Having worked at various festivals and events over the years, I’m always fascinated by the amount of work it takes to set up a major one. I like peaking behind the pristine frontages and seeing the scaffolding beneath: the hard graft that has to be put in to create the magic that the public sees. It’s the problem with being someone who always wants to know how stuff works. So at this year’s Goodwood Festival Of Speed I was pleased to be invited to tag along with Jens Sverdrup from Koenigsegg. The brief: rock up to Goodwood on the Wednesday set-up day and see what was going on with their preparations for the weekend ahead.
The plan was pretty loose: shoot a One:1 at whatever location we could find at Goodwood, and generally just experience the arrival on-site, the organised chaos of an event in the final stages of preparation before it opened the next day. The One:1 would be displayed on the Michelin stand, so getting it there was the only constraint. I didn’t realise just what was involved in what sounded like such a simple task. It would involve me seeing the world’s first flying Koenigsegg. But that would all come later…
My first stop had been to check in with Mad Mike – he was in the process of unloading MADBUL and getting set up in the main Goodwood paddock. Jens called, “Meet us over at the Goodwood racing circuit down the road: we’ve got the cars in the pit lane.”
Cars? Plural? I was expecting a single Koenigsegg One:1. I was in for a visual and aural treat.
After all, how many are there in total? Two built so far. They couldn’t both be here, surely?
There were. Unless my lens was deceiving me it was definitely cars plural. Two of them. Sitting there in the pit lane, quietly displaying the ultimate incongruity of ultra-modern in an ultra-retro environment.
Yin and Yang: terrible twins. 2,680hp of carbon fibre, titanium and aluminium. The pair were there for some laps of the legendary Goodwood track courtesy of the Goodwood Road & Racing Club.
Not surprisingly, people were inexorably drawn to their gravitational pull. The sheer rarity of seeing a Koenigsegg means they cause a default reaction of causing people’s phones and cameras to shoot up to eye-level en masse – especially when there’s one in the raw carbon fibre.
Koenigeggs have always been miraculous machines, but the One:1 takes the previous generation Agera to another level. More downforce. More weight saving. More active aero. Even more power: another 25 percent! Its ferocious output means light-speed levels of performance. The only thing it’s got less of is… luggage space. Right. Shame. I was going to get one otherwise.
Being the world’s first megawatt car always makes me think that it’s got a thousand horsepower, which would be plenty sufficient in anyone’s book.
I always have to reread the specs several time to get that it has 1,341hp, or 1,360ps to balance its 1,360kg weight. Koenigsegg almost seem nonchalant about how powerful it is, like it was an after-thought. But then these guys only deal with big numbers. The hypercar is dead. Long live the megacar!
It’s strange looking back to the Geneva Motor Show and my first glimpse of the One:1. It’s not that the One:1 wasn’t impressive, but within the sterile confines of Palexpo’s halls cars take on an unreal, almost game-like quality. I might be more used to seeing old Jaguars and the supercars of yesteryear with the rolling Sussex hills as a backdrop, but the fresh air and bright sunshine meant that this was the first time I was really experiencing a One:1 for real.
All too soon the clock caught up with us. The day was already ebbing away and the cars were needed on site pronto. It was time to get moving. With the pit lane open in front of us, the temptation to put in another quick scorcher around the track must have been great…
But with a thunderous McLaren M12 GTO fired up in the paddock and waiting to run round as a warm-up to its own delivery to the Festival site, the silver One:1 was brought round hard astern at the end of the pit lane and came hammering back up the track, to take the exit into the paddock.
There was then a brief pause, and a further chance to stalk round every angle of the car. Now in a more public area, the One:1s now attracted a whole crowd, as marshals, mechanics from the McLaren and pretty much everyone within a couple of hundred yards was once again sucked into their orbit.
Even megacars need fuel, so there was a brief pause whilst the tanks were topped off for the weekend. The silver One:1 would be taking pride of place in the Supercar paddock, and making multiple runs up the hill over the coming four days.
The carbon car would be heading for the Michelin stand. We’d head there first. How difficult could it be? Well, we’d find out how strong those carbon wheels were, that was for sure.You’re Going To Do What?!
I then enjoyed 20 minutes of the most surreal chase I’ve ever been on, following a pair of Koenigseggs driving along leafy Sussex roads, going around roundabouts and sitting in traffic like it was perfectly normal.
