Revealed in a fireworks ceremony amidst a dramatic thunderstorm, the central feature was marked with speeches by Lord March and BMW Europe senior chief Dr Nicolas Peter, with sculpture creator Gerry Judah also in attendance.
The sculpture features a BMW 328 Mille Miglia Roadster, Brabham-BMW BT52 F1 car and the 1999 Le Mans-winning BMW V12 LMR and BMW was keen to stress all the cars are real, working vehicles, not models.
Indeed, the 328 came direct from this year’s Mille Miglia – compete with damage sustained on the event that Gerry Judah’s team had to repair before hoisting the car into their air and onto the sculpture.
A giant monocoque structure, the sculpture weighs around 140 tonnes and, quipped Judah, is “20% metal and 80% air”. It was constructed on site with Lord March monitoring progress daily from his office window.
“My wife became quite used to opening the bedroom curtains in the morning and seeing men on cranes outside our window.”
BMW is this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed honoured marque and has brought around 200 classic and modern vehicles to Goodwood to help mark its centenary. Lord March will open the 2016 Festival by driving a £1 million BMW 507 up the Goodwood Hill, and BMW also has several special areas within FoS to display its heritage vehicles.
The 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed opens today, 23 June, with the annual Moving Motor Show, ahead of the main festival running from 24-26 June. Around 250,000 people are expected to attend over the four-day event.
Q&A: Gerry Judah, sculpture designer
Q: Where did you start with this year’s sculpture?
A: I started with a blank sheet of paper and sketched ideas around the brand. Each sculpture begins in an abstract form where I bring out key characteristics for each company – for BMW, it’s muscularity and power, with added drama because it’s a centrepiece of their centenary year celebrations. Me and the rest of the team then develop the sculpture from there.
Q: Do you design it with the cars in mind?
A: I design the sculpture itself, without thinking too much about the cars that will go on it. The only thing I like to see is heritage cars used – it’s not really about modern cars and shouldn’t be an advertising feature. It’s a heritage celebration so it’s nice to see older cars displayed.
Q: How long did it take to construct?
A: On site, it takes around six weeks. We use a local company to precision-weld it together here – tolerances are millimetric. We also hoist the cars up ourselves: manufacturers trust us because they know we can do it without damaging them.
Q: Do you wish the structures could be permanent?
A: I sometimes do wish the sculptures could remain. You don’t get a full feel for the drama of them from pictures. That’s why I like to see as many people as possible over the Festival weekend getting up close to the sculptures, soaking up their drama. It’s an emotive, sensations-led experience that you just don’t get from images.