The Driver Suit Blog-The Midsummer Classic…A Dirty Experiment.

By David G. Firestone

I don’t normally do a midweek column, but a brand new event in NASCAR is taking place tonight. Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio is the site of a new experiment in the NASCAR world. For the first time since 1970, one of NASCAR’s top series, the Camping World Truck Series will race on a dirt oval. Tonight at 8PM EST, 30 of NASCAR’s top drivers including Ryan Newman, Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace and others will race 150 laps, in 3 different segments on a ½ mile clay track.

The dirt surface mandates some unique rule requirements for the race, including the removal of the splitter, and a layer of mesh on the front grill, as seen here. Massive changes to the spoilers are included, as seen here. The tires are grooved, and are not as wide as standard Goodyear Wrangers used in the truck series. The most unusual addition to the truck is a “bug deflector” which is designed to deflect stones away from the windshield. This video explains all the changes to the truck for this race.

Some things have surprised me about this event. The first thing is that two drivers who I would have expected to try and make the field aren’t attending the race. The first is Kyle Busch. Busch is what I like to call a “pure driver” and what that means is that he is truly happy when he is behind the wheel of a race car. The dirt style of racing I think would suit Kyle very well. The other absent driver that really shocks me is Tony Stewart. Stewart, like Busch is a pure driver, but what makes Tony’s absence from this race perplexing is that HE OWNS ELDORA SPEEDWAY! Why Tony Stewart isn’t in this race at a track that he owns is kind of odd.

Now even though this is the first dirt-track race featuring on of NASCAR’s top 3 series, I doubt it will be the last. This event is a concept that is a long time coming, and I think it will in the very near future extend to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. I would honestly love to see a second all-star race on Eldora or another dirt track added to both of NASCAR’s top series, in addition to the truck series.

DGF2099 Productions-Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Jose Pagan 1967-68 All-Star Trophy.

Jose Pagan’s Rawlings Puerto Rican All-Star Team trophy will be examined this week.

DGF2099 Productions-Swatch Cards…and Why They Need To Be Stopped!

The Driver Suit Blog and DGF2099 Productions team up to stop something that has been going on for too long, sports memorabilia being destroyed for “swatch cards”

The Driver Suit Blog Richard Petty Fan Suit

By David G. Firestone

pettyWhen it comes to driver suits, I normally focus on race-worn items, but this week I’m going to shift gears, and focus on another kind of suit…and yes, pun intended. This example is a suit used by the Richard Petty Driving Experience. What the RPDE does is give die hard fans the ability to get in a stock car and either be driven around a track for a few laps, or drive the car around the track after some instruction. The cars are almost identical to Gen 4 cars, but have two seats and are scaled down to 600 horsepower from the over 800 currently run in NASCAR.

pettybIt looks similar in design to suits that Richard Petty wore during his racing days. Interestingly, there is no Petty blue, but a darker blue similar to the blue used in STP logos. There are no logos of any kind present, not even of the suit manufacturer, a company called Westex. I find it odd that at that time, the Richard Petty Driving Experience logo wasn’t used. There is no indication it was ever present on the suit to begin with. The legs are cuffed, as opposed to the boot cut that most NASCAR drivers like to use. Arm gussets, which give drivers better freedom of movement, are not here either. Later suits have some of these features.

petty-chestpetty-btorsopetty-rshoulder petty-lshoulderNow even though the cars are either driven by professionals, or by drivers who have had lessons, the risk of crash and fire is present. As such, the fans are issued driver suits. This is an early version of the suit issued to them. What strikes me about this suit is that it is a single-layer suit with no epaulets. The epaulet is critical here because they are specifically designed for pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car in the event of a wreck. The fact that is is a single-layer suit is an issue here because in racing, redundancy is safety. NASCAR drivers wear double or triple-layer suits as well as fireproof long johns that give them 30 seconds of fire protection. I would be shocked if this suit would give 10 seconds.

