After a two-year hiatus, Autosport International is back, and judging by the traffic in the halls of the NEC on day one, it is proving popular once again.
Autosport International 2023 had a lot to do. The last show took place in 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic hitting UK shores. At that time there were large gaps in the venue and footfall seemed low. The Esports hall was also empty, and the show seemed to have lost the interest of many.
The event should have returned in 2022, but was cancelled at the last minute, with COVID-19 being given as a reason. Organisers seem to have found a new breath of life, however, as 2023 looks to be one of the strongest Autosport International events for some time.
A place for the aftermarket
Autosport International 2023 again played host to a number of aftermarket suppliers, all of whom tote a motorsport pedigree amongst their talents. Chief amongst these was Rowe Oils, a new brand to the UK, but familiar with a European audience.
Imported to the UK by Deutschesol, a company headed up by former BTCC champion Rob Gravett, Rowe Oils promoted its motorsport lubricants at the show, but will follow this up with a host of products in various different markets, including the automotive aftermarket.
Not only does Rowe develop its oils for its own motorsport team, giving it detailed understanding of how its lubricants work in extreme conditions, but the company is striving to be the sustainable option. Its headquarters in Worms, Germany, generates a significant amount of its own electricity through an extensive, 4,000m2 photovoltaic system, and transfers waste heat from indoor manufacturing processes to be used for heating the building and offices.
The plant also features eight million litres of tank storage, 65 kilometres of dedicated pipework for each product preventing the need for a separate flushing network, and the capacity to fill 3,000 containers per hour.
Another aftermarket company on display at Autosport International 2023 was Maha UK, demonstrating its new MSR 5000 series dynamometer.
With a history in supplying to vehicle performance centres, motorsport teams and racetracks, Maha is another company that uses extreme conditions to showcase the pedigree of its products. The MSR 5000 has been enhanced to guarantee further stiffness within the chassis, making it stronger and more accurate. It also meets both existing and future requirements, with modifications made to suit hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as those with internal combustion engines.
Absolute Alignment were also in attendance, the company highlighting its motorsport knowledge in wheel alignment systems. As a provider to a number of racing teams, including Power Maxed in the BTCC, Autosport International 2023 give the brand an opportunity to remind visitors just how important wheel alignment is, not just in the racing world but also in everyday life.
Alongside the various race cars, suspension setups and onboard camera devices, a number of tool suppliers were also highlighting their expertise at Autosport International 2023. Amongst these were Sealy Tools, Draper Tools and Wera
Autosport International 2023 – slimmer and busier
The last Autosport International took place in 2020, just as the COVID-19 crisis was starting to make headline news. That event saw large gaps, low crowds and little energy, with the brand seeming to have run out of steam. Even the new Esports hall was lacking in attendance, even though it was an emerging thread in motorsport competition.
Fast forward to Autosport International 2023, however, and things felt stronger. The halls of the NEC were packed with both exhibitors and visitors, stands were busy, and the mood was positive. This may be due to the gap between events, or it may be that organisers are slimming things back and trying to appeal to the core motorsport enthusiast.
Gone was the usual F1 grid lineup and its display of showcars, replaced with a smaller stand highlighting both modern and classic racing machines, although the Red Bull RB18 and Aston Martin AMR22 sat alongside these. Also gone was the large exhibition-based stand, while the multiple stages of previous events had instead given way to one main area.
Also missing was the aforementioned Esports hall, a shame as that medium has grown since the pandemic began. There was also a noticeable reduction in the number of ‘satellite’ stands – those that attend events just to sell random unrelated wares. I counted one ‘heat pad’ seller who seemed to be struggling to attract an audience.
Instead, Autosport International 2023 brought in nice cars, traders who cared about the industry, and a vibe that bordered on trade and consumer. The Live Action Arena provided plenty of thrills, and was packed out, even for a Thursday when its main goal is to rehearse for the consumer-led days.
There was also a small area for electric racing, with models from Xtreme E and Formula Foundation on display. Gaining more interest, however, was the Forze Hydrogen Racing car, the Forze VIII, with its large hydrogen tank in the back. The team plans to enter world endurance racing championships in the near future, so long as it can work with race circuits to build an infrastructure that will allow it to refuel.
The Performance and Tuning Show that cohabited Autosport International 2023 gave attendees the chance to look as some fantastic modern and retro performance cars. How often will you find the latest McLaren and AMG Mercedes models sitting alongside a Ford GT40 or Lamborghini Countach?
Overall, Autosport International 2023 is a good first show back, balancing motorsport, performance and aftermarket in a way that will attract a lot of attention. It gives the brand a platform to build on for 2024, where we may expect to see more in the way of electric motorsport, more live action, and perhaps another go at Esports as well.