The History of Racing Mate and a New JNC Decal

It’s hard to believe, but for as long as JNC has been around we’ve only ever made one sticker. We need to rectify that situation stat, so the yotsuba above will soon be joining the red and white inkan. For all you hard core old schoolers out there, it should look familiar.

Racing Mate was a racing accessory company founded by Japanese race car driversĀ Soukichi Shikiba and Tokudaiji Aritsune. The company’s distinctive green and white yotsuba (four-leaf clover in Japanese) logo was a constant sight on Nihon race cars throughout the 1960s and 70s.

Racing Mate’s main products were items like racing suits, helmets, and driving gloves. Many of Japan’s most famous drivers, such as Tetsu Ikusawa and Tojiro Ukiya, rocked the clover behind the wheel.

Eventually Racing Mate branched out to performance parts, as shown in this vintage ad for a “sports kit” to modify a Honda N360. They also had their own brand of lubricants, known as Phantom Oil.

Tons of vintage racing steeds bore the Racing Mate logo, but sponsorship wasn’t limited to just domestic steel. Shikiba was a big fan of E-tin as well, so the logo was slapped on everything from Mini Coopers to Porsches to a Group 5 BMW M1.

One of the most expensive Racing Mate items ever made was the Tag Heuer Monza wristwatch. Among timepiece collectors today, it trades for about 4,000 euros ($6,000)!

The logo evolved into a sleeker design for the 80s, but today that version is rarely seen. The green and white yotsuba, however, can still be found on nostalgic cars all over Japan.

Shikiba-san himself was an accomplished driver in his own right in the early days of Japanese racing. At Suzuka in the 1st Japan Grand Prix in 1963, he piloted an RT20 Toyota Corona to first place in the CV class.

In the 2nd Japan Grand Prix, Shikiba drove a four-cylinder RS40 Toyota Crown to a third-place finish behind two six-cylinder Prince Glorias in the Touring-VI class.

But Perhaps Shikiba’s most famous role was when he entered his own Porsche 904 GTS in the GT-II class at the same event. By being overtaken by a Prince Skyline S54, Shikiba inadvertently helped create the legend of the Skyline.

Racing Mate is no more, but its yotsuba logo is still proudly displayed and instantly recognized among Japanese car maniacs as a nostalgic symbol. Attend any old school event in Japan and you’ll see that four-leaf clovers aren’t rare at all.

We’ll debut the JNC version at Toyotafest so be sure to come by our booth.

[Images: Tourist-Trophy, Since1957, Chronocentric, Alan T., carview, ducati-mu]

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13 Responses to The History of Racing Mate and a New JNC Decal

  1. Nigel said:

    I’ll take about ten in 1/24 please !!

  2. Kevin Lee said:

    can u send one to malaysia? lol

  3. retrokid said:

    About time guys..

  4. gaijinshogun said:

    A logo typical of the Japanese in the 60’s…Think “Quadrifoglio”

    • Ben said:

      Possibly, or is it for good luck? :) It’s a lot more than a slapped together emblem though. There are a lot of designer-y details we discovered while trying to make our parody version. The typeface is a modified version of a rare 19th century font that was subtly stretched, an impressive feat before the age of Photoshop.

  5. Tyler said:

    Would it be frowned upon to rip off all the hipster stickers and make this the single adornment on my Volkswagen? And, uh, when do we get to buy them? ;)

  6. Jin said:

    hmmm. not too fond of copycats. still lovin’ the original.

  7. tkmedia said:

    I think it’s a bit odd looking, specially the readability of “nostalgic car” text, as the original is two bullet points repeating racing mate was easier as your read it before. The new double green rings do make it look a bit like the old Starbucks logo.

  8. Yee said:

    TK…given the constraints of the long words Japanese Nostalgic Car, this is the best configuration possible, while still being faithful to the original design.

  9. Brad D. said:

    I like it, and now JNCers with green cars can have a JNC decal that matches. I also think its good that it will make people ask questions, maybe generate some more interest in the whole JNC movement.

  10. Benji said:

    Always thought the racing mate clover was a bit lame, ‘Quadrifoglio’ symbol for competition Alfas.

    So used to seeing them on Giulia Supers that it would just be misleading to me on a Japan classic.

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