“Black & Gold” Explores Legend of John Player Special Brand (and more) in Motor Racing

John Player SpecialOf all the auto racing liveries to ever race around a track, one of the most iconic is the John Player Special scheme. Solid black with delicate gold accents and understated script, the cars exuded an unmistakable sense of class. Once the national flag of the host country dropped at the start of a Grand Prix, these Lotus-engineered cars performed in historic fashion as well. 

Black & Gold John Player SpecialJohn Player Team Lotus is the subject of “Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials,” a new book by Johnny Tipler  from Coterie Press. The vivid storytelling and beautiful photos are every bit as elegant and exciting as the cars themselves. Best known for their Formula 1 cars from 1972 to1986, JPS also sponsored Trans Am Mustangs, Formula 3 cars, and even power boat racing. All of these are covered here.

Black & Gold John Player Special“The depth of research and the beautiful photos make this a truly special book,” said William Taylor of Coterie Press. This large format book includes 316 pages of the rich history of John Player Special in motor racing, written by the team’s Press Officer in the 1970s, Johnny Tipler. This is Tipler’s seventh book on Lotus cars. New and vintage images come from Ian Catt, the team’s official photographer. In other words, this is as official as a book like this can possibly get.

jps andretti

This autographed bookplate will be inside the Emerson Fittipaldi edition of the book.

There is also two different limited, leather-bound “Special” editions of the book, autographed by one of two racing legends. You can get one of 72 copies autographed by Emerson Fittipaldi, who won the Formula 1 title in 1972, the first year of the JPS program. (His version of the car was the Lotus 72.) Or you can order one of 79 copies signed by Mario Andretti, who won the F1 title in the Lotus 79 in 1978. The “Special” Edition comes in a clamshell case with JPS badging on the front.

jps fittipaldi

This is the autographed bookplate from the Mario Andretti edition.

In addition to Fittipaldi and Andretti, JPS drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Johnny Dumfries were interviewed for the book. Several of the original engineers and mechanics offer up their recollections, as does JPS Project Manager George Hadfield. Paul Rego at Regogo Racing was also indespensable in the creation of this book.

Black & Gold John Player SpecialThe Standard edition will sell for $64.95, and the Special Editions will be $250.00 each. The book will ship in late October, but you can preorder it at the Coterie Press Store on hobbyDB.com. With the very limited quantities, it will sell out quickly.

John Player Special book badges

These badges will be affixed to the Special Edition box covers of “Black & Gold.”

Curiously enough, while John Player had been in the tobacco business for many years, the “John Player Special” name was created as a product to be promoted by this racing effort. The name was chosen partly because it sounded like the name of a racing car, so it was a natural fit when it showed up on the livery. And even though the cars were built and engineered by Lotus, they were specifically called “John Player Specials” so that even in countries that didn’t allow tobacco advertising the name would still be mentioned on air and in print.

Black & Gold John Player Special


Johnny Tipler

“Black & Gold” author Johnny Tipler at the wheel.

With over 40 books published on a variety of motoring topics ranging from racing cars and driver biographies, to motorcycles and commercial vehicles, motoring journalist, historian and author Johnny Tipler is based in Norwich, England. A major contributor to the Lotus Club International magazine, interviewing well-known Lotus personalities, writing drive stories and book reviews, Tipler is also author of seven books on Lotus road and race cars.

He also writes on new model launches, significant historic vehicles, famous drivers, and covers a host of classic racing events such as the Mille Miglia, Spa 6-Hours and Goodwood Revival. His most recent book, on one of his favourite events, La Carrera Panamericana: the World’s Greatest Road Race, was published in October of 2008. Johnny has a degree in Art History, and in the black-and-gold era he co-ran the John Player Team Lotus press office, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, Jacky Ickx and of course Colin Chapman, trumpeting the fortunes of JPS-Lotus and Player’s sponsored events around the world.

To date Tipler has owned just one Lotus, a 1970 Series 4 Elan SE, though a recent drive for the in-house Lotus Club International magazine from Stuttgart to Marrakech and through the Atlas Mountains, made owning a modern Europa an attractive prospect he still hankers after.

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