A large crowd gathered at the main entrance to watch them cutting the ribbon before surging in to enjoy the stands and displays at the show.
Things soon appeared to be filling up and with good reason as the show became a total sell out by early afternoon.
Show organisers are advising visitors coming on Sunday to buy tickets before you come to avoid disappointment.
Damon Hill later appeared on the Autosport stage to be interviewed by Henry Hope-Frost, he spoke about his favourite Williams; the FW18 that took him to his 1996 World championship win.
“The FW18 was designed for me, I just felt so at home in it and had some of the most enjoyable qualifying laps I’ve ever had in a racing car,” Hill said. “It was a very nimble car and had big power from the 3.0-litre V10. Aesthetically it just looked so right too.”
Hill also spoke about the FW14B that took Nigel Mansell to the 1992 World title. He was the Williams test driver then and it was his hard work that contributed to it being such a dominant car
“That was some car. Big tyres, big power from a 3.5-litre V10 and no power steering.”
Both of those Williams cars have been on display for visitors to see at the Williams Martini Racing motorhome where they are joined by six other historic cars from the F1 team’s history. The motorhome, which has been constructed for the first time away from a racing circuit, has formed part of a revamped Autosport Stage.
The stage also saw Williams Martini Racing Deputy team principal, Claire Williams, speak about what goes on behind the scenes in the legendary British team. She shared her views on the future of the team, expectations for the 2016 season and plans to take the fight to Mercedes.
She also talked about Williams Advanced Engineering – the division of Williams which commercialises F1 technology as well as developing special projects for car manufacturers the development of the Jaguar C-X75 concept car which went on to star in the most recent James Bond film, Spectre. She also revealed that they are also involved in projects away from the Automotive industry, including some things you’d never expect, like Supermarket fridges!
As well as the Williams F1 display, visitors could also view the now traditional F1 Racing Magazine grid, featuring cars from most of the current F1 teams on display.
Back to the Autosport stage and Marino Franchitti was interviewed with new Ford team mate Andy Priaulx. They form part of the line up to drive the all new Ford GT in the WEC and the LM GTE Pro class at the Le Mans 24 hours.
It will be 50 years since Ford finished first, second and third at the race and the new project aims to try and gain Ford similar success
“I’m massively excited to be a part of Ford racing, coming back to Le Mans, half a century after the original GT40.” Said Marino Franchitti. “It’s such a beautiful car and it drives even better than it looks.”
Andy Priaulx added: “Ford’s engineers have not compromised on this car at all. It’s built to win – I can’t wait to continue putting some testing miles on it.”
Priaulx raced in the BTCC last season and a large group of BTCC drivers headed to the Dunlop stand for a mass Autograph session. This proved very popular with a big queue winding all around the show!
The Autosport stage also had visits from former racing drivers and Stigs, Perry Mcarthy and Ben Collins. McCarthy spoke about his career which included a brief stint in Formula 1 at Andrea Moda (A long since extinct Italian team!). Collins spoke about his involvement with the Project Cars racing game as well as his stunt work which included driving in a Bond film, the second Motorsport to Bond export of the show!
The Annual Coys auction was held today with the usual selection of road, race and rally cars. Some of the top sellers included a rare RHD 1974 Ferrari 246 GT Dino (it sold for £220,000), an ex-Ford works Escort RS Cosworth (£45,000), a 1982 ex-Russell Brookes Vauxhall Chevette rally car (£72,000) and a Lamborghini tractor (£7,000). (For those that don’t know, Lamborghini started as a Tractor company!) There was fierce bidding for an Aston Martin DB2/4 MkIII which sold for £160,000, some £45,000 over its top estimate.
Speaking after the show sold out this afternoon, Show Director, Ian France, said: “Selling out on the first public day of the show is a real testament to the exciting features, high-performance cars and motorsport icons at this year’s show. With the interest seen today, we would advise anyone planning on attending the event tomorrow to buy tickets in advance to avoid missing out.”
Sunday is the final day of the show and providing the possible Snow in the weather forecast doesn’t settle it should be another busy day at the Autosport International show. By Marc Waller