Autosport International opens today in Birmingham – everything you need to know

By Adam Arbon/Autosport Internatiola Media team

Lockdowns denied fans the chance to go to Autosport International in 2021 and 2022, but the long-awaited show kicks off the motorsport season by returning to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham this week. Thursday and Friday are trade days, before the doors open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

Live action

Weekend ticket holders get access to one of the 45-minute Live Action Arena shows, reverberating the NEC with the hair-raising thrum of revving engines from a diverse range of categories.

World-class talents from disciplines including rallycross, motorcycles and stock cars will thrill the 5,000-strong Live Action Arena audience and will feature categories as diverse as MX,
SXS and the National Autograss Association. Hosted by three-time F1 winner Johnny Herbert and You Tuber Miss Emma Walsh, this sensational spectacle is a must-see for all petrolheads.

Sir Jackie Stewart to open the Motorsport Memories gallery

Ahead of the 2023 Autosport International show, Europe’s largest motorsport exhibition, fans will be asked to vote for their greatest Motorsport Memories.

The shortlist was chosen by a panel including three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE, founder of the Race Against Dementia charity, who revealed that the epic 1995 World Rally Championship win from fellow Scot, Colin McRae, topped the poll.

McRae’s cut-throat battle with Carlos Sainz led to a dramatic showdown between the Subaru teammates. It made icons of both McRae and the iconic blue Subaru with its trademark gold wheels, creating a legend that continued after his untimely death in 2007. On many of the Welsh stages McRae and co-driver, Derek Ringer, were more than a second per mile clear of the competition in treacherous and foggy conditions. McRae was the first British driver to win the World Rally Championship, clinched after setting the fastest times on 18 of the 28 stages to win his home rally.

The second most popular memory was from the 24 hours of Le Mans. The magic of Hollywood brought the 1966 Ford versus Ferrari battle back to public prominence recently with the 2019 blockbuster Ford v Ferrari, telling the story of Ferrari’s winning streak at Le Mans being finally broken by the American car giant. Ford and its GT40, designed with the sole intention of crushing Ferrari, took victory with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon at the wheel, despite the sister car of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme attempting a dead heat.

Completing the podium of memories was one of Sir Jackie’s greatest ever drives. The 1968 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, one of the most dangerous circuits in the world, was hailed by many as one of the most impressive drives in Formula 1 history. Sir Jackie won by an incredible four minutes in wet, foggy conditions. He did this with his customary style, pace, car control… and a broken wrist!

These three incredible moments will be evoked as part of a greatest ten Motorsport Memories gallery at the show. The ten prints will be signed by Sir Jackie and raffled, along with many other motorsport items, to raise funds and awareness for Race Against Dementia’s research. Fans can text MEMORY to 70215 to enter the free prize draw.

Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE said: “A sincere thank you to all the fans who suggested memories to add to the shortlist and then took the time to vote. There are so many memories to savour, but Colin’s achievements make him a worthy winner. He put British rallying back on the map, and brought so many new fans to the sport. His speed, talent and unique personality made him a fan favourite and the sport truly misses him.”

Fans can support the charity’s work by texting MEMORY to 70215 to enter the free prize draw and make a voluntary donation.

Stage for success

The heart of the show is the Autosport Stage, where exhibitors and race teams will launch new products and cars and discuss the upcoming season.

Industry leaders such as F1 big-hitters such as Rob Smedley and Pat Symonds will discuss the future of the sport. Former Le Mans winners Darren Turner and Allan McNish will give an insight into the boom in manufacturer interest in endurance racing. National motorsport will be well represented, with touring car stars from both BTCC and TCR UK, including Tom Ingram, taking to the stage with the ITV commentary team of Tim Harvey and David Addison looking ahead to the second year of hybrid BTCC.

Get close to F1 stars’ cars

The GP Racing display, in partnership with Silverstone Interactive Museum, allows fans to get close to the cars, history and technology of the sport, and many of its star exhibits will be part of the museum’s pop-up feature at Autosport International. These include Formula 1 cars from Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s double championship-winning 2022 season, as well as cars from the Alpine and Aston Martin teams.

Illustrating the history of Formula 1, a 1951 BRM will line up alongside the modern day racers, with its howling supercharged V16 1.5 litre engine still regarded as one of the most ingenious engine designs in Grand Prix history.

Future power to spark debate

The debate on the future power of motorsport is a fascinating one, and it will be a feature of the Autosport International EV Showcase. Although the focus is on electrification, the merits of synthetic fuel and hydrogen will also be discussed.

Motorsport has long been at the forefront of driving forward technology, efficiency and sustainability. In endurance racing, hydrogen fuel cell technology is making impressive progress. Forze Hydrogen Racing, a racing team completely run by students from the Netherlands, is one of the leading teams when it comes to racing on hydrogen. With a team of more than 60 passionate and talented students that changes every year, Forze has now built nine race cars, each one quicker than the last. Their most successful Le Mans Prototype car to date, the Forze VIII, will be displayed at the heart of the Autosport International EV Showcase.

Thomas Noordzij, Forze PR & Marketing Manager explains the team’s mission: “Our ultimate goal is to promote hydrogen technology to the general public by showing its potential in motorsports while educating the students at Forze through their work, both in technical and business skills. Ever since our founding in 2007, the team has grown from building hydrogen go-karts to full-size LMP racing cars performing in official competitions, competing against regular petrol-powered race cars. Something as extraordinary as this is only possible with real dedication, which the students at Forze have proven year after year. We’re thrilled to be part of the first Autosport International EV Showcase.”

