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The 2002 Autosport International Motorsport Show - January 2002 - story by Mark Sims, images by Mark Sims, Kelvin Fagan and Colin Courtney.

Autosport International took over the N.E.C. in Birmingham and blasted motorsport onto the media stage for the start of the 2002 season. As ever, the show attracted every conceivable form of motorsport from karting to rallying.

The show was split into three sections - the main exhibition, the Live Action Arena and the Motorsport Engineering Show (although the engineering section was only available on media and trade days). This wide range of exhibits and shows catered for all tastes both young and old and show-pieced some of the latest technologies and vehicles available to teams competing in today's hi-tech world.

All the big companies attended the main show: Prodrive, Pirelli, MSA, Demon Tweeks to name but a few and the stands were of exceptional quality. This year marked the return of the glamour girls with every stand proudly displaying their women to attract the hordes onto the stands. More so than the previous two years that The Car Enthusiast has covered the show, girls were used as a marketing tool with bags and posters being thrust into every hand.

Whilst the main halls were excellent there were some noticeable gaps starting to appear around the halls. The F1 pit lane has always been an excellent attraction, with all the F1 teams constructing pit garages that show off their latest cars. McLaren has been the leader with shows, talks and competitions all attracting massive crowds. This year was a big disappointment with all the cars taped off and lined up on a starting grid - not very awe inspiring. Many teams were testing late and hence had been unable to put on the usual level of show. One side of the main hall looked very barren!

The Live Action Arena did not disappoint. There was literally every type of motorsport-related vehicle making as much noise and smoke as possible and being driven completely sideways. This year saw motorbike sidecar racing join the fray, which was entertaining to say the least. How the sidecar riders manage to stay on has to be seen to be believed. The highlights of the show must be the rally cars racing each other against the clock. Mark Higgins drove the Barretts Subaru Impreza and Martin Rowe chucked the impressive Mitsubishi Lancer around the circuit. Both cars were Group N specification, however the turbos had received some serious modifications and the flame and noise was fantastic! Ian Gwynne brought the latest Hyundai Accent WRC car straight from testing, and he proved he could handle the machinery with some impressive times. The loudest displays must have been the F1 Stock Cars and the two 600 BHP rallycross Saab cars. All in all the Live Action Arena was spectacular to watch, the only disappointment was that there was no Robin Reliant racing which was great fun in previous years.

Autosport normally sees the launch of a number of new championships, last years notable launch was of Formula Rally (which has since fallen by the wayside unfortunately). This year the show was a more low key affair with a number of championships trying to lure competitors to register with them. Rallying saw the BTRDA and ANCRO championships fighting it out for entries.

As ever there were many stars of motorsport. David Coulthard opened the show to the public on Saturday morning and Jean Alesi made guest appearances in the Live Action Arena on Friday. Johnny Herbert was on the Rockingham stand pushing the new oval racing series and many other stars were interviewed on the Autosport Live Stage for the fans to get a glimpse of their heroes.

The show was a great success and brought together the motorsport world. As ever it was well worth going whatever your motorsport persuasion, however, there does appear to be a few gaps appearing in the main exhibitors areas, maybe Foot & Mouth still lingers on.

For information about the show, and details of the 2003 Autosport International, we recommend you visit www.autosportinternational.com. Just click on the thumbnails to view a high-resolution image.

This is the F1 grid. She would not move out of the way. Honestly.... Photograph by Mark Sims. Click here for a larger image. The Hyundai Accent WRC was on display in the Live Action Arena. Photograph by Mark Sims. Click here for a larger image. Even the classic rally cars such as this Metro 6R4 were on display. Photograph by Mark Sims. Click here for a larger image. The 2002 show came over all Max Power at times.... Photograph by Mark Sims. Click here for a larger image. Morgan launched their new racer at the show. Photograph by Colin Courtney. Click here for a larger image. James Thompson (BTCC) was one of the many stars on hand for the show. Photograph by Colin Courtney. Click here for a larger image.

Colin Courtney: send us a message if you are interested in purchasing any image

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Kelvin Fagan: send us a message if you are interested in purchasing any image

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Mark Sims: send us a message if you are interested in purchasing any image

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