Have you ever thought back to what gets ingrained the most into your memory when you are exposed to racing cars when you are a child or adolescent? Long before you can name off cylinder amounts, horsepower numbers, top speeds, what do you remember the most? Chances are, its the myriad of colors and logos that adorned your favorite teams and cars.
I remember, when I was little watching NASCAR and Formula 1 races with my father and my grandfather. I remember watching the orange and white of Tony Stewart’s many Home Depot backed rides, the rainbow Dupont liveries of Jeff Gordon, and the white and red #21 cars fielded by The Wood Brothers Racing.
Adversely, The Rosso Corsa of the Ferrari’s, monochromatic Mclaren cars, and the orange and black of the Arrows grand prix cars danced across television screens for my enjoyment and captivated my imagination.
The livery is the first thing you recognize on any racing car. It’s what you come to associate with a particular driver, car, or team. A livery can make or break the program for some people. So, they play an important role in how the team is perceived by the general public and the fans.
It wasn’t until I was older, thanks to video games and the internet that I was exposed to more famous liveries of racing decades gone by. The white, red, and sky blue of every Martini sponsored effort in just about every racing discipline you could imagine. Ecurie Ecosse, Benetton, Marlboro, John Player, Rothmans, Castrol, Calsonic, Alitalia, are just a few that come to mind. All of these pail in comparison to the iconic powder blue and marigold of Gulf Oil Company.
Those two colors have been on just about every car imaginable. Front LeMans winning endurance racers, to touring cars, rally cars, you name it. Chances are there has been a car in the series that’s proudly worn those colors.
It was a few weeks ago in early December, that Nick and I made the sort drive to Dream Makers exotic car dealership here in town to peruse their selection of machinery when we were confronted with this, a 2006 Ford GT “Heritage Edition”. Built to celebrate the end of the GT’s production, and it’s grandfather’s (the GT40) plethora of racing victories. The Gulf Oil colors adorning the contemporary remake of the GT are there to celebrate the back to back GT-Class wins in the 24 Hours of LeMans for the GT/Mirage cars.
Just 343 of these tribute cars were ever made. This one, sitting alone in the middle of Dream Maker’s massive showroom was nearly all to ourselves. Now, when I was younger, I never really liked the remake of the GT. I always thought it was a waste of money, when you could go get a “better” car from any of the European manufacturers. As I get older though. I’ve grown to appreciate what it represents for that era of American automobile production. The economy wasn’t the greatest, the country was at war in the Middle East, and Ford Motor Company wasn’t in the greatest financial shape.
However they still went out on a limb, and produced one of the greatest cars of the early 21st century. A 5.4 liter, supercharged V8 shoving 550hp and 500lbft. of torque through a six speed manual trans-axle. Now that’s something special. Its a bastion, standing guard, showing that even though the country still wasn’t quite in the best of shape in the early 2000’s, we could still make a cracker of a sports car.
Next time you are perusing your local car dealer, show, or race track. Make sure to take note of all the liveries you recognize. Then remember, they all came from somewhere, because of the hard work of the sponsors, manufacturers, teams, and drivers they are as recognizable as they are today.