The NEC, Birmingham
The Autosport International show always feels like a reset button for the year ahead. The past season was firmly put behind us all on January 12-15 while new wares were plugged, star guests talked about their plans for 2012 and everyone looked ahead to another 12 months of excitement.
Motor Sport was there on all four days and welcomed many readers onto its stand to show off the new iPad edition and the latest issue. Editor-in-chief Nigel Roebuck was busy signing copies of the magazine on the Friday while editor Damien Smith fielded questions and interviews on the Thursday. It’s a great time to get feedback on what we’re doing, so many thanks to everyone who came to say hello and let us know that we’re on the right track.
A 20-second walk from the stand in Hall 6 was the main stage, which was graced by guests such as David Coulthard, Jake Humphrey, Paul di Resta, Christian Horner and Pat Symonds from the Formula 1 paddock. The F1 broadcast coverage for this year was a hot topic as new BBC lead commentator Ben Edwards and Steve Rider, recently recruited by Sky, also talked to the assembled crowds.
While Rider pointed out that the BBC should show more motor sport other than F1, Humphrey stressed that the BBC’s coverage this year will still bring in the numbers. “The teams realise that they have to speak to the media,” he said, “and Sky will do hours of coverage and they will do a stunning job because they produce good sports content. But the important thing for us is that we are going to have the big audience, we are going to have the millions of eyeballs and that’s what the teams love.”
The world of sports cars was also well represented with Audi drivers Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen talking about the new World Endurance Championship, and Aston Martin works driver Darren Turner describing the company’s focus on GT racing after the ‘blip’ that was the AMR-One. Look out for the Oxfordshire-based driver on the Le Mans grid once again this year.
A stone’s throw from the main stage was the usual contemporary F1 display, but it was to the far end of Hall 20 that many F1 fans headed for a special Ayrton Senna tribute. On display were the Toleman TG183B in which the Brazilian made his Grand Prix debut, two McLarens and the DAP kart that he used to finish second in the 1980 World Karting Championship.
Elsewhere, British rally drivers were celebrated with a selection of cars including the Ford Focus X7 FMC that Colin McRae used to win the 2001 WR C Rally of Cyprus and the 2002 Rally of Greece, and the Mini Cooper S that carried Paddy Hopkirk to his 1964 Monte Carlo Rally victory.
If you couldn’t make Autosport International, we’ll be at Race Retro at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire on February 24-26, and we hope to see you there.