By David Firestone
Christian Fittipaldi is a Brazilian race driver who raced in F1, Champ Car and eventually NASCAR. Although he had two wins in Champ Car, his F1 and NASCAR careers were fruitless. His NASCAR career lasted from 2002-2003, and during that time he raced in a total of 16 races, with 2 DNQ’s. With the exception of the 2003 Daytona 500, all of his races were for Petty Enterprises, and he raced in all 3 of their teams at the time, cars #43, 44, and 45. His final two races were for car #44, which at the time was sponsored by Bugles.
In 2011, I bought the Bugles driver suit Fittipaldi wore for those final two races. When I got the suit, I saw it had some…irregularities to it. The most prominent feature are the television logos on the sleeves.
Notice anything odd? The TV logos on the sleeves are incorrectly positioned…for NASCAR. I found this to be a bit odd, as there seems to be no logical reason for the logos to be set the way that they are. These logos, introduced in the 1990′s as a way for the primary sponsor of the car to advertise to the in-car cameras, should be positioned so that the logo appears clearly. These logos are designed for a camera mounted in the area where the passenger seat would be, as seen at 3:48 in the video below:
The logos are upside down. I was trying to understand why this was done, and then I watched the Indianapolis 500, and watching the in-car views, and suddenly, it all made sense, as seem below:
It became clear rather quickly that the TV logos are correct for F1 and IndyCar in-car cameras, but not correct for NASCAR ones. It seems that this car was designed for an open-wheel car, but not a stock car. The evidence on the shoulders is further proof…
I’ve never seen any shoulder design like that of this suit before. The V pattern with the Goodyear logos on both sides. This is not unique to this suit, the shoulder designs of an earlier Christian Fittipaldi suit are the same as this one, though the logos are not visible on the back.
So we have two anomalies to this suit, but why did this happen? This suit was worn in 2003, and these logos were developed an implemented in the mid 1990′s. My theory to the answer can be found in two things, who wore the suit, and who made the suit. Fittipaldi was an open-wheel driver, and frequently wore suits made by an Italian company named Momo. Although Momo makes NASCAR equipment now, back in 2003, they were new to the NASCAR game, and as such were not as used to designing for NASCAR in-car cameras. As such, they designed the suit for an open-wheel car.
Granted Momo wasn’t as familiar with the design of stock cars, and their in car camera placement, but even so, wasn’t there somebody examining the suit? Wasn’t a team representative present at any point in the process? How does a mistake like that happen? The thing that really gets me is this…that was from the same season, and was made by the same company, but clearly the logos are correct in this shot…if they get it right once, why can’t they get it right again? How did that mistake happen? Well it did, and although there was no harm done, it does look pretty goofy…
Moving on to new paint schemes, let’s look at some…
First in the Nationwide Series
Regan Smith #5 Hellman’s Chevy Camaro The yellow is ok, a bit too bright for my taste, but I have seen much worse. The stripes look good, great colors and they are easy to figure out unlike some others. Final Grade: B+ Tone down the yellow a bit and it would be an ANow onto the Sprint Cup:
Matt Kenseth #20 Husky Toyota Camry Not much really to say, mediocre color scheme, no real design to comment on, the logos are plain Jane enough, it’s a bland scheme that earns a C grade. A mediocre grade for a mediocre scheme.
Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion Basically the scheme is unchanged from last year, and that is a good thing. I love this scheme, great color, great design, looks good, the logos are easy to see, and I give it an A. Extra credit was given for the use of Petty Blue.
Bobby Labonte #47 House Autry House Foods Toyota Camry The design is simple, but good. The color scheme need some work. The red used is too bright, as is the blue. The logo group on the quarter-panel is awful. The really odd thing is that this is the first scheme of Labonte’s that has been released, and it is the scheme slated for the All-Star Race. Why in the world would the All-Star Race scheme be released before any of the regular season races? I just don’t understand the logic here. But that being said, the final grade is a B-. If the color wasn’t so bright, I could grade it higher.