On Lap 62 of the 2018 Indianapolis 500, Danica Patrick (Chevrolet – Ed Carpenter Racing) crashed into Turn 2 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It ended her race and was the final moment of her racing career. Now many people have many opinions on her as a driver, maybe it is because she was driving a green car and had the number 13 as her car number. Green is an unlucky color for racecars.
Why is it unlucky? Well that is anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence means evidence that isn’t supported by any data or actual events, but stories someone is telling. It’s the “my friend knows someone that this happened to” evidence. For green cars, it goes back to two separate incidents.
The first incident happened at a race during the 1910 New York State Fair. Lee Oldfield was driving a green car. During the race the car went off track and ended up killing several bystanders. A tragedy, it made me recall the 1955 Le Mans disaster when the car of Pierre Levegh (Bullion) struck a pole and pieces of the debris went into the crowd killing eighty-three spectators. From research, the 1910 incident was not as horrific, but events at a state fair do get a lot of news coverage.
The second incident happened ten years later and across the country. Gaston Chevrolet was killed driving a green car in a race held in Beverly Hills California. Gaston was the brother of Louis Chevrolet who was the co-founder of the Chevrolet Motor Company. Both brothers were avid racers having competed in the Indianapolis 500. Younger brother Gaston won the race in 1920 roughly six months prior to his death. Though Gaston was killed during a race, he had enough points and won the title “Speed King of the Year” in 1920.
It’s these two separate (both by time and distance) events that led to the superstition that green cars are unlucky. However multiple drivers have raced in green cars and not seen such bad luck. In fact one of the liveries for the Ed Carpenter Racing cars is primarily green, and it’s sponsored by a vodka so it can’t be that unlucky. Or you know Juncos racing is green too!