The 16th of January 2016 was the day I visited the Autosport International show (held in the NEC, Birmingham) for the third time. I remember reading that for the 2014 edition they had collaborated with the Performance Car Show because the numbers were going down. Well, I think this year they are going up. It seemed much busier, both with regards to visitors and stands. In the early afternoon I even saw signs stating that standard tickets were sold out.
I’m usually not too fond of very busy events, but – like before – the atmosphere was very relaxed. Basically all you need is a little bit of patience to make your way around.
Like before there is definitely something for everyone. And because I’ve attended a few races last year some things are now becoming familiar to me. For example: because I’m now following Blancpain (Endurance) I immediately recognised this beast (despite its new livery):
I also came face to face (as a matter of speaking) with one of the classic Minis which I saw at the Mini Festival at Oulton Park last year.
My best friend and I did again go to the Live Action Arena, but I have told her I will not do this again unless they have something very special to show. It really is 90% a repeat of the previous shows and it’s so scripted it’s, quite frankly, painful. The place is either freezing or boiling and too dark to see the cars really well. It’s mildly entertaining at best.
I would have loved to go on a short trip in one of the Ginnetas, but when a queue is looking like a snake, you know you’re up for a long wait. Of course this is purely down to me not wanting to wait. I think it’s great to see that this has returned for a second time and that it is so popular. If it does come back I’ll just have to go there early and beat the queue.
One more gripe from me: information about who will be at the show is released far too late. Months before the show they try to get you to buy tickets, but only weeks to even days before the first day do they give any information which might help the decision on whether to go and what type of ticket to buy.
Gripe over, because there is of course one very good reason I have gone three years in a row: overall it is really good fun! There is so much to see. Classic Team Lotus is one of my personal favourites (which is why I went to Hethel to see their HQ for myself). They bring something different each time. Not so surprising, considering the heritage they can draw from.
This year I even spent some time at the stage. Damon Hill was there to celebrate and talk about his championship in 1996, Susie Wolff launched a new initiative (Dare to be Different) and Darren Turner was also there for a quick chat.
One very nice surprise came out of the very late updates: only days before going to the show did I find out there would be a Vulcan. If you don’t know about it, that’s the Aston Martin Vulcan. So far I managed to miss it everywhere (this is what happens if you go to Battersea Park to watch Formula E when Darren Turner is showing off at Goodwood…).
It took some searching, but eventually we managed to find it. As was to be expected it drew a lot of attention. I think my best friend said it best when she proclaimed to feel unworthy. I concur…
The Vulcan looks like an absolute beast, but in a tuxedo, of course. It’s luxurious on the inside (as far as I could tell, the doors were closed), it has gorgeous lines, it’s low and it looks fast.
It’s a pity they didn’t include this car in the Live Action Arena, even though it would never have enough room there to show what it can do!
It was a real treat for an Aston Martin fan and I can only hope I will one day see it out on a track somewhere. If I do, I will let you know!