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Birmingham, 10-13 January, 2019

The annual Autosport International Racing Car Show, in conjunction with the Performance & Tuning Car Show, was held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre between 11 – 13 January. The show filled five halls of the venue spread in a U-shape around the north concourse, with a further hall occupying the Live aaction Arena. The main show covered virtually every facet of the many genres of motor sport, whilst the Performance & Tuning Car Show in Hall 4 catered mainly for those for whom the standard product needs personalisation or modification to satisfy their needs. That said, to fit everybody in, there seemed to be some crossover of the displays between the two shows, notably the stand celebrating the 50th anniversary of Formula 5000 was located in the Performance and Tuning Car hall, as was the Porsche Club Great Britain stand, which featured a historic Porsche 917/30 CanAm car as part of its display. The far end of this hall was also the location of the Silverstone Auction.

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The first two days of the show are geared more to the trade side of the sport, with Hall 3A dedicated to the engineering side of motor racing, featuring a wide variety of companies that provide the “nuts & bolts” that go into building a racing car. These range from specialist castings, gears, brakes, engine parts and safety equipment, to name but a few, in fact almost anything one would need for competition driving. For the weekend this hall became the province of what may best be described as grass roots racing, featuring a broad spectrum of club level motor sport activities, like oval racing, rallycross and grass track racing, with even a truck thrown in for good measure.

Apart from the all the cars on display, spanning from karts to F1 cars, via dragsters, one make series, rallying and many other genres, there are always plenty of motor sport personalities in attendance. This year they included ex-F1 drivers, cum TV F1 pundits, Martin Brundle, David Coulthard, Karun Chandhok and Johnny Herbert , whilst the 2019 McLaren F1 driving duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr., together with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown also put in an appearance. The show was also the venue of the launch of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship, with a display of the contending cars, whilst the complete Hyundai driver/navigator line-up plus team manager took to the Autosport Stage for a Q&A session. The British Touring Car Championship was also well represented on title sponsor Kwik Fit’s stand, featuring a colourful array of 2019 contenders from Ford, Honda, Mercedes and Vauxhall. The Performance & Tuning Car Show provided some wild machinery, which whilst not meeting the purist’s taste provided an “interesting”, if sometimes somewhat impractical, alternative to the motoring mainstream. This included the unveiling on the Saturday of a Kream Developments modified Ferrari 488 GTB, finished in a metallic beige/grey hue that changed colours depending on the way the light shone on it, and had the Cavallino Rampante on the tail panel studded with Swarovski crystals!

At the 2018 edition of the show, Ferrari chose the venue to announce proposals for a UK 488 Challenge Series, and they were back again this year confirming its instigation, with a four round schedule taking in Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Croft and Silverstone, between May and September. They also announced another new for 2019 initiative – Club Competizioni GT. This is a programme of non competitive track driving events for owners of Ferrari GT competition cars built between 1989 and 2018, which is designed to provide these clients with the opportunity to run their cars in collaboration with the factory’s Competizione GT department. They will have factory official drivers on hand to give advice and tuition on each weekend, with five venues scheduled for 2019 at Mugello, Indianapolis, Fuji, Vallelunga and at the Ferrari Finali Mondiali, for which the venue is yet to be confirmed. On the Porsche stand there was the limited edition, 77 examples, 935 (991.2) tribute to the 935/78 “Moby Dick” Martini liveried race car, making its European debut after being unveiled at the Rennsport Reunion in California last September.

The Silverstone Auction made its debut at the show, and featured a wide selection of cars and automobilia, including an ex-works Jim Clark/Graham Hill/Jacky Ickx driven Lotus Cortina, which sold for £168,750. A MG Metro 6R4 with only around 175 miles on the clock sold for the same figure, whilst a trio of Mini Cooper variants all sold at good prices. The top sale of the auction was a 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 which achieved £375,000, whilst a Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 sold for £200,250 and a Ferrari 355 Challenge car sold for £88,875.

The always immensely popular Live Action Arena provided plenty of tyre smoking activity, with five 1 hour shows each day. Amongst which there was a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Mini, with an “Italian Job” chase cameo, ace stunt driver Terry Grant put on a spectacular show, including driving an Aston Martin on two wheels, whilst teenage double amputee Billy Monger burned some rubber in his F3 car, as part of the action taking place. Once again the show provided a broad palette of motor sport at all levels, and attracted vast crowds over the course of the weekend.

Keith Bluemel
11/2018


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