Round one of the 2021 Supercars championship is finally here, and everywhere you look there’s change. Some of this has been spurred on by Covid-19, some is simply good old fashioned silly season shuffling.
In part as a distraction to all of the current day’s pandemic gloom and doom, we thought we’d take a lighter look at every paint scheme on the Supercars grid — putting each under our highly subjective design microscope ahead of this weekend’s Mount Panorama 500.
21. Tekno Autosports No. 19 Fabian Coulthard, No. 22 Garry Jacobsen
The playing field in Supercars is incredibly competitive — not just on the track, but also in the graphic design department with the Crayolas and canvas. There are positives to the dual Tekno Autosports liveries of Fabian Coulthard and Garry Jacobson (namely, that highlighter yellow will stand out like the absolute dog’s proverbial), but while both are neither is exactly pretty.
20. Brad Jones Racing No. 4 Jack Smith
Red and white is a classic motorsport colour combination, and Supercars sophomore Jack Smith has fielded plenty of red and white machines in his time. As such his 2021 weapon is hardly offensive on the old retinas, but it does struggle for visual balance. The front three-quarter looks nice with its prolific SGT branding, but the jumble of minor sponsors on the rear quarter and boot-lid are anything but.
19. Brad Jones Racing No. 8 Nick Percat
Another BJR entry, another car layered in red and white, and more lack of balance. Like the Smithmobile, Nick Percat’s R&J Batteries Commodore has its good angles. Dead front on, particularly with the black, the treatment of the headlights and various chevrons, it looks mighty menacing. But the sinister dark look gets lost down the side of the car. It looks like two different liveries jammed together.
18. Matt Stone Racing No. 35 Zane Goddard
Zane Goddard steps up from being a handy part-timer to a full-time spot in Supercars, technically making this weekend his full-time debut of sorts. Matt Stone Racing’s Yellow Cover warpaint is a familiar evolution of the scheme worn by Garry Jacobsen last year, and does a decent job of balancing a huge volume of minor sponsors.
17. Red Bull Ampol Racing No. 88 Jamie Whincup, No. 97 Shane van Gisbergen
Red Bull’s 2021 entry is a lesson in sponsorship balance and how it can define a livery. The team has moved from merely having Holden and Red Bull fighting for space to having the Bulls, Ampol, and Supercheap Auto all wanting the biggest piece of the pie possible. The livery itself is fairly attractive (the streaks of red and white remind me a little of Falken Tyres and its ‘scallop’ liveries and the subtle Red Bull logos ghosted into the blue are neat), but the lack of white continuity from the front bumper to the main Bull logo and the lack of room around the chief Ampol signage is a lot to take in. Will probably look better on TV than in the static pics.
16. Erebus Motorsport No. 9 Will Brown
‘Ghosting’ is a theme across a bunch of Supercars liveries this season, and it also features in Will Brown’s WD-40 warpaint — dozens of little WD-40 logos repeated through the blue. Brown’s livery has the look of a car that was put together late, and perhaps it was, given it was the last livery revealed and the sponsor is only there on a part-time basis. The design does what it can, but doesn’t really fit around WD-40’s unit crest-shaped logo.
15. Tickford Racing No. 44 James Courtney
James Courtney’s Boost Ford Mustang is the first of the Tickford Racing entries here, and continues the Boost brand’s knack for sharp-looking liveries. The splashes of silver are neatly framed with orange, and we’re crossing our fingers that the orange-rimmed wheels make it to race day. The Ryco logo placement on the front bar and the tight concentration of minor sponsors on the sills let it down.
14. Brad Jones Racing No. 96 Macauley Jones
There isn’t a lot to Macauley Jones’ 2021 livery, but that ultimately helps it become one of the most instantly recognisable schemes on the grid. The simple Coke scheme is a slight evolution of Chris Pither’s warpaint from last year, notabling bringing the brand’s signature white swoosh into the mix, a la most of Wayne Gardner’s cars from the 1990s. We just wish said swoosh was slightly higher up the car.
13. Grove Kelly Racing No. 7 Andre Heimgartner
Andre Heimgartner’s Ned Mustang is now much busier than it was last season, thanks to the addition of Penrite Oils and a few new minor backers. As a lover of black and gold schemes, the gold pin-striping and grille detailing are much appreciated. The contrast of the white will mean it won’t get lost on the TV screens, either.
12. Team 18 Irwin Racing No. 18 Mark Winterbottom
From the nose to the B-pillar, this is probably one of the very best looking cars on the grid. Team 18 has continued its unique two-colour theme across both of its cars (only a dash of white appearing on Mark Winterbottom’s machine). That’s up to the B-pillar, anyway, when a big clashing slab of Bunnings green arrives. Still, it’s a looker.
