If you don’t already know about Jonny Smiths ‘The Late Brake Show‘ YouTube channel, then you might not have known about the car show he and his team have started this year. As an antidote to covid lockdown, The Late Brake Show On Tour 2021 is a car show about sharing the owners’ passion and history. Much like the YouTube show. I’ve been looking forward to the show since it was announced forever ago. But was it worth the excitement?
Getting to the Late Brake Show:ManchesTOUR
Despite the trials and tribulations of the HP pump belt change, I knew I was doing it with a greater purpose. A few weeks back, I was convinced I had a hydraulic leak. It was while investigating the leak I decided to change the belt. And why was I so concerned? Well, with a decent journey ahead, I didn’t want to have an epic halfway there. It turns out that the leaky fluid was actually dirty rainwater. Nevertheless, despite a failing wheel bearing, the car managed the 30 something mile journey.
The short 45-minute drive to Manchester Central was relatively uneventful. And the former railway station provides an impressive location for the show, and that was just the parking. Unusually this is the first show I’ve been to in a long while where I wasn’t meeting a bunch of weirdos I already knew. Going alone was a little bit socially daunting, but I figured I’d bump into at least one #WeirdCarTwitter owner.
The Main Hall
As soon as you walk into the main hall, there is something unusual about the Late Brake Show On Tour. Despite being an amazing setting to see such a range of automotive delight, the layout is certainly unfamiliar. There is no huge bottleneck and queue to get in, no forced route to get you around, no one handing out tat bags that you don’t need. And the cars are social distancing. All of these are good things, but it’s not clear how good they are until you start bimbling around.
Many car shows practically force visitors to walk rows of stalls or exhibits. However, with so much room around the cars, you can wander where you like. The cars are loosely clustered in line with how the YouTube channel is structured. There’s an area of Jonny’s cars, an area of vehicles from the show, an area of new vehicles and an area for more interesting viewers cars. There’s even an area dedicated to mad vehicles, including the 150mh+ kids ride on postman pat car.
One of the highlight events of the show was the pub quiz. It was executed just as I had imagined, hosted by a car pervert and a chap that reportedly sniffs petrol. The two guys, who know far too much about cars, accidentally fall through the well-prepared question sheet. In total, they dragged a 20-minute quiz out to over an hour, yet it was never boring. Every difficult question had a good five-minute interlude of the back story of the question or random irrelevant facts. Okay, you have to be a certain type of person to enjoy it, but if you enjoy The Late Brake Show channel, you’ll love it. Heck, I even got a question right.
I could bore you to death about all the cars at the show, maybe with pictures from a range of jaunty angles, but frankly, no one needs that. And I don’t have the photographic skills. So instead, I’ll try to pick out some of my highlights, from 80’s classics to brand new racing greats, along with some general French chod.
I even spotted a few of my growing social media favourites. These included HubNut (who creates great car YouTube vids) and a chap with a gorgeous but relatively small Honda, @thealso. I want to say I didn’t have the bottle to talk to either, but quite frankly, they never stopped gassing. Clearly, social media fame has its ups and downs! I did randomly bump into some people from work, though, which was really nice to catch up with people who have faces again.
The Main Event
Despite how interesting and well-considered the main hall was, for me this wasn’t the main event. The vaulted car park under the old railway station stirred almost as much enthusiasm and excitement in me. The low lighting between the arches made for some very moody pictures, and the parking strategy kept cars socially distanced. There was a huge range of cars on show and, weirdly, some amazing juxtaposed pairings. My favourite is probably the TVR and the Polestar, opposite ends of the spectrum but both soulful.
There were a few more WeirdCarTwitter offerings (and star cars) down here too. I’m sort of sad I didn’t commit a whole day and parked the BX in the ‘show’ parking area. The range of cars, most not in the pictures, was quite eclectic, but I would say they are all well-loved. The shows I’ve been to in 2021 have mostly been about the enthusiasm for cars. Festival of the Unexceptional was a fantastic antidote to bling, and RetroWorks was a huge collection of more performance-oriented cars. The Late Brake Show On Tour doesn’t really care about the type of car, just that it has a bit of a back story to it.
Wrapping up on The Late Break Show On Tour: Manchester
I’ve not organised a car show from scratch. I’ve run events and been part of teams organising shows in the days or hours before. So I’d like to think I’ve got a smidge of an idea of what goes into a show. Although this is the third episode of the tour this year, there is something immediately different to the show’s format compared to every other show I have been to. It is incredibly well polished.
The Late Brake Show On Tour is a perfect spin-off of the Youtube channel. It is not about how fast or how much range you get. It’s about stories and the importance of cars to their owners. The societies they have helped build. That’s what this show is about, and I think what Jonny Smith is about. It’s a testament to Jonny that most of the publicity for the show has been through word of mouth. People chatting about it on social media with the legendary host even getting in on the banter. He’s very much a person about cars, and this is very much a show about car people.