The History of Kawasaki’s Lime Green Color Scheme

kawasaki_logo As racing celebrated the 75th running of the Daytona 200 on March 12, it’s also worth celebrating the birth of the iconic Lime Green racing colors for Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC), which started as an “in your face” challenge to the competition on Daytona’s high banks during the 1969 Daytona Bike Week.

At the time, superstitions and folkways were common at many tracks, Daytona included, where you simply didn’t race a green bike. However, in full attack mode to win races, capture headlines and grow US market share, KMC flat-out ignored convention. When the gates opened, here came the factory with a truckload of enormously bright green 250cc A1RA and 350cc A7RA factory racers for a team of talented riders including Ken Araoka, Art Bauman, current KMC employee Walt Fulton III, Dick Hammer and Cal Rayborn. The event marked the first appearance of KMC’s now-famous livery, which was expressly designed to shake up the ranks, challenge the status quo, kick butt and take names.

Check out Eric Dubb's beautifully restored lime green Kawasaki Tecates

Check out Eric Dubb’s beautifully restored lime green Kawasaki Tecate

How the Lime Green color scheme came to exist is as bold as the color itself. At the direction of KMC National Sales Manager Don Graves and National Marketing Manager Paul Collins, Akashi designer Chris Kurishima, and LA-area custom painter Rollin Sanders – better known as “Paint by Molly” – developed multiple options including the now-famous wild green and white combination. After much discussion by KMC management, the color was approved and supported by part of KMC’s annual promotional budget. At Daytona in 1969, KMC’s first Lime Green team drew a huge amount of attention and signaled the arrival of Kawasaki factory racing in an emphatic way. Interestingly, KMC’s current “Flying K” logo, penned by KMC advertising guru Nick Nichols, also debuted at the event.

Soon afterwards, the first production Kawasaki motorcycle to wear Lime Green paint (“Kawasaki Racing Green” as it was officially known) was the 1969 F21M “Greenstreak,” a 238cc scrambler. And so ever since, Lime Green has been the go-to color for Kawasaki racing, including road racing, motocross and off-road – as well as on a variety of streetbikes, ATVs and Jet Ski® watercraft. Quite simply and brilliantly, what began as a shot across the bow of the competition has since served to define and represent the very soul of the Kawasaki brand.

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