Now Available: New Artwork From Ricardo Santos Featuring Icons Of ’70s and ’80s Motorsport
Ricardo Santos is an artist and an automotive enthusiast, and it’s hard to tell where the distinction lies. With an aptitude for subject matter selection and a talent for creative representation, these prints make for beautiful tributes to motorsports’ beloved drivers and their machines. We’ve featured work from this artist in the past, and our latest selection of his work meets the very high standards he’s set for himself.
With an appreciation of bold colors and the cars that wear them, Santos has put together a vibrant array of prints that embody the brash look and brutish character of some of the most memorable cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Sharing themes of potential and brevity, each work is imbued with the stories, trials, tragedies, and triumphs from one of car racing’s wildest eras.
The following prints are limited to 100 copies each, and you can get yours today in the Petrolicious Shop.
Alain Prost, Renault RE30, 1981
1980s Formula 1 is characterized by hard-edged, boxy bodies propelled along at times antiquated circuits by the decade’s favorite word: turbo. Forced-induction launched the already perilously quick sport into a new reality that saw power outputs often surpassing the four-figure mark, and Renault arguably brought about this paradigm shift by being the first manufacturer to enter a turbocharged car into a Formula 1 event in 1977. It didn’t take long for the likes of Ferrari and BMW to catch onto the benefits of boost though, and the 1980s became the heyday of small-capacity and high-output.
Rendered here is the 1981 Renault RE30 of Alain Prost. Though only a sophomore in the sport that year (debuting with potential but no podiums in McLarens a year prior), Prost and the RE30 managed five podiums and three outright victories after a rocky start to the season, with one of these being his first overall win, coming at the French Grand Prix and by way of a French car. No doubt a point of pride for the French Formula 1 driver.
Years before the legendary battles with Senna, this car vaulted Prost into the beginning of what would become one of F1’s most successful racing careers. Ricardo Santos has immortalized this pairing of man and machine using a bold horizontally-aligned representation of the RE30’s sharp profile. Situated and slouched in a slash of bright white, the car bisects the contrasting colors of Renault-Elf’s bold livery.
Ayrton Senna, Lotus 97T Renault, 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix
It’s difficult to mention Prost without Senna, and Santos seemingly feels the same. Rather than portraying one of the fluro-orange and white McLarens MPx’s that rose to fame alongside their driver, he has taken a similar approach as that taken with the above piece, in that this was the car that Senna made an early impact with.
Galvanizing the connection further are the facts that this car also brought Senna’s first Grand Prix Victory, was driven in his sophomore season, and though a few years after Prost’s 1981 car, Senna’s Lotus was also powered by a turbocharged Renault engine.
While Senna’s championship titles all came while driving for McLaren, the Lotus 97T Renault presents a compelling argument for being one of the most significant of the Brazilian’s various cars. Why? If you don’t already know, this car was Senna’s steed during what is to this day among the best drives in F1. As a second-year driver, in the wet conditions that he became known to command like no other, against the likes of Lauda, Mansell, Prost, and Piquet, Aryton Senna utterly dominated: from a pole position start to his first place finish, he led the race in its entirety, clocked the fastest lap time, and managed to lap nearly the entire field.
Presented in profile, the noir-like print uses skewed striping to represent the rainy conditions under which Senna piloted his John Player Special Lotus to victory at the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix. The layout can be considered minimalistic, but the content contained in here is the genesis of a legend, and I think the livery lends itself to this type of presentation well. The subtle allusions to rain are done in a comic-book-like style that gives the piece a playful yet understated feel.
François Cevert, Tyrrell 003, 1972
This print is representative of the thoughtfulness that Santos puts into his pieces. Always eye-catchingly colored, there is also a second layer subtlety that reveals itself when you get past the initial splashiness. A perfect example of which can be seen here in the usage of focus. Notice how the lines of the car and its components are multiplied, providing a sensation of barely held together speed as Cevert wrangles with the 002’s Ford-Cosworth DFV V8. In juxtaposition, his brightly striped helmet is solitary and set—a representation of the intense focus required to successfully drive an early-‘70s Formula 1 car.
