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Autosport International 2014: The Racing Car Show

The Autosport International Show is an annual automotive event that takes place at the legendary NEC in Birmingham. It brings together all the icons of the motoring world in one weekend long celebration of the greatest spectacle on earth; motorsport. The ‘Performance Car Show’ runs in tandem with the main show, showcasing the best in the world of high quality motoring. For any car enthusiast it is an event not to be missed. And for this devoted monk who prays on the V8 powered altar of motorsport, 2014 was the year I made the pilgrimage to this hallowed land.

As I pulled into the NEC in my own MG ZS (yes, sometimes I do like to pretend I drive an old school BTCC car) I was quite simply blown away by the size of the event. It is not often that you park your car at a venue and have to then take a shuttle bus to even get to the main entrance. This was going to be big. And then I walked in…

The NEC is an amazing venue - you get a real idea of just how much there is to see

The NEC is an amazing venue – you get a real idea of just how much there is to see

The freezing Midlands air rushed away as my senses were replaced with what I can only describe as a monumental wall of awesome. Words cannot express just what it felt like to see everything I love about cars under one roof. Whether I tackle this article from a personal or objective stance, the conclusion will always be the same. It is just about time you found out why.

The show offered everything that any car lover would need. Let’s say for example you were fascinated by major developments within engineering. The Autosport Show had a dedicated engineering inception (a show within a show if you will), with over 200 specialists showing off everything that is new and exciting from the industry. I will not pretend to have understood everything about a lot of what I saw, but the best part was that there was always someone on hand to explain. Anything from aerodynamics, to small parts, to exhausts or fancy computer developments, it was all there.

The show offered unrivalled access to all types of cars and just how they work

The show offered unrivalled access to all types of cars and just how they work

The ‘Live Action Arena’ gave audiences the chance to see some of the amazing machinery in action. To be totally honest this was probably the only disappointing part of the show. The Autosport Show is meant to be everything that is new and exciting about the world of motorsport yet the live arena did nothing but roll out the stereotypes. Live car shows are meant to be thrilling and enthralling, not just another drifting display followed by a motocross team doing some funky jumping off some ramps. The Stock Car disciplines gave me hope, but these seem to be cut rather short and as I was just getting used to these awesome machines, they had disappeared forever.

I would have much preferred to see this beast roaring around the Live Action Arena...

I would have much preferred to see this beast roaring around the Live Action Arena…

I wanted to see super cars; I wanted to see the latest race cars. If I wanted drifting and bikes I could go to any local car show. The rest of the event was so modern and so innovative that the live action arena felt a bit old fashioned. The reaction of the audience seemed to reflect my views; even the hosts seem to struggle to get some life out of the 5,000 strong crowd. But it is after all a very well known fact; there is nothing on this earth that is perfect. As amazing as the event was, it was no exception.

One of the greatest BTCC machines from its greatest era. This is the Reid Mondeo from 1999

One of the greatest BTCC machines from its greatest era. This is the Reid Mondeo from 1999

As a recently graduated Masters student, I completely understand the value of education; if you do not instil the seed of excitement into the younglings at the most basic level, how will they germinate and blossom into a vast forest of motorsport quality that propels the industry forward into the vast unknown that is the future? Motorsport can only evolve and change with new technology, and one of the only ways to ensure its survival is training new engineers and pioneers. The show boasted a comprehensive university and college sector, advertising the opportunities available through taking degrees towards motorsport. Each of these stalls gave visitors the chance to chat to professors, students and even famous graduates, proving that the right course can in fact lead you headlong into the dazzling world of Formula One.

The Autosport Show gives young people the route they need to enter the world of F1

The Autosport Show gives young people the route they need to enter the world of F1

Motorsport is the essence that unleashes the pure animalistic enjoyment among every single person. The Autosport Show gave visitors the unrivalled chance to interact with the cars that we all cheer on from the usual comfort of our sofas or grandstands. Never before have I managed to get up close and personal with some of the machines that defined motorsport through the ages. Formula One, British Touring Cars, World Rally Championship cars, GT races, Le Mans Prototypes, Karts, this list could go on. Every form of motorsport was shown off.

Beauty has no limits...

Beauty has no limits…

My favourite aspect of this was the F1 and Autosport stages that were the very epicentre of proceedings. Famous faces from the world of motorsport came out and gave us all the chance to ask them our own questions. Some of these guests included the absolute legend that is John Surtees, race driver supreme, Martin Brundle, driver and commentator, Adrian Sutil, new Sauber driver having moved from Force India and a host of current British Touring Car drivers. Some of the interesting conversations that arose brought up some fascinating news about both Touring cars and Formula One, but I shall save them for another day.

It is not everyday you get to have a chat with two legends of motorsport

It is not everyday you get to have a chat with two legends of motorsport

The entire event was mind blowing beyond all forms of brain function. It may seem slightly strange to say but for me to fully immerse myself into a world I have spent my life in love with is an opportunity that does not come around very often. If I had to put forward my favourite part of my experience, it would very much have to be the British Touring Car displays, coupled with the interviews with some of my racing heroes. Matt Neal and Jason Plato have been true gods of the BTCC since the golden years in the 1990s; to see them talking about their famous clashes, their favourite moments and plans for the future of the discipline was truly a moment that will stay with me for years to come.

The BTCC is once more becoming a force to be reckoned with in motorsport

The BTCC is once more becoming a force to be reckoned with in motorsport

Autosport International 2014 has, in my mind, blown everything else out the water and for one very good reason. The social media revolution has given everyone a voice in all aspects of industry, and with evolving technology comes progress. The show was truly interactive in all its elements; the visitors were given every chance to become part of the show. This could be as simple as participating in the discussions with the big names of the show, getting to try out some modern engineering innovations or getting to grips with the best that the motorsport video game industry can offer. It is not every day you get to play the latest Formula One game while sitting in the cockpit of an actual Formula One car.

And here was something a little different. This is Jaguart...

And here was something a little different. This is Jaguart…

All in all I would say that the Autosport International Show 2014 was an amazing experience that I cannot wait to go back to next year. The show brought together everything that is enthralling about the motorsport world, and has cemented its place within modern society. Motorsport is not just about the individual; it is about the car, the team and the entire industry. Motoring is an essential aspect of modern society, spearheaded by the majesty that is motorsport. The interactive nature of the show encapsulated audiences and gave them the ride of their lives. For any petrol head this is a must-see international event. The mixture of motorsport, engineering and live action really does excite the senses.

Stock Cars may not have commercial recognition, but you cannot deny how good they look

Stock Cars may not have commercial recognition, but you cannot deny how good they look

The discussion does not end here. Watch this space for where I reveal some of the news, discussions and gossip I gathered from the show.

For my full coverage from my day at the show, please follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

The Autosport International Show: the holy land of motorsport under one roof, this will truly become an annual pilgrimage for me.

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

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