The Cahier Archive. 60 Years of Photographing Racing History.

This morning I was searching for vintage racing photographs to use as a reference for an Illustration I am working on. As I was cruising through my Google results I came across the “Cahier Archive“. Even if you aren’t a racing fan, this is a fantastic site. It features some amazing photography that stretches back to 1951.

The photo collection covers the history of the Formula One Championships and the photos  remain in the hands of its original photographers. There are 15 000 pictures currently available on the website which are part of an archive containing around 400,000 original photos.

The archive has been built and compiled by Bernard Cahier and his son Paul-Henri, with Bernard leaning more toward photojournalism, and his son taking a more artistic approach to his shooting style.

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All Photographs © Bernard Cahier, Henri Cahier


Selling Formula 1, to a NASCAR Crowd.

America is a NSCAR country. We love stock cars making left hand turns around an oval track at 200 miles per hour. So how do you promote F1 racing? You make a kick ass 6 minute video, that’s how.

This video short produced for Red Bull is outstanding. Brilliant editing and camera work combined with copious amounts of slow motion videography sell it. There is a minor story to this piece where the car basically escapes the ranch and heads to the big city, but it is completely secondary to the visceral images of the car as it tears up the countryside.

I love this. I hope it sells F1 to all the NASCAR fans in America. If it doesn’t, it sure is a blast to watch. One of my favorite parts is the “GoCam” attached to the steer horn.

The F1 Circuit of the Americas takes place in Austin, Texas on November 18, 2012.

A Day in the Life of an Audi Driver. Allan McNish, on Driving Le Mans.

This being Memorial Day weekend, there are a few traditions that happen every year. The Indianapolis 500 is run, and people all over America bar-b-que and hang with family. This is for all the racing fans out there. If you watch the Indy 500, I know you will appreciate this video for that is currently at the Audi Channel on YouTube.

Audi has created a new  video titled “A Day in the Life of an Audi Driver”. It has a really nice stylized look and combines video, animation, motion graphics, and CGI work to create a great 3 minute story that encapsulates what driving Le Mans is like. Audi’s video shows Audi Team Joest driver Allan McNish talking about the hundreds of people and hundreds of hours that go into planning for the 24 Hours at Le Mans race.

As I meantioned earlier the video currently lives at Audi’s YouTube channel but will be broadcast to the world on May 28 during Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final soccer game.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place June 11-12 at Circuit de la Sarthe in France.


2011 F1 Racing Posters.

The Formula 1 Racing season has begun, and with it have come a new line of F1 posters designed by PJ Tierney from Ireland. The posters remind me of classic racing posters from the late 1950’s through 1960’s with simple graphics, bold color pallets, consistent layouts, and a unified use of typography across all of them.

There is an interview with Tertulias de Fórmula 1. on Tierney’s blog which sheds additional light on his design process, and inspiration.

The Brilliant Team Ferrari/Marlboro Logo.

I am going to preface this post with a little statement. I am a former smoker, but I don’t encourage or advocate smoking. This post deals with Marlboro and I am in no means supporting the Marlboro cigarette brand. I am however talking about a pretty impressive design move by both Ferrari, and Marlboro.

About 2 weeks ago I had the privilege of being in Monaco for a Grand Prix race. Now this unto itself is a big deal for me, I mean I was standing in the crown city of F1 racing watching. If you are a fan, it doesn’t get much better, even if watching F1 on TV is probably a better overall experience.

If you keep up with the European racing circuit, and or F1, you are probably aware that European Union is getting ready to pass a law banning cigarette advertising on F1 cars. Now lets say you are I don’t know, hmmmmm lets say Marlboro, and you sponsor one of the largest and best F1 racing teams in the world. And your brand is intertwined not only with that racing team, but in many ways to Formula  One racing itself, what are you going to do? You are going to get very, very clever, and that is just what Marlboro did.

The Marlboro Ferrari Scuderia F1

According to the EU, the law reads something like this.

“The Tobacco Advertising Directive: Passed by the European Parliament and Council in 2003 (see:IP/02/1788), the Directive bans tobacco advertising in the print media, on radio and over the internet. It also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of cross-border cultural and sporting events.”

