whole weekend there, and still not see everything! We only had 4 hours, and that included an hour or so in the Live Action Arena. Among the static exhibits were several cars from last year’s Roger Albert Clark Rally. These included the Bikini Porsche, which still had the chunk missing from its front bumper, sustained on the Saturday of the event from memory. Stewart amused himself by spotting several examples of Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but was particularly impressed by the mock-up of the Bloodhound land speed record car. My personal favourite was a choice between a collection of Group C Lancia sportscars, a red and white Porsche 917, and a Top Fuel dragster.The Live Action Show takes place in hall 5 at the NEC, which is turned into a race track for the weekend. We were fortunate to be sitting right at the front, and so were able to get the full atmosphere of the event, (Including the tyre smoke!). Highlights included races for F1 stock cars and autograss single seaters, and demonstrations from some of the drivers in the British drift Championship. Stewart enjoyed the monster truck that first demolished a Rover 214, and then performed a series of doughnuts. My favourite would have to be the race for Reliant Robins. These will fall over if cornered too fast, so those drivers on the inside of a corner lean on the cars on the outside, and those on the outside lean on the concrete wall around the track! By the end of the first lap the only two black cars in the race had collided with each other and were lying upside down in the middle of the track. Not that the other drivers seemed to mind!
The Autosport Show is a paradise for anyone who likes to spot motorsport personalities. Although we were only there for a short time, and weren’t particularly looking for personalities, those we did see included: Jackie Stewart, Dario Franchitti, Paul di Resta, Johnny Herbert, Jake Humphrey, Derek Bell, Allan McNish, Jason Plato, Andy Priaux, and last but by no means least, Helen Gibbon and Nigel Harkness!
All too soon it was time to get the train home. But did Stewart enjoy the show, and will we be back again? Yes and yes!!