Monday 29 June 2015

Goodwood Festival of Speed (1/2)

Part 1 - Mazda Takes Centre Stage

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the largest gatherings of all things motorsport in the world. It's an event I've wanted to visit for a long time and this year, with Mazda at the forefront, seemed the ideal opportunity. The show was being used to debut the new MX-5 in the UK, as well as celebrate Mazda's motorsport achievements and rich racing history.

Outside of Goodwood House sits a central feature which is traditionally the focal point of the event. This year's artwork installation was a 40m high tower created by Gerry Judah. The sculpture consisted of 418 steel bars arranged to form a twisting spiral that climbs into the sky. Placed at the top of the structure were two iconic Mazda cars, the no.55 787B and the LM55 Vision Gran Turismo.

The LM55 was previously only a virtual car within Gran Turismo 6, the full scale model on show here was created by Mazda specifically for Goodwood. The design was really impressive and dominated the skyline around the event with the bright orange & green Renown livery looking great in the sun against the clear blue sky.
Approaching from car park A, we walked through the Moving Motor Show stand and crossed over the track to the main exhibition area. Here I headed for Mazda's circular stand as I knew the MX-5 would be on display here. The stand actually had three MX-5s. In the centre of the stand a Soul Red ND was being used as a musical instrument. Various sensors fitted to the bodywork meant that touching the car would play a sound. The second MX-5 was painted in the new Ceramic colour, it's somewhere between white, grey, and silver depending on the lighting. This car was fitted with Bilstein suspension and a new design of 17" alloy wheel.

On seeing the car in person, my first impression was the pictures don't do it justice, it really is a beautifully sculpted body design. I was able to have a sit inside and found the cabin to be very snug and everything within easy reach and the steering wheel just the right size. The gearstick feels great and the touchscreen display is perfectly positioned. The leather seats were very comfortable and the convertible roof mechanism is the easiest I've ever used in a Roadster.

The third MX-5 on display was an original Classic Red NA model, still proving popular all these years on. After chatting to the Mazda reps and grabbing a few photos, I left the stand feeling impressed with what I'd seen of the ND.
After spending a lot of time browsing the various manufacturer stands and picking up freebies, we crossed the hill climb track again to see the paddock area where the cars are worked on before and after their runs up the hill. If you get the timing right you can be up close to some impressive machinery as they enter and leave their garage space. This is exactly what happened to us with the NASCARs and Richard Petty, more on that in my Part 2 post.

I headed straight for the Mazda rotary prototypes as I've never seen them in person before and they were one of the event's main attractions for me. It was pretty cool to see Johnny Herbert was there doing an interview and signing autographs next to his car too. I also spotted Mad Mike's Madbul RX-7 with the Rocket Bunny bodykit inbetween him drifting it up the hill.
After leaving the paddock I headed towards the stables area, here Mazda hosted a concert event under the "Raise The Roof" branding. It was also the area where the winning entry in the recent MX-5 vinyl wrap design contest was on display. The first placed design by Stuart Roy depicts the escape from bustling city to coastal freedom and manages to capture what the MX-5 is all about.

Also in this area was another Soul Red car, this time in Japanese specification and wearing a prototype of the carbon fibre luggage rack. According to the rep this piece costs around £700, and wasn't sure if it would actually go into production. It looks pretty cool though and apparently will be made of real carbon fibre with integrated brake light and red anodised fittings.
My next stop was the Michelin supercar paddock. Along with the latest supercars from the likes of Porsche and Ferrari, the little Roadster was represented in the "first glance" category. After wandering around the paddock, I found a third Soul Red car parked next to the latest Honda Civic Type-R. Thanks to the company the MX-5 was parked with (Porsche 918, Ferrari FXX K etc) there was not much of a crowd around. This car was a UK spec fitted with the Bilstein suspension.
There was a lot more than just the Mazda features going on at Goodwood - so much so I'll have to do a second post in the next day or so. This wasn't the end of my experience with the ND over the weekend though. On the five hour drive home at around midnight, I spotted an ND heading north on the M6 with it's distinctive tail lights, then I spotted another, and another, and another. There were four in convoy, I guess they were heading home after the show ^_^

I'll sign off with a pic of the stuff I ended up bringing home.