Gear: Book Review: Racing Colours

Book Review: Racing Colours

By Benjamin Shahrabani
December 17, 2014

The book: Racing Colours

Author: Simon Owen

Pages: 192, hardcover

Purchase: Click here

If a car’s racing colours usually look like nothing more than sponsors’ logos, that’s because that’s basically what they are. The late Simon Owen, an artist and illustrator known for specializing in racing car subjects, showcases his talents one last time in Racing Colours: Motor Racing Compositions 1908-2009. The book covers over seventy graphic compositions of racing car liveries from almost the very beginning of motorsport through to the modern-era. Owen captures many of the amazing paint schemes throughout motor racing’s history, designs that fans might remember as much as the cars’ or teams’ performances themselves.

Moving away from more traditional artwork techniques, Racing Colours‘s images were all composed digitally. This should take nothing away from the experience. Owen’s work is expertly detailed, rich in tone…and, ummm,…colour. Or should that be color for those in the USA?. Some liveries depicted are so well known that you would recognize them without their logos–for instance, you could not mistake the McLaren’s white and dayglo orange colors for anything but their Marlboro-sponsored cars. Owen’s work also provides the opportunity to perhaps look a little bit closer, and think about the use of color on a car’s body. For instance, you begin to notice that the iconic Gulf racing livery has taken two slightly unappealing colors on their own–baby blue and orange–and made them cool by combining them. No accident.

Owen’s book is fantastic eye candy alone; however each livery, the racing colours as it were, is accompanied by a quote by a motor racing legend somehow involved with the particular livery featured on any given page. Stirling Moss, Colin Chapman, Dan Gurney, Jacques Swaters–these are just some of the names, and you get an added dimension of the passion, and glimpses of being deep in the trenches of motorsport. A section at the end of the book, “The Process”, shows just how Owen went about his work. It is sad that this is Owen’s final work, but it’s a good one.

Purchase Racing Colours.

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C Grogg
C Grogg
7 years ago

Bought this book for a very good friend who is a graphic designer and car enthusiast. He loves the book. After looking at it I now want my own copy! Thumbs up! So well done and very entertaining!