The Lotus Poppy Car and the Race of Remembrance
The Poppy Car created by Lotus and Mission Motorsport, the UK Armed Forces’ motorsport charity, was in high-octane action over the weekend at the annual Race of Remembrance.
It took place at the race track on Anglesey on the north coast of Wales. The unique Exige Cup 430 acted as safety car at the event, which Mission Motorsport’s founder and CEO, Major James Cameron, describes as… “a remembrance service with a 12-hour endurance race attached”.
He added: “Saturday was pretty special. We ran a supercar event where the Poppy Car was able to take out some of the beneficiaries involved in its design. It also set the 10 fastest lap times of the weekend with passengers on board. And the car looked glorious as it was doing its job in the dark – we watched the poppy design all lit up as it was bringing the field of 53 race cars in to the pit lane as Saturday ended.”
The car made its world debut last Thursday – 11 November – at a special service of remembrance at Hethel, the home of Lotus since 1966 and a former RAF air base. The striking and emotive poppy design was created in-house by some of those which Mission Motorsport has supported. The team, including Kes Bradley, Jack Taylor, Chris Read, Gareth Lloyd and Matt Stringer, took inspiration from previous Poppy Cars and created an eye-catching livery that would work on the Exige’s performance-oriented body.
Thousands of hand-placed poppies form the design, 635 of which are reflective, shining bright when a light is run over them. Each represents a British service person who lost their life in Afghanistan or Iraq. Once the design was finalised, Mission Motorsport’s Livery Manager, Lee Winstone, and charity beneficiary Marc Tarling spent a week turning the Exige into a moving tribute. You’d never believe the bodywork is bright green underneath.
The race itself on Sunday was as eventful as ever, and the Lotus Exige was kept busy during during the 12 hours. The whole event was broadcast live on YouTube. Maj Cameron explained: “If we were to sum up 2021’s Race of Remembrance, it was our largest-ever entry of 53 teams and the furthest ever distance travelled during the 12 hours. The remembrance service was quite extraordinary; with the 19th Regiment Royal Artillery providing a piper and a drummer, you’d have been hard-pressed to find someone unmoved by it.”
He added: “For obvious reasons we didn’t do the race last year, and the sense of how much people had missed it was palpable. There was a real sense of the community coming back together in the pit lane.”
Lotus is a member of Mission Automotive, the Armed Forces engagement initiative delivered by Mission Motorsport in partnership with the Royal Foundation and The Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Lotus is actively encouraging ex-military to join the business as it transforms from a UK sports car company to a global performance car company.
Corinna Fletcher, Organisation Development Director, Group Lotus, said: “Lotus is embarking upon an exciting future and is leading the way in efficient and lightweight mobility technologies including high-performance electric cars. We are signatories to The Armed Forces Covenant and as such we are pleased to help grow the careers of former service personnel at Lotus, where their particular skills of creativity, leadership, communication, motivation and discipline are vital for the future growth our company. We already have ex-military personnel who have a found rewarding careers with Lotus in IT, Engineering, Project Management and Production.”
Since 2012 Mission Motorsport has helped former service people find work in numerous automotive businesses, including vehicle livery design and wrapping. The Lotus Poppy Car is the perfect showcase for the team’s abilities and will now be used by Lotus and the charity in promotional activities.