JUN 25th 2015

MAZDA'S LE MANS HEROES SPEAR THE SUSSEX SKY

One of the great surprises of any Festival of Speed is finally revealed… 

It’s been speculated about, hinted at and occasionally (naughty!) tweeted, but as of today the big secret’s out and the Central Feature in front of Goodwood House is there for all to admire. 

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And also, like all Central Features, to become an iconic part of the festival, featuring in the background of a million photographs.

After so many memorable automotive works of art in recent years, what’s this one all about? Can there be anything left to do that hasn’t already been done?

The answer to that is a big ‘yes’. This is the first Central Feature celebrating this year’s featured marque, Mazda – motorsport-mad, convention-defying Mazda – and you can’t miss the fact. A gleaming white tower is topped by two cars that could only be from the most individual and characterful of Japan’s car companies.

If you haven’t worked out what they are yet (they are floating 40m, 131ft, up in the air after all…) the cars tick boxes for both Mazda’s motorsport heritage and its passion for being different. 

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One is the now-iconic form of the Mazda 787B, the screaming rotary-engined, make-your-ears-bleed hero of La Sarthe in 1991 and the first, and only, Japanese car ever to win Le Mans. Don’t believe us when we say it’s noisy? Check out our video here

The other is a modern day homage to the Le Mans winner in the form of the Mazda LM55, a digital vision, designed for the GranTurismo 6 game, made real. And a complete stunner – for many people the best looker of the whole Vision Gran Turismo series.

And the sculpture itself? At first sight it’s a giant Jenga game, hundreds (actually 418) white bars piled into a tower that twists and and turns as it rises skywards.

It looks simple. But closer inspection reveals a far more complex shape, full of tension as the criss-crossing bars combine in an elegant twisting form whose obvious strength defies its elegant lightness and delicacy. 

In these things the sculpture is the essence of Kodo Design, Mazda’s successful ‘Soul of Motion’ ethos that shapes all the road cars, most recently with the equally strong yet delicate new Mazda MX-5 roadster (which incidentally will also be on show at FoS and which you can read about here). 

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2015, Goodwood Estate, Chichester, West Sussex, UK - 25.06.15

Like Central Features for the past 18 years, the Mazda sculpture is the work of Gerry Judah. Quoted in The Telegraph, the sculptor said: ‘I started to play with hundreds of ideas based on our discussions to do with twisted metal forms; trying out version after version until I came up with just a very simple twist, promptly leaving me with the age-old problem of how to make it work.’

Make it work he did, and in spectacular fashion. Unlike recent sculptures which were monocoques where the metal skin provides the strength, this year’s celebration of Mazda’s motorsport and design heritage is made of exactly what it seems to be made of: solid steel bars. 

Together the bars weigh 120 tonnes, their foundation goes down 3m and (here it comes, that unmissable FoS sculpture factoid – ed) if all the bars were laid end to end they would stretch from the hillclimb start line right to the finish, or a distance of 1.16miles.

Maybe when it’s all over for another year we will lay them all out, just to check… meantime, 200,000 or so visitors to FoS this weekend will stand in awe at another spectacular marriage of motorsport and sculptural art – one that could only be Goodwood. 

Photography by Nicole Hains and Adam Beresford

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