After doubts that there would be any oval racing involvement in the 2017 Autosport International Show an eleventh hour agreement was reached between the organisers and ORCi and BriSCA to put our favourite motorsport back in the public view at the NEC over the weekend of 14th and 15th January.
Only two F1 cars were on display at the show, down on last year, but maybe the earlier uncertainty had a lot to do with it. World Champion Frankie Wainman Junior had his shale car on view, displaying the World and British championship trophies and you could be forgiven for thinking this was a new car, not one that had completed a hard 2016 season, such was the standard of presentation.
The V8s of Phoebe Wainman and Adam Joyce, again both superbly presented, lined up alongside Frankie’s car with National Ministox, F2s and Micro F2s also on display.
A short distance away could be found the new tarmac special from Tom Harris Motorsport in amongst a myriad of oval racing machinery. I am led to believe a certain Mr Harrhy was spotted taking measurements from the new 84 car but this has yet to be confirmed.
Given the late agreement to short oval involvement at this year’s show McGill Motorsports are to be congratulated on amassing such an array of smart machinery, showcasing the non-F1 side of racing with a fine display of cars from most areas of oval competition.
Steve Linfield was again on hand to carry out driver interviews on stage; although I only managed to catch the tail end of Stuart Smith’s session on the Saturday.
BriSCA F1 was again the main attraction (no bias here!) and the loudest in the Live Action Arena and it never ceases to amaze me the speeds the cars reach on the straights and yet somehow get around the corners without spinning (well, maybe not all, eh Danny). With four Wainmans (1, 211, 212 & 555), Newson, Smith, Sworder, Riley, Roberts, Hines, Jones, Whittle and Sargent to call on the F1 demonstration races were choreographed to perfection although I’m not sure everybody had read the script. Mick Sworder’s last lap run down the back straight in the final race of the day had me thinking he would go right through the concrete barriers but plenty of oversteer and welly won Mick the race. I must have imagined seeing the 150 car sliding around one of the NEC roundabouts earlier in the day, likewise the 326 car – they wouldn’t do that, would they?
Visitor numbers to the whole show, not just the oval section, seemed to be down on previous years. Maybe a sign of the times – tickets are not cheap and coming so soon after Christmas puts a strain on anyone’s budget. Perhaps it is time for a rethink, after all, Bugatti Veyron versus Brisca F1 – I know which one I’d rather look at. Then again, you could probably trade in a Veyron for Coventry Stadium – just a thought.
Words and photos: Mick Jenkins