Twin glory spires at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year are capped by the LeMans-winning Mazda 787B and the 2015 Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo — two kindred spirits together in the metal publicly for the first time.
This is a huge year for Mazda. The lineup is stronger than ever, while the new MX-5 and all-new CX-3 compact SUV are creating more buzz than ever for the Japanese sportscar brand.
The Central Sculpture and OEM title sponsorship for Mazda at Goodwood is a big vote of confidence in their growth strategy. Typically this high-dollar placement has gone to the German giants or a homegrown English make.
But who could question the beauty and significance of the 787B and LM55 shooting skyward. With a near vertical trajectory above the Earth, these stunning machines are also visible for virtual racers via Gran Turismo 6.
To sync with the real festival the other week, PlayStation racers can update their Goodwood track for even more authentic time trials. Even driving the LM55 is a possibility — if brief with a hillclimb time of well under one minute in total.
Racers can run the Goodwood course and receive an LM55 car for their race garage if they receive a bronze or better finish.
The only downside of all these glorious Mazda’s meeting the LM55 in the flesh is that the VGT concept was difficult to dissect up close — what being high in the sky on a sculpture.
But seeing a VGT concept made into real-life design studies is fantastic to see. We love the evolution of the Mazda hypercar and racecar ethos since the ill-fated Furai concept of a few years ago.
The new confidence by Mazda is well-grounded in reality. We’re thrilled to share the excitement of introducing this passion-filled brand to a larger audience of potential owner/drivers.
2015 Mazda LM55 Vision GT Goodwood
A spectacular 40-metre addition to the Sussex skyline celebrates Mazda’s racing heritage at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Second in height only to the Chichester Cathedral spire, the Goodwood Festival of Speed centrepiece features two racing cars bursting out of the ground trailing spectacular twisted steel shapes.
Inspired by Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy of strength, beauty and tension found in the instantaneous movement of living things and the simplicity that reflects Japanese aesthetics, Gerry 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.
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.
Featuring 120 tonnes of steel that, put end to end, would stretch 1235 metres, the length of the Goodwood Hill Climb track, this is the most complex centrepiece yet.
“Usually,” commented Gerry Judah, “the one thing you never do with steel is to twist it, 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.”
“When we first started talking about the central feature at Goodwood we wanted it to represent our brand through our design philosophy of Kodo,” said Ikuo Maeda, Mazda Executive Officer, General Manager Design Division. “Gerry has faithfully represented our brand in a striking and beautiful structure that is clearly Kodo. 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.”
The central feature celebrates Mazda’s motorsport heritage, a history that started in Europe in the late 1960’s 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. Created for Playstation’s Gran Tursimo 6 racing simulation game, the stunning Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo makes 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 KODO: Soul of Motion design philosophy.
Sharing the dramatic proportions of a Le Mans racer, the LM55’s sleek nose, sculpted wings and low rear-end deliver a uniquely dynamic shape that stays true to the KODO ethos of ‘beautiful form full of life’. A stunning addition to the West Sussex skyline, 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 our illustrious sporting past, and the stylish and spirited cars of Mazda’s future.
2015 GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED TO REVERBERATE TO THE SOUND OF MAZDA’S HISTORIC RACE CARS
Mazda’s famous 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours winning 787B to star at the Festival of Speed.
Iconic Mazda race cars from both sides of the Atlantic will take to the famous Goodwood hill.
Six rotary sports prototypes will be in action alongside the 787B Le Mans winning chassis.
Joined by the 1981 Spa 24 Hours winning RX-7 and the ear-splitting 1991 IMSA GTO RX-7.
‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett and his RX-7 will star in Goodwood’s new ‘Catch my Drift’ category.
Mazda will celebrate its motorsport heritage as Central Feature Marque at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Born from the desire to develop, prove and showcase the rotary engine in the testing world of competition, Mazda’s involvement in motorsport has always stayed true to the spirit of ‘never stop challenging’.
At Goodwood the Japanese company will pay homage to that convention defying spirit with an unparalleled line up of rotary powered competition cars, including the 1991 Le Mans winning 787B. Making its first appearance at Goodwood since 2011, the famous ‘Charge’ liveried Le Mans winner heads an ear-splitting line up of Mazda race cars that are sure to resonate with the Goodwood crowds, thanks to the unmistakable sound of their rotary engines.
Joining the Le Mans winner on the hill will be Mazda 787 chassis number 002 – it retired from the 1990 Le Mans before following home the winning 787B with a 8th place finish in 1991.Now owned and maintained by Mazda USA, the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed sees this Mazda 787 once again run alongside the winning ‘Charge’ liveried 787B, as two of Mazda’s 1991 Le Mans team cars take to the famous Goodwood Hill Climb together.
In the hands of their private owners, two Mazda 767Bs, and a Mazda 757 will also take to the hill, while Kent Abrahamsson’s Chevron B16-Mazda is an example of the car used by Belgian entrant Team Levi’s International for Mazda’s first Le Mans entry in 1970.
These renowned Mazda Le Mans cars will be joined by some of the star cars of Mazda’s racing efforts in North American sportscar racing.
Leading the way is the flame-spitting 1992 RX-792P, which was built for Mazda’s attack on the prototype ranks of American IMSA racing. Powered by the same engine as the 787B, rule changes outlawed this type of car before it had the chance to show its true potential, yet the stunning RX-792P goes down in history as the last Mazda factory supported prototype to use the famous Le Mans winning R26B four-rotor engine.
The other Mazda star car from the US is the 1991 IMSA GTO RX-7. A car that, on its way to taking the driver’s and manufacturer’s IMSA GTO title in 1991, contributed to the RX-7’s unbeaten record of 100 class victories in just 12 years of IMSA competition. Powered by the same 13J four-rotor engine as the 767B Group C prototype, this out and out racer’s steel spaceframe chassis is glad in composite panels and this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed sees it run in the UK for the first time.
Now owned and raced by British enthusiast Kevin Doyle, a far less modified RX-7 taking a starring role at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed is the 1981 Spa 24 Hours winning RX-7, which in the hands of Pierre Dieudonne and Tom Walkinshaw gave Mazda its first major outright 24 Hour victory. With seven starts for Mazda at Le Mans, and victory in the Spa 24 Hours, Mazda racing legend Pierre Dieudonne will be reunited with his Spa winning RX-7 at Goodwood and will take to the hill in the 787B Le Mans winner.
Newer forms of motorsport will be highlighted by ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett and his RX-7 taking part in Goodwood’s new ‘Catch my Drift’ category, while across the whole weekend sports car fans can take a look at the all-new Mazda MX-5 as it takes centre stage on Mazda’s stand.
Set against the backdrop of Goodwood House, the Mazda Central Feature sculpture is set to be a stunning addition to the West Sussex skyline, and as an addition aural treat that’s sure to resonate with sportscar fans – at lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday five of Mazda’s most famous Le Mans cars will warm up around the sculpture, creating a sonorous soundtrack that visitors are unlikely to miss.
Lord March “The theme for this year’s Festival of Speed is ‘Flat-out and Fearless: Racing on the Edge’ and Mazda’s continual push to reject engineering conventions and strive for something unique perfectly aligns with this philosophy. We are delighted to be celebrating Mazda’s motor sport achievements and pioneering road-car technologies with the Central Feature, and to help it showcase its brand-new cars to an international community of car enthusiasts and the world’s automotive media – an audience that only Goodwood can attract.”
With the Moving Motor Show on the 25th June, the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place from the 26th -28th June.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.