Nine reasons to attend the 2023 Autosport International Show
Autosport International returns following a two-year hiatus at the hands of COVID-19. Here’s what to expect from the halls of the Birmingham NEC this week
When Irving Berlin’s There’s No Business Like Show Business hit the silver screen in 1954, Autosport had only been on the shelves for four years, Juan Manuel Fangio had just claimed his second world title, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II was in its infancy, and hardly anyone had heard of Elvis Presley. But it really does sum up Autosport International, which is back this week at the Birmingham NEC from Thursday 12 January to Sunday 15 January.
Of course, this is the first show since 2020. COVID-19 accounted for the 2021 and 2022 editions, so everyone is raring to get going again for their first visit in three years to the West Midlands exhibition halls. The trade days are on Thursday and Friday, before the public days on Saturday and Sunday. See you there!
1. Motorsport’s best moments
Prints signed by Stewart will be raffled to raise money for Race Against Dementia
Photo by: Sutton Images
One of the highlights, of course, is the Motorsport Memories gallery, which will be opened by three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE and is raising money for the Race Against Dementia charity.
Fans voted for their greatest motorsport memories ahead of the show, and Race Against Dementia founder Stewart will be attending on Sunday to talk about his best memories.
The 10 selected moments from the poll, ranging from Juan Manuel Fangio’s epic 1957 German Grand Prix drive to the dramatic finish of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours and topped by Colin McRae’s charge to take the World Rally Championship on the 1995 RAC, will also be showcased in a special gallery in Hall 2.
Insight: Your 10 greatest motorsport moments
Prints from the gallery, supplied by Motorsport Images, will be available to win in a free prize draw. Text MEMORY to 70215 to enter and make a voluntary donation.
2. F1 star cars young and old
Magnificent BRM V16 will be on show alongside contemporary F1 machinery
Photo by: Jeff Bloxham / Motorsport Images
A record-breaking ground-effects machine of the current era and a glorious failure of a bygone period will be the stars of a special exhibition put together by the Silverstone Interactive Museum and GP Racing.
Autosport’s sister publication has provided one of the show’s big attractions for many years, so it is appropriate that it will do so again as the event returns. The Red Bull RB18 that took a record 15 grand prix victories in the hands of Max Verstappen and two more with Sergio Perez in 2022 will lead the line-up of modern cars, which also includes representatives from Alpine and Aston Martin.
Appearing with the car that you voted as Autosport’s International Racing Car of the Year will be a BRM V16 Mk1. The 1.5-litre supercharged P15 never achieved success in the world championship but did win Formula Libre races, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest-sounding racing cars of all time. Thanks to the Owen family that still owns BRM and historic race preparation expert Hall & Hall, the V16 is now competing again and the recently built chassis IV will appear in selected events.
The Silverstone Museum, which has attracted 250,000 visitors since opening in 2020, will bring along some of its star exhibits to add to the display. An exclusive show offer will also be available to guests who wish to experience a day out at Silverstone.
3. See the stars on stage
The great and good of motorsport will be up on stage
Photo by: Joe Portlock/Motorsport Images
The Autosport Stage provides a highlight with its galaxy of interviewees throughout the duration of the show. Make sure you catch 83-year-old legend Stewart on Sunday for what is bound to be a memorable chat.
Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds should also be illuminating, especially since his career spans almost half a century through the Williams and Toleman/Benetton/Renault teams right back to Formula Ford at Royale. Silverstone Circuits managing director Stuart Pringle will be fascinating to listen to, as will Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers.
Fans of tin-top racing will be well catered for by the Autosport Stage interviews. At the time of writing, 1990 British Touring Car champion Robb Gravett and his Mini-racing son Bradley are firmed up, as well as 1992 title winner Tim Harvey forming a commentary double act with David Addison. You can expect some current BTCC stars too.
Elder statesmen of the sport such as Le Mans winners Allan McNish and David Brabham, and class victor Darren Turner, will also take to the stage, along with bright young talent Luke Browning, the 2022 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award winner. So too will ex-Ferrari F1 engineer-turned-electric karting impresario Rob Smedley.
4. Live Action to kick off the year
The Live Action Arena will mark a welcome return of noisy engines after the Christmas break
Photo by: Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Saturday and Sunday are when Autosport International opens its doors to fans. You can look out for stars headlining the Autosport stage but, if you’re after some noise and action after the Christmas break, head to the Live Action Arena.
This year’s 45-minute live spectacular – which takes place at 1000, 1130, 1300, 1430 and 1600 on Saturday and Sunday – will be hosted by three-time grand prix winner Johnny Herbert and presenter/influencer Emma Walsh. The final details of the show have yet to be confirmed at the time of publication but invariably include impressive stunts, supercars and an eclectic array of machinery from national motorsport, which in the past has ranged from dragsters to Legends via BriSCA F1 stock cars and Morgans.
5. Electrifying look to the future
Extreme E machinery will form part of the EV Showcase
Photo by: Charly Lopez / Motorsport Images
A new show feature for 2023 is the International EV Showcase, which will highlight alternative power on all four days.
