Racing cars

How colorful racing car liveries were born – Robb Report

“The most iconic liveries are those born out of simplicity,” says Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum, who spent most of the 90s working as chief designer at TWR, a racing team and a company. British engineering. “Basically, stripes matter; they accentuate the shapes of a car. By using stripes in a certain way, you can give a car a unit that it might not otherwise have. “

First racing livery

Until the late 1960s, international racing circuits featured solid color paints, which indicated the nationality of the car manufacturer or driver. When sponsorships entered the fray in 1968, more complex liveries came to life. The following decade, bold colors were all the rage, but Lotus resisted that trend by introducing the John Player Special, an all-black paint scheme that highlighted its sponsors in gold. “It was really amazing because you had those clean lines of the car that matched the elegance of the color black,” said Giorgio Piola, Motorsport Network’s head of technical analysis and illustration. “The car is known as Black Beauty.”

Lotus John Special Player

Lotus John Special Player

Photo: Dan74 / Shutterstock

Two decades later, Callum developed this sleek graphic concept by designing a two-tone purple paint scheme for the Silk Cut Racing Team Jaguar XJR-14. “It was the idea to make it look like it was covered with a purple silk blanket,” he explains. “It was really the first attempt to cover a car with something more interesting than just scratches. The graphic showed the shape of the car instead of trying to disguise it.

Two-tone Silk Cut Racing concept

Two-tone Silk Cut Racing concept

Artistic and consistent livery designs, although the most memorable, were rare throughout the 1970s and are even rarer today. According to Callum, the reason is the business imperative of the race. “It’s such a difficult exercise,” he says. “When someone pays millions of dollars, they want their pound of flesh.”

Porsche "Pink pig"

Porsche’s “pink pig”

In rare cases, a renowned racing livery has arisen from the engineering of racing cars. The most notable event took place in 1971, when Porsche engineers sought to merge the body styles of the short and long tail 917 models. The race car that emerged featured a wide body with rounded wheel cutouts and a short, low nose. Even though the car was nimble and quick – it was the fastest car in the pre-race qualifying sessions at Le Mans – it was also pretty ugly. Embracing this, the Porsche racing team created a pink racing livery that cut it up into parts of a pig’s body, including each butcher’s names cut into German. The car quickly earned the nickname “Pink Pig” (as well as “Big Berta” and “True Hunter”), and Porsche recently rolled out its retirement livery for the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Famous liveries designed in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s also gained their iconic status, in part, due to factors unrelated to color schemes or racing stripes. “Human history was more important in the 1970s than it is today,” says Harold Primat, a retired professional runner who, during his 17-year career, has competed in numerous races. times at Le Mans and Blancpain Endurance Series. “You were talking about these amazing engineers, these amazing drivers and an amazing sponsor. You felt like you were part of it; you might recognize yourself in this story. It took an emotional impact because of the human adventure, and the accomplishment felt more human. “

Steve McQueen at Le Mans

Steve McQueen at Le Mans

Photo: Shutterstock

The 1971 film Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, immortalized the powder blue and orange Gulf livery and embodies this notion. In 2009, Primate raced for the Gulf-sponsored Aston Martin team, and he says his love of the livery and the pride he felt behind the wheel of the car was linked to the history of the livery, particularly to through this Hollywood lens. “I don’t even know what victories the Gulf livery has won,” he says. “But I know it’s Le Mans and Steve McQueen. It made people dream of running.


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