Go Faster: The Graphic Design of Racing Cars

One of the most exciting books on the Gestalten roster for 2010 is Sven Voelker’s “Go Faster: The Graphic Design of Racing Cars,” which pays homage to how cool race cars look. There are plenty of books about the mechanics of the cars, but hardly any on their graphic design. “This book deals with the simple fact that racing cars only really become racing cars when they are covered with colorful livery and decals. After all, who would put a plain white Ferrari on a real racing circuit?”

Like warpaint, Voelker argues, the bright paint jobs make the cars appear meaner and faster, but just what do the cars look like without it? To get below the surface, Voelker, a long time model car collector, “sprinkled all the cars with sacrificial white chalk dust which robbed them of all their graphic features…and the seductiveness inherent in each car’s sleek, colorful bodywork was lost.”

So if the paint job is so important why has so little energy been devoted to documenting it before this book? Part of the reason lies in the fact that most race cars never received proper graphic design to begin with, but were decked out with decals by sponsors and engineers. The attention, as it should be, went to the mechanics. Now, for possibly the first time, some of the most iconic racing cars in history have been stripped of their shiny coats and examined from a purely aesthetic point of view. “Go Faster” offers page after page of the cars as we know them side by side their unpainted ghosts and at least one thing is revealed: that in the fast-paced world of racing, what’s on the outside does, in fact, matter.