In the old days racing cars had to appear in their specific colours of their individual nation when taking part in the great events of international importance. So Red was standing for Italy, White or Silver for Germany, Blue for France and Green for Britain. Teams from Belgium and the Netherlands were competing in orange livery, those from the United States of America in White and Blue and Rob Walker had been allowed by the F.I.A. to use a special Midnight-Blue for his private entered Lotus, Cooper and Brabham cars. After the retirement of Lancia, Maserati, Gordini, and Mercedes-Benz from Grand Prix Racing and the rise of Vanwall, Cooper, Lotus in a parallelism at the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties most of the cars were raced in the traditional British Racing Green. Following the same priciples in their design the most Grand Prix cars of that period looked very similar. They were difficult to be differenciated both by the pit crews and the spectators on the grandstands. Television, newsspapers and most of the magazines only were in black and white, live transmissions were pretty rare at that time. Showing the pit signals to their drivers, the mechanics only got a few seconds look at the cars when passing the start and finish straight at high speed. So first Cooper introduced their typical white stripes on their cars being on the Mini Cooper road cars until today. When becoming a constructor in his own rights Sir Jack Brabham from Australia created his interpretation of the British Racing Green in the shape of a bright Turquoise, but that version was not tolerated by the authorities permanently. Brabham was forced to switch back to the normal dark green, only the golden rim around the nose of the car and the stripe leading to the wind screen were accepted.
Innovative Colin Chapman, founder of Team Lotus , The Brain of Grand Prix Racing and maybe the best designer ever seen in the entire world of motorsport, invented the big yellow stripe leading from the radiator in the front to the cockpit to give his cars an image being different from that one of his rivals coming from the same nation. The yellow stripe was introduced for the 1964 season. That livery also brought a great advantage to the drivers`wives or girl-friends traditionally writing the lap charts in those days.
Despite many other drivers were competing in Lotus cars, the green car with the big yellow bar on the top of it`s bodywork very quickly became the symbol for Jim Clark and Team Lotus, the best driver competing in the best car of the sixties being extremely superior to all other rival vehicles including Ferrari. This effect had been intended by Chapman for getting publicity both for the promotion of the selling of his road cars and the satisfaction of his sponsors, at that time consisting of oil group Esso and tyre maker Dunlop. With no advertisements allowed on the cars until 1967 the oil groups and rubber companies were the biggest financiers of Grand Prix Racing backing the sport by spending billions of US-dollars. The famous Esso campaign with the tiger had been especially designed around Jim Clark and Sir Jack Brabham. At the introduction of the 3.0 litre formula in 1966 Colin Chapman was able to convince the Ford Motor Company in Detroit to spend £ 100 000 for the construction of Team Lotus`new Grand Prix engine at the Northampton based Cosworth facilities, later becoming the most famous racing engine of all times known as Ford Cosworth DFV V8. In spite Chapman very often being critized by the mass media for his light weight construction and the fragibility of his cars, he, Jim Clark and Team Lotus were on the climax of their popularity, when the Scot had scored his 25th victory at the 1968 South African Grand Prix held at Kyalami near Johannesburg. Already in 1965 Clark had won the Indianapolis 500 in a Lotus Ford being the first European in history doing so. Jim Clark and the green Lotus with the big yellow stripe had become a synonym.
Always having got the ambition to be the world`s number one constructor Colin Chapman and Team Lotus had gone a step further. With the giving up of the national colours being essential in 1968 the private Team Gunston from South Africa had been the first ones to appear in the livery of a commercial sponsor, a tobacco company, for their home Grand Prix. After this race also Chapman followed this way signing up with a cigarette maker. During the Tasmania Series 1968, held in the early spring of the year, GOLD LEAF TEAM LOTUS appeared for in a red, white and gold livery; what a terrible shock for all puritans. When Clark died a lonely death in the lonely forest of Hockenheim only a few weeks later, the Lotus Motif had definitely gone.
In January and February 2006 German artist martinafischer13, born in 1963 in Ludwigsburg, living, working and also teaching in the city of the most famous exhibition of modern art, the documenta at Kassel, presented her version of racing cars being in national colours. She had created three beetles being some 30 centimetres long and equipped with electric engines being fed via cable, plug and socket - the little cars are moving and standing still the same time. These works of art were shown on the AUTO - NOM - MOBILE art exhibition until the 26th of February at Kassel`s main station, for many years one of the cultural centres of the city. One of the little cars is in silver livery, one in a red one and one is wearing Lotus Green with a big yellow bar. Jimmy Clark`s Lotus Motif is back by chance - in the right time for his 70th birthday.
Photos: Klaus Ewald/researchracing , Drawings by project * 2000
© 2006 by researchracing
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