Autosport International at Birmingham NEC

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Today at the NEC in Birmingham saw the return of one of the biggest motor shows of the year and probably the biggest show devoted to Motorsport in the world.

Autosport International filled up several of the NEC’s largest halls with literally hundreds of exhibitions ranging from clothes stands right up to a F1 grid complete with over a dozen real F1 cars. As soon as you walk through the door you realise that this is one show you are not going to be able to walk round in an hour or so.

Split into different sections the first section was filled with stands showing off the latest in automotive technology. Turbos of all sizes, Nitrous systems, suspension kits and some of the best wheels money can buy. In the centre of the main hall was the WRC stand which featured boulders, trees and stones to make it look like a real stage. Scattered throughout the stand were a selection of last years WRC cars from all the major teams although some like Subaru and Mitsubishi had the cars on their own showcase stands. The highlight of the WRC stand was the appearance of the 2003 champion Petter Solberg. He came on to the stand for a quick interview and to answer some questions from the public. As is usual with Petter he kept the crowd entertained with some good stories about his WRC career and his history in motorsport. Next to the WRC stand were a selection of some of the best Super-cars you can buy today. Pagani’s Zonda and Aston Martin’s new V12 Vanquish in particular drawing in the crowds.

At the far end of the main hall were stands from all the main F1 teams including some racing simulators for those who felt they could try it for themselves. To complete the main hall was one of the star attractions of the show – the Galleria Ferrari. £25 million of the best Ferrari’s since 1947 were included to showcase Ferrari’s success in motor-sport over the years.

When we thought there couldn’t be much more to see we went into the other hall and couldn’t believe it as there were again hundreds of stands in every direction. This hall contained stands from all the private Sports car manufacturers and on show were some of the maddest looking cars you’ll ever see. There were even stands selling and showing off the latest tools and gadgets for your car and if you had the money you could have picked up plenty of great deals.

At the back of this hall there was an indoor go-karting track for those who wanted to do a bit more than just walk around the stands and beside that, touring car driver Matt Neil was taking people out for 3 laps of a drift course in a Caterham for just £5. This looked like great fun but unfortunately we didn’t have time as we had to run to catch the show in the Live Action Arena. Contained within one massive hall there were five showings throughout the day and each one sat 4500 people making it the 4th most watched motorsport event in the UK! First off were some of the old rally cars going head to head including the RS200 and 6R4. Even in such an enclosed space you could tell just how fast these cars were as they deafened the crowd with huge backfires. Then came some oval racing from various kit cars and Stock cars which shook the building with the roar from their big V8’s. Some more rally style action followed with the best rallycross cars each one pushing out over 700bhp.

The best part of the display however was NI’s very own Steer From the Rear. This time they had all three of the Nissan 300zx’s out and filled the hall with thick tyre smoke! Some nice drifting around the large islands in the middle of the track and then some nice burnouts pleased the crowd and everyone around me loved the cars and the noise from them. The boys got the biggest cheer of the night and came out again after a few other displays to put on another quick show. Unfortunately due to the size of the hall and the lack of light the pictures of this didn’t turn out too well.

After spending six hours at the show including the 45mins in the Live Action Arena we still hadn’t seen everything but left looking forward to next years. A quality day out for everyone who was there.

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