Every time a professional race team swaps sponsors, switches cars or starts a new year, you always hear approximately 47 billion calls for them to go back to a classic livery. "Do the pink pig!" "You're not sponsored by Gulf, but can you do Gulf blue and orange anyway?" "ZOMG MAKE GULFTINI STRIPES!"
I say this as a person who races a Salzburg-liveried 944: knock it off.
See, I obviously don't mind it when amateurs think a retro livery is cool and use it on their car. We're not exactly trendsetters when it comes to design. My Salzburg parody car that runs in a parody of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is about as much of a serious work of design as a Seth Rogen film is a reason to cower to the unsubstantiated threats of an incompetent third-world dingleberry who's only A Thing because of his granddaddy. That's a big, fat nope.
(Although I do hope my sweet roof-mounted Puffalump bunny catches on.)
I don't mind it when the company associated with a famous livery decides to whip out the color scheme they're famous for on a car they sponsor, either. It's impossible to hate the gorgeous Gulf-liveried Aston Martins that run in the World Endurance Championship. That would be like hating love, happiness, freedom or adorable little bunny rabbits. YOU MONSTER.
Besides, that's just good marketing. Those companies have found a way to turn a paint scheme into an instantly recognizable symbol of their brand. Come to think of it, a martini does sound quite nice right about n—waaaait a minute, I'm on to this ruse!
The fact that Photoshops of a Martini-liveried Starworks Riley-BMW Daytona Prototype can break the Internet, though, is a bit of an issue. I think we need to have a little talk.
We're so busy begging for McLaren to bring back its orange and white Formula One livery or for Porsche to return to their baby blue and orange roots that no one's hardly thinking about which livery will define our generation.
These are great cars! That's a classy livery! That orange and white color combo on the gentle curves of a Formula One car looks great!
But it's been done before.
What's next? What's new, interesting and cool? We're not spending enough time on that question. This year's Formula One grid had so many silver and grey cars that it was difficult to tell many of them apart.
It's like we're not even trying, so when Martini sponsors anyone nowadays, we pretty much fall all over each other to lick it and claim it before anyone else can jump over us.
As much as I love the purple hippie Porsche 917, I really don't want to see Porsche put that design on the 919. It was a brilliant product of its time and place. We're now 44 (almost 45!) years further into the future. What do we have now?
Well, things aren't all bad. For example, the ubiquitous Red Bull livery is always well done on anything that wears it. Its bright primary colors on a dark blue background look really sharp, and it's instantly recognizable as a Red Bull car no matter what car it's on.
Tequila Patrón's neon green on black looks fantastic, too. The wispy bright green curves follow the contours of a race car really well, just as the Martini stripes have done for decades.
Surely the few-and-far-between examples aren't the only creative designs we can come up with now. We should do better. More colorful. More interesting.
There are so many more things that are possible in design now, too. Chrome! Sparkles! Color-shifting paint!
Look, pro teams. I can wrap my 944 in purple sparkles and make a sweet new design that will stand out from absolutely everything anyone has ever seen, but no one's going to follow my lead. No one follows a dorky 944 that sometimes runs amateur events in Texas. We need you to get creative and at least make it a bit easier to tell all of your cars apart on the grid. Many of you have all the resources in the world at your fingertips, so it can't be that hard to hire a graphic designer.
In other words, what's next? I know it isn't the same ol' livery we've been asking for since the sixties.
Photo credits: Getty Images (Senna's McLaren, McLaren drivers, Red Bull Racing Holden)