Wednesday 3 February 2010

French Racing Blue

In these days of race cars covered with sponsors logos and colours, it’s easily to forget that race teams used to race for their country, not their sponsors.

To differentiate the country for which to team raced, a colour-coding was developed. The first usage of this came during Gordon Bennett Cup races in 1900-1905 which was a race between Nations and their automotive products. Germany was assigned white, Belgium yellow, USA red, United Kingdom green, and France blue.

As more and more countries got into racing, the colour palette grew, and some colours changed, most notably Germany to silver, Italy to red, and the USA to white with blue, but France maintained it’s traditional blue.

The cars that shared those various shades of French blue are Peugeot, Ballot, Amilcar, Salmson, Voisin, Delage, Delahaye, Talbot-Lago, Gordini, Alpine, Matra and of course, Bugatti.

1947 Simca Gordini T15
Photo courtesy & © John Mackenzie

1971 Matra-Simca MS120B
Photo courtesy & © John Mackenzie

They were much simpler times, when racers drove for their nation, and not necessarily the highest bidder.

This all changed in 1968, when Colin Chapman carried non-automotive, Players Gold Leaf cigarette graphics on his Lotus 49’s.

The advertising floodgates were opened for good … and gone, with very few exceptions, were the international colours.

All images © Paul Chenard


Jeffery Blackwell said...

But my favorite blue car was Jackie Stewart's 1969 Tyrrell/Matra.

Just a big white meatball with a number on the side. Those were the days... said...

I sat in a 1950 blue Talbot-Lago T26C, so that's my favorite ... until I sit in a different one! ;)

Gabor Vajda said...

Gordinis are just fabulous in this blue. Thank Renault it brought is back.