The first time I visited the Autosport International show at Birmingham’s NEC, I got so engrossed in the sights, sounds and spirit of it all that I ended up buying a car.
It’s easy to see how a wallet can be so well separated from its owner at the show, too. F1 stars rub shoulders with concept cars, motorbikes and supercars, while the Autosport stage sits in the centre of the action with the biggest names in motorsport talking through their careers, as well as introducing the stars of tomorrow.
Where else can you see Britain’s best driver’s cars battle it out on a specially created indoor track, marvel at the driving skills of the world’s best drifters, and then take to the track in a thrilling passenger ride?
It’s all at Autosport International, which is open to the public next weekend, and here’s our top 10 reasons for visiting.
The Autocar stand will play host to supercars such as the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Jaguar XKR-S GT and McLaren 12C Sprint. See the fastest cars in the world up close, and watch them in action on our video wall. You’ll also have the chance to drive for free in state-of-the-art simulators running the new Gran Turismo 6 game.
Live action arena
Set inside a 5000-seat stadium, the live Autosport International show features action-packed stunts from the likes of Terry Grant, who holds the Guinness world record for the most donuts completed in 100 seconds. There’ll also be drifting demonstrations from Team Japspeed and precision driving featuring some of the biggest names in motorsport. Also gathered inside the arena for the first time will be our collection of the best driver’s cars, including the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, Caterham 620R, Ford Fiesta ST Mountune, Porsche 911 GT3 and the Radical RXC.
See the F1 stars
Every team involved in the 2013 Formula 1 season is represented on the F1 Racing grid, with winning cars from Lotus, Mercedes and Ferrari flanking the dominant Red Bull racer of Sebastian Vettel.
Get close to the fastest car in the world
Bloodhound SSC creator Richard Noble plans for his car to become the fastest in the world. Powered by a Eurofighter Typoon jet engine in conjunction with an 18-inch-diameter hybrid rocket, Bloodhound SSC will aim to set a new land speed record in 2015 by attempting to reach 1050mph in the South African desert. If the team succeeds, it’ll smash the current record of 763.035mph. Bloodhound SSC is expected to accelerate to more than 1000mph in just 55 seconds.
Production car debuts
A number of manufacturers are showing their latest models in the UK for the first time. Abarth pays tribute to its classic 595 with a new 50th Anniversary Edition. It is powered by a 180bhp 1.4-litre engine that is mated to a ‘Competizione’ five-speed automated manual gearbox. Also making its UK debut is the new Vauxhall VXR8 GTS. Powered by a 576bhp supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine, the £54,999 VXR8 GTS is the cheapest way to buy over 500bhp in the UK, according to Vauxhall.
Sin R1 Exclusive
Following on from the launch of the Sin R1 track car at Autosport International last year, the company returns to the show in 2014 with a new road-going version of the R1. A 6.2-litre V8 engine with 525bhp powers the R1, sending its output to the rear wheels through a six-speed transmission. The car weighs in at 1200kg and costs £60,000.
Caterham will show the next step for its Seven sports car with the Caterham AeroSeven concept. The striking concept weighs just 635kg and is due to enter production this year. Renault will also be wowing fans with its Twizy F1 concept. Styled to look like a miniature F1 car and equipped with a KERS energy recovery system, the Twizy F1 can accelerate to 62mph from a standing start in 6.0sec — the same time as the Mégane RS 265.