The Forze VIII sports-racer, built by a team of Dutch students, features hydrogen fuel-cell technology. The rapid refuelling with hydrogen makes electric fuel cell (FCEV) vehicles suitable for long-distance races, since they don’t have the long charging times of conventional EVs.
Among the other cars with non-fossil-fuel power will be the unusual-looking but very fast electric Ariel Hipercar. And, while the Gen3 era of Formula E is kicking off in Mexico this weekend, its all-electric off-road counterpart will be represented in Birmingham as Extreme E looks ahead to its third season.
“From hybrid Formula 1 to electric karts, the shift in power in motorsport has been dramatic,” says Autosport International event director Ben Whibley. “The EV Showcase will demonstrate the latest innovations and record-breaking vehicles, at the hub of an engineering and technology exhibition that shows the pace of change in the industry.”
6. Pick of the UK’s top tuned cars on display
Andy Devine's Escort Mexico MK2 was rated the most impressive modified car in the UK
The popular Performance and Tuning Car Show has been searching for the most impressive modified car in the UK to celebrate the world of automotive customisation. Owners of many tuned cars from across the country applied to win the prestigious title, and the top three will be on display at the weekend.
Applications included a range of cars from different decades – including a Ford Cortina Mk1 and Volkswagen Golf Mk1, Toyota Chaser JZX100, and Nissan Skyline R33 and R34 from the 1990s and 2000s – as well as modern-day machines such as the newest Ford Focus RS, Audi RS3 and BMW X4M Competition.
The winner was Andy Devine’s Ford Escort Mexico Mk2 (pictured). The list of modifications includes performance exhausts, a twin charge cooler system from a BMW M5, multiple engine modifications to boost power to over 550bhp, and many visual tweaks.
7. National racing on display
Leading national racing clubs including the 750 Motor Club will be present at the show
Photo by: JEP
A focal point of Autosport International is national racing, which has been a mainstay since the first running of the event. The entire spectrum of club motorsport has a presence at the NEC, from entry-level championships and series to the upper echelons and professional categories, such as the BTCC.
Despite the difficulties motorsport has faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, national racing generally has gone from strength to strength. Grid sizes have increased for many categories and new championships and series are still being created.
Numerous racing clubs, including the 750 Motor Club, British Racing & Sports Car Club, Castle Combe Racing Club, Classic Sports Car Club and MG Car Club, will attend the event to promote the latest offerings to current and potential new members.
The BRSCC will showcase its Formula Foundation-E single-seater, an all-electric machine that the club intends to run in a single-make series in 2024, with demonstration races due to be held this year. The car, featuring a steel chassis with halo and a 120kW power unit capable of producing around 160bhp, made its first public on-track appearance at the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch last year.
This year’s ASI will also feature a large presence from TCR UK. The championship continues to grow under Stewart Lines’ Maximum Group’s organisation, and a number of drivers will take to the Autosport Stage to discuss the upcoming campaign.
Visitors will also have the chance to enter a raffle to win a race-ready Peugeot 107 for use in the BRSCC’s CityCar Cup. The prize, worth a total of £12,000, includes a free ARDS test and spare parts. Money raised by the raffle will go towards Race Against Dementia – the chosen charity of the British Motorsports Marshals Club.
8. The heart of Engineering
The Business Forum will be back as thought leaders converge
Photo by: Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Three years after the last Autosport International, exhibitors have raced back to Birmingham for the Engineering Show, a key element on Thursday and Friday. Industry-leading brands such as Cosworth, Helix Clutches, Brembo, Goodridge, Pagid, PFC brakes, VDO Instruments, Lifeline, Xtrac, AP Racing and SPA will all be represented and demonstrate their latest offerings.
The Business Forum also returns. Thought leaders from across the world of motorsport will converge to discuss the future and you can hear their insights. Topics such as sustainable motorsport, the future of tuning, and finding the next generation of motorsport talent will be part of the forum discussions.
9. Get your motorsport career on track
University of Wolverhampton students gain race experience as part of its F3 Cup team
Photo by: JEP
The UK has a massive motorsport industry, with seven of the 10 Formula 1 teams based in this country, so that plays a large part in the engineering sector being a significant part of the nation’s economy.
There are ever-increasing opportunities to get an education in motorsport, and students will get the chance to experience a flavour of the industry at Autosport International. One exhibitor is the University of Wolverhampton’s Racing team that immerses undergraduates in real competition environments.
Professor Amar Aggoun, Head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences at University of Wolverhampton, says: “Our racing team is unique in Higher Education, where our student engineers compete in the Praga Cup, as well as being the factory works team for the Morgan Motor Company, where our students have a direct impact on cars that are in road production. We also compete in the IMechE Formula Student competition, and in 2021 won our class in the F3 Cup Championship.
“Some of our alumni have gone on to work for the likes of Mercedes AMG and Williams F1 teams, Bentley, Aston Martin and many others.”
The next generation of engineers and designers will also battle it out for the F1 in Schools UK crown. Surrounding the 20-metre track will be each team’s ‘pit displays’, where you can get a view of the work that the teams put into the design and manufacture of their scale-model cars. The UK National Finals include successful teams from 10 regional finals.
The UK National Finals of the F1 In Schools competition will be held at ASI
Photo by: F1 in Schools
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