The Driver Suit Blog-PBR…Not the Beer, Power Boat Racing!

By David G. Firestone


Forest Barber is a true racer in every sense of the word. He won as a co-driver and owner in the 24 Hours of Daytona, along with one of my other favorite subjects Christian Fittipaldi. He has 5 other wins in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series. He has also participated in motocross and enduro riding. He has had the most success in offshore powerboat racing, where he has 5 National and World championships. In 1999, he won the APBA National Championship as well as the Superboat International Championship while racing Drambuie on Ice. He wore this suit during that effort.


I never thought I would cover offshore powerboat racing in this blog, but this suit is a very interesting piece. It is a Sparco brand, single-layer suit that has full FIA certification. The light weight is used to accommodate the life jackets, and safety equipment that powerboat drivers need in addition to fire protection. Drowning is a real safety concern in power boat and other water sports. The front is designed with small DRAMBUIE ON ICE, TUBI STYLE EXHAUST SYSTEMS and KEITH EICKERT POWER PRODUCTS patches. Forest has signed the left chest and added WORLD CHAMPIONS 1999 as well. The back torso features a large DRAMBUIE ON ICE logo.

barber-neck barber-rchest barber-lchest barber-sig barber-blogo

The sleeves both have a SPARCO logo, and one small patch. The right sleeve has a FEEL THE NEED RACING OFFSHORE CLASS 1 patch, and the left sleeve has a TNT CUSTOM RIGGING patch. There are no television logos, as the television coverage offshore powerboat racing had at the time did not have the cameras in the position for the logos to be seen.barber-rsleeve1 barber-rsleeve2 barber-lsleeve1 barber-lsleeve2

Older Sparco suits have cowl tags indicating the size, and in this case, the size is 56, which is a large, with a 42 chest, 36 waist, and 42 hips. It also has two liability tags, one in the cowl and one behind the zipper in front.barber-collarbarber-tag1 barber-collar barber-tag2

The shoulders have no epaulets or any other design covering the seam. Epaulets as I’ve said before are designed to pull an unconscious driver from a burning car. In offshore powerboat racing, drowning is a big concern in addition to fire protection, so epaulets are not needed. The arms are gusseted. barber-rshoulder barber-lshoulder

There is an unadorned belt as well.barber-belt

The legs are unadorned and are cuffed as opposed to boot cut.barber-legs

This suit was worn in Class 1, which is considered by many to be the Formula 1 of powerboat racing. Two individuals race in the boat, one drives the boat while the other navigates. A track is set on an open body of water, and the boats race each other around that track. These boats have 850 horsepower engines and can reach speeds of 160 miles per hour. They are catamaran designs, having two hulls, which help not only with speed but with stability as well. The races are typically 55-75 nautical miles in length, over a course that is 11-15 laps long, often with one or two long laps.

This is the first powerboat racing suit I have ever seen, and I have to say, it’s a very nice piece.



DGF2099 Productions…Summer Production Update

I’ve been gone for a while, but I have been busy. Here is what is going to happen within the next few months.

First, Introduction to Sports Memorabilia will return on July 13, for the 9th Season. Season number 10 will follow in November. Seasons 11 and 12 will take place in 2014. Seasons 9 and 10 will have a lot of vintage sports uniforms, lots of awards, and some racing stuff. Both will be at least 10 episodes long, and I will add additional episodes if and when I feel the need to. Seasons 11 and 12 will have some unique stuff in them, with a decent amount of motor sports stuff. I will do some more revisited videos. If I have uploaded a video of an item, but I am not satisfied with it, I will revisit the item and make the video better. Most of the driver helmets and some driver suits fall into this category.

Second, Introduction to Tobacco Card Albums will return sometime in 2014. I have 5 episodes guaranteed, and I will work on getting more subjects to analyze. I will also try to get some more salesman samples as well. As of yet, I do not have a definitive date for the second season, but it should take place sometime in Spring 2014.

Third, I will be working on a couple of special projects. The first will involve any special events I go to, such as sports, or tours. Nothing definitive has been set as of right now. The other project, which I will refer to as “Project Q” is in the works. I can’t really discuss anything else about it at the moment, but I hope to get it started within the next month, and get it finished by the end of the year, at the worst.

Fourth, The weather videos will continue…weather permitting, and yes, pun intended.

Fifth, I’m working on a project I had previously scrapped, but decided to revive, and I will work on it starting this week. This will be something I have never tried, but I think it will work, and it will be entertaining.

That’s it for now, I will post future updates as they become available.

