Gulf history in motorsports and their partnership with McLaren

Gulf history in motorsports and their partnership with McLaren

There have been some brilliant partnerships in the history of motorsport and one of the newer ones is between Gulf and McLaren. Gulf are an iconic brand within motorsport and they are currently associated with McLaren.

Gulf in Motorsport

Gulf has been part of motorsport for a very long time and they are a brand synonymous with motorsport. This investment in motorsport began in the 1960s when they decided to sponsor the John Wyer Automotive team in the 1960s and 1970s. It was partly pushed by Gulf vice president Grady Davis owning a Ford GT40, which was in the Gulf livery and he entered it into both the Daytona International Speedway and the Sebring International Raceway.

You may be asking “why is the Gulf livery so famous?” Well, Gulf brought their iconic colour scheme to the teams cars and the signature light blue and orange Ford GT40 is one of the most famous colour schemes in motorsport. What helped the popularity of the colour scheme is that Steve McQueen’s 1971 film Le Mans revolves around Michael Delaney, a fictional character who drives for the Gulf team.

The popularity of the brand in the movie meant that watch brand TAG Heuer released a limited edition watch with the Gulf logo. The Blue and Orange branding has become one of the best brands in motorsport. Before the film came out, the brand had real success in Le Mans. It began when the Ford GT40 won back to back Le Mans titles in 1966 and 1967, claiming two more titles in 1968 and 1969 while having the Gulf livery.

In 1975, the Mirage GR8-Ford Cosworth won the 24 hours of Le Mans. It was an iconic car that featured the racing colour of Gulf and the company was sponsoring the car. The racing colours became so iconic that Gulf decided to make history, becoming the first company to trademark its racing colours.

Gulf and McLaren

Part of Gulf being heavily involved with motorsport was their partnership with British racing team McLaren. This partnership began in 1968 when Gulf was just getting into motorsport. They partnered with McLaren in both Formula One and Can-Am.

Bruce McLaren was crucial in this agreement, as he was still running the team that he had set up when they decided to partner with Gulf. The partnership also included McLaren using a papaya orange livery and had the Gulf lettering in light blue, the colour scheme that became synonymous with Gulf in motorsport.

This partnership lasted just five years in Formula One, but in the 1990s, McLaren running the Gulf livery in Le Mans. In that time in Le Mans, they were finishers in the top 10, 10 times. The crowning moment of this part of their relationship was when the McLaren F1 GTR running the Gulf livery won Le Mans in 1995.

In total, McLaren cars have won over 40 races while using the Gulf livery. It was such a successful partnership that they decided to reignite the partnership in 2020, with the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix being a historic race for both.

For the race, the McLaren car ran the gulf livery once again. McLaren decided to choose the historic Monaco race as the perfect time to bring back the livery and it was a good weekend to choose. Lando Norris finished on the podium after a brilliant race, holding off Sergio Perez to finish in third. Hopefully we will see the McLaren Gulf livery in the sport again.

As part of the partnership, McLaren have released limited edition in collaboration with Gulf. The collection has a vintage look with the iconic blue, orange and off-white colors. Check-out the full collection here.



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