Orange Tree: A Snapshot Of Jägermeister’s Racing Roots

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Marlboro, McLaren, Senna. Rothmans, Porsche, Bellof. State Express 555, Subaru, McRae. There have been many iconic driver, car and livery pairings throughout motorsport’s history.

However, few sponsorship liveries transcend the drivers or vehicles associated with them. Martini is one of them, as is Gulf Oil. But I cannot think of a more recognisable motorsport livery than the bright orange of Jägermeister.

It wasn’t supposed to be orange, initially. The first ever Jägermeister race car was painted dark green, in line with the glass its liquor is bottled in. Soon after, it was changed to orange to stand out on the circuit amongst the field.

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The car in question? This exact Porsche 914/6.

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Sponsorship is a simple equation in theory. Take a company director who wants to market their product – Günter Mast and Jägermeister. Find a suitable platform and person to advertise your brand to the world. Raise awareness, make sales, and make a profit.

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Günter was fortunate to have a cousin (Eckhard ‘Ekhi’ Schimpf) with a motorsport interest and a race car. One thousand Deutschmarks later and with Rallye Monte-Carlo behind them, the precedent was set for the future of Jägermeister in motorsport.

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So long as the car changed colour, of course.

Ekhi would become the team manager, choosing to take payment in being able to race a Jägermeister car whenever he wanted while making a living as an automotive journalist. (Sounds pretty good to me.)

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Which marque you associate with Jägermeister’s orange livery can vary wildly depending on your choice of motorsport.

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If you’re a touring car fiend, then the DTM Group A BMW E30 M3 might be what jumps to mind, if not the Alfa Romeo 155 or Jägermeister’s final racer, the Opel Astra DTM.

Historic Formula 1 fan? You might know of March F1’s stint with the orange team in the 1970s using Cosworth DFV power. The 1970s were a much simpler time in F1; teams attempted to qualify on the grid with well over 20 drivers competing every weekend.

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I think the argument for Jägermeister’s most recognisable pairing is between BMW’s touring car legends and Porsche’s terrifying race cars.

From the Group 2 3.0 CSL to the Group 5 E21 320 Turbo and the iconic DTM M3, BMW has strong ties with the brand.

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Yet Porsche is where they started, and orange Porsches have competed in disciplines from early rallying to the World Supercar Championship, IMSA, and DRM. Wins and podiums at Le Mans, Spa, Nürburgring and Daytona cemented the iconic partnership.

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Luftgekühlt Wroclaw 2024 brought no less than four Jägermeister Porsches together. I couldn’t decide whether I have more love for the #17 935 or the Carrera 3.0 RSR…

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I’m not usually a flat nose enthusiast (frog eye supremacy), but the side profile of this early 935 with its enormous wing was incredible, especially as the night drew in and the LED lights changed the atmosphere.

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There’s no looking away from a Porsche 962, though, with this ‘C’ model’s short tail and bolted-on wing giving it a much more aggressive stance than the low-drag, high-elegance long-tail versions. Jägermeister saw great success with Brun Motorsport, the first privateer team to purchase a Porsche 956 – this car’s predecessor.

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2000 was the last year of Jägermeister’s racing legacy, with the costs associated with sponsoring DTM no longer worth the exposure. The sport simply did not have enough reach anymore.

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As such, every orange race car emblazoned with a stag on its flanks is a nostalgia trip. They are reminders of a bygone era of motorsport where competition was dangerous, fierce, and oh-so-stylish.

Would I love to see orange Jägermeister race cars back in motorsport? Maybe, but sometimes it’s better to keep the rose-tinted glasses on.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn,

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