The Cars of "Nikes"
From the Mulsanne straight of Le Mans, to the tight corners of the Nürburgring. On the limit in every corner, pushing for that perfect lap in nirvana. Tuck into the slipstream, ride it until the last moment, then dive into the braking zone. But wait, don’t brake until the last absolute moment. Feel the G-forces rearranging your organs, pulling your eyes out of their sockets.
Welcome to the life of a Grand Prix driver: beautiful women, exotic locations, and cars designed to go faster than fuck.
As a petrolhead, seeing Frank Ocean's “Nikes” video spoke to my soul. Seeing rare Le Mans legends on display again not for their performance figures, but for their beauty’s sake is extraordinarily special. We all know that Frank is a fast car diehard. He bleeds SAE 5W-30 and gets turned on by the sound of powerful motor running. If there remains a reason to explain where Frank’s love of cars comes from; this article won't help with that. This piece is dedicated to the drivers and the machines that forged names for themselves on motorsport's greatest stages, highlighted in the music video for Frank Ocean's 2012 leading single for Blonde.
The majority of the cars featured in Frank Ocean’s “Nikes” video came from Roald Goethe’s garage. A few years back, Goethe bought the cars from the Duncan Hamilton ROFGO collection, an estate managed by the 1950s race star's son, Anthony Hamilton. Located in England, this is one of the world's biggest and most exclusive collections. They own most of motorsports’ iconic cars blessed with the infamous Gulf livery. The cars featured in the video are two McLaren F1 GTRs (one of which is a ‘Longtail’), Audi R8 LMP, and an Aston Martin DBR9. All of these cars have raced at motorsports’ most famous race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the uninitiated, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (French: 24 Heures du Mans) is an automobile endurance race that takes place in mid-June, at the Circuit de la Sarthe, in Le Mans, France. The race has taken place annually since 1923.
The “Nikes” video showed us that Frank knows his shit. For him to get three Le Mans legends featured in one video is amazing. In Boys Don't Cry, Frank wrote about his love for cars and how they have played a major role in his life. “Raf Simons once told me it was cliché, my whole car obsession,” wrote Ocean in the introduction to the zine released as a companion to Blonde. Frank doesn’t care whether or not his love for cars underscores a "straight-boy fantasy," he just enjoys them and the way they make him feel. For an enthusiast, owning a car isn’t about getting from points A to B, it’s about the bit in the middle and the experience that comes with it. Life is too short to buy boring cars.
Oh yeah, did I mention the total worth of cars in the video is over $30 million dollars?
McLaren F1 GTR
Engine: BMW S70/26,064 cc (6.1 L) V12 naturally-aspirated producing 592 HP
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: Mid-engine, rear wheel drive
Top speed: 200 mph+
The McLaren F1 was never designed to be a race car, but in the early 90’s, a handful of McLaren customers convinced Ron Dennis to develop a racing variant of the McLaren F1. Thus the GTR was developed in 1995 for the BPR Global GT Series; in which it dominated. During that time, the Mac GTR took a historic overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, beating out more advanced prototype cars. A total of 28 F1 GTR chassis were made, 27 of them going to customers, and 1 being kept by McLaren. These cars are worth over $13 million.
McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’
Though it shares its name with its predecessor, the F1 GTR “Longtail” is a bigger, more aggressive variant. Utilizing technologies from their Formula 1 team, McLaren designed the “Longtail” to be a more aerodynamic and lighter version of the F1 GTR. The “Longtail” name comes from the car's additional two feet in length over the standard model; this modified bodywork was designed to increase downforce. The McLaren F1 GTR Longtail was such a great car that it would remain racing until its retirement in 2005. Today, one of these bad-boys can fetch over $18 million.
Audi R8 LMP
Engine: Audi 3,660 cc (3.6 L) 90-degree V8 twin-turbo producing 570-670 HP
Transmission: Ricardo 6-speed sequential manual Multiple-disc LSD
Layout: mid-engine, longitudinally mounted, rear wheel drive
Top speed: 217 mph
When you hear the name of this model, you may think of the road-going sports car, but the original Audi R8 is a Le Mans Prototype (LMP) race car that competed from 2000 to 2006. The R8 is one of the most dominant race cars in history, winning 63 out of 79 races it competed in and winning overall at Le Mans 5 times. This car was the start of Audi’s dominance at Le Mans; the German team has gone on to win the French race 8 more times to date.
Aston Martin DBR9
Engine: Aston Martin 6,000 cc (6.0 L), V12 naturally aspirated, producing 625 HP
Transmission: X-trac 6-speed sequential transmission
Layout: front-engine, longitudinally mounted, rear wheel drive
Top speed: 180 mph
“Power, Beauty, Soul.” Possibly the most beautiful car ever made, the Aston Martin DBR9 is a purpose-built racing car based on the DB9 road car. The DBR9 competed in international sports car racing in the GT1 class from 2005-2011. The name is derived from the Le Mans-winning DBR1 race car, named after then-owner David Brown. This car doesn’t have the prestige like the other cars on this list, but it is known for taking two class wins at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2005 and 2008. The DBR9 is so fast that it can go from 0-100-0 in a matter of seconds.
BMW M3 E30
Engine: BMW 2,300-2,500 cc (2.3-2.5 L), natural aspirated, producing 192-215 HP
Transmission: 5 speed manual Getrag 265 Manual
Layout: front-engine, longitudinally mounted, rear wheel drive
Top speed: 120 mph
The. Ultimate. Driving. Machine.
The BMW E30 M3 is a cultural icon, it got its humble beginnings in the mid-80’s when competing in the German DTM racing series. Designed to dominate its rivals, the M3 features flared wheel arches, bigger tires, tuned suspension, spoiler, and a more powerful motor than the regular 3 series. You've seen this car on the cover of Nostalgia Ultra and in the “Nikes” video as well. Over the past few years the M3 has become very popular because of its classic '80s look. It has often been said that the E30 M3 is the greatest M3 ever devised. It’s as refined as it is a blast to drive, making it a favorite in Frank Ocean's collection.