The French competitor who raced alongside teammate Sir Jackie Stewart would meet a tragic end a few years later at Watkins Glen, the circuit where he scored his career’s sole victory at the United States Grand Prix. Though trailing his teammate in scoring, the career of Cevert is not one to forget. Showing promise as a pupil of sorts to Stewart, the French native had what would have likely been a very strong future in the sport.
Honoring the driver with a closeup, the identifying details of the Tyrrell are still present. Beyond the matching blue background, there is the section of “Ford” to hint at the propulsion system sitting just behind Cevert, and the sections of the gaping overhead intake and the massive wing embody the era’s ultra-aggressive aesthetics. From the sleek open-wheeled ovoids that led up to it, the ‘70s was a decade that saw form following function in the shape of steroidal scoops, planed surfaces, and aggressive attempts at early aero.
Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell 005, 1973
Santos has paired Cevert’s car in this collection with another machine from the English manufacturer: Sir Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell 005. Just a single example was built, and debuting near the end of the 1972 season with Stewart at the wheel the car proved to be competitive early on, earning back to back wins to close the season.
Stewart would begin the 1973 season—his last in Formula 1 racing—in the 005, and though replaced after just two races by the updated Tyrrell 006, the car’s sole two races under Stewart both ended in podiums.
Coming at the end of one of the sport’s most revered careers, the 005 was a remarkable machine whose short-lived run is not indicative of its prowess on the track. Though the car did continue to be raced sporadically into 1974 with other drivers, it’s tied to the one it was built for, and to the brief but potent result of that combination.
Santos has taken a foreshortened perspective in rendering the industrial style of the 005, and it works well in capturing the essence of brutal power, competence, and purpose of Tyrrell during its best years.
H.J. Stuck, BMW M1, 1980
Hans Stuck and BMW have a long and illustrious backstory, and so it’s of no surprise that Santos chose this particular car to illustrate. From the 1980 Procar series, the BASF-liveried M1 of Stuck was a frequent member of the leading charge, and the German driver finished first in two of the season’s nine rounds.
The one-make Procar series ran for just two seasons—1979 and 1980—as BMW adjusted to changes in regulations (the M1 was slated to compete under Group 5 regulations, but further requirements were added mid-way through the car’s conception that required Group 4 homologation standards to be met as a prerequisite to Group 5 entry, and so as the required amount of cars was being built, BMW hosted a one-make championship featuring drivers from multiple disciplines of motorsport: the M1 Procar series).
Initially functioning as a support series that traced the Formula 1 season, it was not taken lightly, and big names were involved with reputations to protect. Niki Lauda took home the ’79 season win for instance, and Ron Dennis (of McLaren F1 fame) was involved with some of the top drivers like Stuck and Lauda through the Project Four racing team.
Many iconic liveries were worn and born on these cars, but perhaps the one best suited for Santos’ saturated style is Stuck’s red-and-white BASF-sponsored BMW. Demonstrating the power of well-executed simplicity, the radiating ripple-like design fits in right amongst the marque’s official “art cars.” In keeping with the livery’s multiplying, repeating layout, Santos extends the paint job beyond the body, acting to camouflage a car that’s usually impossible to miss. A very neat reversal.
Lancia Martini Rally Cars
Also red and repeating is the last piece in the selection: a vertical timeline of the partnership between Lancia’s rallying efforts and Martini. Beyond that though, the piece also gives a window into the progression of rallying more generally. From the low-slung rear-wheel drive 037 through the absolutely ludicrous S4 to the upright Integrale, the history of the sport’s best years is here.
Taken in isolation, each car depicted is worthy of study and admiration, but it’s all the more fun when the reference points are present too. You can see the shapes and the stripes shift around with the years in this familial record, to say nothing of the complete visual impact of all of these cars grouped in one print. Santos’ Group B box set has already established him as a fan of rallying, and we can only hope there’s more of this to come.