Latest show news
IT’S A STAR-STUDDED SATURDAY AT AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL14-Jan-2017
A stellar line-up of racing heroes has brought huge crowds to the NEC on the first public day of Autosport International with visitors flocking to see IndyCar legend Dario Franchitti and a host of other famous names.
From the moment he opened the show at 9am, Franchitti drew huge crowds and was the major attraction at the Autosport Stage. Speaking to Henry Hope-Frost, the four-time IndyCar Series champion talked about racing at speeds in excess of 230mph at the Indianapolis 500, a race he won three times.
“If you’re outside the car, it looks scary, but when you’re driving, you are so focused, all you want is more, more, more. You just want to go faster.”
He also talked about his near miss with Takumo Sato at Indianapolis. “When he was backwards, he hit the car, and then he blamed me. I did actually lose my temper about that. My spotter's voice was getting higher and higher.”
It was another collision with Sato at Houston in 2013 that ended his racing career – "I was sort of like Humpty Dumpty, they had to put me together on more than a few occasions” – and today Franchitti is a commentator for Formula E. “It has been a lot of fun with some good places to go to. It's funny, talking to the drivers from the other side, I've got an understanding of what they're going through.”
Other big names to take to the Autosport Stage included Williams Martini Racing F1 rookie Lance Stroll. "It's just a dream come true," he said of his upcoming debut in Melbourne when he we will line up on the grid as the first Canadian since Jacques Villeneuve, who won his 1997 championship a year before Stroll was born.
"I want to do as well as I possibly can for the team... It's going to be challenging but I'm here and I just want to make the most of it." Montreal is the race that Stroll is most looking forward to, having grown up just ten minutes away from the track.
Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert talked about Nico Rosberg's decision to retire at the end of the 2016 F1 season. "I could see the huge relief on his face in Abu Dhabi, I think it was draining for him but he did it. Why carry on? The chances of winning it a second time were slim so to quit as world champion was great. He deserves it, he beat Lewis fair and square.”
He also opened up about his F3000 accident at Brands Hatch, which resulted in horrendous leg injuries. "I had to get around the problems I had, get around telling everybody I was in the pain I was in every single grand prix," Herbert recalled. "The mental scaring was completely secondary," he says, compared to the physical injuries.
The Autosport Stage also played host to endurance racing legend Allan McNish and BTCC stars Gordon Shedden, Andrew Jordan, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal.
At this year’s Autosport International, the Autosport Stage has been incorporated into a Williams Martini Racing 40th Anniversary feature. A spectacular celebration of four decades of the much-loved British F1 team, it boasts an immersive and engaging experience that sees visitors enter through a 1977 Williams F1 pit garage, go on a tour of 40 years of the famous team and emerge in a 2017 Williams F1 pit garage.
If that wasn’t enough, Williams has brought with it an eye-catching collection of its famous heritage cars including the FW07, which gave Williams its first victory, Nigel Mansell’s 1992 Drivers’ Championship-winning FW14B,
Damon Hill’s 1996 Drivers’ Championship-winning FW18 and the 2003 Monaco GP-winning FW25. Elsewhere on the show floor, you could also see James Hunt’s Hesketh Racing 308 F1 car too.
Over at the Coys auction, there was an eye-catching mix of road, race and rally cars. Highlights of the sale included a 1966 Mini Cooper S BMC Competition Department rally car (hammer price £44,000), a 1996 Porsche 993 Cup racer (£130,000), a 1974 Ferrari 246 GT Dino, right-hand drive and with Ferrari Classiche Certification (£245,000) and a 2004 Ferrari 360 Spider, right-hand drive, six-speed manual and just 27,800 miles (£65,000).
In the Live Action Arena, stuntman Terry Grant has been performing a nail-biting loop-the-loop performance, as well as thrilling crowds with a combined performance from Lee Bowers. There has also been a celebration of 50 years of Rallycross, while BTCC icons have been going head-to-head in an exhilarating Time Trial.
With one day to go, Autosport International is building to a crescendo as Sunday will see star guest Jacques Villeneuve, take to the Autosport Stage. Winner of the 1997 F1 World Championship, Villenueve is also a CART IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner. He remains the only Canadian to win either the Indianapolis 500 or the Formula 1 World Championship, let alone both.
Celebrating 20 years since the Canadian beat Michael Schumacher to the 1997 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship in the final race of the season, Villeneuve will join host Henry Hope-Frost on the Autosport Stage and will be interviewed over at the F1 Racing Feature in Hall 6 too. Paddock Pass and VIP ticket holders will have the opportunity to see the 1997 F1 World Champion at a series of autograph signing sessions on the day.
In addition, Williams Martini Racing Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams and Head of Vehicle Performance, Rob Smedley, will also be appearing on the Autosport Stage. To buy tickets for Sunday’s event head to: www.autosportinternational.com/public.