At the weekend I attended the Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC. This was the first time I had been in 3 years and it was good to go back and see the show through a different perspective. Over the years my interest in other forms of motorsport has grown as has my appreciation for them.
Over the years I have come to respect and appreciate the show as a whole. The first few times I attended I was only interested in the National Autograss section (more on that later), as that was all I knew. But over the last 5 years or so I have developed an interest in motorsport across the board, so going back to the show with this interest made it a completely different experience.
What you can see in the show is the wide range of motorsport that takes place across the globe at all levels. You had the 2016 Formula 1 cars on show, and everything in-between all the way down to the grassroots of the sport.
From walking around the show, what I have discovered about myself is that the ‘grasser’ in me reigns as those formulas that I was drawn to the most all had a theme of occurring on dirt. On display, as would be expected, was the rally and rallycross formulas, both of which I have followed for a few years. But from walking around I discovered another couple of different formulas, SXS Racing and BMR Dirt, that looked interesting and that I can’t wait to do some research and find more out about them.
Having spent the last 15 years completely absorbed in the Autograss world, this is always my favourite section of the show. Every year there is such a large collection of cars on show, displaying all the classes from 1 to 10, this year there was also a Stock Hatch amongst them and they are always so impressive.
The bit I love about being around the Autograss section, especially compared to the rest of the show, is that everyone gets up close and personal with the cars and the interest that is shown in the cars. Whether they come from the grassing community or are completely new to the sport, this section was always busy, and I went back there 3 or 4 times during the day. The cars are getting a completely different kind of attention than was demonstrated elsewhere in the show. Those buzzing around seemed to have a great interest in the sport and an excitement at something completely different than what was on display in the rest of the show.
The car that was getting the most attention, was the class 7 mini pickup of multiple National Champion, Andy Holtby. Andy has been involved in the sport for a long time and his cars have always look pretty spectacular, but his latest livery was something else. After his reveal of the car over the weekend, there has been much talk of the car in the grassing community, but what I can’t wait for is to see this car in action, especially in Andy’s National title defence in August.
Live Action Arena
The live action arena is something I always look forward to when going to the show. It is always the first racing ‘fix’ of the year. The highlight for me, as is probably no surprise, was the Autograss cars, with both class 7’s and class 8’s part of the show. I always find that these guys always put on a show, and are probably the most spectacular, compared to other formulas that are represented in the arena, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy watching the other categories.
Sticking to the grassing theme, I just want to make note of the female drivers that took part over the weekend. A supporter of the Ladies Autograss, it is always good to see the girls that are involved in our sport given these opportunities, and showing that they are more than capable to kicking butt against the men. In the evening show that I saw, Nicola Mackenzie was the class 7 race winner, no mean feat with the guys she was up against. Nicola had to battle her way through the grid, having dropped down the order, to take the race win coming out of the final bend. Also proving her worth in the arena was Josie Tomkinson in her class 8, clocking the fastest ‘grasser’ speed of the weekend, and second overall behind Liam Doran in his Rallycross supercar.
Another highlight in the arena for me was the display of Rallycross cars from across the ages, celebrating its 50 year anniversary. It was great to see the development of the cars from the very start of the sport all the way through to the current cars. I loved seeing Pat Doran out there, bringing back a fond memory of meeting the man himself and getting to sit in his car, from my first trip to the Autosport show, about 10 years ago.
Dare To Be Different
One of the stands I wanted to visit at the show was that of Dare to Be Different, the initiative promoting women in motorsport at every aspect. I have been following the progress of this since it was launched at last year’s Autosport Show.
When I visited I spoke to one of the ambassadors (and for the life of me I can’t remember her name) and she was absolutely lovely and so enthusiastic about the initiative that she convinced me to do what I had been thinking about for the last year, and that was sign up and become a member of the D2BD community. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have taken another step in chasing my dream.
And on that note, 2017 is the year that I do just that, chase my dream of becoming a motorsport journalist.