If you’re at all into motor racing you’ll probably know about the Autosport International show. On the off-chance that you don’t though, take yourself along to the NEC this weekend; you’ll discover something that I’m sure will become a fixture of your calendar, whether you’re a casual fan of motorsport or a committed participant.
Within the halls of Birmingham’s biggest exhibition centre you’re almost guaranteed to find something to interest you, regardless which level of competition you’re particularly interested in.
There are karts, small single-seaters, motorbikes, touring cars, autograss cars, endurance racers, rally and rallycross cars, historic racers, F1 exotics; there’s even the rocket engine that’s going to power Britain’s 1000mph Bloodhound SSC Land Speed Record car.
This show is also an unrivalled opportunity to discover the sheer size and variety of UK’s motor racing industry – and it seems to be in rude health, despite all the reports. You could spend all day staring at nothing but clutch plates, bucket seats, gearshift levers and instruments if you wanted to.
My biggest surprise of this year’s show was learning about the BRM Bee Four ERV. This is a 700bhp, four-wheel drive, all-electric hillclimb car being developed by an outfit called Bee Automotive.
It’s due to run in 2010’s British Hillclimb Championship, it looks like an F1 car, it weighs 500kg, and its makers say it should be capable of 250mph. Chew on that, Tesla.
But even better than all the fast cars and components of the show is the chance to simply rub shoulders with the men and women who you’d habitually find at this country’s many circuits and tracks during the warmer weekends of the year.
Walk down the alleys of this event and, whether you know it or not, you will be surrounded by many of the quickest, cleverest and most awesome people of one of the most awesome industries in the world.
I had a very jovial chat with a bloke on one stand this year, for example, only to be told moments later that I’d been exchanging pleasantries with Matthew Wilson. In a previous year I remember having a ‘number one’ in the urinal next to Alister McRae.
Given the distance at which most fans are kept from motorsport’s biggest stars during most weekends, I’d say that kind of access is worth £29 of anyone’s money.