This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, themed ‘Flat Out: Racing on the Edge’, was an ideal venue for Mazda to showcase its racing history as well as the UK debut of the all-new MX-5. To mark the occasion, Mazda commissioned Gerry Judah — no stranger to creating Goodwood sculptures — to create its centerpiece for the event: A spectacular 40-meter tall addition to the Sussex skyline.
“When we first started talking about the central feature at Goodwood, we wanted it to represent our brand through our design philosophy of Kodo,” says Mazda Executive Officer and General Manager of Design, Ikuo Maeda. “It had to reflect the strength, beauty and tension found in the instantaneous movement of living things and the simplicity that reflects Japanese aesthetics. Our aim with Kodo is to express movement with forceful vitality and speed through simple and beautiful forms.
Judah’s clever interpretation of Kodo is a beautiful and simple form that expresses tension, lightness and movement that belies the complexity of the structure.Second in height only to the Chichester Cathedral spire, the Goodwood Festival of Speed centerpiece featured two racing cars bursting out of the ground trailing spectacular twisted steel shapes. Stacked like matchsticks, 418 steel beams — each a different length and angle — turn the sculpture from right to left, hanging the cars over the spectators below. The sculpture was built from 120 tons of steel that, put end to end, would stretch 1235 meters, the length of the Goodwood Hill Climb track.
“Usually, the one thing you never do with steel is to twist it,” says Judah, “So this year we had an impossible challenge to find a way of corkscrewing the entire structure, and we succeeded with an elegant and graceful system that shows of the elegance and grace of the cars themselves.”
The central feature celebrates Mazda’s motorsport heritage, a history that started in Europe in the late 1960s to prove and promote its rotary engine in the tough environment of endurance racing. Since then Mazda rotary engine cars have won 100 IMSA races; a class win in the Daytona 24 Hours; IMSA manufacturer and driver titles; the Spa 24 Hours; five class victories at Le Mans; two British Touring Car titles; and, most famously, Le Mans in 1991 with the 787B.
The two cars on top of the sculpture are the Le Mans winning Mazda 787B which took overall victory in the famous 24 hour race in 1991 driven by British driver Johnny Herbert alongside Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot. Mazda remains the only Japanese manufacturer to have won Le Mans 24 Hours and the only rotary engine to have won the famous French endurance race.
Next to the 787B is the Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo car. Originally created for Playstation’s Gran Tursimo 6 racing simulation game, the LM55 Vision Gran Turismo made the leap from virtual concept car to physical concept with its towering position on the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed Mazda Central Feature. Named after the number 55 Mazda 787B that took victory in the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours, the LM55 is both a homage to the dramatic proportions of the 787B and a vision of a futuristic sports prototype drawn with inspiration from Mazda’s design philosophy.
The pairing of 787B and LM55 on the Mazda Central Feature perfectly encapsulates the celebration of Mazda’s ‘Challenger Spirit’ in the racing legends of the brand’s illustrious sporting past, and the spirited cars of Mazda’s future. It’s also no coincidence that the towering structure looks like a DNA strand.
“Gerry has faithfully represented our brand in a striking and beautiful structure that is clearly Kodo,” says Maeda-san. “There is a lightness and strength to the structure, yet it gives the cars movement and energy, it is a sculpture that we are very proud to represent Mazda.”
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