I should also mention at this point that the suit does not have any SFI or FIA certification. When you are driving fans around a track with the ever present risk of fire, having a suit that can withstand the worst case scenario is a plus. SFI certification is designed to do just that, insure that the person wearing the suit will be able to be protected in the worst case scenario, so I do not get the logic of having uncertified suit for use.

All that said, now let’s discuss the basics.

The collar is a Velcro-shut design.

petty-collarThe tag is custom for the RPDE and has some things written and crossed out in Sharpie.

petty-tagThe sleeves are plain.

petty-rsleeve1petty-rsleeve2petty-lsleeve1 petty-lsleeve2There is an unadorned belt.

petty-beltThe front torso shows some stains.

petty-chestIt should be noted that these suits are no longer used, and now Simpson SFI certified suits are currently in use. And while the suit has its short comings it is still a very attractive item. I plan on doing the RPDE in the very near future.

FEW Spirits Tour, An Unexpectedly Fun Experience

Growing up in Evanston Illinois, I spent most of my life in this area. I’ve had the chance to take opportunities outside of the Chicago-area, but this is home. I LOVE Evanston! I love everything about Evanston, especially the food. Heaven for me is a Mutt Special from Hecky’s,IMAG0053Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef from Mustard’s Last Stand,37 5 IMAG0027 IMAG0028 IMAG0026and Chicago-style pizza from Carmen’s.19Evanston has been a home for me, and it has been a home for the temperance movement. Francis Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union have been headquartered in Evanston for many years, and up until 1984, Evanston was dry, something amazing for a college town. So it surprised me to learn that recently, a distillery opened in Evanston.100_3884FEW Spirits was founded in 2011 at 918 Chicago Avenue, in what was, according to the owner, a chop-house. They are a craft distillery, that actually distillers their own spirits. This sets them apart from many craft distillers, who buy alcohol from industrial alcohol producers, and add their own ingredients. Everything that FEW makes is made in a series of steps in their small building. I had the opportunity to take a tour of their facility, and it was enlightening and fun.100_3882 100_3881 100_3886 100_3883First, we went into the production facility, and saw the stills and equipment used to distill their line of spirits. While they produce only produce whiskey and gin, they various ways that they can adjust their ingredients and production methods can produce a number of variations. I wish I had a way of transmitting the scent of the production facility over the internet, because it was a unique and amazing scent that I will never forget.

Also there was a small bottling facility,100_3887and some barrel storage. 100_3880There is a second facility, again in Evanston, where long-term barrel storage is held. The facility is not large, but it does have a lot of character. This character is reflected in the tasting area, where we headed next. During the tasting, we tasted a number of gin variations, including American Gin-a white 93 proof gin, Barrel-Aged Gin which has a brownish color, and Standard Issue Gin-which has 114 proof, and is similar to the type issued to the British Navy. The whiskey variations we tried were White Whiskey-which is bottled before it is put in a barrel and maintains a clear appearance, and Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys. Each of these variations was very good, and the small glasses used for the tastings look really good.100_3888 100_3889One thing you will notice about FEW is that it has a vintage character to the spirits they brew. This is evident in their shop, and their labels. The labels pay homage to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and the shop is lined with vintage items with the FEW logo on it. This is an extension of the FEW character.100_3890 100_3894 100_3895 100_3896Tours take place on Saturdays at 2 and 3 PM. Sign up at fewspirits.com, it only costs $10 and is an interesting, enlightening and fun way to spend your Saturday.

http://www.fewspirits.com

DGF2099 Prodcutions-Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-1911 Wrestling Trophy/Tea Service

Season 9 will start off with this Finish wresting trophy from 1911 that doubles as a tea service.

The Driver Suit Blog-Neck Backs…A Hotbed for Unique Customizations.