The rapid refuelling with hydrogen makes electric fuel cell (FCEV) vehicles suitable for long distance races, as they don’t have the long charging times of conventional EVs. However, charging technology is developing rapidly and with the FIA Formula E World Championship introducing quick-charge pitstops, it provides another opportunity for motorsport technology to transfer to everyday road cars.

Proving that EVs are as much about speed as sustainability, Ariel will bring its recently unveiled HIPERCAR to the show. The ultra-high performance electric sports car can propel itself from 0-60mph in just over two seconds and has been designed from the ground up to be the ultimate electric driving machine.

Continuing the battery EV theme, Extreme E will be represented at the show to talk about the sustainability-focussed series and the good work that takes place at each of the environments it visits.

Also positioned on the motorsport ladder is the BRSCC’s Formula Foundation-E, a ground-breaking fully-electric single-seater racing project that has been well over a year in development. The stunning FF-E1 electric race car has been designed, engineered and built in the UK.

Exhibitors return for 2023

Among the list of returnees, long-standing exhibitors such as XTrac and AP Racing will have a major presence. Industry-leading brands such as Helix Clutches, Brembo, Pagid, PFC brakes, VDO Instruments, Lifeline and SPA will all be represented.

Goodridge will return, celebrating over 50 years of supplying OEMs and high-level motorsport teams. In the tool sector, brands such as Lista, Sealey and Draper will be showing their range extensions at Autosport International, joining car component suppliers such as RaceShocks and Powerflow as loyal show returnees.

Engineering in sharp focus

Thursday and Friday are trade-only days, including the Autosport Engineering show.

Visitor research shows that over 60% of trade visitors attend Autosport International to keep up with what is happening in motorsport, and 85% of attendees are key decision-makers. This makes the show an unparalleled opportunity to showcase and network with an international audience, particularly as it is the first industry networking opportunity of 2023.

Other key exhibitors who will be revealing new products at the show include Samsonas Motorsport’s latest racing transmission and suspension solutions, MSL showcasing its high-quality 3D Scanning, 3D Software and 3D Metrology solutions and services and Intercomp, whose RFX Wireless Weighing Technology is the most advanced wireless weighing technology of its kind.

Another recently confirmed exhibitor is Hypermotive. With the show’s increased focus on electrification solutions the company, with teams in the UK and Germany. It will be demonstrating wiring systems, EV and Fuel Cell systems at the show.

3D Scanning and additive manufacturing is accelerating across the industry. Central Scanning will show its industry-leading technology, including 3D printing and reverse engineering solutions.

Bcomp, the Swiss cleantech company will be using the event to showcase its latest developments in sustainable and lightweight solutions. Its proprietary natural fibre-based reinforcement technologies ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ reduce environmental impact in a wide range of high-performance applications.

Tribol Braking and Hel Performance will exhibit together to demonstrate their lightweight composite solutions, bringing benefits to all aspects of the braking corner assembly while protecting against heat and corrosion. With heat-resistant shims to protect the caliper already in the market, Tribol is now finalising its patented composite brake pad technology, designed to fit seamlessly into Hel’s lightweight aluminium calipers.

Academically speaking

The engineering sector plays a key role in the UK’s economy, accounting for 18% of UK employment, and the demand for engineers is higher than ever. In motorsport, this translates to seven of the ten Formula 1 teams being based in the UK, with dozens of national and international championships calling the UK their home.

At Autosport International 2023, students will have the opportunity to attend the show on both trade and public days to get a flavour of the industry. Whether it’s taking inspiration from the hundreds of displays or seeking out career advice, Autosport International is a fantastic opportunity to get ahead.

One example of how the academic sector is using the show to attract students is the University of Wolverhampton’s Racing team (UWR). This is an innovative project that immerses undergraduates in real racing environments, including preparing and developing cars for leading British championships. Their courses in Motorsport Engineering, Automotive Engineering and other disciplines offer hands-on, professional practice in motorsport through UWR.

Professor Amar Aggoun, Head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, University of Wolverhampton, explains the concept: “Students get the opportunity to become part of a fully-functional racing team while studying for their degree. Our racing team is unique in Higher Education, where our student engineers compete in single-seater racing in the Praga Cup, as well as being the factory works team for the Morgan Motor Company, where our students have a direct impact on cars that are in road production. We also compete in the IMechE Formula Student competition, and in 2021 won our class in the F3 Cup Championship.”

Other leading educational organisations will be present, including the National Motorsport Academy. The online degree innovators will be discussing their well-established engineering degrees as well as the merits of their new Business of Motorsport Masters’ programme at the Autosport Business Forum.

From race to road with Top Tuned Car

The Performance and Tuning Car Show, in the adjacent hall 4,has been searching for the most impressive modified car in the UK to celebrate the world of automotive customisation. Owners of many tuned cars from across the country applied to win the prestigious title, and the top three will be revealed on the Fast Car stand.

Attending the show

Autosport International, will take place between 12th and 15th January 2023 at the NEC in Birmingham, with Thursday and Friday being trade only days. The Autosport Engineering Show will also only take place on Thursday and Friday.

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