Friday 28 May 2010

Seeing Red – The Italian Racing Colour

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.

The cars that shared various shades of Italian red are Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Fiat, Lancia, Bandini, Cisitalia and of course, Ferrari.

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 cigarette graphics on his Lotus 49’s.

The advertising floodgates were opened for good … and gone, with very few exceptions, were the international colours. True to tradition, Scuderia Ferrari team cars are always red.

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