Racing liveries come and go, but there are some so iconic, so recognizable, they'll be remembered forever. For example, Gulf and Martini Racing. There's now a new one to add to that list. Meet "Jake."
The year was 2004 and the Corvette Racing Team was in its final and 4th championship winning ALMS season with the venerable GT1 class C5-R race car. After winning multiple ALMS championships as well as at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team began using the "Take No Prisoners" motto along with a generic skull logo. It makes sense, given they were considered by many to be the pirates of the GT racing world, taking whatever treasured prize they set their eyes upon. Ever since, the skull's grown into a representation of the team's triumphs and mentality. While not new today, Jake has become a visible power statement to anyone involved in the racing world and he's gaining more and more traction every day. We're here to tell his story.
After 2004, the 2005 season was quickly approaching with a new Corvette C6-R race car in the midst of development, the Corvette Racing Team needed to make their aggressive mentality known.
Luckily for them, graphic designer Eddie Jabbour of Kick Design was in the stands during the C5-Rs final 24 Hours of Le Mans race and witnessed for himself the skull logo and the unrelenting drive the Corvette Racing Team portrayed. Also in the stands was the crew from BadBoyVettes, a dedicated group of fans that have brought a viral approach to racing. They had an opportunity to sit down with the Corvette Racing Team to discuss how they could help make the unofficial skull logo into something more.
BadBoyVettes and Corvette Racing contacted Kick Design and with the team's mentality in mind, Jabbour sketched on a cocktail napkin what would eventually become one of the greatest automotive marketing logos of our generation, the Corvette crossed flags within a dark skull outline. Thus, Jake was born.
How Jake truly received his name has been kicked around quite a bit, but the one story that comes up frequently is that a former New York City cop, Gary Claudio, named the skull after notorious movie badass, Jake, from the Blues Brothers film. We've also been told that the name was given after being thrown around the Corvette Racing Team's garage for a few weeks, but either way, it's pretty damn fitting.
Jake made his first official appearance, albeit in small form, underneath the XM Radio sponsorship decal on the B-pillar of the new Corvette C6-R racer during the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans race and also as a spray painted stencil on the ground outside of Corvette Racing's pit stall. From there, Jake really took off, landing himself on team uniforms, driver's helmets and memorabilia with BadBoyVettes at he helm of this genius viral marketing scheme.
The Corvette Racing Team took their "Take No Prisoners" approach and Jake through next four ALMS seasons, battling the Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9s for three of them and leading the pack by themselves in 2008. Jake had become a racing success. In 2007, Corvette Racing was approached by BadBoyVettes to design a new racing livery for the Laguna Seca race, something that would really push Jake to the forefront of racing and give his enthusiastic followers something to celebrate. The livery design featured the now famous Corvette Racing yellow with a splash of black across the rear 3/4s of the C6-R. Jake was then applied in yellow in a sort of brushed appearance on the sides as well as splashed across the hood in black of the number 3 car. The number 4 car was the inverse of this design and both cars really packed a visual punch racing down the Corkscrew with the help of their screaming 7.0-liter V8s.
The Jake livery was even duplicated in Forza Motorsport 2 using the over complicated customization paint shop and made its debut in the in-game auction house on the eve of its Laguna Seca race debut.
Jake also surfaced on numerous European series GT1, GT2 and Z06R Corvettes showing that Corvette Racing's symbol of determination and power could transcend borders and enter into various other international racing series. In 2008, the C6-R took on a whole new look, utilizing what's now referred to as the "Jake Scrape." The team created a single black stripe down the center of the C6-R with visual scrapes following the design of Jake's teeth who himself, hid in the waterfall vent on the hood, while smaller versions adorned the front and rear fascias as well as the familiar B-pillar location.
Realizing the huge success of the Corvette Racing program GM decided to give a nice little nod to the team and to BadBoyVettes in the company's most powerful and, potentially, most iconic Corvette ever. The 2009 Corvette ZR1 features an embossed Jake on the intake snorkel instead of the usual Corvette cross-flag logo of lesser models. Corvette Chief Engineer, Tom Wallace, explained to BadBoyVettes why;
"I saw the crossed flags on the ZR1's supercharger along with the conventionally placed ones on the nose and the intake snorkel and balked at the 3x arrangement."
Prior to this official addition, Jake was transformed into Elwood (get it? Jake and Elwood...), the unofficial mascot of the ZR1 "Blue Devil" vehicle program, and was featured on numerous ZR1 captured test fleet vehicles that we spotted during the Woodward Dream Cruise in 2008. The Elwood decals were made up in blue to represent "Blue Devil" and featured horns and a more demonic grin than the humble Jake.
For the 2009 ALMS season, Corvette Racing released another Jakegasmic livery, this time placing him front and center on the C6-R's hood along with a 2008-inspired "Jake Scrape." This season marks the end to the C6-R GT1 car as Pratt & Miller and Corvette Racing prepare for the new C6-R GT2 racer and to celebrate, GM has released the 2009 Corvette GT1 Championship Edition featuring a 2009 C6-R livery-inspired decal package with Jake sitting proudly upon the raised fiberglass hood as well as stitched into the special edition's headrests.
Hidden deep within the controversial carbon fiber bodied, Jason Castriota-designed, Stile Bertone Mantide hides the inner mechanical workings of a 2009 Corvette ZR1 as well as our friend heroic friend, Jake. While we're sure it's not the last coach built ZR1, it was the first and we're told that Jake is proud to be leading the supercharged 638-horsepower LS9 sitting low in this Italian-designed brute.
Jake has been fully embraced by the Corvette Racing Team and all that come in contact with him. He's been featured in video games, clothing, memorabilia, scale models, fan-owned Corvettes of all generations and even tattoos. Jake's truly a mascot to be remembered and with Corvette Racing's C6-R GT2's racing debut quickly approaching, we're infinitely curious how he'll be represented next. (References and Images: BadBoyVettes, Corvette Racing, Digital Corvettes)