Blue and Orange
by Michael Cotton is the story of Gulf Oil and a history of motor racing sponsorship that stretches from the 1930s to 2001. Witty and interesting quotes and recollections complement over 250 historic images some of which have never before been published in this large-format (11x11 inch), 208 page, full colour book from Coterie Press.
Blue And Orange focuses on the drivers, the cars and the races associated with Gulf and their famous logo through the best part of 70 years.
The lavishly illustrated hard-back publication begins with the Pittsburgh Company and its activities in the United States, where the pioneering company capitalized on a range of motor sport associations as marketing tool for their newly developed products. Sponsorship of Ab Jenkins during the early 1930s gave Gulf their first taste of motoring success, with the Mormon Meteor powered by Gulf! breaking numerous speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flat. Their most famous motor sport involvement of this period however was to be their tie-up with eccentric designer Harry Miller, whos 1937 Indy 500 challenger was a hugely innovative mid-engined single-seater that boasted nothing less than 4-wheel drive and disc brakes!
In 1966 Gulf Oil vice-president Grady Davis bought a Ford GT40 and formed a lasting friendship with John Wyer. Their mutual interest would turn into a full-scale racing partnership lasting nine eventful years, perhaps endurance racings most successful commercial partnership of all time. With Ford GT40s, Porsche 917s, three world championships, three outright victories at Le Mans and an association with some of the worlds greatest drivers, this was truly the golden era of sports car racing. The accounts of drivers and a collection of stirring photography is featured in Blue And Orange, capturing this great period in motorsport history.
Jo Siffert and Pedro Rodriguez drove to new heights of speed and daring, established speed records everywhere they raced in Gulf Porsche 917s , and the intense rivalry between the pair is now legendary. Steve McQueen's film 'Le Mans' gave the Gulf Porsche 917 an iconic status, and a chapter in Blue And Orange features stories and photographs of the Hollywood legend, some of which are being published for the very first time
In the late 60s and early 70s Gulf had a hugely successful partnership with Bruce McLarens team in the fields of Can-Am, Indy cars and Formula One. This liaison produced numerous victories and championships and the extensive media coverage of this high-profile partnership resulted in increased worldwide public awareness of the Gulf brand.
After an absence of over two decades from the international motor racing scene, Le Mans was to host the return of a legend in 1994 with five times winner Derek Bell piloting a Gulf-sponsored Kremer Porsche in the demanding 24-hour event. The blue and orange liveried racer finished a creditable sixth, much to the delight of the enthusiastic Le Mans crowd.
Gulf Oils association with McLaren was to be resurrected in 1995 through a partnership with the privately owned team of Ray Bellm. For three years the Gulf McLaren F1 GTR was dominant, with Bellm winning exactly half of the 22 Global Endurance Championship races contested in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, culminating in the GT Championship Title in 96 followed. This was followed by a hard-fought class win at Le Mans in 1997.
In their centenary year, 2001, Gulf Oil sponsored an Audi R8 in which Swedish driver Stefan Johansson raced at Sebring, Le Mans and in the European Le Mans Series, which he went on to win comfortably. The story of this campaign is the final chapter in the beautifully illustrated Blue And Orange.
Author Michael Cotton has followed and written about endurance racing since 1967, the year he was appointed editor of Motoring News and elected to specialise in the long distance category. He considers himself extremely lucky to have covered the Gulf Mirage, Gulf Ford and Gulf Porsche era, which started in 1967 and closed with Gulfs third Le Mans victory in 1975, achieved by Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx.