This year marked the first annual Mezzo 200 Reliability Trial. The rally is modelled after the famous road races of the 20th century, set in the scenic Illinois River Valley. It’s a relaxed 200 mile drive through state parks, sleepy riverfront hamlets, and high corn ready for harvest.
The idea was formed when my friend, industrial designer, and old car nut, Noah Lambert, asked if I’d be interested in helping him put on a rally for pre-1973 vehicles in central Illinois. I don’t know anything about cars but I knew with Noah’s meticulous attention to detail and some tasetful graphic design from yours truly, this had the potential to be a really special event. There are no points, no penalties, no registration fees and no prizes, just a fun, free day of classic motoring, and a great excuse to get out and enjoy the fall foliage with like-minded enthusiasts.
The sketches are very rough but that’s just the fidelity I work in on paper, usually. We weren’t even sure of the name at the time, as you can see some of the logos read “Duryea 200” (named after an early pioneer in motoring from Illinois), but that just doesn’t have the greatest ring to it.
The type was largely inspired by old motoring posters of the early 20th century. The script in the logotype is Spoleto — a free font of which I can’t find a lot of information. I liked it because it’s a bit unrefined but still elegant. It reminded of me of a hand-painted sign that you might see at one of these old rallies. The rest of the type is various weights and widths of Verlag by Hoefler & Co. Verlag has the perfect early to mid 20th century aesthetic and it’s sturdy while still being active. It’s a workhorse that feels right in a newspaper headline or an event poster.
The Mezzo 200 route was designed to be fun, twisty, and just long enough to make things interesting. Each participant received a detailed course map with turn-by-turn directions on the morning of the event, and maps were stamped at all scheduled checkpoints.
We considered every aspect of the experience from the coffee urn to the route map, stressing thoughtful design, quality materials, and good times. After the success of this year’s event, we’ve already begun preparing for 2016.