The Art of Competition: Motor Racing Immortalized through Vintage Racing Posters

An online-only auction of rare and original vintage motor-racing posters offered without reserve, held from 18–25 February 2020

Andrew Miterko

There is no denying the thrill and draw of motor racingthe reverberation of exhausts, the smell of fuel and rubber, the flashy colors of liveries, and the drama of drivers battling for position. Leading up to the race, promotional posters were often created to entice the masses and build enthusiasm leading up to the event. These promotional posters were printed only once at the time of the race, and historic motor-racing posters are often an artwork in their own right, managing to capture the spirit of each race, venue, marque, and the greatest drivers of the era.

Many of these posters have not survived the passage of time, often discarded or damaged and leaving only a few well-preserved examples. RM Sotheby’s online auction The Art of Competition: Racing Posters Online features a collection of 59 rare and highly collectable original posters assembled by a single collector over the course of 30 years from races throughout the world, immortalizing a number of the most important races at iconic racetracks throughout the globe. Each poster is offered entirely without reserve and would be a perfect complement to garage and gallery walls alike.

Click ahead to explore the highlights from The Art of Competition: Racing Posters Online.

"Vaduz-Triesenberg, Nationales Bergrennen" October 11, 1959 Event Poster

Estimate: $1,600 - $1,800. Offered Without Reserve.

Measuring 25 x 17.75 inches and offered in excellent condition, this original event poster with artwork by Hanns W. Witschi advertises the legendary 1959 Vaduz-Triesenberg hill climb and features a Formula One Maserati.

MCF Moto Club of France, 1935

Estimate: $1,800 - $2,200. Offered Without Reserve.

This very rare early 1930s poster for the Moto Club of France measures 16 × 12 inches and features artwork by French painter Géo Ham (aka Georges Hamel) conveying the speed and excitement of early motorcycle racing. Ham’s art deco designs were so noteworthy (and so often imitated), a French court mandated Delahaye include a plaque denoting Ham’s contribution to their 135 Competition Court Torpedo—an honor that set Ham apart from mere illustrators.

"Silverstone 17th International Daily Express Trophy 15th May 1965" British Racing Drivers Club Vintage Event Poster

Estimate: $1,200 - $1,400. Offered Without Reserve.

This oversized poster is printed on a thicker card stock and measures 30 x 19.5 inches. The Silverstone event posters of the 1960s incorporate some of the best art and design posters of the era, and this example promoting the 17th International Daily Express Trophy is certainly one of the most desirable.

"Monaco 9–10 Mai 1970" Original Event Poster

Estimate: $1,200 - $1,500. Offered Without Reserve.

Featuring artwork from renowned British automotive artist Michael Turner, this 1970 event poster depicting McLaren and Lotus Formula One race cars vying for position is the most sought-after Monaco poster since 1960. It measures 23.5 x 15.5 inches and is in excellent condition.

"24 Heures du Mans 12 et 13 Juin 1971" Automobile-Club de l'Ouest Vintage Event Poster

Estimate: $800 - $1,200. Offered Without Reserve.

Printed on a thick card stock, this very rare poster features a photograph by André Delourmel of a Ferrari at speed and measures 15.75 x 23.5 inches.

"Mid-Ohio Sports Car Club of America National Championship Races July 19–20" Vintage Event Poster, ca. 1969

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,250. Offered Without Reserve.

This 22.25 x 17.25inch poster from one of the all-time great American race car events features a woman wearing period sunglasses and perfectly embodies the style of the late 1960s.

"IX Gran Premio de Mexico Octobre 25 1970" Grand Prix of Mexico Event Poster

Estimate: $900 - $1,200. Offered Without Reserve.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, there were only three international Formula One races in Mexico, one of which was a practice race to become accredited with Formula One. Measuring 15.25 x 23.5 inches, this promotional poster features a Brabham leading a Ferrari and Lotus Formula One car across the finish line.

"France La Course Automobile des 24 Heures Le Mans (Sarthe)" Vintage French Government Event Poster, 1967

Estimate: $1,200 - $1,500. Offered Without Reserve.

Featuring some of the most revered racing cars of the 1960s, this promotional poster was published and used by the French government to promote the country. This extremely rare example of the original lithographic poster is in excellent condition and measures 23.75 x 15.75 inches.

"April 1, 1967 Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance for the Alitalia Airlines Trophy" ARCF Vintage Event Poster

Estimate: $800 - $1,000. Offered Without Reserve.

This promotional poster for the 1967 Sebring 12 Hour race features an illustration by Michael Turner of two Ford GT40 race cars. Measuring 19 x 24 inches, it is in excellent original condition and is a must for lovers of the venerable Ford GT40.

"Rex Mays 300 Riverside December 1" Vintage Event Poster, 1967

Estimate: $900 - $1,200. Offered Without Reserve.

This 22 x 17inch promotional poster for the Rex Mays 300 at Riverside International Raceway features a simple but striking design featuring the Gurney Eagle race car which was built just a few miles away from the track.

"Here Comes the Winner! America's Leading Race Driver Wins AAA Championship with Bowes Seal Fast Spark Plugs" Advertising Poster, 1940

Estimate: $700 - $900. Offered Without Reserve.

Measuring 22.25 x 17.5 inches, this rare early advertising poster from 1940 celebrates Rex Mays’ 2nd-place finish at the 1940 Indy 500.