Racing car show

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Quick change

The British Racing and Sports Car Club has done it again! Last year, despite overwhelming odds from one of the worst winters ever seen in this country, the club managed to put on a superb Racing Car Show in the annexe at Alexandra Palace. This year just when all was set for a sensational re-opening of “Ally Pally” itself, the unforeseen happened and the BRSCC was informed that there was little chance of staging the show there as work had still to be completed. It was a last-minute thing, as BRSCC competitions director John Nicol agreed, but a swift change of venue to London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre was implemented, and many regarded this as a very wise choice. In fact, this year’s Racing Car Show was probably the best ever.

It is an event which, under the BRSCC’s guidance, has grown from being a very small national exhibition to what many would regard as an international event. This year’s Racing Car Show had attractions from the full spectrum of motor racing. Whether you wanted a nut and bolt for a chassis on your Formula Ford 1600, or a new helmet, or the opportunity simply to stand and stare at the sheer magnificence of the Le Mans Jaguar XJR-8, it was all there.

If anything this year’s show had too much to see. To take it all in you needed more than one day’s quick dash. Three or four would have been better, but the doors were only open to the public from Thursday until Sunday. Highlighting the best aspect of the exhibition would be hard. For some it would undoubtedly have been the chance to examine at close quarters the 1987 F1 machinery which was on offer. If your passion lay with F3000 there was plenty on offer there too, and the “winners’ enclosure” contained everything right down to Eddie Irvine’s double Formula Ford championship-winning Van Diemen RF87.

Then again, rally buffs must have had a field day with a works Lancia Delta HF Turbo, Jimmy McRae’s British Open Rally Championship-winning Ford Sierra Cosworth, and even David Gillanders’ spectacular Metro 6R4. Porsche was well represented too, with the 3.0 twin-turbo 962C endurance car which won the Silverstone 1000kms back in May last year. Prospective competitors were also given the opportunity to see the all-new Honda CRX. From the start of this year, there will be a new one-make series for these cars with a lucrative prize fund. The racing version of the car was unveiled at Olympia.

For British F3 fans there was the chance to see the new Reynard challenger for this year on the Motoring News/Motor Sport stand, while karting had not been overlooked either; multi-champion Martin Hines’ Zip outfit was on display along with the new RAC Cadet Class Kart.

In the big league, Lotus had the Honda 99T on view alongside the Ligier Megatron, Jonathan Palmer’s Tyrrell/Cosworth and the all-conquering Williams FW11B. If that was not enough there were some spectacular cars from the drag strips of this country. Everything from the Clubmans car to a fully-fledged single-seater was on show for all to see— it was just a case of deciding where to start.

There was strong turnout from the worlds of stock cars, hot rods and truck racing, while Historic racing was also well represented with some marvellous examples of early Formula One cars and CanAm racers. Although the show is geared very much towards the industry side of motor racing, there is a tremendous amount to catch the public’s eye. In the long term, the BRSCC’s Racing Car Show can only act as an ambassador for the sport. However, it was not just a case of the industry putting on a good show, as many of the top F1 drivers made an appearance to talk to people.

It is generally agreed that public awareness of motor racing is on the up, and with such ammunition as the Racing Car Show, the sport looks set to grow even bigger. It was not just the racing fans who seemed to derive pleasure out of this year’s show; hundreds of children were also present, filling carrier bags with just about anything which had motor sport connections and was free. The fans of tomorrow need encouragement just as much as the fans of today.

There can be little doubt that the British motor racing industry is thriving. With the BRSCC and show organiser Focus Events behind it, the Racing Car Show came up trumps once more, providing the public with an event they clearly want. If there has to be a criticism about the show, it is that it lasts no longer than four days. Admittedly the press get a sneak preview the day before the official opening by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, but a week-long event would not go amiss. There really is so much to see and do that in order to take it all in and get your money’s worth, you need to spend at least two days there. TW

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