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Why are green race cars considered unlucky?

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  • Why are green race cars considered unlucky?

    I remember reading years ago that many race car drivers refused to race in a green car because they were considered unlucky. Not in the sense green cars never won, but in the sense a driver in a green car was more likely to be killed in a racing accident.

    Over the years I've seen very few green race cars and attributed it to that superstition. In Trans Am racing Alan Moffat's #41 Cougar and Sam Posey's #77 Challenger were the 2 most obvious exceptions.

    This is on my mind because in my Le Mans racing series the David Piper cars are the only ones I have that are green. I have the #3 Ferrari 330P he drove and just purchased a #14 Porsche 917K he's listed as having driven.

    Thoughts on where this superstition came from and if it really still persists?

  • #2
    Its a superstition. Some will say it started somewhere, but Nobody really knows exactly where it came from.
    Last edited by War Eagle River; March 5, 2020, 03:50 AM.
    Scott.....War Eagle River......Tampa, Florida, USA

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    • #3
      Something about upsetting the verdant gods, green is their color and they don't like it being messed with.
      I'm like the guy that hates red cars in the excellent "Used Cars" movie, only with green .
      I won't own or ride in a green car, motorcycles are twice as unlucky when painted green, they're bad enough luck as it is.
      It basically goes for anything that moves, including boats, I wonder about slot cars?
      People have told me about bad luck with cars and before they can tell me I ask them if the car was/is green and they think I'm a psychic when I'm right, which is a lot, scares me sometimes .
      A few personal examples... my daughter, green Cavalier, totaled when she hit a deer, then she got a green Bonneville, engine blew up. I told her not get them because of the color but the cars were deals, I wouldn't take them for nothing . My dad had his oil changed at Lube Stop in his green ford truck, idiots checked the air filter and jammed the throttle linkage, he started it and it took off full speed into a telephone pole, totaled and lucky he wasn't killed. A green Valiant, sister-in law head-on into two motorcycles...my wife had her almost new '77 Firebird basically destroyed when a maintenance truck hit it in the parking lot where she works, can go on and on .
      I used to think it was an urban legend but too many "coincidences" have happened, better to be safe than sorry, green cars are ugly anyway IMO.
      Last edited by Bluevista; March 5, 2020, 05:33 AM.
      Allan

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      • PetesLightKits
        PetesLightKits commented
        Editing a comment
        Yeah, but you remember what happened near the end of "Used Cars"... they told the guy that he wasn't driving a red car but that it was really a "primer gray" coloured car. And, he made the jump and got to the dealer in time to "save the world"!

    • #4
      Some people are superstitious about having the # 13 on a race car too. But it's done everyday now.

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      • #5
        Well, green is the traditional British racing color. (German is white or silver. Italian is -- surprise! -- red.)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...racing_colours

        So are the British unlucky? Don't think so. They've had their fair share of world champions.

        Ed Bianchi

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        • #6
          AFAIK that superstition was centered on Indy Cars. Pretty much disproven in 1965.
          Carl Haas remarked starting position 13 to 12A at Road America one year.

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          • #7
            Old racer's foolish superstition. Certainly dis-proven in the short track world by Ed Howe and Tommy Maier of Going and Gone fame. Ed took down the "peanuts are bad luck" superstition too. I don't think he ever ran #13 on one of his cars though.
            DAVE - MI, USA

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            • #8
              I thought maybe the fear of green racing cars came from some ancient fatalities of drivers in British Racing Green cars. Some drivers have tempted fate with green cars, but I think it still exists to some extent because there are few green race cars I know of.

              Here are the two I have in my World Sportscar Championship series. David Piper was certainly a maverick.

              Click image for larger version

Name:	SHS green 917K & P3 v2.jpg
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              As for the # 13 superstition that's still definitely going strong in general, I remember being in NYC for some meetings and noticing no elevator buttons for 13th floors. Most went 12, 14A, 14B, 15, ... I'm guessing ships don't have a cabin #13 or a 13th deck.

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              • #9
                What I heard is the "peanuts are bad luck" superstition came out of an incident early in racing history, where a spectator dropped peanut shells down the air intakes of a car.

                True? Dunno. It sounds almost plausible, but it would require a very different pit and spectator arrangement than has been common for decades now.

                Would peanut shells damage the engine? Gosh, not sure again. It might actually decarbonize the pistons a bit. But I betcha someone got royally PO'd anyway, once they discovered it.

                Ed Bianchi

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                • #10
                  I remember some old timer telling me that it was because you didn't paint your race car the color of money, and I believe that was an American superstition. I loved Jim Clark's green Lotus racers, Jaguar and BRM had some beautiful green race cars, just to mention a few. Yes, I know, all British racers. I also have that aversion to the number 13 (tricadecaphobia, or some weird name I was told). But then again, there are professional athletes I'm a fan of that were/are very successful wearing the number 13.
                  My first HO slot car that I was successful running at the hobby store Friday night races was a modified Aurora Thunderjet 500 Lola GT molded in olive green with the factory silver/black stripe. I've since purchased at least two or three more of them, some not so cheaply, either! Go figure... Ernie

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                  • #11
                    Very successful northeast asphalt racer Ted Christopher put his #13 car in victory lane many times.



                    Ted was best known for his asphalt modified championships, but also drove and won in a variety of series. My tribute car to Ted is green with a yellow #13,

                    Sadly, Ted was killed in a plane crash on his way to a race in 2017.

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                    • #12
                      I know someone who is a fanatic about the #13 on his race cars. He loves it. Very quick driver. He had a big rollover wearing #13 but it never deterred him from running it again. Historic racer in Australia, Graham Russell. And... His latest livery was bright green!

                      Here is a photo. I am trying to figure out who the photographer is so that I can credit them. Will update this comment when I find it.

                      Last edited by Slotspeed; March 6, 2020, 05:15 PM.

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                      • #13
                        And since Allan Moffat was mentioned earlier, here is Moffatt in a Holden L34 Torana (not his usual manufacturer!) showing off a bit of green plus white at one of my favorite Australian circuits (which is now sadly an acreage housing estate)

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                        • #14
                          The "Green" car superstition is most definitely American based, with its roots apparently coming from Gaston Chevrolets' death during a race in LA in 1920....driving a "Green" car.

                          The adversion to green in the US has certainly changed, with several Sports, Imsa, Nascar etc. cars featuring green liveries.

                          In Europe, and the rest of the World,...Lotus, Jaguar, Brabham, BRM, Vanwall, Cooper, Jordan and Rover to name a few , have all produced/raced the majority of their cars in various shades of green.

                          Cheers
                          Chris Walker

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                          • #15
                            I don't Know.Harry Gant seemed to be pretty good in his bandit car....
                            Rusty

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