EVERYONE knows Carl Cox the DJ.
His incredible career spanning over three decades is well documented and he shows no sign of slowing down just yet. We recently headed down to Goodwood Motor Circuit to catch up with him and found out that when he does finally apply the brakes to his music career he will be putting his foot down to indulge his passion for cars and motorbikes. He’s already got more than 100 cars and bikes in his collection, runs his own motorsport team, and the day we met he had just got his mitts on a delicious Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Meet Carl Cox the petrolhead!
When did your love of cars begin?
As soon as I understood what a car meant. Our family used to travel a lot from Manchester down to South London. My Dad was always buying a car of some sort which I was interested in. I remember the late 60s the cars he brought at the time was a Singer Vogue, Austin A40, Austin 1100, Ford Corsairs, Cortinas, we had a Zephyr Zodiac. Dad was into cars! It was a natural progression for me to get into cars from about 8 or 9 years old. And then the first car I brought was a Morris Traveller. I paid £20 for it. It was a rusty piece of shit and had a crank handle start.
And now you are racing cars professionally. Can you tell us about the drag racing?
I got into drag racing at an early age too. A friend of mine, Tony Armstrong that used to live in the area I grew up in Carshalton and his father used to fix automatic transmissions on American cars. It was awesome to see him doing this and then the cars used to go and race in the UK on the Santa Pod raceway and we used to go nearly every month to go and see these cars race. Tony Armstrong’s dad used to go down there and pitch to fix the transmissions on these American cars. I remember outside their house were all these Chevy Impalas, Mustangs, Lincoln Continentals. He was the man. He used to chuck the whole family in those cars, get three in the front, four in the back of a Chevy Impala and we’d cruise off down to Santa Pod Raceway. Watching those cars take off and hit speeds like you have never seen before was just awesome and we used to see top fuel dragsters, rocket cars and all sorts of amazing machines. I fell in love with drag racing from that point on.
I do it myself now professionally and have carried on that tradition of drag racing in Australia where I have now built my own car. It’s a Mark 1 Capri 1973 with a 420 cube small block V8 with a single 106 turbo on it now. My personal best is 7.3 seconds and elapse time of 191mph. So that’s pretty quick!
Along with the Capri you have a pretty extensive collection of cars, can you talk us through some of the highlights as I hear it’s rather a big collection?! Let’s start with this one here today, can you tell us about this beauty?
Well yeah, this is a future modern classic, the Porsche GT3 RS. This is one of the best circuit cars for a track day like today at Goodwood and that you can buy today. It’s not cheap for sure but if you are into your driving, this is probably one of the best cars you will ever drive. For me, it makes me feel like a bit of a hero you know, it has a lot of new electronic trickery that helps you get round the track as fast as you can. It’s an amazing piece of kit to do that kind of driving. But for me, I also like my old school muscle cars. I’ve got three Mustangs, I’ve got the same 1968 Bullitt Mustang GT that Steve McQueen had in the film, I’ve got a Pontaic 1965 GTO, a 1956 Chevy Nomad, the list goes on! I’m very lucky and a lot of the cars that I have reflect the cars I grew up with.
I was more familiar with your love of motorbikes before today but that is clearly matched by your love of cars. Can you tell us about your motorbikes though?
I was into biking from an early age too. I was always cycling everywhere as a kid on pushbikes. As soon as I got an engine on a bike frame of some sort, I was in! My first bike at 16 years old was a Yamaha S1E and all my mates had them. We were like a motor cycle gang coming out of school! We would potter around trying to go as fast as we could and then of course we wanted more power so we went 50cc to 125cc to 175cc to 250cc. Then Yamaha brought out a street race bike in 1981 called a RD350 and 250 LC which changed the game. They were so fast and some people unfortunately didn’t last too long on those cycles. That was around the time I stopped using them.