Now F1 most definitely qualifies as a cross-border cultural and sporting event. But this law went into effect right about the time Marlboro’s contract negotiations hit full swing with Ferrari. So Marlboro decided to go forward with sponsorship but Marlboro stipulated that the race team’s Ferrari’s would simply not carry your brand’s logo where there was this ban in place.

So Marlboro has spent a ton of money to sponsor Ferrari’s Formula One team without being able to brand the cars. Basically, the Ferrari’s appear to have no major sponsorship when raced in the EU. And this is where Marlboro got really clever.

In January of this year, Ferrari unveiled the latest F1. The new Marlboro Scuderia F1. (it is important to note that Ferrari is the only F1 team that has a tobacco brand in its formula one title) Upon first look the car is void of any Marlboro branding, and appears to be in full compliance with the law, and rules. Because of this it has gone fairly unnoticed over the last 5 months, but now 5 races into the F1 season, Ferrari is under scrutiny due to the team’s clever way of solving the Marlboro branding issue.

In typical Ferrari fashion, the F1 car sports a predominately red paint job with a few smaller associate sponsor brands present on the car in the form of logos like Shell, AMD, etc. Now one of the most dominating elements of the cars paint job though is a massive red, black and white bar code that runs across the air intake behind the driver. It also shows up on drivers uniforms and in other sponsor items like patches, print and decals. On first glance it looks like a simple racing detail. A new form of stripe, or just a bold graphic touch. But when the subject is moving at 200 miles per hour, it takes on a familiar look. A look that is surprisingly similar to the iconic Marlboro logo. Very clever indeed.

The Bar code vs The Logo

Because of this, European Union authorities are just a bit peeved with both Marlboro and Ferrari. According to the London Times, “a spokesman for the European Public Health Commissioner said he thought that Marlboro’s approach constituted potential subliminal marketing. He urged the Spanish and British governments to ascertain whether the world’s second-biggest tobacco company might be in breach of the law.”

A visual Comparison

I have to say, first off this isn’t really subliminal. It’s out in the open, and very much visible to the naked eye. What this is, is an optical illusion, and a very good one at that. Now there is no getting around the fact that Marlboro and Ferrari, have obviously tried to get around the law for both the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix and for this summer’s British Grand Prix. But you have to admit, this is some pretty clever design thinking, and Marlboro is of course denying that this is in fact their logo. Philip Morris said: “We are confident that our relationship with Ferrari does not violate the UK 2002 Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act. The Formula One Grand Prix in the UK does not involve any race cars, team apparel, equipment or track signage carrying tobacco product branding. The same is true for all other Formula One races across the world.”

Now I’m a design guy. I make my living by using visual design to solve problems and communicate messages. Because of this I think this is what constitutes a genius move. I don’t care if you love or hate tobacco. For me this has less to do with cigarettes, and more to do with solving the problem, with finding a loophole in the law. It has to do with how a group of designers solved this problem, and did it in such a brilliant way. So yes they were sneaky, and yes this underscores the negative side of the Marlboro brand perception by many people. You have to admit though, it’s a pretty damn clever piece of visual design.

One thing to note this design challenge has been in the works for some time. Take a look at the 2006 F1 car, followed by 2007’s. Now compare those two cars to this year’s car. In the beginning, it’s as though Marlboro was a bit more innocent, or more compliant with the rules. Over time it is as though they have tweaked the bar code in order to set up a precedent for the argument that they have not violated any European laws or Formula One rules. It sets up the argument that the bar code itself is a new logo or identity system for the Ferrari team independent of the Marlboro logo, even if there is a striking resemblance at 200 miles per hour.

the 2006 Ferrari F1 car

the 2007 Ferrari with a simpler Bar code Logo

The latest revision

Ferrari Team Logo

1978 Japan Grand Prix, Suzuka Program.

A friend of mine emailed this image to me earlier today. I don’t know a thing about the designer, or where it was made. I do know that I like it. I love the high contrast black and white theme and the tension created between the ground plane and the background. I’d love to take this look and create an animated racing short.

If anyone reading this can give me some insight to the designer, or the origin of this program cover it would really be appreciated.