Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Colorful History of Racing Hues: British Racing Green

COLOR INSPIRATIONS: HOW BRITISH RACING GREEN INFLUENCED SPORT TRIUMPHS AND EXCLUSIVE STYLE, Photo Courtesy of Federico Bajetti for The Outlierman © 2017


HOW BRITISH RACING GREEN INFLUENCED SPORT TRIUMPHS AND EXCLUSIVE STYLE


By Adam Kaslikowski for Petrolicious and The Outlierman, edited by James Karthauser


What Jaguar isn't BRG? Photo Courtesy  of Petrolicious
What English Car isn't BRG? Photo Courtesy
of Petrolicious
British Racing Green is one of the most iconic colors of the automotive world. It’s provenance goes back 110 years and has decorated countless racing icons. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about the origin of this special emerald color. Here we will attempt to sort through the myriad stories and present to you the true origin of British Racing Green.

At the turn of the 20th century, Grand Prix racing was very different. Races were more a contest between nations than they were between drivers or factories. Wealthy American newspaper man James Gordon Bennett, Jr. organized an annual race pitting various countries against each another in a bid for automobile manufacturing supremacy.

The Gordon Bennett Cup races were city-to-city contests, with entries required to consist entirely of components manufactured in their home country. Each country was limited to three entries each, and each car was required to carry both a driver and a riding mechanic at all times. To make national identification of the participants easier, each country was required to adopt a national racing color. They were: blue for France, yellow for Belgium, white for Germany and red for Italy.


James Bond might have stood out less if his DB5 was BRG rather than silver...  Photo Courtesy of Petrolicious
James Bond might have stood out less if his DB5 was BRG rather than silver...
Photo Courtesy of Petrolicious


France walked away with the inaugural victory in 1900, and thus was given the honor of hosting the races for the 1901 race. British manufacturer David Napier opted to contest this second race, and entered with his own 50 hp car. Unfortunately, this particular car weighed in at a massive three tons and could not keep its British (Dunlop) tires underneath it. Selwyn F. Edge, the driver for the 1901 race, opted to fit more robust French tires and was subsequently disqualified from the Cup. Most interestingly though, this Napier wore a pale shade of olive that the factory called Napier Green. It is unclear why Napier chose green as his color of choice; most likely it was simply personal preference. Regardless, the deep green we know today had yet to become Britain’s official racing color.

With the disqualification of the heavy Napier, the first two years showcased complete domination by the French, and the other participating countries were beginning to sting at the embarrassment of being unable to challenge the Gallic successes. For the 1902 race, Napier was determined to address its failure from 1901 and developed a much lighter car weighing in at just a ton. With the car’s weight lowered dramatically, the British tires survived the strain of the race. And it wasn’t just the tires that survived – all other entrants for the 1902 race retired from the race due to mechanical problems. With the Napier alone, the Brits sailed to their first Gordon Bennett Cup victory.

British racing green enhances the undeniable presence of glamor of an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, shown in this photo taken with complete admiration during the 2016 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Photo Courtesy of Federico Bajetti
British racing green enhances the undeniable presence of glamor of an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, shown
in this photo taken with complete admiration during the 2016 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este.
Photo Courtesy of Federico Bajetti 

Due to their victory, England was scheduled to host the 1903 event. However, the rule of the British land was that no automobile was allowed to exceed 12mph, and this decree from parliament essentially made motor racing illegal on the entire island. In a mad scramble, the British organizers switched the location of the 1903 to Ireland – a land where the local laws were “adjusted” to accommodate road racing.

A total of three Napier cars contested the 1903 race, and they were pitted against French, German and American entries. According to contemporary newspapers, the olive shade of Napier green was darkened to Shamrock Green in honor of Ireland hosting the races and this is the first public reference to a British car being painted green as a part of a national livery. While it would seem that Napier Green was the coincidental choice of a private manufacturer, what would eventually become known as British Racing Green was a tribute, ironically, to Ireland.

A charismatic color, green: distinct and unexpected. Photo Courtesy of Federico Bajetti for The Outlierman © 2017
A charismatic color, green: distinct and unexpected. Photo Courtesy of Federico Bajetti for
The Outlierman © 2017


As English auto manufacturers are nothing if not an independent lot, there has never been one true shade of British racing green. While most of us picture a deep forest green, this is not a steadfast rule. From Napier’s pale olive to Bentley’s near black, almost any emerald hue applied to a British car will be greeted with the name British Racing Green.

The British racing green is the symbolic color of British motoring, with over 110 years of honorary history in the world of car racing, it also has a long line of legendary cars and drivers linked to it: from great drivers like Henry Segrave, Kenelm Lee Guinness, William Grover-Williams to iconic teams such as Aston Martin, Vanwall, Cooper, Lotus and BRM.

