The Driver Suit Blog-Paint Scheme Grades-January 13, 2017

By David G. Firestone

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Chevy Camaro-Love the black and dark blue, the design scheme works, and the car looks great! A

Austin Dillon #3 American Ethanol Chevy Camaro-They took a great design, and just needlessly over designed it. The wave form could work, but it just doesn’t. It’s not horrible, so I’ll give it a C-.

Daniel Suarez #19 Peak Toyota Camry-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Matt DiBenedetto #32 Keen Parts/Corvette Parts Ford Fusion-It has a great color scheme, and the design scheme looks really good here. Nothing bad to say. A

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The Driver Suit Blog-Wheel Reviews-NASCAR Presents Greatest Dominators and NASCAR Presents Greatest Finishes

By David G. Firestone

Most sports have their own media production company, to produce television or DVDs. NASCAR is no exception having founded the NASCAR Media Group. The NASCAR Media Group has produced many books, television commercials, television programs and DVDs showing the history and the competitors of NASCAR. They are a promotional tool used by NASCAR for self promotion.

One of the DVDs that they produced in 2009 was NASCAR Presents Greatest Finishes & Dominators. This single DVD contains NASCAR Presents Greatest Dominators and NASCAR Presents Greatest Finishes. These are two 37 minute long specials which could have aired on television at some point. The DVD also has 60 minute long versions of the 2007 Daytona 500 and the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.

NASCAR Presents Greatest Finishes features a group of picks for the 10 greatest race finishes in NASCAR history. Their picks are:

10-1997 Mountain Dew Southern 500-Jeff Gordon Wins the Winston Million beating Jeff Burton

9-1999 Goody’s Headache Powder 500-Dale Earnhardt is racing for the win. He gets into the back of Terry Labonte, and spins him out, and collects the win.

8-2001 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500-Kevin Harvick wins a close finish against Jeff Gordon, his first race in what used to be Dale Earnhardt’s car.

7-1992 The Winston-Kyle Petty wrecks Dale Earnhardt to set up a close finish with Davey Allison. Allison would win, but the two cars wrecked, and Davey had to be flown to a hospital.

6-1992 Hooters 500-In the final race of the 1992 season, Bill Elliot, Davey Allison, and Alan Kulwicki were each racing for the championship. Davey Allison got wrecked by Ernie Irvan, and Alan Kulwicki would go on to win the 1992 Championship. Factor in the fact that this was Richard Petty’s last race, and Jeff Gordon’s first, and you have a race for the ages.

5-2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400-The then closest finish in NASCAR history saw Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch in a frantic and physical race to the finish by 0.002 seconds.

4-1986 Miller High Life 400-Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt had a battle for the lead, which saw both drivers wreck, and Kyle Petty winning. Both cars were destroyed, Earnhardt had to pay $10,000,($29,284.19 today) had his neck broken, and was suspended for his actions.

3-1984 Firecracker 400-With President Reagan traveled to Daytona to watch the Firecracker 400. The race came down to Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough race for the checkered flag. Petty would win his 200th, after a wreck forced a late race caution.

2-1979 Daytona 500-Considered the most important race in NASCAR history. Broadcast nationwide by CBS, the race came down to a two car battle for the lead formed between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough in the closing laps. The two would wreck, and Richard Petty would win the race. A legendary fist fight between Allison and Yarborough took place in the infield, which made the front page of the New York Times sports section, thus bringing NASCAR into the national picture.

1-1976 Daytona 500-David Pearson had finished second to Richard Petty in the Daytona 500 on several occasions. In 1976. Pearson would finally get the better of Petty in a legendary wreck, where Pearson limped across victory lane with both cars destroyed.

I can’t say I disagree with their choices, they are all great finishes. They feature some of the greatest drivers in the sport. This is the better of the two features because everything about the program is good. The narration, editing, interviews, and music are all great. NASCAR Presents Greatest Finishes is a great production.

The same cannot be said for NASCAR Presents Greatest Dominators features the top 10 NASCAR Dominators. They are:

10-Rusty Wallace

9-Bill Elliott

8-Lee Petty

7-Darrell Waltrip

6-David Pearson

5-Cale Yarborough

4-Tim Flock

3-Jeff Gordon

2-Dale Earnhardt

1-Richard Petty

The first issue here is that THEY PUT THE LIST ON THE BACK OF THE DVD COVER! Who thought it would be a good idea to spoiler alert the outcome on the back of the DVD cover? I should purchase the DVD to see who made the list, but they couldn’t get that right.

NASCAR Presents Greatest Dominators is also quite dated. The DVD depicts Dale Jr. in Budweiser gear, Jimmie Johnson is never mentioned, the Gen 4 car is the newest car racing, and Rusty Wallace hasn’t retired yet. Another thing is that Cale Yarborough is lauded as being the only driver to win three championships in a row, and the point is driven that this will probably never happen again. This might not seem that bad, but again, it was released in 2009, AFTER JIMMIE JOHNSON HAD WON HIS THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP IN A ROW.

With that out of the way, NASCAR Presents Greatest Dominators is a mediocre showing. The structure for how the segments work is non-existent. Some segments run longer than others, and there are long awkward pauses for no reason. The music is decent though, and I do like the showing footage on vintage stock cars. Ken Squier’s narration is amazing, but Ken Squier could read the legalities of a mortgage, and make it sound amazing.

