You may not know David Piper, but you probably know his famous green Ferraris.
Born in 1930 in the United Kingdom, David Piper is one of the most legendary figures in Ferrari’s history. Although he competed in only three Formula 1 races, Piper is most known for his success as a privateer. A privateer is someone who races solely for the joy of competition and is often not officially supported by the manufacturer.
Once he started as a privateer, Piper primarily competed in sports car competitions with mixed results. Once of his best finishes was during the 1969 Spa-Francorchamps 1000 km. He drove a Ferrari 312 P (s/n 0870) with Mexican driver Pedro Rodriguez to place 2nd overall.
Legendary drivers such as Mike Salmon, Pedro Rodriguez, and Mario Andretti worked with Piper and competed in various endurance races all over the world. Apart from Ferraris, Piper also entered various cars from Porsche, Lotus and Lola. And when Piper entered Ford GT40s into a few races, Enzo must not have been too happy.
For Piper, the colour was all about sponsorship. Before painting his cars green, Piper got his fuel, oil and bonuses from ESSO. But the 1957 Suez Oil Crisis meant they could no longer back him. One oil company that was not very affected by the crisis was BP. Piper took interest in the British oil company’s green logo, and soon the two parties came to an agreement where Piper painted his cars green in exchange for BP sponsorship.
Even when the agreement expired, Piper still raced in green. In an interview with Petrolicious, he explains that he liked picking a colour and sticking with it. As a young boy, he worked on a farm and they used to paint the cars orange so other farmers could see them from their tractors.
It is believed that no one has owned and raced more competition Ferraris than David Piper. In an in-depth interview with Motorsport Magazine, he mentions owning six 250 GTOs and 250 LMs over the years.
Header photo by Peter Singhof. Written by Max Lammers