A Classic, arrayed in British Racing Green,  Photo Courtesy of Petrolicious
A Classic, arrayed in British Racing Green,
Photo Courtesy of Petrolicious
A charismatic color, green: distinct and unexpected. Revived in 2000 by Jaguar Racing in Formula 1; then again with Bentley, which would end up winning at LeMans in 2001, 2002 and 2003; and more recently with Aston Martin, who gave this hue to its DBR9. Enthusiasts were also able to admire the British racing green on the Jaguar XK by Rocketsports Racing during the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also on the Lotus T127 in 2010.

Thanks to the triumphs of The British teams and the bewitching charm of the cars that have "worn" it, today the British racing green is still part of the colors that symbolize exclusivity and sporting passion. A shade full of character, history and style that can be celebrated and expressed thanks to the fantastic machines, assembled by some of the finest manufacturers in the world, at the hands of British racing legends, collectors and daily drivers alike.

We here at l'art et l'automobile, as you may know, are avid racing historians, and the Drivers, Manufacturers and race tracks of Great Britain have definitely resonated through the various racing sports throughout the years. To celebrate 60th anniversary of the legendary Mike Hawthorn becoming Britain’s first ever Formula One World Champion and Lewis Hamilton clenching his 5th World Championship Title, we gathered all of our artwork and memorabilia related to the Cars and Drivers of the Isles, and present them here to you.

We invite you to view the British Cars and Drivers gallery and acquire one of these pieces of racing history while they last. Please tour the collection here and perhaps you will find something to add to your collection.

All our best from the staff at l’art et l’automobile,


Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive artwork and memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our WEBSITE. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, share a photo on Instagram and read our Newsfeed.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wear your colors, proud!


What, no polka dots? The expected and the unexpected among international racing colors


Daniel Strohl of Hemmings on Sep 25th, 2018, edited by James Karthauser



Our recent story on the dubious legend of how Germany got its silver auto racing color got us looking for original source materials to see if we could establish timelines for not just Germany’s national racing color but for all designated racing colors. As the stories go, not all of the racing colors were set in stone from the beginning, and it took a few decades of revisions to hammer them all out, by which time corporate logos pretty much rendered the colors moot.

Our research is ongoing and perhaps interminable, but we did get some help in the comments to that story from commenter Nick, who pointed out an article in the October 1928 edition of the Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung in which the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus laid out not only the formulas for upcoming races but also the agreed-upon racing colors for 23 different countries.

Granted, the list is just for a certain time period and is incomplete — the article itself pointed that out, with color schemes undecided for Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Netherlands, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia — but after translating it, we saw that the AIACR went to great lengths to differentiate different countries on the racetrack not only with various colors but also with stripes, number/bubble combinations, and even patterns.

So we took the translated list to Josh Skibbee, one of our graphic artists, to have him take a whack at reproducing the various schemes. We had to go back and forth on some of the details quite a bit. For example, the designations call for Streifen, which translates to stripe, streak, or band; on a modern car, we’d apply those lengthwise along the top of the hood, but our research shows that in the late 1920s stripes were applied transversely across the hood and hood sides, an interpretation that makes more sense when considering that the designation for Ireland specifically calls for a horizontal stripe around the body and hood.

Some of the schemes (like Sweden’s) weren’t exactly clear to us even after some debate, some seem contrary to traditional notions of a country’s colors (why didn’t Switzerland get the scheme assigned to Portugal?), and some (like Lithuania’s) might be questionable to modern observers. But, hey, original sources don’t always tell us exactly what we expect. So, in alphabetical order:

