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Since the national colors gradually gave way to the liveries dictated by the sponsors, we have become accustomed to seeing vehicles sporting lettering and colours. Obviously the latter must be designed according to the guidelines of the coordinated image of each brand, in accordance with commercial and sporting logic.

Sometimes it is possible that to further emphasize a message even more evident elements are used. It could be the case of a material, a texture, a more "didactic" reproduction of the characteristics of the brand.

In this analysis we focus on the episodes that concern the use of references to the animal world. A dynamic that certainly helps to make a fairing or bodywork more distinctive, attracting the attention of enthusiasts and many curious people. Not to mention the impact this can have on the little ones and on younger viewers in general. The examples, as often happens in motorsport, are numerous, especially if we extend ourselves in time and space.

Let's start with a car which, although less known in our latitudes, certainly represents a curiosity. This is the March 83G driven by Dave Cowart and Kenper Miller in the IMSA Championship from 1983 to 1985. The prototype "dressed" an entirely white background on which a gigantic stylized lobster stood out in full size. Making the synergy between shapes and graphics even more effective was the structure of the car's front end which featured two generous extensions of the wheel arches that extended beyond the central part of the nose. Ideal volumes to insert the animal's claws.

This curious choice was due to the sponsorship of the Red Lobster restaurant chain which today boasts almost 700 outlets throughout the world. The original drawing was created by American artist Stephen Bach, who at the time was in charge of the wall decorations of the chain's restaurants. Later it was the technician Jack Deren who took care of the livery: by way of curiosity, the March was re-painted 16 times due to accidents or for maintenance and updates. To ensure continuity, templates and masks were made from the first example.

The car immediately became a favorite with the public who still acclaim it during historical re-enactments and fairs.

Let's jump forward to the year 2000. The last round of the American Le Mans Series was taking place on the Adelaide circuit in Australia. In the so-called “1000 Years Race”, which took place on New Year's Eve, Audi brought a unique setup for one of its R8s to the track. The car of Rinaldo "Dindo" Capello and Allan McNish sported a color baptized "Crocodile" precisely because of a large crocodile that covered the central part of the nose, the passenger compartment area and the rear bonnet. The volume of this part was markedly raised compared to the car body and this facilitated the adaptation of the shape of the reptile's body. The remaining parts, such as the wheel arches and sides, presented a series of illustrations that traced the typical environment of the lake-river habitat: water, trunks, bushes, aquatic plants and so on. The creation was the work of the Audi internal style center directed by Frank Lamberty. It aimed to achieve a result that underlined participation in a race on the other side of the planet.

Despite a race shortened by around 150 kilometers out of the 1000 planned, the Crocodile won the victory ahead of its "plainclothes" twin (after also having also won pole). The presence of a large audience (over 200 thousand people over the weekend) contributed to making the feat and the color even more memorable. The Ingolstadt company was therefore able to enjoy a significant increase in notoriety and visibility on that market.

In 2015, Team Phoenix Racing paid homage to that event by bringing a special livery to the track for the Bathurst 12 Hours. The one who "donated" its bodywork was an Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT3 - a name that refers to the dominant barchetta of the time at the turn of the millennium. The crocodile this time stood out on the sides, with the rest of the body panels representing its environment.

The prestigious Australian endurance race saw another “reptilian” interpretation: this time a menacing neon yellow snake with lime green details. It was the AMG GTR fielded by GruppeM on the occasion of the edition held recently, in February 2023. The previous year a similar car had been brought to the track by the Triple Eight team with the support also in this case of Mann-Filter for the “Mamba” livery. Mann-Filter has long been involved alongside Mercedes in 6 series based on Granturismo cars: International GT Open, Intercontinental GT Challenge, ADAC GT Masters, ADAC GT4 Germany, VLN Endurance Racing Championship at the Nürburgring as well as single races such as 24 Hours of Nurburgring or the 24 Hours of Dubai. In 2021, an Audi R8 GT3 Ultra also wore the iconic snakeskin.

