January 9th, 2014 was my first day representing Badger GP in an official context, with a shiny new badge and everything. Journalism can be challenging. From accidentally calling Petter Solberg Finnish in front of some other journos, to my laptop having a tantrum and refusing to let the keyboard work, it’s fair to say it was a learning curve. But another curve surpassed it – my smile all day.
As Badger’s Newbie, there have been a fair few ‘firsts’ for me in recent months. I got to meet my first F1 driver in the shape of Daniel Ricciardo back in July last year. I saw F1 on a 5-metre screen for the first time at the superb Brazilian Badger Bash back in November, but last month I got to savour perhaps the most exciting new experience yet; Autosport International 2015.
Printed Media Accreditation letter in hand, I made my way to the NEC in Birmingham, and tried to find the Media Centre. After getting in to this exclusive little nook I handed in my email and got a snazzy media badge, another first for me:
There I met Badger’s other young whippersnapper of a journalist, Joe Diamond. He’s a splendid chap who, like me, enjoys a good cup of tea. It was fortunate then, that the media centre offered seemingly-limitless supplies of the stuff. We discussed the new FIA Super lisence’s pitfalls briefly, before making our way out into the halls.
Ho. Lee. Cow. I heard that it was big, but I’m fairly sure that the NEC is bigger than my entire home village of Crantock. Those that have been to the NEC will know of its enormity, some may even know their way around, but for me, it was very much like getting lost in the wild, where all the trees, shrubs and animals had been replaced by expensive cars, piston heads, and Steve Rider.
My favourite exhibit was the F1 Racing Grid, because despite my best efforts, I don’t get to see real Formula 1 cars up close very often. I played a game with, well, myself, trying to work out which cars were proper 2014 cars, and which were painted to look as so.
These were my findings:
Mercedes: W05 (Actual 2014 car)
Red Bull: RB6 (2010 car painted to look like 2014)
Williams: FW36 (Actual 2014 car)
Ferrari: 150th Italia (2011 Car)
McLaren: MP4-26 (2011 Car, painted to look like 2014)
Force India: VJM05 (2012 Car, painted to look like 2014)
Toro Rosso: STR9 (Actual 2014 car)
Lotus: E22 (Actual 2014 car)
Sauber: F1.09 (2009 BMW Sauber with 2014 front wing and paint job)
I was also surprised to see BMW’s last F1 car at the show, but they were in good company of ex-constructors, as Toyota’s last car, the TF109, was also being exhibited.
It was not in Toyota’s customary red and white, however, but in matte black as it was used as the 2011 Pirelli test car. Three-man teams were able to line up and try their hand at changing a Pirelli soft-compound tyre on the show car, something I was unable to do, as I was only ever touring the hall as part of a duo.
I did ask the blonde Pirelli model lady if she’d join myself and a friend to make up a team, but she pointed out that her heels would be a hindrance.
My next stop was down at Zircotec, a company for whom friend of Badger Nick Bailey does the whole PR shabang. I met Terry Graham, and he essentially taught me about ceramic heat protection for engine components.
There were several merchandise stands, including one selling rare items like Jos Verstappen Arrows hats, Midland F1 shirts, and Super Aguri memorabilia. The most eye catching of these stands had bits of carbon fibre, pieces of front wing assemblies, airboxes, engine covers and even sidepods for sale.
Unfortunately, my student budget couldn’t quite stretch to accomodate a piece of an F1 car into my expenditures for 2015, but I did snag a lovely Marussia shirt for a tenner, which I’m very happy about.
Later on in the day I moseyed on down to Motors TV’s stall, where they were holding auditions for presenters and commentators. I’ve secretly always fancied myself as either of those, but I thought I’d be better at the presenting side of things, since the commentary was for Rallycross, something I know next to nothing about. I left with sweaty palms, so I’m not totally confident I got the gig, but it’s probably for the best – I can concentrate on my Badger contributions better without being a TV personality.
The most exciting part of the day was an interview with Sir Jack Brabham’s youngest son David. I won’t go into detail, but if you’d like to read what we talked about, you can do just that in my interview with him. Lovely.
After checking out some ridiculous Formula Student cars and Bilstein’s VW Camper kitted out with race seats and tyres, I made my way back to the Media Room for one final complimentary Orange Juice. David Croft was rumoured to be heading back there after going up on stage, but he was likely mobbed by everyone afterwards – because who doesn’t love Crofty?
I met a few other young journalists and swapped some names, before getting incredibly lost in the car parks on my way to getting picked up.
Getting lost and being in awe were the themes for the day, but so too was gratitude – thanks to everyone who helped this novice take a step towards becoming an intermediate, especially Autosport themselves for the accreditation. I’m amazed that I fit so much into one day and can’t wait for the next convention!