The Automesse in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2007 was the last car show I went to before moving to the UK. I have visited some car-related events in the meantime, but no shows. And I missed it.
So when I booked my tickets to Autosport International I was already quite excited about it. This was November 2013.
Not long after receiving my tickets I heard that Allan McNish was going to be there for signing sessions. As I had decided to get a paddock pass – which gives access to these signing sessions – I was quite a happy girl.
I also heard there were going to be classic Lotus F1 cars. Considering my childhood memories (see the About page if you are curious about them), I was VERY happy indeed.
The fact remained, however, that I had no idea what to expect. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
I have to admit that I managed to spoil myself with regards to car shows. I have been to Geneva and Frankfurt several times and these shows are, of course, huge. Autosport International is a lot more modest. Nevertheless, I spent quite a few hours at the show and enjoyed it thoroughly. The fact is, there is so much to see and to do!
At a car show you, in general, get to see the manufacturers display their cars and there’s some room for more professional stands (stuff that the general public is usually not interested in). At ASI you get everything that has to do with racing and performance cars from karting to F1 and everything in between. There is really something for everyone.
I did mention the classic Lotus previously. After entering the show I immediately found the stand for Classic Team Lotus (honestly, I was not looking for it!). Of course Lotus is very well known for the ‘John Player Special’ car and two of them were there.
At the Live Arena I got a real treat: the Lotus 79 drive by. To be honest, there were two other classic Lotus race cars, but I was mainly interested in the 79. After the show (about which more in a moment) I got access to the paddock, which meant I could see all the cars from the show relatively up close. I spent quite some time near that Lotus – quite amazing how small it actually is. But, let’s face it, it is all about the sound…
The Live Arena was advertised as the highlight of the entire show. I beg to differ. The first 20 minutes were all talking. I wasn’t there for the talking, I wanted to see cars and lots of them. The classic Lotus drive by meant three cars drove by twice. Yep, that was it. And now I almost forget to mention there was a fence in front of the audience which impaired my view on the track considerably. It wasn’t exactly a bad show, I did see cars from disciplines I’ve never heard of, but a highlight? Certainly not.
Let’s talk about other possible highlights then. How about the signing sessions? I am quite happy to have signatures from Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, but maybe that’s not for everyone. So how about the F1 display?
As soon as I started watching F1 again last year I was curious how big these cars actually are. Well, I can tell you now, they’re of course quite low, but also quite long. I thought they were very impressive. Usually I’m not really paying attention to the differences, but having them there at the show, standing next to each other, I did. I think it’s quite nice to stand between two of them and just compare. It’s quite enlightening, to be honest.
My personal highlight was the Caterham Driving Experience, though.
You can, if you wish, pay to learn to do donuts. I opted for the standard experience this time. This meant being raced around an indoor track twice. This included several donuts. It was fantastic!
I have no idea how fast we went, but it felt pretty quick. The twists and turns were good fun. On top of that, the driver in whose car I sat decided he could do a donut without using his hands, as you can see in this short video:
For me, no car show is complete without Aston Martin, but they were there too – another personal highlight.
All in all, Autosport International is a nice show which doesn’t leave you with several halls you haven’t seen at the end of the day. It’s manageable in one day and there is a lot of variety. As I said before, there is something for everyone, so well worth a visit. The next time will be 8 – 11 January 2015.