Bringing a whole new meaning to the word “redshift”

Everyone knows that if you put racing stripes on your hood and flame decals behind your wheels, you cut at least a half second from your 0-to-60 mph time and pad your top speed by at least 10 mph. That’s just a scientific fact. But beyond the obvious boost to perceived performance, the color of a fast car (especially if it’s of the racing variety) can be hugely important. That’s why we see the same shades used time and again throughout automotive history. So to celebrate these velocity-inducing hues, we’ve collected our top five picks right here in the following list.

While compiling the following five entries, we looked into time-honored racing color traditions from across the globe and took inspiration from some of the most famous cars to ever turn a wheel in anger. Europe, the U.K., Japan, and of course, the United States are all represented.

So with that, break out the swatch, get those settings on your monitor just right, and read on.

Continue reading for TopSpeed’s Top 5 Racing Colors.

TopSpeed’s Top 5 Racing Colors

The Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows

TopSpeed's Top 5 Racing Colors
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Between 1934 and 1939, Mercedes-Benz saw a good deal of success in the world of Grand Prix racing. Cars like the W 25 and W 125 accumulated a huge number of wins for the German automaker, and as such, the motoring press dubbed the sleek racers the Silver Arrows.

As the story goes, the silver hue was actually the product of necessity. Mercedes painted its racing cars a variety of different colors back in the day (white was probably the most common), but in 1934, bare, unpolished aluminum was used in order to help trim every last bit of weight for competition. As a result, the Mercedes racers had a brilliant glean akin to aircraft of the day, and the name stuck. As homage to the original Silver Arrows, Mercedes reuses the color on its race cars and sports cars to this day.

Ferrari Rosso Corsa

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Prior to the introduction of sponsorship liveries, cars were painted according to the nationality of the team behind it. As you might expect, Italy got red. And when you think red Italian racers, it’s hard to avoid the name Ferrari.

While other automakers have adopted the color as well, including Alfa Romeo and Maserati, the Prancing Horse is the go-to for red. That’s because from the very beginning, Ferrari’s road cars have been a means to an end – racing. It’s a tradition that stretches all the way back to the old grand prix cars, and you can be sure Maranello isn’t about to let you forget it.

British Racing Green

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While the Italians got red for their old Grand Prix racers, the British got green. The origins of this color stretch back to the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup in Ireland. As a means of complimenting their hosts, the competing English Napier teams painted their cars shamrock green, and thus the association was born.

Although BRG’s exact shade is still up for debate, makes like Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, and Lotus have all carried on the tradition. Funny enough, green race cars are considered bad luck in stock car racing. But that’s okay – I don’t think anyone actually watches NASCAR in England. Except for maybe Richard Hammond.

Cunningham White With Blue Stripes

TopSpeed's Top 5 Racing Colors
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When it comes to America’s racing colors, there might not be any stars, but there are most certainly stripes. Blue and white is the color combo of choice ‘round these parts, with the first example dating back to the Cunningham Le Mans competition cars of the ‘50s.

Although ultimately unsuccessful in clinching the win, the Cunningham racers did manage to cement blue and white as America’s visual one-two punch, heralding a tradition of adding go-faster stripes that continues to this day.

Subaru World Rally Blue And Gold

TopSpeed's Top 5 Racing Colors
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You might be surprised to see the Japanese (and not the French) taking blue on this list, but we thought we’d add something a little more modern than 1930’s Grand Prix cars to help keep things fresh.

Popularized by the dirt-destroying, AWD-gripping, turbo-powered WRX in the World Rally Championship, the blue on gold color scheme is actually a reference to the State Express 555 cigarette brand, and was used extensively by the Six Star’s rally heroes between the early 1990’s and early 2000’s. With talents like Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, and Petter Solberg tied to the high-flying colors, it’s no wonder you see so many blue Subys out on the road these days.

Jonathan Lopez
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