Rebecca Bernard
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Book Review: ‘Racing Colours’ Is a Colorful Look at Racing’s Little Details

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Racing Colours Simon Owen book review motor car liveries cover

4 out of 5 stars rating



The racing world is full of so many sights and sounds that it can seem overwhelming. A large portion of motorsports coverage focuses on big winners, top speeds, and epic crashes, so it’s easy for the little details to get lost.

Racing Colours is a step back from the speed and noise, offering a closer look at the intricate details of some of the most remarkable cars in racing history.

Simon Owen, the artist behind the images in the book, tragically passed away in 2012. Besides serving as a showcase for this series of images, this publication is also a loving memorial from his family and friends. He was a digital artist who originally started working with watercolors, and was also an accomplished musician, songwriter, and lyricist.

Racing Colours book cover Simon OwenRacing Colours: Motor Racing Compositions 1908-2009

Art by Simon Owen

Product Details: Hardcover, 192 pages, 7 x 7 inches

Price: $32.50 (plus applicable p&p fees)

Publication Date: November 2014

ISBN: 978-1-845846-52-7

Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Ltd (website:

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When flipping through Racing Colours, you would be excused if you thought the book was filled with small snapshots of racecars’ hoods and moving parts. What you might not realize is that each of the 77 color images in this book were painstakingly, digitally crafted to recreate parts of legendary race cars. The work is just so detailed that your eyes are fooled into thinking they are seeing the real thing.

The book is laid out with an image on the right side of the page, paired with a corresponding quotation on the left page. The comments range from thoughts about motorsports in general to specific observations about the vehicles featured in the images. The images of race car liveries focus on small portions like the hood or the door, rather than the entire car’s design.

Racing Colours Simon Owen book review motor car liveries page spread

Product Quality

Racing Colours is a very handsomely bound hardback book. It’s pretty small, which means it won’t take up a lot of real estate on a coffee table or bookshelf. The pages are all full-color and printed on sturdy paper. Speaking from personal observation, it’s compact size makes it the perfect addition to any car-themed office decor.

The quality of this book–and its contents–live up to its $32.50 price tag.

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Racing Colours Simon Owen book review motor car liveries back cover

Overall Review

The art of Racing Colours is breathtaking. When I first started looking at the book, artist Simon Owen really did fool me into thinking that it was a series of detailed photos. It was really neat to see the liveries of racing cars from the years before they became completely covered by sponsorship logos and brand characters (I’m looking at you, NASCAR). The colors are all as vivid as the day the original cars rolled out of the paint shop, and it gives readers an opportunity to see famous race cars that may be out rusting in a field or in a museum far away.

I really appreciate the details that Owen decided to highlight in his work. While race cars are beautiful speed machines, looking at pieces of the car instead of the whole thing reminds you of the work that goes into each vehicle. Rivets and seams stand out, as well as the contours that show the shape of the vehicle. It’s also very interesting to see the livery of each vehicle and to compare the earlier paint schemes to the later ones to spot the stylistic differences.

When the quotes paired with the images have a specific tie to the car displayed, such as something the driver said, it made the spread make sense and feel complete. While I do love quotes from Le Petit Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Steve McQueen, when these were paired with images of unrelated cars, it wasn’t as impactful as the other pages where quotes corresponded to their images.

I really appreciated the final section of the book, called “The Progress,” which shows how Simon Owen planned out his work in sketches before he took to the computer. Were these images magnified larger, though, it would be easier to read and appreciate Owen’s personal notes on his drawings.

If you love racing, or are shopping for a race fan this holiday season, Racing Colours would be a unique addition to any collection. It’s a great book to relax at the end of the day with, or briefly look through for some daily inspiration.

Racing Colours is available through the publisher’s websiteAmazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.

Product provided for review by publisher. 
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  • Rebecca BernardEditor

    A Dayton native, Rebecca got her start blogging at the curiously named Harlac's Tongue while studying abroad in the UK. She loves tooling around town with her Ford Focus named Thomas Jerome Newton to the song they're playing on the radio. On any given weekend, you can find her with her camera at area festivals, concerts, and car shows, shopping at flea markets, or just taking a hike in an area MetroPark. See more articles by Rebecca.