36-saidThe driver suit is almost always customized for the driver, and as such, the driver has the option of adding customizations to the suit. This may come in the form of size,

and belt design,36-barron-beltbut the back of the neck is a unique place for customizations. The designs that are placed on the back of the neck are as unique as the driver themselves.36-barron-neckI’ve gone at length to discuss the FIA certification which is frequently sewn into the back of the neck. This is a prominent feature in Formula 1 and IndyCar. That is standard issue, so no real need to comment on it any more.barber-neckIn NASCAR, the back of the neck can be used for a myriad of different customizations. One of the most common is a car number, such as this Christian Fittipaldi suit, 45-fittipaldi-bneckand another common feature can be sponsor logos, such as this Randy LaJoie Bob Evans suit from 1999-2000,1-lajoie-neckand this Joey Miller Craftsman Truck Series suit from 2005.12-miller-blogoThis Kasey Kahne suit has the Evernham Motorsports logo sewn into the back of the neck.9-kahne-neckAnd Roger Penske likes to have the American Flag on the back of the neck of his suits, as evidenced by this David Stremme suit from 2009.12-stremme-neckOlder Simpson driver suits have been known to have an inventory number sewn here, as exampled by this Mike Skinner suit from 1997,31-skinner-futureand this Stevie Reeves example, again from 1997.96-reeves-neckBut for my money, the personal customizations are more fun when they are as unique as the driver is. In this Terry Labonte suit, Terry has added a Texas logo.10-labonte-neckMy favorite customization is from a Boris Said suit from 2005. Said has added a Boris Badenov design to the back of his neck.36-said-neckIt’s the little things that make a suit personal, and these are some of those little things. Who says a driver suit can’t be fun.

And of course, it goes without saying that the neck is frequently left blank, as exampled by this Nort Northam suit from 1988.56-Northam-neck

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Patriotic Chevy SS Pretty good scheme here, red white and blue is always a solid scheme, but the one gripe I have is the pointless circle around the door number. While it gives the car a vintage look, it is just out of place here. Even still, this scheme is a solid A-

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Patriotic Ford Fusion Solid scheme, nothing to complain about, A+

Kasey Kahne #5 Hendrick Cars Chevy SS Red white and black is a very solid color scheme, and the design, while a bit convoluted looks really good. It has a hurricane-esquire design that looks really good. A-

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy .US Chevy SS The simple design of this scheme looks really good…but what is going on with the colors? Why is the car painted in Russian dressing green? Russian dressing is good, but not as a color scheme. The red white and blue designs clash, and it just looks awful. D-

Clint Bowyer #15 Peak Blue DEF Toyota Camry I gave this scheme a B grade, and the logo change on the hood does nothing to either add or subtract for this grade. B

Greg Biffle #16 3M Statue Of Liberty Ford Fusion Amazing how a better color scheme, as well as the Statue of Liberty design take a C grade and bring it up to a B

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries All Battery Center Toyota Camry Now THIS is what an Interstate Batteries scheme should be! The classic dark green, gold and white color scheme is amazing, and the design is simple yet very attractive. Giving this scheme an A+ is not saying enough about how great this scheme is!

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta Standox Chevy SS White flames on a blue background? Seriously? I could forgive it if it was blue flames on a white background, blue flames look really good. But white flames? This design ruins a great color scheme AND a great design scheme TOGETHER! Now that is impressive! F-

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevy SS The Patriotic schemes worked quite well this year, and this is another example of that. A-

Jeff Burton #31 Quikset Chevy SS Decent color scheme but the design needs a little work. If the red was on the hood, roof and deck-lid and the black was on the sides, I would give it an A, but the shark-fin design is brutal on the eyes, and serves no real purpose. As such, I can only give it a C-

JJ Yeley #36 Golden Coral Patriotic Chevy SS Another A grade Patriotic scheme.

AJ Allmendinger #51 Neil Bonnett Throwback Chevy SS While I like most throwback schemes, this one, while accurate, has the worst color scheme I have ever seen. It just screams 1980’s. Hot pink and neon yellow really stands out, and not in a good way. Still, I do miss Neil, and they were pretty accurate, so I will give this scheme a B

Carl Edwards #99 Subway Ahhvocado Ford Fusion Good color scheme and a simple design. I’m not a fan of avocados on sandwiches, but this is a good solid A scheme.