The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts on Some Auto Racing Design Sites…

By David G. Firestone

Last week was devoted to serious news stories, this week, I’m going to discuss some less serious things I’ve come across. I should have done these sooner, but sometimes things just get shuffled around.

I don’t consider myself to be a gentleman. I don’t usually read Gentlemen’s Quarterly or GQ. But they had an article recently that I found interesting. Basically Jake Wolfe states that racing uniforms are becoming chic in terms of fashion. To quote the article:

“… Nascar gear is built for practicality. Each team needs a bold color scheme to differentiate itself from around 40 other teams racing that week. The racing suits aren’t just places to make ad dollars—they’re designed to keep drivers safe in the event of a fire or crash, as are their shoes and helmets, and it doesn’t get more pragmatic than that. And maybe that’s why the pieces are being twisted and subverted by some of the most talented people in the fashion game. After all, it’s more fun to turn something banal into a coveted luxury item (Balenciaga Ikea bags, anyone?) than it is to continually produce wearable, but potentially boring, clothing.”

A couple of thoughts on this subject. First off, it’s “NASCAR” not “Nascar.” NASCAR is an acronym for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, not just a word. Second, auto racing and fashion have been hand in hand for some time, for fans of the sport. Seriously, go to a NASCAR, F1, IndyCar or NHRA event, and see how many people are wearing driver jackets or pit shirts. Teams wear them as not only a work uniform but a source of pride.

While the runways of Milan and Paris are embracing auto racing design, the places it truly belongs are the straightaways and pit lanes of Daytona, Silverstone, and Indianapolis. It should be pointed out that the way firesuits are designed is to protect the driver, and give the various sponsor logos as much exposure as possible. There are various standards that the designers use, which factor in such things as in-car camera placement, and television interview angles. IndyCar and F1 logo placements differ from NASCAR logo placements, which differ from NHRA logo placements. There is a very exact science to logo placements…unless you are Kyle Larson.

The other thing that I found interesting was that earlier this year, the SCCA F4 United States Championship released a very detailed ans specific “style guide” for 2017. This was in the form of a PowerPoint that morphed into a PDF. It’s worth a read.

I don’t consider this to be unusual, because I’m willing to be that every sanctioning body has a setup like this. I do consider this to be weird in that it has been leaked to the public. Nothing about this PDF is strange to me, again every team does this, but I’d love to see the NASCAR, IndyCar and F1 style guides, even if they are a few years old. Why don’t these style guides get made public? Auto racing has a lot of fans who are interested in design, so why not feed their interest? Though I do find it a bit odd that the driver and crew wear different shirts…

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