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What to look out for at Autosport International this year

For more than three decades, Autosport International has been the leading European motorsport show and often marks the start of the new season. The four-day event combines business, engineering, thought leadership debates and live action, and for 2024 there’s a fresh look and feel

Presenter Stuart  Codling interviews Charles Leclerc, Ferrari on the Autosport stage in front of a large crowd

The 2023 show was very much about restarting things after the hiatus brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. But now it’s about looking ahead. The plan is to improve the show over the next three years, and the 2024 edition is the first with the new concept and floor plan to streamline the halls and improve the visitor flow.

Perhaps the biggest change for 2024 is that many cars will join the stars on the main stage, which has been redesigned. Chief among the attractions will surely be the latest sports-prototype racers from Le Mans legends Ferrari and Porsche.

As well as the new, there will be some ‘old’ favourites, including the Live Action Arena, which provides a rare opportunity to see machinery in action during the off-season.

This year’s show will take place across 11-14 January. Thursday and Friday is a trade show for the motorsport and automotive industry to network and see the latest innovations, while on Saturday and Sunday the doors open to the fans and more special guests arrive. We’ll bring you a more extensive guide in next week’s issue, but the next few pages will hopefully provide an appetiser…

Autosport International will have a new look this year, as well as some of the usual staples. Here are some of the highlights.

Motorsport

Cars have been in front of the stage before, but never on it... until now

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Cars have been in front of the stage before, but never on it... until now

The cars will also be the stars

For the first time, drivers will be joined by their cars on stage at Autosport International. The all-new main stage will allow the cars to be driven from ‘parc ferme’ into the fan areas for the first time, bringing the stars and cars together at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre.

James Calado, Britain’s newest Le Mans winner, will be accompanied by his Ferrari 499P on Saturday. Calado hit a new career pinnacle with an outstanding overall victory at the 24 Hours and this will provide a rare opportunity to see him and his Hypercar, given there are currently no World Endurance Championship rounds in the UK.

The rival Porsche 963 of Hertz Team Jota will also make an appearance. Team owner Sam Hignett will join the car on stage and give an exclusive insight into the privateer team’s first season in the Hypercar category and its ambitions for 2024.

Adding to the selection of Le Mans-related content, MissionH24, a joint venture between H24Project and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, will demonstrate the innovative work they are doing to bring hydrogen-powered racing to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will be a chance for fans to take a look at the pioneering H24 prototype.

Outside of sportscar racing, there will be plenty of other machines to see at the NEC. They include M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1 contender, and EuroNASCAR V8, while the DTM will bring along an example of the ultra-successful Audi R8 GT3.

Steiner headlines the main stage showing

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Steiner headlines the main stage showing

Top guests take to the stage

The main stage will feature an array of top personalities, from Formula 1 team principals to Le Mans winners, touring car stars and grassroots motorsport heroes.

Arguably leading the line-up at this year’s show, Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner will speak live on Saturday. The Drive to Survive star will give his (doubtless forthright) views on the 2023 F1 season, Haas’s chances in 2024 and the secrets of running an F1 team. Hosted by Sky Sports commentator David Croft, expect unfiltered banter on the world of F1…

Leading the proceedings are an esteemed group of hosts. As well as Croft, Natalie Pinkham and Paul O’Neill will be front and centre on the stage guiding a stellar motorsport line-up.

On Saturday and Sunday, the main stage will feature a mixture of motorsport talent from a variety of categories, including the British Touring Car Championship, TCR UK, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, and the British Superbike Championship. A decade’s worth of BTCC champions will be represented by Ash Sutton, Tom Ingram and Colin Turkington, and (appearing separately) Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal.

Stars of the future have always been a part of the show and, on the Saturday, 2023 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award winner Joseph Loake will appear on stage to talk about his momentous past 12 months and the season ahead – which will include an F1 test as part of his prize.

Engineering

The Engineering hall has undergone an overhaul

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar

The Engineering hall has undergone an overhaul

Where the motorsport world meets

Research shows that over 60% of trade visitors attend Autosport International to keep up with what’s happening in motorsport, and 85% of attendees are key decision-makers. This makes the show a fine opportunity to showcase and network with an international audience, particularly as it’s the first industry networking opportunity of 2024.

Located in the heart of the show, Autosport Engineering will offer trade visitors the exclusive opportunity to meet with like-minded professionals, discover the latest industry innovations, and the opportunity to collaborate with new business partners. It’s the best time of the year to reach influential leaders from across the industry.

A revitalised Engineering hall, developed specifically for trade, suppliers, buyers and professionals, launches for 2024. Expanding to open across all four days of the show, the ever-popular Autosport Engineering trade show, previously a Thursday-Friday feature, returns alongside new areas, showcasing the latest innovations for automotive and professional motorsport, but also highlighting the technology and knowledge transfer between motorsport and aerospace, energy, marine and defence.