The Driver Suit Blog-Collar Guard…Not a Product, but a Safety Feature.

1-lajoie-collarBy David G. Firestone

Like shoulder epaulets, the collar of a driver suit has made a transition. It has gone from safety accessory to fashion piece, but unlike the epaulet, it is not only ornamental. Because the collar is still a piece of safety equipment. It goes without saying that fire is an ever present danger in auto racing. The collar protects the neck from burns. This may seem minor, but many people who die from burns die from infection. When the skin is compromised, it can’t stop germs from getting inside the body, and as such makes infection a serious risk during burn injuries.

But the fashion aspect of collars is interesting as well. With the standard alignment of sponsors on the top of the suit, the Series logo, tire manufacturer logo, car manufacturer logo, and other sponsor logos are on the top, and the primary sponsor logos are present on the collar and epaulets. This Randy Lajoie example shows how the suit appears during an televised interview:1-lajoie-fNote a couple of things: First, the fabric on the collar overlaps just a bit here, but when the driver wears it, it meets perfectly at the center of the neck. Second, it allows the driver to breathe easily. Comfort Vs. Safety is a constant debate. This is one kind of collar, the other kind of collar is what I call the Velcro collar, as shown in this Alex Barron suit from 1998:36-barron-collarThe Velcro collar is exactly what it sounds like, a collar with a strap which Velcros shut. This provides a little more protection in case of fire. It also has another use, as sponsor ads are popular to put on the front of the Velcro strap. This has been used quite often over the years…41-craven-collarbarber-collar This is due to the fact that for quite some time the open face helmet was used, and the collar provided extra fire protection where the helmet failed. In this day in age, helmets come standard with Nomex socks on the bottom, so the collar, while still a key safety feature, is not as critical. But for sponsor logo placement, it really can’t be beat.

If the collar does not have a Velcro closure, then the primary sponsor logo is sewn into either side of the collar. Like the Lajoie example above, or this Mike Skinner example below, this can be used very effectively as a place for sponsor logos.31-skinner-collarLike most other aspects of the driver suit, the choice of Velcro or not comes down to driver preference. Kyle Bush, as well as older brother Kurt favor the Velcro style, whereas Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards prefer the non-Velcro variety. Many pit crew shirts have a similar design to the driver design as well.

Editor’s note: For the next two weeks I will be on a very badly needed vacation. I will still have articles ready to go, but I won’t be commenting on up do date issues until I get back. I will still check in from time to time.

Moving on to paint schemes…

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express 2005 Toyota Camry Done as a memorial to Jason Leffler, this is a replica of the scheme that Leffler ran in 2005 during FedEx’s first season as a full-time NASCAR sponsor. It is very faithfull to the original scheme. It also has a great design and color scheme, and earns an A

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Give Kids a Smile Ford Fusion The same bland paint scheme that I described as “There’s nothing really wrong here, but nothing really right here either.  The side design looks forced, the black roof is idiotic, the color scheme is good, but the number design looks too cliche.  It makes no sense, but 3M schemes never do.” It has a small Give Kids a Smile logo on the hood, that is all but invisible. I gave it a C and it will stay at a C.

David Stremme #30 Window Wax Toyota Camry Ugh! This is bad, I can live with the color scheme, but the design is bad. It gets a D

Austin Dillon #33 American Ethanol Chevy SS While I hate the shade of green used here, this scheme looks pretty decent. The designs around the front brake vent are unnessicary, but I still like them. If the green were a bit darker, I could give it a better grade than a C+.

AJ Allmendinger #47 Charter Toytoa Camry The hood design is interesting here. It is designed in the same light as television logos on driver suits. It is a unique idea that works and I hope will catch on. The color scheme is great, and I love the overall design. A

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s/Louisville Cardinals Toyota Camry The color scheme is good, but the Fruit Stripe Gum design seen on the Louisville Cardinals shorts is ugly. The whole Zubaz design scheme is horrible on sports uniforms, and even worse on this car. I have nothing against the Louisville Cardinals, but this is horrible. F

Dale Earnhardt Jr #88 National Guard Solider of Steel Chevy SS Solid simple scheme with good colors, but the Superman Logo on the hood is next to invisible.

The Driver Suit Blog-Arm Gussets…Comfortable AND Safe!

