If you’re not familiar with what racing liveries are let me explain. Racing liveries are the unique paint jobs (or vinyl, etc) that help viewers identify their favorite racing teams. Most of them can be quite boring and have little to no significance. Racing liveries earn cool points by either looking awesome or being tied to a winning team or both. Does your racing livery suck? Win races then it will become cool. Unfortunately I can’t think of any liveries right now that are pretty awesome. Most of the ones in this article are ones I grew up with or raced in Gran Turismo. I’m actually thinking of adding a racing livery to my Fiesta ST for no other reason than it would be hilarious.
The Martini Racing Team has many unique racing liveries and two of the coolest graced the incredible Porsche 917. If you’re not familiar with that race car it is an absolute beast and one of my favorite racing cars of all time. In fact, I have a print of one in my apartment. The most familiar one is probably the white background with blue, light blue, and red stripes. This livery has graced many Porsches and you can actually buy a Porsche 918 with the same livery, if you have the money. The livery has graced all sorts of cars from Porsches, Lancias, and even an F1 car. If I ever pull the trigger on an Integrale, it will definitely get wrapped in this livery.
Rothmans Racing Livery
This is a case of a “win and it’s cool” racing livery. The Rothmans livery is mostly forgettable but their race wins are not. It’s a simple white and dark blue livery with a red and gold stripe along the horizontal line. The Rothmans Porsche team won Le Mans three times, once in a Porsche 956 and twice in a Porsche 962C. Like the Martini Racing livery above, the Rothmans Racing livery graced all sorts of cars including Jacque Villeneuve’s F1 car and Colin McRae’s Subaru Legacy. The livery even graced an incredible Porsche 959 Dakar Rally car. I’ve always wanted to build a Porsche 911 rally car. Maybe I will go with the Rothmans livery if I ever do.
The coolest racing livery of all time. If you haven’t noticed, this is the background of this very website and yes, the Gulf Racing livery adorned the Porsche 917. I don’t think any other racing livery in history is so tied with success. The livery has far outlasted the now defunct Gulf oil company and has adorned all sorts of vehicles. Hell you can even get a Gulf liveried Jeep Grand Cherokee for crying out loud. I don’t think it’s looked any better than on the Ford GT40. Cool car, great wins, beautiful livery. I’ve seen the Gulf Racing livery on all sorts of cars and it honestly doesn’t look bad on anything. It’s just perfect. One things for sure, if you do use it you better win.
Pink Pig Porsche 917
Ok I promise this is the last Porsche 917 livery! While some may hate it, the Porsche 917 butcher livery definitely stands out in a crowd. I love seeing unique liveries like this and I wish that more auto manufacturers would go for something bold instead of the same old thing. I’ve actually seen this livery on some modern Porsche race cars and it still looks fantastic. Again, being tied to one of the most successful racing cars of all-time certainly helps. Those black wheels on the 917 tied the look together. I know I wouldn’t want to see that Pink Pig in my rearview mirror! At least it would look good going by!
Renown’s Mazda 787B
Continuing our Le Man theme, the Renown Mazda 787B has a very bright orange and green paint job that stands out. With only one Le Mans victory, the livery isn’t the winningest on this list but it belongs to perhaps one of the best sounding race cars in history. Hearing the787’s rotary engine scream at full song is the thing that car lovers dreams are made of. There haven’t been too many rotary-powered race cars so that makes the 787 pretty special. There’s a great video of Japanese men driving Le Mans race cars on the street. One day I hope to be that cool! There was an opportunity two years ago to snatch up a 767B but something tells me I wouldn’t be able to reach the minimum bid number.
Richard Petty’s #43 STP
The King’s STP liveried car is very similar to the Gulf Racing livery so this may be cheating. That being said, the STP livery graced Richard Petty’s #43 car, one of the winningest cars in NASCAR history. Richard Petty won a lot, that’s why they call him the King. Petty won 7 championships and 200 races including an incredible 10 in a row. That means this livery has graced many winner’s circles making it cool even if it didn’t look amazing. One of the people that tied the King’s incredible 7 championships also donned the next livery.
Dale Earnhardt’s #3 Goodwrench
Ok, admittedly, Dale Earnhardt’s car really doesn’t have much of a livery. It’s just an all black Goodwrench sponsored car with some red lettering. What makes it cool is who it belonged to. Nicknamed “the Intimidator” due to his aggressive racing style, the all-black livery makes sense. It also helps that he was a pretty damn good driver. Dale Earnhardt Sr. tied Petty with 7 championships and 76 race wins over his 27 year career. If you saw that all-black car behind you, you weren’t focused on what you were supposed to be doing. He would force drivers to make mistakes and part of that intimidation was this livery.
Jeff Gordon’s #24 Dupont
Opposite to Dale Earnhardt’a all black intimidator, Jeff Gordon earned the nickname “Rainbow Warrior” because of his brightly colored Dupont race car. When he came into NASCAR Dale Earnhardt was intimidating people and winning championships in his all black car. Gordon came on the scene with his rainbow colored Dupont car and started winning. He was almost the polar opposite of the Intimidator and his racing livery showed it. Gordon went straight to work and would win 4 championships and 93 race wins putting the Rainbow Warrior livery on the list.
Ayrton Senna’s Marlboro McLaren-Honda
Much like Earnhardt’s #3 Goodwrench car, this rather plain racing livery was made special by who was behind it. The red and white Marlboro sponsored McLaren stood in stark contrast to the yellow and green helmet of Ayrton Senna. Senna is widely considered one of the greatest racing drivers of all-time and would win three championships in this car. Senna was also behind another very famous racing livery.
John Player Special Lotus F1
Another Senna livery, the black and gold of the John Player Special Lotus is instantly recognizable. While Senna didn’t win any championships with Lotus, just tying this car to his name has put the livery in racing lore. Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, and Emerson Fittipaldi also drove these black and gold F1 cars. With the ban on cigarette advertisement it’s likely we won’t see this livery return but Lotus could bring back another gold and black car. Well there you have it, there are the liveries that I think are the coolest. I had others but I could keep going on forever and no one wants to read that much. What are some of your favorite racing liveries of all time?