From that point on until 2004 I didn’t ride and then I got back on a bike at that time and the DNA of being a biker went straight back in and now I have a very big extensive collection of bikes. I’ve got over 100 motorcycles now in the collection and at least 10 race bikes and I’ve just taken delivery of a new Honda 213 CV, so basically the Moto GP spec that Honda built for Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. It’s on a crate heading back to New Zealand so I’m looking forward to riding that when I get back there.
Let’s talk about your racing team Carl Cox Motor Sport which you founded in 2012. Can you tell us how that’s going?
It all started off with me buying one motor cycle to race at Philip Island (Victoria, Australia). Every year they do historic motor racing. I wanted to get involved and brought the bike that would work out in the category called Period 6 which is 1989 type motor cycle racing. I got a Suzuki G6R750 and I asked Michael Neves if he would come over to Australia and ride the bike and he said yes. On our first time out we ended up coming third out of our period class. That’s where Carl Cox Motor Sport was born.
Then we took on a side car duo from New Zealand called Robbie Shorter and Barry Smith and these guys were just amazing how they got themselves round so quick so I was able to sponsor them aswell. They got the opportunity to enter the Isle of Man TT but unfortunately Barry Smith had an injury so we asked Colin Buckley who is a side car legend to take his place. We have done it twice now and came 11th both times out of 70 side cars.
Over the coming years do you think that Carl Cox Motor Sport will be what takes over when you do eventually slow down from DJing?
It’s already happening. Right now I have three side cars and UK championship winners of side car racing through Tim Reeves and his brother Tristan. All the races we have done so far in the UK and Europe we have won. Carl Cox Motor Sport has already helped make history! Also this year we have had Michael Dunlop win the senior class at the Isle of Mann TT. He’s amazing, a formidable rider and I’m really proud to be able to get behind him as he is such a hot property. So whether I like it or not, I’m backing winners and we have a really good selection of people I am working with in the team as it really is a team effort.
Gavin Sokolich runs the team for Carl Cox Motor Sport. We have brought into a race track in New Zealand called Bruce McClaren Motor Park and through Carl Cox Motor Sport we are bringing more attention to this circuit in New Zealand and Australia. It’s expanding big time and an incredible journey so far. People know who I am as a DJ and what I have done and I think now to utilise what I have learned from the marketing and brand side of my career in music and apply it to my passion for motor sport which is the other side of what I do is a great thing. And it’s already made a difference.
I’d like to also race build a Mustang to race at Goodwood for the festival of speed. Hopefully for next year or the year after.
One last question and it has to go back to the music! A final word from you on the year you have had since Space closed, how’s it been?
I miss Space terribly. I look back on a lot of those videos and remember what made Space so special and we will never get that back. We only have the memories of what was recorded and it’s difficult to emulate what we had there anywhere in the world. I think a lot of people were lost in Ibiza because Space wasn’t there this year, it’s changed the island and left a big hole where it used to be. We would normally have been talking about the Space closing party at this time of year but there isn’t one now. Of course there were closing parties on the island but there was no closing party like a Space closing party. I think people have realised how important Space was to the island.
For me though, I am who I am and can make a great party in a garage so you know, I’ve always been there to give the people the best time possible with the music I play and this year to have the opportunity to do PURE at Privilege was huge and through myself, Dave Brown and Owen Smith we decided we wanted to revitalise that club and bring in my festival concept PURE which I have in Australia to Ibiza and give people a proper sweaty rave. No confetti or fireworks! Great DJs playing great music on a great sound system. The response from the people was incredible. I also just finished Marco Carola’s Music On which was outstanding. People loved it! Marco loved it too and that I was able to come in and compliment his already amazing night which has seen such great success at Amnesia over the last 5 years. And tonight onto The Social Festival in Maidstone where I will be playing for Nic Fanciulli again.
This interview took place on September 29th 2017 at Goodwood Motor Circuit and excerpts were included in The Sun newspaper on October 19th in the Motors section.