New location, new shows and new name (sort of). Ensconced in the comforts of the Excel exhibition complex Top Gear Live (note no mention of MPH here) made full use of the space available.
In one huge hall was a Lotus-designed track area where Tiff Needell was in charge of the action as Sabine Schmitz, a host of skilled and celebrity drivers plus the Stig put various cars through their paces. These included old vs new drag racing, the awesome Group B rally cars going head-to-head, drifting by the Japspeed guys and a few other things besides - including a complete lap of the track done on two wheels driven by Paul Swift. If this was an outdoors arena then I suspect the experience would have been even better as the cars would have better grip and therefore be able to push that bit more. At least there was no annoying music that drowned out the sound of the engines.
Another huge hall contained the Top Gear arena where James, Jeremy and Richard got to do their thing, ably assisted by the numerous stunt drivers, special mention here to Chris Burns. This year their theme was the Olympics and as you can imagine a lot of fun was had by all and I for one vote that the chariot racing be turned in to a major sport.
On the subject of the Olympics, some of the trial events were being held at the same time so I have no idea what the athletes thought about all the noise going on but I did spot a number of them looking round the exhibition area in their national colours. I was there on both the Thursday and all day Friday, principally as press on Thursday and helping out the Lamborghini UK Club on Friday. Whilst the exhibition area was not as big or as varied as previous years there was a gorgeous Mercedes CLK GTR which was unfortunately behind the metal barriers of the Autoglym stand, which to me outshone the Ferrari 250 GTO.
Filming and photography was not permitted at either of the shows, however I have got pictures of some of the cars that took part and also lots from the exhibition, with an obvious bias towards the Lamborghini stand. Once I have sorted out my laptop there will also be some videos.
All images © DSW 2011.