When music and racing go hand in hand

Iggy Pop at the Le Mans 24 Hours? Not just yet, but two men are bringing the music and racing business together, as Sam Smith explains

Iggy Pop at Le Mans! Now there's a thought. There are a couple of men with a shared passion for motorsport, who could make this seemingly random, yet wonderful dream, a reality.

In a year when Le Mans' rock 'n' roll credentials are at an all-time high via the Rolling Stone magazine involvement with ESM, there is actually another LMP2 driver that can rival the hedonistic pulse of an exciting music and racing business crossover.

Meet John Giddings and Matt Howson. The former is a well-known and successful music industry figure, while the other is one of the up and coming breed of quick and savvy professional sportscar drivers with the KCMG team which scored two class wins in last season's WEC.

Howson will tackle this weekend's race with teammates Richard Bradley and Nicolas Lapierre in the alluring electric blue Oreca 05-Nissan.

The two met when Giddings, who is a friend to many in the F1 paddock, went to Brands Hatch and sponsored Howson's Formula BMW entry on the recommendation of his old friend and Carlin Motorsport co-founder Steve Hollman.

"It was all very surreal actually because I was going to partner up with one of the Carlin cars to promote the festival, this was way back in 2006," says Giddings. "But they had deals with Red Bull deals in place so they put me on to this kid called Matt Howson.

"Anyway, he went and won the big Sunday race which was televised live. That's where it all started. Matt is a quick, good looking kid and he's very professional so I wanted to see him do well, which he has."

"We have a synergy that really works and Matt spreads the love on the Isle of Wight Festival and I get plugged in to racing, so everyone wins."

The relationship blossomed and whereas Giddings has a genuine love of motorsport, Howson is also a talented DJ and has played 'sets' regularly to the hip and the cool around his home city of London. He even got a go on the 'decks' at the 2006 IoW Festival itself.

"That was cool but we also had my car at that time – the Formula BMW – back stage. Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters took a liking to it, and sat in it for a photo," Howson recalls. "That was damn surreal but a very special moment indeed."

Giddings gave the iconic Isle of Wight Festival a re-birth back in 2002 and the event has again become one of the biggest of the festival season. He hitchhiked as a young man to the famed 1970 edition when The Who, Hendrix and The Doors rocked the gentile island on the very southern tip of England.

Now, Giddings presides over the modern rock Gods/Goddesses who perform at the Festival and has a fair few special memories to share: "I remember Robert Plant coming up to me at the entrance of the Premier Inn one year and asked 'do you like Moroccan disco?' With a straight, sincere face, I said yes."

"Then there was watching the Sex Pistols perform a country version of 'Pretty Vacant'. Brilliant!"

"We've also had Adrian Newey here at the Festival; he's a great guy, really good fun," concludes Giddings."

The memories flow and Giddings' natural enthusiasm for both music and racing come through readily. He was at the Silverstone WEC race and was devouring every detail of Howson's weekend.

Giddings is quick to acknowledge his reverence for racing drivers and also acknowledges the similarities between the rock star/artist and a modern racing driver?

"I suppose if you look at the perceived glamour then you could make a lazy assumption between the two, but to be honest if you are a Pro in either of these games then you are performing at an exceptional level as a professional," he says.

"For me, Matt and his adversaries have got just as much skill and guts as some of the top boys and girls performing at the Festival."

So where does Iggy Pop fit in? The rock behemoth and energetic genius behind 'Lust for Life' and 'I Wanna be your Dog' is still one of Gidding's clients and a long standing friend. Maybe Iggy could ride as The Passenger at La Sarthe?

"Get Iggy to Le Mans?" Giddings muses. "Now that would be fun would be fun wouldn't it. Let me make a call."

More on the 2015 Isle of Wight Festival.

Follow Matt Howson at Le Mans on Twitter

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Series Le Mans
Article type Special feature