Supercars considering returning car numbers to doors
Supercars is considering returning numbers to the doors of cars when the Gen3 era starts next year, Speedcafe.com understands.
For the last 15 years, the placement of what is officially known as the ‘competition number’ on the side of the car has been as a sticker on the rear door window or quarter glass.
Teams retain the option of placing their competition number also in its traditional position on or just forward of the (front) door, if approved by Supercars, but those markings are not official.
Based on online commentary, there is a not insignificant desire among the fanbase to return to tradition, and those individuals may well get their wish.
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The change, should it come to pass, would presumably be for reasons of practicality.
That is, there may simply not be enough room to display the competition number and/or driver name(s) on windows given the fuel inlet will be moved to the quarter glass.
Rules around numbers have gone through a number of changes in the last decade-and-a-half or so.
While small stickers in an upper corner of the front and rear windscreen has been the standard since the late-1990s, the number on the side of the car was displayed on or near the front door up to the end of 2007.
Said numbers tended to be black text in a white box for a time, often using a quite plain typeface, but increasingly became integrated with cars’ livery designs before their removal in 2008.
One of the stated reasons for that rally-style change was visibility, although it also freed up more space on cars for sponsorship.
In 2016, teams were allowed to deviate from the standard Helvetica Bold Condensed and instead use a font of their own choosing, although that lasted for one season only.
The next year, however, Supercars eventually settled on the use of orange numbers, rather than yellow, for the championship leader, a practice which remains to this day.
That ultimately never came to pass, but could do so in some fashion with Gen3 next year.
Numbers have long been treated as personal brands in MotoGP and NASCAR, while Formula 1 allowed drivers to choose their own in 2014 and the World Rally Championship in 2019.
In Supercars, however, numbers are tied to the teams and, in an age where owner-drivers are the rarity, so too are driver-number associations.
Notable exceptions include Shane van Gisbergen’s #97, while Chaz Mostert was given the choice when he slotted into what became Car #25 upon his arrival at Walkinshaw Andretti United in 2020.
This year, only WAU’s #2 entry regularly features its number on the doors, although PremiAir Racing’s #22 ZB Commodore adopted the practice in conjunction with its retro Wayne Gardner Racing livery at the recent Repco Bathurst 1000.
Rule E1.9.3 of the Supercars Operations Manual states that “Any design or signage that incorporates the use of numerals must have the prior written permission of Supercars.”
Dick Johnson Racing was told to alter its livery in early-2011 after it cheekily sought to draw attention to its success in fielding James Courtney to the preceding season’s championship title, after which he switched to the Holden Racing Team and hence took the right to use #1 with him.
DJR, of course, is synonymous with its founder’s famous #17, driven currently by Will Davison, with Anton De Pasquale allowed to choose #11 when he arrived at the squad last year.