GRR

Why this F1 race-winning Lotus 21 has a two-tone paint scheme

04th July 2022
Adam Wilkins

There are many iconic liveries in motor racing, but blue and green is not one of them. So why does this Lotus 21 look as though it has been hastily repaired with whatever body panels were to hand, no matter what the colour? It all stems from a car-swapping deal between Innes Ireland and Stirling Moss at the 1961 Monza Grand Prix.

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Moss was due to drive his regular Rob Walker Racing-entered Lotus 18, but the year-old model had been out-paced by the competition. Innes Ireland, at the time Team Lotus’s number one driver, recognised the fact that Moss was more likely to challenge the ‘Sharknose’ Ferraris, but only if he had a Lotus 21 to work with. Colin Chapman agreed, and so Moss drove Ireland’s Type 21. The blue panels of Rob Walker Racing were added, with the green side panels remaining in place – and so a one-off livery was inadvertently created. Sadly the challenge couldn’t be taken to the local Ferraris: a failed wheel bearing forced Moss to retire.

The 21 would later claim a championship grand prix win in the hands of Ireland at Watkins Glen. It was the first Team Lotus win, previous Lotus victories having been chalked up by Rob Walker Racing, and was a true nail-biter as Ireland made a move from third to first position on the final hairpin of the race. The storied machine also had three non-championship wins and was driven by Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor during its service.

All that history was contained under pit shelter number 42 at the 2021 Goodwood Revival, where it appeared in its blue and green livery for the first time 60 years. “We did it because of the Stirling Moss tribute and thought it was appropriate to honour his drive in the car,” said Dan Collins the man who has been racing the car for about a decade, and was hoping for greater pace at Goodwood thanks to a newly fitted engine. “The car had the original engine in it. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth and I wanted to preserve it,” says Dan. “The original is now a spare if we need it, but hopefully we won’t.

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“We were looking at our lap times and over the last couple of years I was going a little bit slower each time. I’m putting that down to the old engine, so this year [2021] I’m certainly hoping to be in the top ten or even the top five.

“I’m more used to driving more modern Formula One cars from the ’80s era. The 21 is like going back to your roots, the car slides around corners and you can drift it a lot. It’s great fun with close racing. You’re always dicing with similar cars and similar drivers.

“The more modern Formula One car I drive is a JPS Lotus Type 91 which is the last ground-effect car. It’s Cosworth powered. It was the car that Elio de Angelis won the Austrian Grand Prix with in 1982, just narrowly beating Keke Rosberg. We raced that in the States this year.”

“If you cut me I bleed green and yellow... and a bit of blue this weekend!”

Photography by James Lynch.

  • Lotus

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