Why British Motor Show aims to inspire new generation of young petrolheads - Select Car Leasing
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Why British Motor Show aims to inspire new generation of young petrolheads

The man behind the revived British Motor Show says he’s on a mission to make up for a ‘lost generation’ of young car enthusiasts in the UK.

The British Motor Show has long been a fixture in the automotive calendar, with a history dating back more than 120 years.

But last year’s event - held at the Farnborough International Expo Centre, Hampshire - wasn’t just the first major automotive exhibition post-covid, it was the first international British Motor Show since 2008.

Andy Entwistle, Chief Executive of Automotion Events, is the person responsible for revamping the Show, having secured the rights in 2019.

(Andy, above. Photographer credit: Jonathan Fleetwood)

This year’s event arrives in Farnborough on Thursday, August 18th, finishes on Sunday, August 21st - and features everything from stunt shows and new car world premieres, to Guinness World Record attempts and motoring stars from the small screen.

Andy mourns the fact that there’s an entire generation of people who didn’t get to experience the Show as youngsters - and who’ve consequently grown up disinterested in cars.

Now, with an anticipated 70,000 guests expected to flood-in through the doors and with a huge emphasis on family fun, Andy says he’s making up for lost time.

He reveals: “The key driver behind the show is to get young people and families engaged in the world of motoring. The whole reason I wanted to do this was because, as a kid, I got into cars because I used to go to the British Motor Show.

“When the Show closed its doors in 2008, I think it created a generation of kids who lost their passion for cars because they didn’t get to come and do this stuff. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is fantastic, it’s a great event, but it’s very different from us and it’s more of a specialist event, and more expensive to boot.

“When it came to a cheap day out to just go and pour around cars, there just wasn’t one. I wanted to re-engage with the younger generation and let them know that cars are cool and a hell of a lot of fun.

“We’re not aiming this event specifically at petrolheads - they’ll hopefully come along anyway and have a great time - this is simply about an amazing family day out.”

To whet the appetite of youngsters, they can expect driving simulators, model building and painting sessions, Go karting, and there’s also an Under 17s driving experience.

Here, in an exclusive chat with Select Car Leasing, Andy, Chief Exec and Founder of the British Motor Show, explains all:

The Show has expanded since 2021 - can you explain what’s new?

“We really have gone bigger this year. We’ve got an entire new hall, and we’ve really upped the ante when it comes to our electric vehicle content. Overall, we’ve probably increased our footprint by around 30 per cent. We had 50,000 people through the doors last year, which is pretty good going. But this year we’re targeting growth and I’d love to get towards 70,000, 80,000 visitors.”

What about the Guinness World Record Attempts?

“We’re attempting to break three Guinness World Records at the show. Two are happening in the Live Arena and involve our tame stunt driver Paul Swift (who recently took part in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony). One is a handbrake turn parallel park record. Paul will attempt to spin into a gap smaller than 20cm at both ends of his vehicle. I’m really hopeful he’ll beat the current record.

Attempt number two is slightly more bizarre but should be a real spectacle. Here Paul, driving a Ford Mustang, is going to attempt to do donuts… around a stunt motorcycle rider who will be doing a wheelie! The benchmark to beat on this is six donuts in a minute.

And then we’ve also got a mass participation record that we want to get everyone involved in. We’ll have a car - another Ford Mustang - sitting in reception. And we’re trying to break the record for most ‘selfie’ pictures taken of a single car and uploaded to social media within an hour. 

Three times a day, on each day of the show, we’re going to be asking people to upload their snap to Facebook with the hashtag ‘#motorshowrecord’. We’ve got to do 500 snaps to claim the record but I’m confident we can do it.”

What about the new cars on show - will there be some exclusive reveals?

“We’ve got a world exclusive of a special van called the ‘Indi’ - which is the very first British designed and British built electric van ever made. This will be its international reveal. 

We’ve got exclusive UK reveals for the Subaru Solterra and the Mazda CX-60, while we’ll also have brand new cars like the Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane E-Tech and the SsangYong Musso pick-up to enjoy.”

You’ve got a host of celebs at the Show - including Nat Geo’s Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend from Car SOS as well as Fifth Gear’s Vicky Butler Henderson and celebrity car customiser Yianni Charalambous - is it hard work dealing with them all? That Mike Brewer from Wheeler Dealers looks a bit of a handful… (Sorry, Mike!)

“Do you know what, it really isn’t hard at all. I’ve worked with Mike, Tim and Fuzz a lot in the past. And they all get that this is a family show. There’s no prima donnas who have riders and who show up, do their thing, and don’t interact with anyone. 

"Mike gets a really hard time on social media and I just don’t understand it. He’s such a nice guy - one of the nicest people out there, doing a ton of stuff for charity that goes under the radar. 
We nearly broke him last year so we’ve given him former athlete Iwan Thomas this year to take away some of the stress! TV presenter Abi Stephens will be looking after the Motorsport Arena. We’ve got Tiff Needell on the Friday as well as his pal Vicky Butler Henderson, and a few of the British Touring Car Championship drivers, too.”

What are you looking forward to the most, personally?

“I’m looking forward to the 22nd August so that I can sleep!

No, seriously, it’s a tough question because there’s so much going on. The Electric hall will be busy, so I’m looking forward to that, and the Tech Theatre - which has some great content - really fulfils our remit to both educate and entertain. 

In the Motorsport Arena we’ll have a group called the Shred Shed, who put on a drifting stunt show. It’s actually choreographed by a West End musical choreographer. I’ve seen all of the YouTube videos but I’ve never seen it live, which I’m really looking forward to as I reckon it’s going to be great.

Last year, we had ‘Car Football’. This year we’ve got the ‘Car-monwealth Games’, which will be the closing show in the Live Arena each day. Two teams, made up of our celebs, will compete in Olympics style challenges, including the long jump, tug-of-war and shot put. It’s stupidity in cars and, ‘I can’t believe they’re really doing that’.

And, of course, I’m just looking forward to people having a great time again, walking around and seeing happy faces.”

Away from the British Motor Show, you also run Bangers4Ben, an annual banger rally that raises money for the automotive industry charity Ben. (Ben works to support anyone who works or has worked in the automotive industry, particularly when it comes to health and wellbeing). Can you tell us what that’s all about?

“Bangers4Ben has been going for 14 years now, with a short break for Covid. It started with a journey across the UK with Car Dealer Magazine. At the end of it, the car was then sold with the proceeds going to charity. And we just continued to expand on it.

The idea is simple - your banger can’t cost more than £750 quid and it’s sold at auction at the end of the rally for charity. Each team is also encouraged to raise £1,000 for Ben. The first couple of years were fairly lowkey but we ramped things up, making the destination a big part of it. 

We’ve been to Maranello in Italy, as well as to the Alps. And, over the years, participants started putting more and more time into doing up their bangers and creating some wonderful contraptions. It’s more than just a car thing - there’s real camaraderie on the rally, which I love.

And we’ve now raised more than half a million pounds for Ben. It’s something we’re really proud of.

It’s also always surprising just how reliable the bangers actually are - we’ve only ever left two cars behind, largely thanks to the AA patrol specialists who come with us.

This year is a James Bond theme, and we’re going to Monaco.

What car have I chosen this year? Let’s just say I’ve put a funny twist on a fairly bog-standard hatchback.”

Follow this link to join Bangers4Ben.

** Tickets for the British Motor Show. 
Day tickets cost just £18.50 for adults. A ‘Family Ticket’ consisting of two adults and two children is £37. Kids under four-years-old go FREE.

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Friday, 17/05/2024