Business Forum

The Business Forum is the perfect place for industry leaders to discuss latest developments and current talking points

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar

The Business Forum is the perfect place for industry leaders to discuss latest developments and current talking points

Sky Sports’ Bernie Collins leads the debate

The motorsport and automotive industry is set to shine a light on innovation at the NEC on the Thursday and Friday (11-12 January) in the Autosport International Business Forum. The two-day conference will welcome some of the industry’s most exciting and innovative thought leaders to talk about everything from engineering and future mobility to opportunities for people from all backgrounds to pursue a career in business and STEM.

Leading the conversation will be former head of strategy at Aston Martin F1 and Sky Sports analyst Bernie Collins, whose wealth of experience has inspired the next generation of engineers. She will host many of the panel discussions.

Confirmed business leaders in the debate include representatives from IMSA, the Alpine F1 team, Extreme E, Mission H24, More than Equal, Motorsport UK, Jota, DTM, McLaren and the National Motorsport Academy.

Enovation Consulting, the leading agency in sustainability in motorsport and sport, will also be launching the third edition of the Sustainable Championships Index, alongside a panel discussion with motorsport industry experts showcasing its latest sustainability best practice.

Admission to the Forum is included with any trade day ticket to Autosport International.

Autosport International events director Ben Whibley says: “We’re very excited to host the relaunched Business Forum at Autosport International. As a key area of Europe’s leading motorsport show, we’re going to be showcasing some of the breakthrough projects that will shape motorsport and the wider world for decades to come. The line-up this year is the best and most diverse we have ever seen.”

Live Action

Watch out for thrills and spills in the Live Action Arena

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Watch out for thrills and spills in the Live Action Arena

High-octane thrills in the Live Action Arena

Unless you’ve managed to find a way to join those contesting the Dakar Rally, which kicks off tomorrow, there’s not a lot of motorsport action to be found at this time of year. Which is why the Live Action Arena is one of the most popular and long-standing elements of the show.

World-class talents from disciplines including rallycross, motorcycles and stock cars will entertain the 3000-plus Live Action Arena audience during a 45-minute feast of stars, stunts and action.
Rallycross was one of the highlights of the running in 2023, but there’s always something that surprises. There was even a crash in practice last year… There’s no extra charge to see and hear (and smell!) this indoor motorsport – public day tickets include access to the Live Action Arena.

Motorsport

The wide variety of national motorsport options will also be on show

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The wide variety of national motorsport options will also be on show

National racing focus

The enormous breadth and eclectic nature of national motorsport is always evident at the show and the 2024 edition is set to be no different. Several of the UK’s leading race organisers will have a stand, promoting their latest initiatives as they shake off the post-Christmas blues by looking forward to the season ahead.

Among those set to be represented this year are the 750 Motor Club, which will be showcasing its broad range of categories, all with affordability in mind. The Classic Sports Car Club is also set to have a presence in Birmingham and will be highlighting the numerous series that have joined its portfolio for the coming year, while MotorSport Vision Racing – which ran several themed events that proved very popular last year – will be presenting its latest offerings.

Another traditional element of the show is new car launches and that will again be the case this year. Among the cars having their covers pulled off next week is Revolution’s latest evolution of its mighty prototype, with the supercharged machine set to be part of the Sports Prototype Cup grid.

But it’s far from just circuit racing at the show. As well as the brutish BriSCA stock cars, national rallying will be in the spotlight as well. Fresh from organising the enormously successful rally of the same name, the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club will be promoting the refreshed British Historic Rally Championship schedule. Another of the leading categories on show in the NEC’s halls is due to be the British Rally Championship, which has also undergone a revamp for this year, and the new campaign is being launched at next week’s event with a bespoke display from Motorsport UK.

Autosport International will take place between 11 and 14 January at the NEC in Birmingham. There is covered access from Birmingham International railway station and Birmingham airport. For those arriving by car, there are over 15,000 parking spaces (payable to the NEC when leaving). The NEC is signposted from all West Midlands motorways and major routes, including the M42, M40 and M6 – just pop B40 1NT in your satnav to the NEC site. Once you arrive, ignore the satnav and simply follow the digital screens for directions to the car parks.

Ticket options

Standard: £38 - Includes entrance to the show and free access to the Live Action Arena
Paddock Pass: £48 - Best seats in the Grandstand, unlimited access to Paddock area of Live Action and lanyard guide
VIP Club: £150 - VIP Lounge Access, complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits in the VIP lounge, free cloakroom, free parking pass, unlimited access to Paddock area of Live Action, exclusive Live Action Viewing Box with drinks and canapes, lanyard guide and goody bag

All tickets subject to an additional £2.25 service charge per ticket. Tickets are available to buy now at autosportinternational.com

Don't miss out on your chance to be there

Photo by: Joe Portlock - Formula 1

Don't miss out on your chance to be there

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