By David G. Firestone

We’ve all seen them in telecasts and photos, but what many of us do not realize is what they are and what they do. I am talking about the arm gusset. Arm gussets are seen at the top of the sleeve on a driver suit, under the shoulder. They are a flexible piece of Nomex specifically designed to do two things. One is protect the driver, the other is give the driver some freedom of movement.10-labonte-rshoulder 10-labonte-lshoulderArm Gussets are almost always present on race-worn driver suits. Anyone who has worn a one-piece full body jumpsuit can attest to the fact that it restricts freedom of body movement. The gusset takes some of that restriction away. This is important when it comes to driving, because it gives the driver one less thing to concentrate on, and in the worst case scenario, can help a driver escape a burning vehicle much quicker.36-said-rshoulder 36-said-lshoulderGussets have very little variation, though I have seen one unusual one. In this Ricky Craven suit from 1996, the front of the sleeves look like they are attached to the body, whereas the back has a gusset in it. This would be done for driver preference of course, bur I have never seen a half gusset before or since.100_3458 100_3457 100_3456This Lake Speed suit from 1997 is store bought, as opposed to custom designed, and it has no gussets. This suit would have some restriction of movement. Again this can come down to driver choice.9-speed-rshoulder 9-speed-lshoulderThe need for protection vs. the need for driver comfort is a major conflict in the world of racing safety. The gusset is a major meeting point between the two sides involved, and the drivers love them.

RIP Jason Leffler…you will be missed.

Now on to paint schemes.

Jame McMurray #1 Parade Magazine Chevy SS-Great color scheme, great design, nothing wrong at all, A+

Jame McMurray #1 Banana Boat Chevy SS-A scheme that could be a B+ is ruined by an awful color scheme. That orange is the worst I have ever seen on a race car. It takes this scheme and takes to a D-

Jamie McMurray #1 Bad Boy Buggies Chevy SS-An attempt to be innovative with design fails horribly here. The color scheme is decent, but the design is awful.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Patriotic Ford Fusion-Taking the stars and stripes and slapping them on a race car can work…just not here. If it was just plain blue with red and white lettering, it would work better, but this just falls flat. C-

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Racing for a Miracle Ford Fusion-This is a major improvement over what they currently run. This just works! A+

Denny Hamlin #11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry-Seriously? Why does it look like a sperm is painted in red on the side of the car? The red/white/black color scheme works, but the door design is just awful! D-

Denny Hamlin #11 Fedex/Autism Speaks Toyota Camry-Much better! The puzzle design, and solid color scheme look really good here. The red 11 is amazing too! Can’t give this anything but an A+

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Chevy SS-Love the scheme, love the simple design and great color scheme.  Works very well and earns an A+

Clint Bowyer #15 5-Hour Energy Patriotic Toyota Camry-How is this patriotic? Oh….I get it…the stars….just one problem…THE COLOR SCHEME IS WRONG! If it was red white and blue I would like this, but this is just awful! You want to honor America, but can’t get the color scheme right? F-

Greg Biffle #16 Fastenal Ford Fusion-Since minor variations of this scheme were run by Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse, and Carl Edwards with minor variations between them, I will grade them all here. Solid scheme, good color scheme, A+ for all 3.

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Ace/Rite Aid Ford Fusion-The color scheme is good, but the door design is too busy. If it was one single color, it would work quite well, but being a mix of black, blue, red, and white it just looks confusing. It works, but not as well as it could, and earns a C+

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta Chevy SS-Another DuPont scheme with different logos that works very well. Good color scheme and design. A+

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Libman Chevy SS-The Libman green hood design just looks horrible on the yellow background of the car. The green is too light, and if it were darker it might work, but this scheme earns a D

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Patriotic Chevy SS-This is another patriotic scheme that works very well with a good design. A+

J.J. Yeley #36 Click it or Ticket Chevy SS-Good design, but awful color scheme. The green and blue is just horrible. If one or the other was used it might work, but this is horrific. F

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans Patriotic Chevy SS-Meh.  The design needs work.  Too much going on with the front of the car to earn anything above a C

Aric Almirola #43 Air Force Ford Fusion-Great design, simple design with a great color scheme. A+

Bobby Labonte #47 Bush’s Grilling Beans Toyota Camry-The overall design and color scheme is good, but the major flaw here is that the quarter panel has 5 different logos, most of which clash with the Bush’s scheme. It takes an A scheme and drags it down to a C

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS-The only bad thing I can say about this is that the red should be a little darker. Other than that, this scheme earns an A

Jimmie Johnson #48 Monsters University Chevy SS-If the blue was darker, I would like it more, but the blue is too light. Other than that, this is a solid scheme. B+

Martin Truex Jr. #56 Napa Patriotic Toyota Camry-Perfect…that is all I can say. A+