With all of the recent snow I was pleased to see it thaw enough for me to make my way to the NEC in Birmingham, arriving early I expected the trade day to be somewhat quiet, a clam before the storm, but on arriving it was an altogether different experience. Bustling with the movers and shakers of the automotive industry, it took almost half an hour to walk around the exhibition complex just to get to the entrance.
Starting off in the Piston Heads show, it was encouraging to see how the event had grown and with so many cool cars on display, indeed I was particularly taken with a modded GT40, looking fantastic!
Of particular note this year has been the increased interest in simulators, easily one of the fastest growth scenes, pushed in part by the lack of Formula 1 testing with ever detailed simulators becoming essential in providing drivers with accurate feedback. The most impressive of which being the Cruden, www.cruden.com a vast and powerful professional grade system. Alas despite being dieing for a go, the queue was a little bit long for my limited time but we will be focusing more on this system in the coming months. Suffice to say F1 teams are now taking this kind of product seriously and the Cruden system is already proving very popular.
Elsewhere were a range of different approaches, some concealed within full F1 car body kits though many were not as special or as practical, basically 3 small monitors with Rfactor. I did have a quick go myself and despite my super height, my legs actually fitted into the F1 cockpit. But alas my relief was short lived, only to find my arms were too long making full lock on the car almost impossible, resulting in a disappointing lap time. You can see a selection of shots dotted around, and this is a scene VVV will be keen to follow as it develops.
Of course Autosport is all about racing cars and this event really does cover every aspect, from touring cars to Le Mans, karting to F1, with the latter always being one of my core passions. Indeed Autosport gave you the opportunity to get up close and personal with every car from the 2009 grid, all on display like never before. The Brawn GP Championship winning car on a podium giving an even better chance to look at their controversial diffuser, you can see from my photo's below the vast difference between that and the single diffuser as seen on the Ferrari and Renault. More than just the underneath, it shows the vast difference in the philosophy of how air moves both under and over the car. Also revealing how so many of the field were unable to change their diffuser at such late notice, more than just aerodynamic it's an integral part f the working of the entire suspension, with the disruption resulting in many teams moving their focus to the 2010 season.
Walking on I can barely believe how big the show is, you'll see in the pictures some of the impressive display stands, besides the live arena, alas no live show on the trade day however there was an indoor karting track besides some impressive displays of Caterham drifting action. Indeed the show covered just about everything you can think of from the cars to the equipment you need to race them, if you're serious about motorsport, then Autosport International is the place to be. In another story we'll have dig through the many celebrity videos from interview sessions conducted at the event. In the meantime I've included a wide range of my shots from the event, and this represents just the tip of the iceberg.