11. Tickford Racing No. 5 Jack Le Brocq
One of the subtle lookers of the 2020 season was Lee Holdsworth’s Truck Assist Mustang. While it has a new driver for 2021, Jack Le Brocq, not much has changed. It still comes in an oddly distinctive grey, but now gets a larger orange valance and some bright orange wheels. We don’t expect these wheels to make it to the track (and if they do, they’ll be phased out in a short time). But in render form at least, it’s a successful tale of ‘less is more’.
10. Matt Stone Racing No. 34 Jake Kostecki
Remember that love for black and gold? Matt Stone Racing’s proverbial black and gold Unit livery from last year is back with some tweaks. Borrowing the broken up lines from Jake Kostecki’s 2020 Bathurst livery, it looks excellent. We love it when a lesser-funded team designs something that looks like it belongs in the top five, and this is a great example of such. The one caveat? The metallic gold can get a little lost on camera sometimes.
9. Brad Jones Racing No. 14 Todd Hazelwood
Brad Jones Racing’s stand-out livery for the season opener is Todd Hazelwood’s Dunlop scheme. Looking like a hybrid of teammate Percat’s past Dunlop liveries and Hazelwood’s Club Cadet Bathurst livery from last year, it’s a handy balance of one dominant colour (yellow), one contrasting colour (black), and one colour to highlight each element (red). Sadly like BJR Dunlop liveries of old, this one is set to be a temporary scheme. Hopefully another camouflage Brut livery is on the way …
8. Tickford Racing No. 6 Cameron Waters
What is there that’s left to say about the Monster livery? Each year I find myself in two minds; a pang of disappointment at the lack of change, and a quiet acknowledgement of Monster’s clear ‘if it ain’t broke’ mentality. Barring the Coke and Red Bull entries, Cameron Waters’ car is probably the most instantly recognisable car on the grid — love it or hate it. Expect this one to fight for the championship, too.
6= Walkinshaw Andretti United No. 25 Chaz Mostert, No. 2 Bryce Fullwood
2021’s warpaint across the Walkinshaw Andretti United garage represents a fairly significant departure for the Clayton squad — by and large with good effect. Both score big on the contrast-o-meter, with jet-black bases set against neon-like pink and blue across the two entries of Bryce Fullwood and Chaz Mostert.
The two were inseparable to my eye, although it was tempting to dock points from the Mostert entry on the basis of how much it looked like the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-AMG’s from a few moons ago.
5. Grove Kelly Racing No. 26 David Reynolds
Erebus Racing’s loss of Penrite has been Grove Kelly Racing’s gain, with David Reynolds sporting a very different livery this year compared to last. Gone is the stylised, 3D Australian flag that wrapped the doors of his Commodore, and in its place is a much more staunch affair with the flags used in an entirely different way. Here’s a car that very nicely frames its primary sponsor, while simultaneously balancing a long list of colours. Excellent.
4. DJR Shell V-Power Racing No. 17 Will Davison, No. 100 Anton De Pasquale
Ah, you can’t beat a classic, eh. This year marks the fifth year that DJR (now without Penske on its shoulder) has wheeled out this classic Shell livery in some way shape or form. There may have been some minor tweaks here and there, but make no mistake — this is the same scheme as Fabian Coulthard and Scott Pye had from time to time five years ago. Some will cry foul at this in the same way as they do the Monster liveries. For those people, it’s worth remembering this; almost every iconic racing livery from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s had a multi-year shelf life. This classic Shell livery is likely to be looked back upon as an iconic one years from now.
3. Team 18 Dewalt Racing No. 20 Scott Pye
Team 18’s ongoing fixation with yellow and black (or brands that just happen to have yellow and black as corporate colours) has seen them and scribbler Nick Moss hone these schemes to a T, and the latest Dewalt Racing Commodore of Scott Pye probably ranks as the most resolved and handsome livery Team 18 has ever fielded. Again, some 80 per cent of the car is just two colours, the lack of white outlines or pesky drop shadows giving it a clean aesthetic. The use of red throughout is tasteful and balanced. An excellent scheme.
2. Blanchard Racing No. 3 Tim Slade
While I’ve always enjoyed Cooldrive liveries, something about this season’s Mustang for Tim Slade is particularly refreshing. Perhaps it’s the fact that this is (with exception to the Waters and Jones entries) the most minimalist and slick paint-scheme on the list. The primary sponsor’s name sings on the side, and the gorgeous tone of that deep blue is allowed a wanton amount of real estate. No clashing with the light blue, perhaps thanks to how the use of white has split it up. A fantastic colour scheme, and it’s great to see Slade back on the grid.
1. Erebus Motorsport No. 99 Brodie Kostecki
For our number one we go from one of the most minimalist cars on the grid to one of the busiest. As we said with Courtney’s Mustang, Boost Mobile knows how to direct a good looking car, and Brodie Kostecki’s Erebus entry might be the best yet. The black and orange zig-zagged arrangement will be somewhat familiar to those who have followed the series (mostly in connection to the sponsor’s time at Walkinshaw Andretti United and Garry Rogers Motorsport), but it’s the ghosted hieroglyphics in the black that seal the deal for a stunning, interesting looking scheme.