On site things got even stranger. The narrow tracks of the Goodwood Estate were chock-a-block with cars and trucks all trying to get to different locations across the huge site. One minute we were passing a batch of supercars coming in the other direction, the next minute dodging trucks as we hit the hill climb course itself, used as a central artery to keep everyone moving on this set-up day.
With marshals directing traffic at every turn, we eventually headed down a laid metal track to the manufacturers’ area where the Michelin stand was located, avoiding the last couple of articulated obstacles, the roof of the One:1s barely coming up to headlight level of the haulers.
One:1 stops. Everyone stops. Doctors over the country will be treating people for whiplash for weeks to come from the amount of neck-snapping double-takes the Koenigseggs caused.
So here we were at the stand. Where was the carbon One:1 going? Here. On this revolving dias. Right. Run me through this again? How does this inordinately expensive car get up there exactly? Dismantle and reassemble? Ramps? Tunnelling in from below? Magic?
No. A crane. The plan was to hoist it up there. Now, I know that probably doesn’t sound that big a deal, but seriously, come on. They’re going to lift a Koenigsegg 20 feet up in the air, in the middle of a virtual building site, and put it onto a turntable that’s only just got enough space for the car.
Weighty responsibility doesn’t even begin to sum up what the stand crew must have been feeling. I’ve never seen so much measuring, checking and double-checking, or so many nervous glances.
The crane was due to arrive at 6:00pm, but with so much going on and so much traffic around the site, its arrival was inevitably delayed. Once I’d checked out the other cars on the Michelin stand, like the Porsche 918 and Noble M600, there wasn’t much more to do except enjoy the warm evening sun.
For the Koenigsegg team, all they could do was wait…Reach For The Sky!
Finally, the lifter rumbled down the track. The stand crew reappeared as if by magic. If I’d been them, I would have fled long ago…
There was one final flurry of tape measures and furrowed brows before the serious work commenced.
This was not a job to be rushed. The team carefully attached straps to each wheel, meticulously securing each corner before attaching them to the lifting beam. They’re lifting from the hubs? Gulp. This is where the directional strength of composites would be tested.
The crane was rated to lift 65 tons, so the ton and a bit of the One:1 was featherweight as a task. However, a little more care is required with an inordinately expensive megacar than the palettes of drinks it had been lifting on the previous job… First of all the nose of the One:1 lifted too high, with the diffuser looking perilously close to being a pivot point for the car’s weight. It was gently brought back down to earth for a second try.
By now a whole crowd had gathered to watch: how often to you get to see a flying Koenigsegg?
It was the first couple of inches that were taken slowly, every fractional lift followed by a check of each corner and readjustment of the protective blankets that were keeping the strops away from the carbon fibre.
Hanging in the air, with the crane at almost full extension, the One:1 was swung across the gap and over the pedestal. The truck had its stabiliser legs fully extended, but it still looked like a mighty long way for the crane to reach across and into…
Bringing the Koenigsegg back down to earth meant slowing right up again, the crew bringing all hands to bear to orientate the car and keep it away from the many obstacles.
Like the initial lift, the final delivery back to something solid was taken super slowly, the operator using his remote control right by his delicate payload. Watch the splitter… mind the wing! And all the time that long boom arcing ominously overhead… Car in position, the straps were removed, the crane retracted and the barrier put back in place. Job done. I’m sure there were more than a couple of sighs of relief. At least until Monday morning when they’d have to do it all over again.
The next day, the carbon One:1 serenely rotated for the Goodwood public’s delight on its dias, taking pride of place at the centre of the Michelin stand, the crowd oblivious the effort it had taken to get the car in place.
Meanwhile, One:1 number two lined up against the cream of the world’s hypercars, this one allocated its own dedicated tent at the head of the Supercar paddock. It needed not one but two LaFerraris parked next door to provide any kind of competition…
Christian von Koenigsegg took to the stage over the weekend to be interviewed about his latest creation, describing how this track-focussed carbon extremity came about.
But what we wanted to see was the car going flat-out up the hill, and we weren’t disappointed.
It has an unreal, other-worldy sound, the whoosh of the turbo on top of the high-pitched wail of the five-litre V8. They weren’t afraid to put in on the grass for some donuts either!
Pampered and preening Koenigsegg are not. The cars had put in their work from the moment they arrived; stretching their legs around the Goodwood track, proving they can be driven in traffic, negotiating their way through the lorries and obstacles, being lifted into the air… They deserved being in the spotlight both on the track and on the stands. Two One:1s for the price of one? It doesn’t get much better than that.