To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, OAK Racing paid homage to the Sarthe event: Jacques Nicolet and his Le Mans team initiated the realisation of an Art Car around the themes of the circuit itself and of security, on the track as well as on the road. The French Sculptor Fernando Costa thus created a unique work of art. This work saw itself awarded the prestigious title of “Art Car of the 90 years of the 24 Hours of Le Mans” by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. This work of art then presided over the birth of another art car, a racing car, covered in a coat in its image, the #45 Morgan-Nissan LM P2, entered by OAK Racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013.
Jacques Nicolet: “This Art Car is the incarnation of my passion for endurance and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The idea of an art car took hold during my involvement in endurance racing. It took root from my first 24 Hours of Le Mans as a driver in 2007, and grew with the development of the OAK Racing team. It imposed itself since my meeting with Costa. Because Costa speaks to everyone, young and old, art lovers and novices, and his style of expression, traffic signs, is in total harmony with the themes put in place on the car, the Le Mans circuit and safety, one of the concerns of our society. The OAK Racing Costa Art Car is a bridge between motorsport and society, art and technique, an opening on the world of dreams, a culmination and a promise of the future.
The Art Car follows the path started by Hervé Poulain: work of art and racing car. It is particular however, because the artist installed the work of art directly onto an LM P2 chassis, strong with its four participations and two podiums in the Sarthe event. It was honoured by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest with the title of ‘Art Car of the 90 years of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.’ I hope that it will generate emotion and surprises for many years to come.”
OAK Racing entrusted the French sculptor Fernando Costa with the creation of the Art Car. Passionate about cars, motorsport and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Fernando Costa perfectly embodies the spirit of this creation that combines an homage to the Sarthe event and road safety. Fernando Costa made the signpost his favourite material, a material that he recovers, cuts up, assembles and welds. His welded panels often tell stories, evoke situations or moods, often with humour, at the junction of several artistic currents, the New realists and Pop Art. His works are in his image, both raw and full of subtleties.
Fernando Costa: “In my meeting with Jacques Nicolet and the outcome of this project, the most important for me was the trust which was given to me and the challenge that this represented. As I like challenges and to put myself in danger, I accepted straight away. What artist would renounce to work on an Art Car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans? When, what’s more, you love this legendary event, this great popular celebration of motorsport, you would throw yourself into the adventure and hope to make people smile and to give them some happiness. I am very honoured that the Automobile Club de l’Ouest made this car the emblem of the 90 years of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
The work of art
An Art Car is many things: a work of art, racing machine and dream machine. OAK Racing’s one is unique: a prototype that became a sculpture and its racing version. For the first time, the design of a work of art was copied onto a racing car. First LM P2 in the history of Art Cars, the team’s #45 Morgan-Nissan took the start of the 24 Hours with the livery that reproduced the sculpture.
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “We were immediately taken with the project that Jacques Nicolet presented to us. The quality, originality and symbol of the artist’s work illustrate the values of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, and the history of our event. It seemed logical then to make this work of art a symbol of the 90 years of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Artistic expression has always been a strong element in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, whether it be via the cinema, painters, photographs, or the tradition of art cars dear to Hervé Poulain.”
A racing car that became a sculpture
On an LM P2 chassis from the OAK Racing team, and with a pedigree of four participations and two podiums in the Sarthe event in 2008 and 2010, Costa applied his favourite material – the signpost.
Costa first of all fixed on the carbon prototype 1000 rivets and a second skin of 120 kilos of sheet metal to be able to weld his work. After two months of work in secrecy, 250 kilos of enamelled plates and 20’000 weld points, the OAK Racing Art Car was born.
A sculpture that became a racing car
From this sculpture a racing car was born, entered by OAK Racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the #45 Morgan-Nissan LM P2. With it, a new adventure began, supported by experts from different areas, working in close collaboration.
Thanks to Dassault Systèmes’ Design Studio, they were able to faithfully transpose the work of art onto the livery of the racing LM P2. A design laboratory of research and social innovation, Dassualt Systèmes’s Design Studio meets the changes of use of the users and of new technological challenges.
After the creation of the virtual coat, Hexis, partner of choice for the technicality of their products and their passion for motorsport, was able to produce an adhesive film just like the sculpture and to perfectly cover the bodywork of the racing LM P2.
Anne Asensio, Vice-President of Design Experience: “For the OAK Racing Art Car project, we wanted as designers to involve ourselves into a tense approach between Art and Technology. Respecting Costa’s original work and the sculptural aesthetics, we brought our expertise and our creativity by creating the coat of the “Art Car” using “3D mapping”, which consists in placing the material and the colours of the original work into the complex surfaces of a racing prototype. This work required a great sense of observation and a definite sense of understanding the volumes as well as a sound judgment of the graphic composition, not forgetting of course the mastery of the digital tools. I am delighted to contribute, with the designers of the Design Studio of Dassault Systems, to a modest part of the creation of OAK Racing’s Art Car, as well as the more personal adventure of my friend Jacques Nicolet, in his search to join art to automotive and sporting performance. His approach corresponds perfectly to our values.”