Book Review – Racing Colours: Motor Racing Compositions (1908-2009)
by Simon Owen
ISBN 978-1-787111-94-3 www.veloce.co.uk – £14.99 + P&P
Two thoughts came to mind even before opening the soft-back cover of the newly published book ‘Racing Colours – Motor Racing Compositions (1908-2009)’ by the late Simon Owen. The striking cover with Gulf livery sparked a recent memory from the Geneva Motor Show and the other was more of a question whether the book had any connection to the famous British Racing Green colour scheme.
This 192 page book from Veloce Publishing is both unusual and unique in that it features Simon Owen’s original artwork replicating race car livery as a dramatic art form with each of the 77 colour and black/white photographs supported by a related quote or anecdote from a legend of the motor racing world.
Simon Owen’s talents go beyond this interesting workmanship, he was a musician, lyricist and songwriter. Sadly he tragically died before his true potential was reached.
The cover picture refers to the Porsche 917K in the Gulf colours featuring Steve McQueen as Michael Delaney in the Le Mans film from the early ‘70s. With its instantly recognisable blue and orange racing strips, Gulf has been actively involved in the automotive industry for over 115 years. Such is the strength of the livery that TAG Heuer launched a special Gulf edition of its renowned Monaco watch, which sport’s Gulf’s legendary racing colours and dedicated to the said Le Mans Porsche. The connection with the Geneva Motor Show was that the new merchandise partnership addition was premiered on the TAG Heuer exhibition at the Palexpo.
Another significant if not coincidental reference is the livery depicted from Aryton Senna’s race helmet when driving the McLaren MP4/4 in the 1988 Monaco GP with orange, blue and green featuring prominently. These colours were the used back in 1968 on the M7A F1 challenger and as the 2018 Grand Prix season beckoned, McLaren rolled back the clock to feature these colours on its latest MCL33 Formula 1 car as it marks the dawn of a new era with Renault engines.
Other standout liveries that appealed to the eye and helped trigger some memories included Lotus-Ford, STP Lotus, Martini Porsche and the Silk Cut Jaguar, all beatifically replicated by Simon Owen. His love of all things racing is appreciated in this collection, stemming from an early age when he developed his artistic talent from precise and delicate watercolours to progressing to the world of computer-generated digital art. This masterpiece represents the peak of his work.
By the way, there is no reference to the aforementioned British Racing Green, which dates to the Gordon Bennett Race held in Ireland in 1903 ……. It was just a thought! Jarlath Sweeney