By on June 26, 2017

Davey Allison

Ever since racers figured out they could trade a bit of real estate on their ride for some sorely needed cash, sponsors have been plastering their names on just about every flat surface of a race car.

Sometimes the results look like a person put a bunch of logos in their mouth and sneezed on the car, but other times — either through careful planning or happy coincidence — a team will create something for the ages.

I started watching NASCAR in 1991 when I was eleven. Why? Well, loud and fast cars tend to have a certain appeal to young kids and — this is the truth — cable television finally became available in our town. Yes, dear reader, I most definitely grew up in the sticks.

Davey Allison’s car grabbed my attention. It was something about the relative simplicity of its style, I guess, with the big logo dominating the Thunderbird’s hood and a company name down its flanks. I’m sure the general badassery of a black, red, and yellow race car with an uncorked V8 didn’t hurt. They all had that, though. Add in the fact that the Thunderbird was the best-looking car on track (GM fielded a quartet of boxes from Chevy, Olds, Pontiac, and Buick) and my eleven-year-old brain had a new Favourite Thing.

I even saved my pennies and bought a scale model to build — only to be crestfallen after opening the thing and discovering it was molded in white. Some black spray paint made quick work of that issue, though no one in our home took kindly to me using the kitchen table for that task and I was quickly banished to the yard.

Havoline 28 Monogram Model

After Davey was killed in ’93, I started to follow Mark Martin. By chance, he also had a good looking car… at least until the Taurus (an automotive tribute to the noble lungfish) showed up in NASCAR in 1998.

There are plenty of other great liveries in the page of racing history: Gulf, Martini, Silk Cut Jags, the Marlboro McLarens. Which one do you elevate to legendary status?


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49 Comments on “QOTD: What’s the Best Racing Livery?...”

  • avatar
    Chris Tonn

    Sunoco blue on Penske Camaro and Porsche 917/30.

  • avatar

    The blue and orange livery of the Gulf GT-40s.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Matt, you have the right team and driver, but wrong decade.
    This was the correct Davey car:

    Everyone seems to like the Gulf livery no matter what it’s on.

    Same with Martini.

    I really like the simple red, white, and blue Nissan livery from LeMans.

    And obviously, I’m quite partial to the BRE Datsuns but especially in blue.

  • avatar

    Jordan 191

  • avatar
    Jonathan Yarkony

    Martini and Gulf almost always does it for me, but the Pink Pig was one for the ages. anything with a sense of humour gets my appreciation.

    And which NASCAR driver ran a tribute to Cole Trickle’s car in Days of Thunder when he was running without a sponsor? that was sweet.

  • avatar

    Al Unser’s Johnny Lightning car at Indy
    Anything wearing the Gulf colors at Le Mans
    Coors #9 of Bill Elliott
    Wood Brothers Purolator #21
    ’65 Shelby GT350R

  • avatar

    BMW E30 M3 DTM “Warsteiner” livery. With the clean white, M stripes and gold effect on the Warsteiner logo it just looks amazing. The black or white 3.5 CSL liveries with M colors looks great too.

  • avatar

    A 53 in a simple, plain font with a single red stripe and a single blue stripe.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Another vote here for the John Wyer Gulf colors… with Martini right behind. An honorable mention for the original Team Lotus with its green and yellow Gold Leaf, and later black and gold John Player colors.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    John Player Special, e-special-ly Mario’s Lotus 78.

    • 0 avatar

      This. Absolutely this.

      Though, in my mind, the Gulf Oil liveried GT40 is a close second (for entirely opposite reasons).

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. The first JPS car I saw was a street car, a JPS livery Europa, was back in 1972. I was blown away by the Europa, and the JPS scheme made it that much cooler.

    • 0 avatar

      I should agree, but I’m torn between the first Benetton F1 which I had a poster of from Monte Carlo

      Also maybe the current Wood’s bros NASCAR car. Simple and nostalgic.

  • avatar

    The best was the car they deleted from the toy catalogue for Kurt’s extra-curricular activities: The 2004 Roush Ford Sharpie #97 in black.

  • avatar

    I think that it has to be the Gulf-colored GT40s.

    Although I also have a strange affection for Jaguar F1 liveries that were used at the turn of the century.

  • avatar

    Some excellent ones already listed, but my slightly biased favourite is the Green and Orange Renown livery on the Mazda LeMans car.

  • avatar

    I’ve got a couple I like, but nothing that would be “legendary.”

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Gulf and Martini are great, but I’m also a sucker for basic Ferrari red.

  • avatar

    I’ve always liked the Bill Elliot McDonald’s livery.