Let's stay in the GT area to encounter one of the most recent variations of this trend. We are talking about the Porsche "Rexy" of the German Project 1 team, a team involved in the DTM and WEC together with AO Racing and in the recent past also in IMSA. An onomatopoeia has been added to the GT3 RSR that transforms it into RSRawr, from the dinosaur's roar. The car is in fact easily recognizable thanks to the entirely bright green livery with the large mouth bristling with sharp teeth on the front bumper. The idea appears to have been inspired by the sons of one of the drivers, PJ Hyett, who is also the owner of the team: Gunnar Jeannette and Matteo Cairoli are the other members of the crew who also raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

One of the teams to have built a sort of saga regarding animalistic coloring is undoubtedly Jordan, whose Formula 1 single-seaters from 1997 to 2001 were unmistakable. In that five-year period the English team decided to adorn the nose of the cars with menacing inspirations from the animal world. The collaboration with the tobacconist sponsor Benson & Hedges also provided the basis for a series of advertising choices aimed at circumventing the impossibility of affixing alcohol and cigarette brand logos which was soon imposed by the championship.

First it was the turn of the snake, thanks to which Benson & Hedges was replaced with Bitten & Hisses (literally “bites and hisses”). The scaled skin also covered the lateral bellies and thanks to a clever alternation of black and yellow areas the letters B & H seen at speed were simulated. Then came the bumblebee and with it the new wording Buzzin Hornets – buzzing hornets. Finally it was the turn of the shark, combined with the phrase Bitten Heroes.

This system allowed the team to gain great recognition, also supported by a good series of results especially in the first phase of the partnership.

Sometimes a flashy image hides something you would like to keep hidden. This is the case of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 which stood out during 2018 and 2019 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The granturismo sported a livery called Chupacabra, the fearsome fictional creature protagonist of many contemporary legends. Large front toothed mouth, red eyes and a shaded color from purple to black. Unfortunately, supporting this initiative was not an eccentric brand but a Colombian scammer, Juan Camilo Perez Buitrago. He had amassed large amounts of money through the sale of medical devices such as prostheses and various systems at rock-bottom prices following false diagnoses.

In 1979, Team Shadow competed in the Formula 1 World Championship, entrusting its DN9 to the Dutch driver Jan Lammers. He obviously had to obtain the means to face the season as the team lost its sponsorship the previous year. He got support from Niemeyer Tobacco in Groningen after a local newspaper also took action to help the pilot. The brand entered into the competition would have been Samson Shag, a brand of tobacco sold at retail. After the first non-European competitions, Niemeyer expressed the need to have a more impactful image in order to gain greater attention and shots. To do this, they chose to decorate the entire front and central part of the car with a gigantic lion complete with flames. An option certainly not very elegant but which contributed to making that rear-end car a uniqueness still remembered today.

We cannot talk about "animalistic" liveries without mentioning the iconic Porsche 917/20, the experimental model studied together with the French SERA - Societe d'Etudes et de Realisations Automobiles - and raced at the 1971 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The "pink pig" earned this epithet due to the coloring inspired by the cuts shown on the slaughter diagrams. It was Count Rossi, Martini's boss at the time, who imposed this color scheme due to the particular shapes of the car. The technicians' idea was to reduce the vortices around the car and for this reason the 917 sported much more abundant and rounded lines compared to its well-known sisters. This gave it a less sharp and clumsy appearance which inspired that curious declination in the experts. The car failed to finish the race but remains today a curious exercise exhibited at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

In 1999, Team Le Mans together with Inging set up a Toyota Supra for the GT500 class of the then JGTC – Japan Grand Touring Championship. The peculiarity of the car was the sponsorship by Esso Ultron: in fact, a "tiger" color was used by virtue of the symbol of the oil company. The original campaign, launched in the 60s, read “put a tiger in the engine!”. The Esso Ultron Tiger Supra competed the entire season with the singular livery, except for the first race in which the team withdrew due to the death of one of the future starting drivers a few days earlier.

The team finished the season in twelfth place, also obtaining a victory. At the end of 1999 it was repainted to meet the needs of another sponsor.

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