What an Improvement Over Last Year!

Last year at this time, the team then-known as Arrow McLaren SP unveiled the special livery for the Indianapolis 500 that was unique to each of their three cars for Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist and Juan Montoya. A few fans claimed to like the color schemes, but I thought they were hideous.

There was no symmetry to the scheme as each car featured sidepods with different colors on each side. For whatever reason, the car of Rosenqvist sported an unappealing olive-drab color for the tub and nose, that appeared to be more suited for an Army tank. (Photo: Arrow McLaren SP)


With multiple colors covering different sections of each, I was taken back to almost thirty years earlier. In the 1993 Indianapolis 500, rookie driver Stéphan Grégoire surprisingly qualified fifteenth, ahead of Indianapolis 500 veterans like Al Unser, John Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen and Teo Fabi. Grégoire kept his nose clean and finished nineteenth. Unfortunately, what I remember the most about Stéphan Grégoire in 1993 is how ugly his Lola-Buick was. In fact, I’ve always thought this was one of the ugliest paint schemes I have seen. (IMS Photo)

1993 Indy 500

If I’m comparing the 2022 Indianapolis 500 McLaren liveries to the Stéphan Grégoire car of 1993, you know what I thought about them.

You can also imagine what ran through my head, when it was announced a couple of weeks ago that the now renamed Arrow McLaren would be unveiling their 500 liveries for this coming May at Long Beach. I figured if they were so wild about last year’s livery, their 2023 paint scheme would be on about the same level – or worse. I was wrong. (Photo: Patrick Stephan, Trackside Online)

2023 IMS

The three fulltime entries for O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi will feature commemorative liveries to honor certain milestone victories in the history of McLaren. O’Ward will drive an all-black entry with heavy metallic that almost resembles the glitter of a bass boat or bowling ball (if you can relate to those comparisons). That entry honors the McLaren that won in its first attempt at Le Mans in 1995. (Photo: McLaren Racing)


My personal favorite is the No. 6 for Felix Rosenqvist, which will feature the familiar Marlboro chevrons that graced the 1984 McLaren that was the first McLaren to win Monaco in Formula One. This scheme was also famous in IndyCar from the late 80s through 2009. Instead of red, the chevrons will be McLaren’s signature papaya orange. (Photo: McLaren Racing)


Finally, longtime Indianapolis 500 fans can see the resemblance between the No. 7 car to be driven by Alexander Rossi and the first McLaren to win the Indianapolis 500 in 1974, driven by Johnny Rutherford. Like the 1974 winner, the car will be mostly papaya orange, trimmed in blue – minus the Gulf sponsorship. (Photo: McLaren Racing)


More times than not, teams completely miss the mark when they attempt “throw-back” liveries. The mid-2000 Dallara versions of Ol’ Calhoun come to mind. I’m glad they refer to these liveries as commemorative instead of throwback. That tends to soften expectations that you will see a replica of Jim Clark’s 1965 winning Lotus on the track.

As lame as the McLaren liveries were last year for the Indianapolis 500, I only expected the worst for this year. I think each one of these cars look superb, and I can’t wait to see how much they pop in the sunlight on-track. (Photo: McLaren Racing)


You may be wondering what about Tony Kanaan in the fourth No. 66 Arrow McLaren entry. His car is to be a combination of all three. My imagination is running wild wondering what that will look like. Will one chevron be black and the other orange? Will the rear and nose of the car be black, the cockpit area be white and have them separated by papaya orange chevrons? We won’t have to wait long to find out. His car is scheduled to be unveiled today, just ahead of tomorrow’s Open Test at IMS.

I’ve not always been a fan of Arrow McLaren and many of the decisions that Zak Brown has made since they bought into Sam Schmidt’s team in 2019, but this year they got it right with their liveries.

George Phillips

Please Note: Speaking of the Open Test that will take place at IMS on Thursday and Friday April 20-21; I am planning on being there for most, if not all of it. I will leave Nashville early Thursday morning and will stay through both days and return home Friday night. I will post Friday, on what happened on Thursday. I will have a wrap-up next Monday April 24. But of course, you can follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog for photos and videos. Full coverage of the Open Test will be on Peacock. Thursday’s session will run from 11:00 am EDT until 6:00 pm. Friday will go from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm – GP

3 Responses to “What an Improvement Over Last Year!”

  1. I’d be a bit concerned about the spotters knowing who is who on the team….

  2. billytheskink Says:

    A much better effort than last year for sure, though I really wish Kanaan’s car was a take on one of Rutherford’s other McLaren paint jobs from the 70s, especially the 1975 Gatorade car. Maybe Rahal can get in on that since Hy-Vee seems to have a vendor deal with Gatorade owner Pepsi.

    As for other throwback paint schemes… Penske has a relationship with PPG, which now owns Glidden. Unfortunately, I don’t think Glidden is still sold at Menard’s, but the classic paint job could otherwise be recreated.

  3. Enjoy Thursday and Friday.

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