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May 15th, 2016

First came the wheel, then man knew the speed and in a matter of time, racing became a thing, an art form and a way of life. The modern man understood that he could use colours to showcase his desire and passion to race and the businesses realized that motorsports were a perfect location to advertise at, and hence great racing liveries of the world were created. As much as the part of the folklore as the racing itself, the motorsport liveries connected the spectators and the followers to their favorite teams and to their heroes, the liveries becoming the form allegiance and of legends that became immortal. In this series of features, we will be discussing the greatest of motorsport liveries and a bit of history behind them. We start our journey by talking about the Motor sporting events that Camel sponsored during the times when, for better or worse, tobacco sponsorship was at its highest in the world of racing and rallying. Below is our list of Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel:

Camel is more than a century old American cigarette brand that is produced by R.J. Reynolds Company and has a long history with the motorsports and its hero’s throughout the world. Established in 1913 Camel was the company which created the packaged cigarette business in the times when no one believed that pre-packaged cigarettes can have a market. Camel came to motorsports in the beginning of the 70’s around the same time when the world of motorsports had already attained global phenomena and had become a perfectly profitable venture for tobacco companies who had their exact customer base coming in huge numbers in support of motorsports. Here are the motor sporting events that Camel had participated over the years in our feature series of Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel Valentino Rossi

IMSA GT Championship 1972 – 1993:

Our discussion about the Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel, takes us to IMSA GT Championship first. For staggering 22 years straight, Camel had been the main title sponsor of the IMSA GT Championship that was also known as Camel GT. It was a famous Sportscar racing series founded in the year 1969 while the races debuted in the year 1971. The races were mainly held in the USA while sometimes they also visited Canadian circuits as well. The Series in its early days saw the Touring Car (Group 1 and Group 2) and GT cars (Group 3 and Group 4) races while in 1977 a new addition called the GTX allowed turbocharged cars from Group 5 to compete in their own series as well. 1981 saw the introduction of the sports prototype series called as the GTP Class that ignored the newly established Group C rules by FIA. By the time 90’s arrived the series was in a decline that saw founder Bishop to sell off his organization and in 1993 World Sports category was introduced to replace the declining GTP class. With Bishop no longer in the control of the championship, Camel also left the championship.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel GT

Formula 1 – Lotus Formula 1 – 1987 to 1990:

The Next phase of our story of Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel came in 1990 when Camel became the title sponsor for Lotus Formula 1 team. Lotus Formula 1 effort in the late eighties suffered from Renault’s pulling out of the series in 1986 that saw them get the Honda RA166-E spec engine for their Formula 1 race car Lotus 99T designed by Gerard Ducarouge. Lotus title sponsor during 1986 and before that, John Player Special also pulled out leaving a place for Camel to arrive as the title sponsor of the team. The iconic Lotus Black-Yellow Formula 1 car  now became bright Yellow- Blue car and one of the factory driver at the wheels was none other than the greatest of them all, Aryton Senna. In 1988 Senna left Lotus to join McLaren where he would win his first World Championship that year itself while Camel remained the title sponsor at Lotus until 1990.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel Lotus Formula 1 Senna

Ayrton Senna, Camel Team Lotus Honda 99T

Formula 1 – 1990 to 1993:

After leaving the Lotus Formula 1 team a the title sponsor, the next great Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel, came when Camel became the co-sponsor of the Benetton Formula 1 team and the Williams Formula 1 team till 1993 when a ban on Tobacco Sponsorship meant Camel could no longer support the world biggest motor sporting event.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel Benetton Formula 1

Camel in NASCAR Racing Series:

Our quest about the Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel, takes us to the year 1994 when Camel entered the NASCAR championship. During  1994 season of the Winston Cup of NASCAR, Hut Stricklin and his #23 Ford Thunderbird were sponsored by Camel while from the season of 1995 to 1997, Camel was the main sponsor Jimmy Spencer’s #23 Ford Thunderbird.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel NASCAR

Camel in Motorcycle Racing – 90’ to 2006:

Among its legendary connection with the motorsports world, the Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel discussion will be incomplete without discussing Camels sponsorship time at varies motorcycle race events throughout the world. From early to Mid 90’s Camel sponsored the Honda AMA Superbikes team along with sponsoring the USHRA and AMA Supercross Championships that came to be known as the Camel Mud & Monster Series, and the Camel Supercross. At MotoGP Camel was the title sponsor of Sito Pons’ MotoGP team during 2003 to 2005. It was in 2006 that Camel became the title sponsor of the Factory Yamaha MotoGP team that resulted in probably one of the most iconic MotoGP liveries of all time. However, the axe of the ban on sponsorship by tobacco companies by European Tobacco Regulations meant that Camel had to its association with Yamaha and motorsports at the end of 2006 MotoGP season.

Historic Motorsports Liveries – Camel Sito Pons MotoGP

Camel at Paris Dakar Rally –

Through the peak of the Tobacco Sponsorship era in motorsports, along with a big presence in Formula 1 and other circuit racing sports, Camel had also participated at the world toughest race, the Paris-Dakar rally where it had sponsored all the categories like cars, motorcycles and even trucks at the iconic rally event. Some of the most famous vehicles that have participated at the prestigious Paris-Dakar Rally wearing the equally legendary bright yellow Camel livery as following:

Suzuki DR800 Big Z (1989), Suzuki DRZ 750 Sr43 Dakar (1991), MG Metro 6R4 (1991), Peugeot 205 T16 Grand Raid (1987), Pegassus 7222 (1987), Moto Morini 500 (1988), Range Rover (1988), Honda Africa Twin (1991), Peugeot 405 T-16 (1990), Citroen ZX Rallye Raid (1990, 1991, 1992) etc.

Peugeot 405 T16

Suzuki DR800 1989

Citroen ZX Rallye Raid 1992In its more than 30 years long history of sponsoring motor sporting events, Camel and the teams it had worked with had created some of the most memorable and legendary racing liveries the world has ever seen. Who can forget Aryton Senna wearing the famed Bright Yellow with Blue writings on his race suit or Valentino Rossi riding his 2006 Yamaha M1 drenched in bright yellow Camel livery!

Images Courtesy: Wikipedia

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