Argentina: blue body, yellow hood, black stripes, red number on white field
Argentina: blue body, yellow hood, black stripes, red number on white field
Austria: blue body and hood, white stripes, white number on blue field
Austria: blue body and hood, white stripes, white number on blue field
Belgium: yellow, black number
Belgium: yellow, black number
Bulgaria: green body, white hood, red number on white field
Bulgaria: green body, white hood, red number on white field
Czechoslovakia: white body, blue and white hood, red stripes, blue number
Czechoslovakia: white body, blue and white hood, red stripes, blue number
Egypt: light violet, red number on white field
Egypt: light violet, red number on white field
Estonia: lower body and hood blue, upper body and hood white, black stripes, black number on white field
Estonia: lower body and hood blue, upper body and hood white, black stripes, black number on white field
Finland: black, blue number on white field
Finland: black, blue number on white field
France: blue, white number
France: blue, white number
Germany: white, red number
Germany: white, red number
Great Britain: green, white number
Great Britain: green, white number
Hungary: body white (fore) and green (aft), red hood, black number
Hungary: body white (fore) and green (aft), red hood, black number
Ireland: green with orange horizontal stripes around the hood and body, white number
Ireland: green with orange horizontal stripes around the hood and body, white number
Italy: red, white number
Italy: red, white number
Latvia: black body, white hood, black number on white field
Latvia: black body, white hood, black number on white field
Lithuania: yellow and green checkered body and hood, red number
Lithuania: yellow and green checkered body and hood, red number
Poland: white body and hood, red stripes, red number
Poland: white body and hood, red stripes, red number
Portugal: red body and hood, white stripes, white number
Portugal: red body and hood, white stripes, white number
Romania: marine blue body and hood, red stripes, yellow number
Romania: marine blue body and hood, red stripes, yellow number
Spain: red body chassis and springs, yellow hood, black number on yellow field
Spain: red body chassis and springs, yellow hood, black number on yellow field
Sweden: lower body and hood blue, upper body and hood yellow, three blue horizontal stripes on the upper part of the hood, white number
Sweden: lower body and hood blue, upper body and hood yellow, three blue horizontal stripes on the upper part of the hood, white number
Switzerland: red body, white hood, red stripes, blue number
Switzerland: red body, white hood, red stripes, blue number
United States: white hood and body, blue stripes, blue number on white field
United States: white hood and body, blue stripes, blue number on white field

Also not included in this list are the national racing colors for Latveria (Doom demands an apology for this insult!), Ruritania, and Vulgaria. Wakanda remained unknown to the outside world at the time.

At l'art et l'automobile, we have always.

Enjoy looking through the collection and tell us which ones you would like to own. Please Tour the gallery at arteauto.com, and perhaps add a piece to your collection.

All our best from the staff at l’art et l’automobile,

Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive artwork and memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our WEBSITE. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, or share a photo on Instagram.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Dangerous Life of Juan Manuel Fangio





They Call Him 'El Maestro' for a Reason


article courtesy of Grandprixhistory.org, with excerpts from Erik Shilling of Jalopnik,
edited by James Karthauser


Stories about Juan Manuel Fangio, the one of the greatest Formula One drivers ever, are pretty well-trod at this point—there’s the famous 1957 German Grand Prix win, the fact that he was in his forties in his prime, the fact that he won 24 of the 51 grands prix he competed in. Less talked about is just how terrifying those races were.

Affectionately known as "bandy legs" by his many fans, Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Balcarce, Argentina the son of an Italian immigrant in 1911. After military service he opened his own garage and would race in local events. These "local" events were not the weekend meetings that occur all over England but long-distance races held over mostly dirt roads up and down South America. Fangio's first race at eighteen was in a Ford taxi. One particular race, which he won in 1940, the Gran Premio del Norte was almost 10,000 kilometres long. This race between Buenos Aires, up through the Andes to Lima, Peru and back again took nearly two weeks with stages held each day. No mechanics were allowed and any repairs would have to be completed by either the driver or co-driver at the end of each stage. Following many successes driving all makes of American modified stock cars; Fangio was sponsored by the government and sent to Europe to continue his career after the end of World War II. It was not until 1949 at the age of 37 that he achieved regular success on the European circuit. In 1950 he was given a drive at Alfa Romeo. Battling with his teammate Nino Farina he ended up in second place but the die had been cast.

The next year Fangio won the first of his five titles. 1952 saw him suffer his first major accident, at Monza, when he broke his neck and had to miss the rest of the season. The accident may have been caused by a promise Fangio had made to take part at the race in Monza after his race in Budapest. Because he missed the connecting flight he had to drive himself the whole night from Paris to Monza. Only half an hour before the race began he arrived and took up his starting position completely overtired. He had promised to race at Monza following a race in Belfast but due to missed connections he found himself driving all night from Paris only to arrive at the circuit one half hour prior to the race. Having to start from the back of the grid he made a rare mistake and the Maserati he was driving went into a big slide. Being extremely tired his reactions were not what they would normally have been and he could not regain control of the car before it hit an earthen bank and somersaulted in the air. Fangio was thrown out and would spend the next few hours hovering near death. The following year he returned at the wheel of a Maserati and finished the season in second place. Fangio always made it his policy to garner the loyalty of the team mechanics. He told them that they would receive ten percent of any winnings. During practice for the Italian Grand Prix he complained of a severe vibration but come race day the problem had completely disappeared. The mechanics had switched cars in the middle of the night and given Fangio's vibrating car to his teammate Bonetto.

In 1954 he moved to the Mercedes team and won his second World Championship. Fangio drove twelve Grands Prix for Mercedes winning eight times. This began a string of four straight titles. In 1955 he won a particularly brutal race at the Argentine Grand Prix. The three-hour race was run during a grueling heat wave. With a track temperature of over 135ยบ few drivers other than Fangio were able to complete the race.

