Autosport International

Birmingham NEC

Celebrating the career of John Surtees, a fabulous collection of cars and motorcycles took centre stage as the Autosport International Show kicked off another racing season in the halls of Birmingham’s NEC.

Unfathomably, the voluminous calls for ‘Big John’ to be knighted were once again ignored in the New Year’s Honours list at the start of the 50th anniversary year of his Ferrari Formula 1 world title. But among his own, Surtees continues to be a major draw as crowds descended on the collection over the course of the weekend. The star of the display had to be one of the blue-wheeled 158 V8s that he drove in that title winning season in 1964.

More than 600 exhibitors were represented at the show. For the trade, Autosport International is unmissable as an opportunity to broker deals, catch up with key contacts and generally gossip about matters of the moment. For consumers, there are perhaps fewer memorable displays than at Racing Car Shows of old, but a flow of racing celebrities over the course of the two ‘public’ days drew appreciative crowds.

Allan McNish made his first public appearance since announcing his retirement, alongside fellow World Endurance Champion Tom Kristensen. Formula 1 was represented by new Sauber signing Adrian Sutil, while Graeme Lowdon of Marussia took the opportunity to confirm Max Chilton will remain with the team.

The Live Action Arena offered a novel sight this year, with the inclusion of historic Lotus Grand Prix cars sliding around on the slippery indoor surface. The bark of F1 engines bouncing off walls and roof was the closest many will get to the ear-splitting audio experience of Monaco’s famous tunnel. Damien Smith