In Praise of the Illustrated Racing Program Cover

Keeping goofy “title sponsorship” logos off of program covers and event posters wasn’t a conscious design decision in the 60’s, but it’s one I wish more poster designers would make today.

I have a poster hanging in my house for the 1999 running of the Meadowbrook Historics at the Waterford Hills Road Races. Like the brilliant imagery presented here, it’s beautifully illustrated with bold colors and finely executed imagery of racing cars. Bugatti was the featured marque for the race and the poster features a gorgeously realized Bugatti-blue Type 35.

The color and composition are quite lovely, but then the sponsoring corporation’s logo is slapped across the bottom. “Tech-Sight”, it says, in anachronistically severe quasi-contemporary logotype. It tarnishes the poster with its poor design and placement and late-90’s generically futuristic branding.

I had to look up what the company was to write this post: It’s a subsidiary of defense contractor General Dynamics. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing people want hanging in their automotive art gallery: graphically dated defense contractor logos.

Thankfully, we can always look back at these marvelous American Road Race of Champions program covers to give us the essentials: evocative illustration, uncluttered typography, and the sanctioning body’s logo – if necessary. That’s it. Follow that equation, poster designers.

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