Should Mercedes-AMG ever invite you to design a livery for one of their GT3 missiles, you should accept immediately, especially if your vision ends up adorning a race car running in the 24h of Spa. That was the case earlier this year when Mercedes-AMG tapped rock band Linkin Park to bedeck the 6.2-liter V8 GT3 from Black Falcon’s team. The musicians leapt at the chance and at the end of July, several band members found themselves at Spa-Francorchamps, watching their comely vision blur by during the Blancpain GT Series race. Dave Farrell, bassist for Linkin Park, talked to The Drive about the design partnership, hot laps in the new Mercedes-AMG GT R and why he loves endurance races.
The Drive: How did the relationship between Linkin Park and Mercedes-AMG begin?
Farrell: There wasn’t a definitive start point. We met a few people at AMG years ago and we’ve always been looking for good partnerships, unique ones where creativity is paramount. We kept circling with Mercedes and getting more involved. They used our song for a brand video last year and this year, they asked if we’d want to design a car for them. We were immediately into it.
What was the design process like?
AMG told us we could do whatever we wanted. It wasn’t like they sent us a few designs and we only selected one. Joe [Hahn, the band’s DJ] and Mike [Shinoda, vocals and keyboards] both went to art school and have a background in illustration, so they led the charge. They came up with a few versions and concepts and bounced them off the band and we ultimately honed it down to the final product that ran at Spa.
When you saw the final version, what did you think?
I loved it. What’s cool is Joe wanted to something that would look different under daylight than at night. That mirror chrome that you see is perfect because as it gets darker outside, it starts looking black, which is awesome. You can see in pictures from the trials and then from the race, it looks like two different cars.
Did you grow up as a racing fan?
Not really. I wasn’t exposed to any GT series or Formula 1 growing up, and I never connected with NASCAR or IndyCar. But, in the last ten years, when we started playing F1 in Abu Dhabi and Singapore, I was blown away by how fun F1 is. I’m really getting into the series now, trying to watch races whenever I can.
You attended the 24h of Spa race. What was the most interesting aspect of being there?
I’m stunned at how they set up endurance race cars. The type – and amount – of work that goes into everything is fascinating. To be able to stand up to the level of torture required by an enduro race puts your car in a whole different league. It was cool to see the pit crews in action.
I hear you got some hot laps in the new AMG GT R. Lucky. How was that?
Man, the control and ability those drivers have is really apparent when you’re in the car witnessing it. Our driver, Jan [Seyffarth, FIA GT3 and AMG factory driver] was whipping us around with one hand, making jokes and I’m just trying not lose my lunch with all those g-forces and the adrenaline flowing. It was incredible
What’s your daily driver?
I used to have a ‘97 Land Rover Defender, which I loved. That thing was absolutely awesome. I had it for ten years and was the second owner. It only had 12,000 miles and I babied it. But my wife and I now have three young girls, so it was a little unrealistic to keep as a family cruiser. Now, I’ve got a first-generation Tesla Model S, which I like because I can use the carpool lane when headed to the studio about an hour from my house. And I’ve got a Ford F150 Raptor with the Roush package. Kind of the direct opposite from a quiet electric vehicle. [Laughs].
Nice. Any Mercedes in your garage?
Not yet, but I’ve got a C63 AMG on order. I’m hoping it comes in soon. My first ‘grown up’ car was actually an E55 AMG. It was the very last year before they switched to the 6.3-liter and I loved that thing. It was the perfect blend of comfort and complete performance. That car was like sitting in a very fast, pillow top bed. I could do road trips for days in that E55. I miss it.