The Driver Suit Blog-A Prototype Pit Crew Suit…Say That Three Times Fast Part 1

By David G. Firestone.johansen

Ok, for the next two weeks, I am going to focus on one single suit. This is a “prototype crew suit.” In other words, it is a prototype suit for a pit crew member. In that light, I will do two articles, one focusing on the “prototype” part and the other will focus on the “pit crew” part.

This is a prototype suit. What that means is that this suit was made up to see how various design aspects work. The designers will attach various aspects, stripes, sponsor patches, to a full-size mockup of a suit, usually a single-layer suit, to see how the suit will look like when finished. Since driver and pit crew suits can cost as much as $1500 each to make, this is a simpler and cheaper way to design a suit in full-size. A full size mockup looks very impressive. The designs can be changed as needed.

Prototype suits are made from a single-layer suit. Single-layer suits are cheaper to use, but provide little protection in case of fire, so they are not often used in race condition. Suit design has, in the last 20+ years gone from not an issue to very critical. Because suits are used for promotion for the primary sponsor, the design aspect is very important. Every aspect, from the colors, to the primary and associate sponsor patches, to the decorative design is taken into consideration.johansen

This particular suit was made for PDM racing, for use in the IndyCar Racing League in 2006. It was made for an individual by the name of Tom Johansen. It appears that Johansen is a crew member, and this suit was designed for his use. The logos are sewn on patches, the patches are placed on pieces of fabric, and then attached to the suit. From there, the suit starts to take shape, and the name is attached to the belt, and the logos are attached to the shoulder epaulets. In this example:

The right chest has a HONDA and a PDM RACING logo.johansen-rchestThe left chest has an INDY RACING LEAGUE logo and a ROYAL SPA logo.johansen-lchestThe belt has TOM JOHANSEN directly embroidered into it.johansen-beltThe legs are cuffed.johansen-legsThe sleeves have small logos on the top, and large SIMPSON logos present the bottom.johansen-rsleeve1 johansen-rsleeve2 johansen-lsleeve1 johansen-lsleeve2The shoulder epaulet have FIRESTONE logos present.johansen-rshoulder johansen-lshoulderThe back cowl has a HONDA logo that covers part of the tag.johansen-blogo johansen-rchestThe back Torso has a large ROYAL SPA logo, Royal Spa being the primary sponsor at the time.johansen-blogoThe suit shows no wear to speak of, nor does it have any safety certification.

The question is asked, did this suit see race-use?  While the suit itself shows no wear, it seems likely that it did in some form see race use.  PDM Racing was always a sub-par team, and they were always a low-budget team.  An inside joke was that PDM stood for “Poor Dumb Mechanics.”  So the fact that this suit was made would indicate that it was used by Johansen.  However what part Tom Johansen served on the crew is unknown.   On the other hand, a single-layer suit such as this would not provide much protection for the wearer in the very real threat of a fire.  The suit material feels very light, and the wearer would have been seriously injured if a fire had taken place.  The deciding factor for me is that the suit shows no wear.  I have suits in my collection that have been worn for only a few races, but have a lot of visible wear, and for a pit crew suit, that is pretty telling.

Prototype suits provide little protection in case of fire, unlike pit crew suits which are designed to give the wearer as much protection as possible, which we will examine further next week.

Paint Scheme Time!

Jamie McMurray #1 Advil Chevy SS While I’m not a fan of the grid on the front, the car as a whole has a simple, yet attractive design, as well as a good color scheme. So I’ll overlook the grid and give this an A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite/Luke Brian Ford Fusion I gave this basic scheme a C+ at the beginning of the year, and this new design doesn’t add or take away from the scheme, so I will leave it at a C

Alex Kennedy #19 Media Master Toyota Camry Nothing really remarkable here, just a simple white scheme with black numbers and green logos. Very simple, and very plain, C+

David Stremme #30 Genny Light Toyota Camry Too much needless decoration. A good color scheme, but there is way too much going on design wise on the side of the car. It just looks awful, and I give it a D-

David Ragain #34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion I have yet to cover Taco Bell this year, but this scheme has a great color scheme, great side design, and a very pronounced design on the hood, which really makes the car stand out, and gives it a better look. A+

Ryan Newman #39 Haas 30th Anniversary Chevy SS Haas has a great scheme already, and the all-black look really works well here. To give this scheme anything less than an A+ is unfair.

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans/PTA Chevy SS The nicest thing I can say about this is that it looks like a unicorn threw up all over the car. F-

Brian Keselowski #52 Star Coach Race Tours Toyota Camry Are you f***ing kidding me? I have to give them credit, they took the worst scheme in NASCAR this year, and found a way to make it even worse. The color and design are horrific, and bonus points for putting blue lettering in the green camo, thus making it nearly invisible. Giving this scheme an F– does not go far enough! WORST SCHEME THIS YEAR!

Brian Vickers #55 Toyota Cares Toyota Camry Good color scheme, and decent design. It is pretty simple, and it works. A

And speaking of Brian Vickers, we got a look at the design for his 2014 Aarons Dream Machine Toyota Camry. The scheme has a more modern look, both in the overall design and door numbers. It is a great scheme, with a great color scheme. A+

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