Origin and Reason for Racing Stripes

I got to wondering why people started puting racing stripes on race cars. I understand that the practice goes back decades. Was it to increase visibility (of the car to other drivers), simple styling, or some other reason.


I can’t tell you all that stuff, but I can tell you what they meant on the early Cobras. All the cars in the team were the same color, but the stripes signified the nationality of the driver.
I don’t remember the rest of the color chart.

Going back to the fifties, a racing stripe allowed the driver to have an “aiming” point for his turn, and gave him a quick reference exactly where the center of his hood was. You also have to remember that back then tires were skinny, wings were something that was on an airplane (on a treadmill) and the fastest way around a corner was a drift. Classic racing stripe
Having the stripe just made it a little easier for the driver to judge his cornering and drift.
At first they were just one stripe down the center, then one wide stripe with a narrow on each side. Then they were offset to one side or the other. Then it morphed into some stupid shit like this
(FTR I like TR5/TR250s, but that stripe placement is stoopid)

You mean the stripes don’t make the car go faster? :eek:

I dunno, Rick. I don’t find the TR-250 stripes particularly stoopid. They’re not really offensive or anything. I did find them odd the first time I saw them though.

Racing Stripes was a bad movie about an indestructible cheerleader riding a zebra.
…either that or it made for easy long-distance identification of race cars.

For those interested, here’s a nifty list of internation race car colors.

When I hit submit, I somehow knew you would post about my post. :slight_smile:
Different strokes and all that. I think the stripes need to go lengthwise.

Me, post to a car thread? Gwan!

I know what you’re saying about the stripes, though.

Only if they’re red, and you’re an ork…

I suspected you were Horde, dude. :slight_smile:

In earlier times, not only were the car bodies a certain color (often a “national” color reflecting the country), but many countries painted the then-visible chassis a different color. As chassis became concealed, the chassis color was portrayed by the stripe(s). Cite here.

Everything2.com offers this:

I would have thought that if anything it would be the other way around with veterans “earning their stripes”.

Yeah, IF there were any indication that the stripes related to the DRIVERS. Since they relate to the COUNTRIES, I think it’s safe to relegate this explanation to the “wishful thinking” (= horsecrap) bin.

Actually NASCAR does exactly what mittu is saying, in a way. The rookies all have a flourescent stripe on the front and rear bumpers of their vehicles to let the other drivers know they are rookies. Link

A snail went into a body shop and asked them to paint a racing stripe the length of his shell. He also wanted a big letter “S” right in the middle of the stripe.

The manager agreed to do it, but asked, “Why in the world do you want a paint job like this?”

The snail replied, "So everybody who sees me will say, “Wow, look at that S-car go!’”

At the Indianapolis 500, drivers who have never raced there must take a “rookie test,” and until they pass it, the car wears a “rookie stripe” on the back to warn other drivers in practice that they’re following somebody of limited experience. It becomes silly sometimes, when a driver with plenty of experience in some other kind of top-level racing comes to Indy and has to take the rookie test.

Maybe the stripes belong to the more experienced drivers who put it in the rookie’s car and once he is deemed competent he “earns his stripes” and they become his and he is free to take them off (and store them to put them on some other newb’s car)

In addition, someone who may no longer be considered a “series rookie” may still be required to place the stripe on his (or her) car on tracks which they have not previously run in that series.

Jayski Says: Rookie Stripes: rookies will be noted on the car they drive by a yellow stripe on the rear bumper of the car.

I thought “earning his stripes” was a military expression, the stripes signifying rank.