British racing green

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British Racing Green

British racing green, or BRG, a colour similar to Brunswick green, hunter green, forest green or moss green (RAL 6005), takes its name from the green international motor racing colour of Britain. Although there is still some debate as to an exact hue for BRG, currently the term is used to denote a spectrum of deep, rich greens. "British racing green" in motorsport terms meant only the colour green in general – its application to a specific range of shades has developed outside the sport.

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Origins of the association

In the days of the Gordon Bennett Cup, Count Eliot Zborowski, father of inter-war racing legend Louis Zborowski, suggested that each national entrant be allotted a different colour. Every component of a car had to be produced in the competing country, as well as the driver being of that nationality. The races were hosted in the country of the previous year's winner. Britain had to choose a different colour to its usual national colours, red, white and blue, because those colours had already been taken by Italy, Germany and France respectively.

When Selwyn Edge won the 1902 race for England in a Napier it was decided that the 1903 race would be held in Ireland, at that time a part of the United Kingdom, as motor racing at the time was illegal in Great Britain, and the opening of Brooklands still four years in the future. As a mark of respect for their Irish hosts[1] the English Napier cars were painted shamrock green. As Napier had already used olive green during the 1902 event, and had adopted the colour as its corporate livery,[2] they supported this choice wholeheartedly. Initially the colour distinction only applied to the grands épreuves, but was later codified in the Code Sportif International (CSI) of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

In keeping with these Irish/Napier roots, many of the earliest greens used on British racing cars were of a lighter olive, moss or emerald green. Later, darker shades became more common.

International rise to prominence

A 1955 Jaguar D-Type (XKD), finished in a dark shade of British Racing Green.

In the 1920s Bentley cars were hugely successful at the Le Mans 24h races, all sporting a mid- to dark-green. The first recorded use of the darkest green shades was on the Bugatti of Briton William Grover-Williams, driving in the very first Monaco Grand Prix, in 1929. This colour has become known as British Racing Green. In the 1950s and 1960s British teams such as Aston Martin, Vanwall, Cooper, Lotus, and BRM were successful in Formula One and Sports car racing, all in different shades of green. Scottish teams such as Ecurie Ecosse and the Rob Walker Racing team used a dark blue. The Australian-owned but British-based Brabham team also used a shade of BRG, and this was augmented with a gold (later yellow) stripe, gold and green being the national sporting colours of Australia.

Under pressure from a number of teams, most famously the Lotus team who wished to use the Gold Leaf livery on the Lotus 49, in 1968 sponsorship regulations were relaxed in F1. In 1970 the FIA formally gave Formula One an exemption from the national colours ruling and the previously common green colour soon disappeared, being replaced by various sponsor liveries. This exemption has since been extended to all race series, unless specific regulations require the adoption of national colours.

Modern usage

An Aston Martin DBR9, showing a modern metallic interpretation of a lighter shade of British Racing Green.

The history of the famous greens was revived in 2000 by Jaguar Racing in Formula One, but after this team was sold to Red Bull by Ford in 2004, the new Red Bull Racing team used their own colours.

Other traditionally British manufacturers have since followed suit. Bentley returned briefly to the Le Mans circuit in 2001, 2002 and 2003, winning with the Bentley Speed 8, painted in a very dark shade of BRG. In recent years Aston Martin has also returned to endurance racing, with their DBR9s painted in, a typically Aston, light BRG. Rocketsports Racing also used green for its Jaguar XK in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and American Le Mans Series and other.

In 2010 the Lotus name returned to Formula One after a gap of 16 years with the Lotus Racing team's Lotus T127 car liveried in dark green with yellow. Although registered in Malaysia, the new team is based in Britain and chose BRG with the aim of "striking an emotional chord with young and old alike and evoking memories of some of motor racing most iconic moments".[3]

With the many successes of British racing teams through the years, British Racing Green became a popular paint choice for British sports and luxury cars. Originally a solid colour, British Racing Green is increasingly a metallic paint due to the limited range of solids offered by today's manufacturers.

Paying tribute to the small British roadsters of the 1960s that inspired the Mazda MX-5 (such as the Triumph Spitfire, Austin-Healey Sprite, MG MGB and the Lotus Elan), Mazda produced a limited edition version of the model in 1991 and 2001 called the "British Racing Edition", which included green paint.[4]

See also

References

External links