Autosport International is one of the leading motorsport shows on the planet. Whilst it might not quite be on the same scale as SEMA or PRI in the USA (they always go big over there), it is the premier show of its kind in Europe.
Split in to two stages, Trade and Public, the show hosts suppliers and race teams from all corners of the globe. You can buy just about every component imaginable for going racing at the show, and have the opportunity to speak directly to the people that work to design, develop and supply these parts. Coupled with that is the endless display of race cars from every discipline conceivable, from Top Fuel dragsters to current and historic F1, there really is something for everyone.
For most, ASI is an opportunity to catch up with old colleagues, nurture relationships and search for new business. During the trade days (Thursday and Friday), you will see meetings happening between teams and businesses from all over the world. It is an opportunity to regroup after the previous year’s racing, and align yourselves ahead of the season to come. It is your best chance to explore the new products on offer, and speak with the people behind them. Find those hidden advantages and extra efficiencies that will mean the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the Spring.
Now maybe you don’t work in motorsport, but have your sights set on landing a job within the industry. ASI is the perfect hunting ground for the season ahead. Without the pressure of actually running a car, you will find teams, and the managers, much more at ease then you ever would at the track. You will find them very welcoming, particularly to young, enthusiastic go-getters, and you will have the time to have in-depth conversations about your skillset, their requirements, and finding some middle ground that potentially means landing a job.
If this is you, then go to ASI armed with whatever you can to be special. A few dozen printed CVs is great to have, but make sure you don’t get them creased or crumpled in your bag. If a piece of paper is a little tatty, then it is doomed to become more so once you hand it over. Keep them protected in a folder, which has the added bonus of looking far more professional when you take one out. Make sure you have clear and concise contact details to hand, and if you can, get contact details back in return.
By the far the most important part of any interaction with someone will be the conversation. You want them to go away thinking that you are different to everyone else who approached them today. Have no illusions that you are the only personal looking for a job at ASI – it is a proven recruitment ground – but you can still stand out. Approach every interaction by making sure your audience knows what you can offer them. Sell yourself. Be confident, be interesting and be engaging.
Whoever you end up speaking to at ASI could well be your next employer, your next client or your next reference.
So, you’ve handed out CVs, you spoken with the big wigs at race teams and suppliers all over the show, and now you have a few hours before closing time. What to do…
An ASI action plan
If you are fortunate enough to attend ASI on the trade days (that’s the Thursday and Friday), then you will definitely want to check out Autosport Engineering. The entirety of Hall 9 is dedicated to the innovations and technology that makes motorsport work. You have the opportunity to get up close with some unbelievably expensive and exotic components, from gearboxes to brakes to entire engines, and speak with the people responsible for the clever trickery that happens inside them.
From new manufacturing techniques to advanced electronics, it is here that you will find the real nitty gritty of racing cars.
On the opposite end of the scale, and a personal favourite of mine, is the historic racing section of the show. Located at the rear of Hall 6, you will find some of the most expensive, most legendary and most renowned race cars from the very genesis of motorsport. The exact cars on display changes year on year, but you are guaranteed to see something special. Whether it be a Le Mans winning Ford GT40 from 1969 (that’s the one driven by the Jackies) or a Porsche 956 (that’s the Bellof one that holds the Nürburgring record to this day), you won’t be disappointed at the heritage and machinery on display.
Also on the to-do list is the section National Motorsport in hall 7. The intention of this vast expanse of liveried cars, bustling team areas and multicolour race trucks is to address the real grassroots levels of motorsport. You will find everything here from Club level motor racing all the way up to the British Touring Car paddock.
You will have the chance to understand what is required to take your first steps as a driver in motorsport, equip yourself with the clothing, helmets and car necessary, and begin a journey that could lead anywhere.
Now, whilst this is a longshot for most (present company included), it is exciting to see just how easy it can be to get involved. To seriously pursue motorsport as a weekend hobby can be a stupidly expensive habit, but entry level hill climbing or rally? That is within reach of many! Have some conversation, do some man-maths, and see what you can muster.
My final recommendation for the show is not the Experience Zone where you can have a try at a simulator or an F1 pitstop, or the Adrenaline Zone where you can passenger ride in an Autotesting car and try your hand at karting. It isn’t even the dazzling F1 area, where a plethora of current Formula 1 cars can be seen. It is the Careers and Education zone.
The Careers and Education section is tucked away at the back of Hall 8, and consists of surprisingly few stalls. You will see a few universities displaying Formula Student cars (if you don’t know what this is then asking is your very first conversation starter!), and a few motorsport specific colleges showing off how they can help everyone in the motorsport industry.
Whether you are still searching for your way in, or looking to move up the motorsport ladder, there is something to be learnt in this little corner of the show. Stop by and listen in to one of the Talk Shop presentations, where exhibitors and professionals talk to you about the industry, about the developments and about the future of motorsport. The itinerary of who is on stage is printed in the show guide so have a peruse and see which takes your fancy.
The Autosport International show is big. Arguable too big to do in a day. Hopefully now you at least have some direction on how to focus your time. Attending ASI is a fantastic experience for everyone with an interest in the industry, and the perfect opportunity to meet new people. Take the chance to educate and help yourself, to explore what motorsport has to offer, past and future, and most of all, enjoy the show.
Best of luck!