In 1957 the championship arrived at the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring where it was generally acknowledge by the Grand Prix Circus that this would be Fangio's last season. He was determined to finish on top. Fangio and Hawthorn qualified one-two and the race looked set for an epic battle. The Maserati 250F Fangio drove in that German Grand Prix win made 270 horsepower from its six-cylinder, or enough to go nearly as fast as modern race cars (in a straight line, at least.) What was different was the downforce, tires, and brakes. The car produced little to no downforce, had far inferior brakes, and had tires that were as grippy as an ice cube.  Fangio started the race on half tanks and it was incumbent on him to build a large enough margin that would allow him to pit yet retained his lead. This he started to do, blistering the track at a record pace but Hawthorn and Collins in the Ferraris had other ideas. On the twelfth lap Fangio dove into the pits.

Even though everyone in the Maserati pits was prepared, the pit stop cost Fangio the lead when both Collins and Hawthorn thundered past. Finally the work was done and Fangio re-entered the fray. All seamed loss as Fangio was now 45 seconds behind the leading duo and few thought that even the great Fangio could make up this difference. Fangio was one of the few as he began chopping off large chunks of the gap to the leaders. In the Ferrari pit panic took hold as they pleaded for their drivers to go ever faster. Fangio would later say that he drove faster than he ever wanted to drive again. The lap record came tumbling down and he would soon be lapping at a faster average speed than that with which he had qualified! Both Collins and Hawthorn continued to race at a furious pace. Peter Lewis, the famous British journalist said that "he (Fangio) might almost have been pulling them backwards on the end of a rope for on the twentieth lap Fangio sliced eleven seconds off their lead. Fangio caught Collins first and passed him on the inside but the Englishman returned the favor and pushed Fangio back into third." The second time Fangio drew alongside and then slowly drew away. Just the Collins was hit in the eye by a stone thrown up by the Maserati's rear wheel but was saved by his goggles. Now it was Hawthorn's turn and still Fangio came on; actually driving straight on in one corner to force his way past Hawthorn. They would finish three seconds apart with Collins coming in third. The victory gave Fangio an unassailable lead in what would become his fifth and final World Championship.



So ended the maestro's greatest race. The Legendary racer had set nine lap records in his quest for victory, including seven in successive laps.  He said afterward that he had “conquered” the ‘Ring, and that the experience on the whole was absolutely terrifying.
“Even now, these many years later, I can feel fear when I think of that race,” he said. “Only I knew what I had done, the chances I had taken.
“The Nurburgring, you know, was always my favourite circuit, without any doubt. I loved it, all of it, and I think that day I conquered it. On another day, it might have conquered me, who knows? But I believe that day I took myself and the car to the limit - and perhaps a little bit more. I had never driven like that before, and I knew I never would again.”
Fangio had clinched the driver’s championship at the ‘Ring, and would only race four more F1 grands prix.

In 1958, driving his last race, the French Grand Prix he finished fourth and retired. His Maserati was not competitive that day and was about to be lapped by the race leader Mike Hawthorn. As a mark of respect for the great man known as "the maestro" by his peers Hawthorn braked and allowed Fangio to cross the line ahead of him. Getting out of the car after the race he said to his mechanic simply, "It is finished." Juan-Manuel Fangio was famous for winning a race at the slowest possible speed. His record of wins against starts will probably never be matched. 



Many consider Juan Manuel Fangio to be the greatest driver of all time. Several highly successful later drivers, such as Jim Clark, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, have been compared with Fangio, however the qualities required for success, levels of competition, and racing rules have changed over time. His record of five World Championship titles stood for 45 years before German driver Michael Schumacher surpassed it in 2003. In his home country of Argentina, Fangio is revered as one of the greatest sportsmen the nation has ever produced. He lived until he was 84, but his memory and achievements live on, probaably embodied best by this quote:
You must always strive to be the best, but you must never believe that you are.
—Juan Manuel Fangio
At l'art et l'automobile, we follow racing, whether it be Formula, Indy or Le Mans, almost as if it were a religion.  And if one man were to be sanctified in the Church of Speed, it would be St. Fangio.   To celebrate a the life of El Maestro, we have gathered a selection of our Fangio Artwork and Memorabilia and are presenting them here to you.  Enjoy looking through the collection and tell us which ones you would like to own. Please Tour the gallery at arteauto.com, and perhaps add a piece to your collection.

All our best from the staff at l’art et l’automobile,

Jacques Vaucher

For more great automotive artwork and memorabilia, don't forget to browse the many other categories on our WEBSITE. Remember we also have many more items in our gallery, do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

And as always, be sure to Like and Share on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, or share a photo on Instagram.