Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The Autosport Show, Jan 2007

Aha, the Autosport show has come around again! Winter must be nearly over! My mate Mikey and I have been going for a few years now. We usually try and go on the Friday ‘Trade’ day, which costs more, but at least isn’t unbearably busy. I hate crowds at the best of times, and the NEC heaving with (mostly male, mostly 20-something, mostly northern, mostly hygienically-challenged) racing fans is the wrong sort.

The day started for me with a (6am) early start (after cramming 5 days working hours into 4 days) feeling knackered, but I drove our Audi A2 (as it was once of the rare times last year I actually had it in my possession) up to meet Mikey by 7.30am at the M40 Oxford services for a rubbish £12 breakfast.

Then it was my turn to be passenger in the comfy heated Volvo seats as we moseyed up the M40 to the NEC, to see the usual suspects at the show.

Maybe it was because I don’t have a project going right now, but frankly there wasn’t really much that caught my fancy. Certainly it wasn’t a clutch of faux F1 ‘show cars’ in a dummy grid. In the old days, these were usually last year’s race cars that the team would use at publicity events. Then they figured that it‘d be much cheaper if they took out the expensive bits first, like the engine. So you’d see the car & if you peered under the engine cover you could see a hole where the engine should be. But at least it was the real thing.

Of course, as F1 got more pointlessly expensive, the ‘expensive’ bits encompassed the whole car. So the teams decide they’d build a copy out of re-cycled coke bottles, sticky backed tape & egg-boxes, and the fans wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So now the ‘race cars’ you see – unless you’re actually at a GP - haven’t even seen a race track, let alone Shuey/Ferdie/Kimi’s arse.

The show’s a whole lot bigger than before though. But there were some noticeable absentees, including Porsche. Some of the hi-tech widgets in the ‘industry’ section are simply amazing, but I didn’t trawl around looking for bits for my Caterham or Westfield as I have done in the past. I also like to see the student section. Studying racing cars for 3 or 4 years and ending up with a degree sounds a right laugh. lt has to be more fun than spending the time trying (and failing) various careers like I did. Perhaps one of the master SS7’s would like to do it when they’re older.

There were several funny points; being interviewed by a Danish sportscar company on TV and telling them Denmark is famous for bacon, walking behind two pitlane popsies who trying to stop their tiny lycra leggings heading for the floor leaving nothing but the teeniest cheese-wire knickers, watching a group of 14y.o boys ogling more pitlane popsies, and Mikey trying (and failing) to resist the allure of the KW stand. We also plotted a CarList Ring return….

I can’t say there was anything there that really rang my bell, but it’s a good way to get a petrolhead fix in mid winter. I rather liked the Guigiaro Mustang, but my bringer-homer was an old skool Group 4 365GTB/4*. BTW had my mate Mr Shiney had put his £70k into a nice road going version a year ago when I told him to, he’d find its worth £100k now.

Long drive home afterwards, arrived in Sussex by 7pm, completely knackered. But I was rather pleased to hear my journey not as bad as Mikey’s congested slog to North London. I’m still not convinced the A2 is 100%.


*a racing version of the early 70’s front-engined Ferrari ‘Daytona’

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