  • avatar

    Call me traditionalist, but I think the best looking racing cars are the British Racing Green and German Racing Silver ones. French Racing Blue is also nice. Red, not so much.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I used to like the JPS (John Player Special) F1s. I even raced (socially) the Tamiya RC F1s that I had done up as a JPS car.

    JPS BMWs looked great as well.

  • avatar

    John Player Special Lotus. End of discussion. The Lotus 72 and 78 were also aesthetically pleasing shapes in addition to being tech pioneers.

    Next question?

  • avatar

    The traditional American racing colors of white with blue stripes look great on just about any race or road car.

  • avatar

    The one that comes to mind for me is Arie Luyendyke’s Dominoes liveried car when he won in 1990. I picked 3 of the top 4 that year, with second place Babby Rahal throwing a wrench in that pick. I got Arie right, though. I wonder how he felt driving a car that pretty much looked like the flag of Luxembourg (same as the Netherlands flag, just a lighter blue):

    Funny, 10 years later I would meet my wife, and she would be Dutch, too.

  • avatar

    Any of Jeff Burton or Geoff Bodine’s Exide paint schemes, especially the 2000 version.

    Kyle Petty’s Mello Yello #42

    Anything sponsored by Falken Tires.

    Tommy Kendall’s All Sport Mustang in Trans Am.

  • avatar

    No argument with the John Player Specials and the Gulf Wyer cars. But my favorite stock cars, back when I was building models as a kid in the 70’s, were the red, white and blue AMC Matadors (Penske?). I had a competition building the model kits with my best friend. I think I won, but he might disagree with that. I still have the model, forty years later!

  • avatar

    I would offer the Renault F1 livery when Fernando Alonso was driving for them (light blue and yellow).

  • avatar

    I guess I’ll add to the Havoline love with this specimen:

    But Gulf is probably the right answer.

  • avatar

    Too many to list actually

    ’68 Lotus 49B – red/white/and gold nose
    Papaya orange can am McLarens
    Yellow/black/white Elf Renault racing cars early 80s
    Black/Red Texaco RS500 Ford Sierra
    Any 70s Ferrari that is not all red

  • avatar
    Dirty Dingus McGee

    Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Chevy in NASCAR

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    While all of the above are fine, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, is as iconic and beautiful as a NASCAR ride wearing Petty Blue and number 43. The Daytona Sattelite Superbirds….how many drivers have their own color shade named for them? And then, after he took on STP as a sponsor…his early-mid 1970’s Chargers, with the Petty Blue on the hood, roof and trunk, and the STP red on the sides, and that iconic 43? Pure racing poetry.

    Close second….AJ Foyt’s cars….always red and always the iconic 14….

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    You know what looks so good about the car in the picture? The fact that I can look at it and tell it is a Thunderbird. Darn the paint…Just make them look like cars again. Better yet make them be based off of stock cars. I would rather see FWD V6 cars racing than some monstrosity that has a grill and headlights stuck on it that vaguely resemble some car, maybe. NASCAR is just pro wrestling now…Who cares how they paint the cars.

    Now as to good looking racing Livery, All of those 70’s Camel sponsored cars clad in brown baby!

  • avatar

    For me it will always be Dale Earnhardt’s GM Goodwrench #3. Such a simple yet effective scheme. The next best scheme in my book is Darrell Waltrip’s Western Auto cars, although I never really liked Darrell as a driver or now as a commentator.

  • avatar

    Silk Cut Jaguar endurance racers.

    Heron Texaco Suzuki’s from the 1970’s

    Arrows F1 in black and orange.

    Williams with the yellow/blue scheme.

    The relatively unadorned Leyton House turquoise F1 cars from the 80s.

  • avatar

    Bob Tullius’ Group 44 Jags. Simple, distinctive, English.

    I’ll posit that Alitalia livery on a Stratos is even cooler than Martini – the Stratos may as well have been a ground-based jet plane until 4WD took over rallying. The white-red-and-green reminds me of the Lego Octan bits I built garages and race cars from as a kid.

    Always liked the Apple Computer 935, too.

    My other obvious favorites – JPS Lotuses, and Gulf colors on almost anything – have been called out. :)

  • avatar

    Late 80’s to early 90’s McLaren. Fluorescent Vermillion with bright white – simply classic. Also add in there the Gurney AAR F-1 cars from the 60’s – beautiful metallic blue and white.

  • avatar

    The Martini colors look great, especially on a Lanica:

    I like the simplicity of the Brumos Porsche colors:×625.jpg

    I’m not a huge McLaren fan, but they pretty much own the color orange.

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