If Motorsport is a sort of religion for the British, Autosport International is definitely Mecca for this nation of petrolheads. Boasting some of the World's most iconic race circuits and an unbroken line of legendary homegrown drivers in F1, there has always been a strong affinity with racing throughout the UK…
However it is as the centre of World Motorsport engineering with the vast majority of Formula One teams and their associated suppliers based there that Britain has really carved a name for itself. The annual Autosport event showcases this thriving industry and gives fans a unique opportunity to get up close to both the machines and their drivers. At a race, teams and drivers are under immense pressure while the various tiers of VIP passes create a barrier to reach them but at the Show the opposite is true, with vehicles and pilots within touching distance, all conducted in a far more relaxed state.
It is to this arena that Öhlins are drawn every year as the team from Sweden make the trip to the Birmingham NEC each January, ably supported by British dealers with their vast experience of the local scene. Renowned for a clean, visually impressive stand and interesting exhibits such as the powerful Volvo Polestar and Prodrive Mini, the Swedes take great pride in their presence at the Show.
This year Öhlins were awarded the award for Best Overseas stand with Show Director Ian France commenting "As a manufacturer of dampers and suspension, Öhlins have showcased their products at the show over many years. We were pleased to award them the prestigious Best Overseas stand for their products across both two and four wheeled motorsport, where they have supplied and worked with many of the leading factory based and privateer teams".
The Motorsport Industry is indeed a serious and crucially important business to the UK's economy, boasting an annual turnover of ₤6 billion – of which £3.6 billion is exported (7.2/ 4.3 billion euros). Nearly 5,000 companies are involved in the business and it supports 38,500 full and part-time jobs, of which 25,000 are qualified engineers. Big numbers indeed. Companies from other industry sectors - such as Defence, Marine and Aerospace - have also learned to turn to the motorsport industry when looking to accelerate the solution of their engineering problems and look for a competitive advantage over their competitors.
Although F1 is the obvious pinnacle of the motorsport pyramid, there is such a vast grass roots level of participation, with 34,000 licence holders driving at over 5,000 events each year, that the aftermarket sector is kept incredibly busy making everything from wheels to gearboxes, engine internals to data loggers.
The Show itself houses over 600 exhibitors for the four day show which is split between two trade only and two public days in the vast NEC Arena, with over a million square feet of show space (93,000m²) Highlights for visitors include being able to walk round the grid of latest F1 cars, listen to on stage interviews and gain autographs with the stars of the International and British racing scene whilst being the first to see the latest race car launches, new livery and driver line-ups.
The Live Action Arena seats 5,000 fans and features daily stunt displays from Terry Grant and Freestyle MX jumping, combined with interviews and actual racing from the world of drifting, hot rods and Autograss. The more adventurous visitors can try race Karts and even Caterhams for size.
Uniquely the Show offers a whole section on 'Careers in Motorsport' with top universities offering courses and internships with companies such as Red Bull F1!
Marketing Manager for Öhlins, Ola Lennström is a big fan of the Show, saying, "You know the year has started with a bang when the doors open at Autosport for the first time in January!
Every year we are impressed with the passion for Motorsport from both fans and the industry and I personally love spending some time checking out the new innovations and of course the latest driver line-ups. From a commercial point of view the event is very important to us to showcase our latest dampers for both motorsport and road car applications, get feedback and meet our loyal dealers and end users. We're already planning next year's visit!"
To see more information about Autosport International visit: www.autosportinternational.com