The West Midlands automotive industry was showcased to millions of global viewers on Thursday night as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games were officially opened.
72 cars representing Birmingham’s rich history in the motor industry drove into the Alexander Stadium, host venue for the Ceremonies and Athletics at the Games. The 72 cars represented the 72 nations and territories competing at the Commonwealth Games with Jaguar, MG Rover and Land Rover among the cars.
The red, white and blue vehicles were perfectly co-ordinated to form the British flag before a Red Arrows flyover and the arrival of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in a 1970 Aston Martin.
The display was the tip of weeks of planning and at the forefront was Paul Swift, a three-time British Autotest Champion, who co-ordinated the cars for the evening.
“I had a team of 12 stunt drivers and 60 volunteers driving their own cars,” commented Swift. “We had six days to rehearse the flag scene, initially at Longbridge before moving to the Alexander Stadium.
“What you saw on television was only a small part of the show. The timing was critical as the Red Arrows flyover time was band on 20:12 and then after the national anthem, we only have one minute to un-pick the flag and get all the cars back off stage before the next scene.
“All the drivers did an incredible job under pressure. The flag looked great and so did their cars. I’m super proud of them all and I’m sure that now they’ve had a taste for performing we’ll likely see many of them turning up to an Autotest /AutoSOLOs in the near future.”
Swift is a professional stunt driver so is well versed on arranging displays and took great pride in delivering on one of the grandest stages in international sport.
“I’ve grown up around many of the cars on display, my first car was a Mini, as it was for so many of us,” explained Swift. “My father performed shows with Rovers for decades so when I was asked to choreograph this sequence it was a real honour.
“The organisers were keen to involve as many local vehicles as possible with a Birmingham connection to pay tribute to the areas rich Automotive history.”