Mark Bon­ner re­veals how his love for mo­tor rac­ing sparked a new hobby

Computer Arts - - Contents -

I read some­where that when asked what he likes to do most, David Hock­ney replied: ‘I’d like to paint a door, with a big brush. One flat, shiny colour. Red, that’s my favourite.’

Hav­ing been a de­signer for 30 years now, I still find that what gets me fired up is mak­ing things. In my day job, we make stuff all day long, but I’m more of a con­duc­tor than a soloist th­ese days. I love noth­ing more than rolling up my sleeves and get­ting my hands dirty, and I’m on a quest to get this sim­ple, tac­tile plea­sure back through my pas­sion for mo­tor rac­ing.

In 2002, I went to the 24 Heures du Mans race in France. I fell in love with it and have been back for every race since. It’s an epic test of en­gi­neer­ing and hu­man en­durance, and an in­cred­i­ble as­sault on the senses. I could write a whole magazine about how vis­ceral it is, how beau­ti­ful the cars have al­ways been, and the in­cred­i­ble courage re­quired to drive for 24 hours with­out stop­ping at speeds ap­proach­ing 400km/h on a ‘green’ cir­cuit carved out of Route Na­tionale in ru­ral France. How the smell of track­side BBQs and Grand Marnier crêpes be­comes ir­re­sistible at twi­light, what it’s like to watch from atop the fa­mous Fer­ris wheel as the cars snake through the Ford chi­cane leav­ing trails of streak­ing head­lights, or sun­rise at Mul­sanne cor­ner watch­ing the brake discs glow­ing red hot as they scrub off speed into this fa­mous cor­ner from a nearly three-mile-long straight. There’s also so much his­tory: Steve McQueen’s film, the crash that killed 48 fans in 1955, the Gulf Porsche 917, the clas­sic posters, and of course, the driv­ers them­selves.

My love af­fair with this place and its race led me to buy a house nearby. In fact, I drew a 30-minute ra­dius around the track on a map and set­tled on a place sit­u­ated right in the heart of Le Mans folk­lore, be­tween a tiny town called Te­loché (where the Porsche 917s were race pre­pared in 1971) and La Chartre sur le Loir (home of the iconic Ho­tel de France, which among a slew of fa­mous names, hosted John Wyer’s victorious GT40 teams). Back in the day, the par­tic­i­pat­ing teams used to drive their cars to the race on pub­lic roads. In fact, they drove right past our house.

One June evening in 2008, while I was watch­ing the me­chan­ics in the pit lane at Le Mans work­ing on more mod­ern cars through my binoc­u­lars, it hit me. The com­men­ta­tor was ref­er­enc­ing my favourite race car, win­ner of Le Mans from 1966 to 1969: Ford’s in­cred­i­ble GT40. I de­cided that I was go­ing to build my own.

While work­ing as Pres­i­dent of D&AD in 2015, I promised my­self I was go­ing to learn to be a car me­chanic in the evenings, just for fun. I looked for night school classes un­til some­one told me that I might stick out just a bit at the lo­cal col­lege, given my age and my day job.

Last year, I learned a lot restor­ing an old Honda mo­tor­bike and one day soon, a replica 1967 Ford GT40 will be de­liv­ered to my garage in France in around 2,500 in­di­vid­ual parts. They say it’ll take 800 hours to as­sem­ble, give or take. My wife thinks I’m mad, and you might think the same, but some day, I’ll drive it along that road from my house to the track, just like Chris Amon did be­fore he won the race in 1966. How hard can it be? I might even do a David Hock­ney and paint it red.

This vin­tage rac­ing print from Bon­ner’s col­lec­tion shows the num­ber 6 Ford GT40 MKI in the pits at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hour race.

Co-creative di­rec­tor of GBH London and 2015’s D&AD Pres­i­dent, Mark Bon­ner, re­veals how his love for mo­tor rac­ing sparked a new hobby

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