National Racing Colors

Since organized motor sports began at the dawn of the 20th century, racing teams competing in international events have used paint schemes on their cars indicating their nation of origin. Those competing in the Gordon Bennett Cup for auto racing in 1900, an annual event held in France until 1905, were assigned colors that somewhat differed from what would eventually be settled upon.

© Wolseley Car Club

 Initially, Germany was assigned white and the US got red. Mercedes Benz early Grand Prix cars were painted white, but by the 1930s both Mercedes and Auto Union were running bare aluminum bodies, unpainted to save weight, and the Silver Arrows were born.

© Catalyst Customs

 Great Britain adopted British Racing Green after a British built Napier won the Cup in 1902.  

France campaigned bright blue Bugatti’s.

© Catalyst Customs

© Catalyst Customs

When a red Itala won the 1907 Peking to Paris race, Italy took racing red as its own and the US moved to either blue with white racing stripes or white with blue stripes.

© Club Cobra

© Supercars.net

France - blue

Germany - silver or white

Italy - red           

Great Britain - green

USA - blue w/white stripes or white w/blue stripes

Belgium - yellow

Japan - white w/red sun

Australia - green w/gold stripes

Canada - red w/white stripes

Mexico - gold

Netherlands - orange

© Catalyst Customs

© Catalyst Customs

By the late 1960s, Commercial Sponsorship saw the tradition of using national racing colors fade as racing teams began painting their cars in sponsorship livery. Tobacco and spirits companies, banks and the petroleum industry, all used racing cars as advertising space and sometimes demanded their own brand colors.

© Racer.com

Today tradition largely remains, but only in tentative harmony with advertising dollars. All Ferrari F1 cars are red, and Mercedes Grand Prix uses brilliant silver paint schemes. Audi had a string of Le Mans wins with silver cars; Bentley in green. BMW and Porsche often race white cars.

© Catalyst Customs

© Catalyst Customs

© Catalyst Customs

© Motor Authority

© Catalyst Customs

© Catalyst Customs

© Catalyst Customs