The two races, the 2007 Daytona 500 and the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, are trimmed down versions of the telecasts, but they are decent, and show some great racing action. I’m a fan of these kinds of things. The DVD is worth it for that alone. The top 10 list thing has been done better, but the races are worth the price of the DVD. Across the board, I’m giving this a B-. It’s decent, some parts are worth the money, other parts aren’t.

Next week, another vintage stock car racing movie.

The Driver Suit Blog-Throwback Thursday-1957 #20 Aston Martin DBR1

Tony Brooks and Noël Cunningham-Reid 1957 #20 Aston Martin DBR1

Aston Martin has made some amazing looking cars, and this emerald green DBR1 is no exception. This might be my favorite shade of green I have ever seen on a race car. Add in an RAF logo for Noël Cunningham-Reid’s Father, and a large white circle with large numbers, and you have a great looking car that is worth an A.

Paint Scheme Tracker-January 10, 2017

By David G Firestone

CHIP GANASSI RACING #1

Jamie McMurray #1 GearWrench Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, black with green stripes and roof. A

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, black with blue waves on sides. A

TEAM PENSKE #2

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford FusionNew scheme for 2018, white and red Penske template. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion-New sponsor for 2018, white with black outline. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford FusionNo change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford FusionNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Auto Trader Ford FusionNo Change. D-

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #3

Austin Dillon#3 Dow Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, black fade to red to black across whole car. A

Austin Dillon #3 AAA Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, all red, with white stripe pattern on sides. A

Austin Dillon #3 American Ethanol Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, green front, black rear, white and black waves on sides. C-

STEWART-HAAS RACING #4

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Ford FusionNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford FusionNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy Johns Ford FusionNew scheme for 2018, black and white reversed. A

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #6

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Ford FusionNew scheme for 2018, black with grey, silver and blue stripes. A

Trevor Bayne #6 Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford FusionNo change. B-

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #9

Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2017, blue with white designs on sides. B+

Chase Elliott #9 Hooters Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, orange back and white front, with Y design across sides. B-

Chase Elliott #9 Sun Energy Chevy CamaroNo change. F

STEWART-HAAS RACING #10

Darrell Wallace Jr. #10 Smithfield Foods Ford FusionNew sponsor for 2018, black and white with slash patterns on sides. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #11

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota CamryNo change. B-

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Freight Toyota CamryNo change. B-

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Ground Toyota CamryNo change. B-

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Office Toyota CamryNo change. B-

TEAM PENSKE #12

Ryan Blaney #12 Duracel/Menard’s Ford FusionNew scheme for 2017, yellow with narrow stripes. A

GERMAIN RACING #13

Ty Dillon #13 Twisted Tea Chevy CamaroNo change. A

Ty Dillon #13 Geico Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, similar scheme to 2017, but some cutting edge designs replace stripe on sides. C

Ty Dillon #13 Geico Millitary Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, similar scheme t0 2017, but with some changes to the front. F

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Ford FusionNew scheme for 2018, blue with white and black diagonal stripes across sides. A

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fifth-Third Bank Ford FusionNo change. B-

JOE GIBBS RACING #18

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota CamryNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #19

Daniel Suarez #19 Stanley Toyota CamryNew scheme for 2017, yellow with a series of gray and black cutting edge designs on sides. D-

Daniel Suarez #19 Arris Toyota CamryNew scheme for 2018, orange replaces silver on quarter panel. A

Daniel Suarez #19 Peak Toyota CamryNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #20

Erik Jones #20 DeWalt Toyota CamryNo change. A

WOOD BROTHER RACING #21

Paul Menard #21 Motorcraft Ford FusionNo change. A

Paul Menard #21 Menard’s Ford Fusion-New sponsor for 2018, same as #12. A

TEAM PENSKE #22

Joey Logano #22 AAA Ford FusionNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 Auto Trader Ford FusionNo Change. D-

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford FusionNo change. A

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford FusionNo change. D

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #24

William Byron #24 Axalta Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2017, blue with flame motif across whole car. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2017, blue with red flames on front. A

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #31

Ryan Newman #31 Granger Chevy CamaroNo change. A

Ryan Newman #31 Caterpillar Chevy CamaroNo change. B-

Ryan Newman #31 Liberty National Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2018, green front, rear and roof, blue sides. F

Ryan Newman #31 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2018, red top, yellow stripes, black bottom. C-

GO FAS RACING #32

Matt DiBenedetto #32 Keen Parts/Corvette Parts Ford FusionNew scheme for 2017, red, with slight wave formation across sides. A

CHIP GANASSI RACING #42

Kyle Larson #42 Credit One Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, blue with white and lighter blue stripes. A

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS #43

Darrell Wallace Jr. #43 Click N Close Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2017, dark blue with Click N Close. A

Darrell Wallace Jr. #43 Air Force Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, same as 2017, but with black stripe across bottom. A

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING #47

AJ Allmendinger #47 Kroger Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, white with blue and red stripes on sides. B-

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #48

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, black with gray outlines. A

FURNITURE ROW RACING #78

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Bass Pro Shops/5-Hour Energy Toyota CamryNew scheme for 2018 black with orange designs on sides. C-

Martin Truex Jr. #78 5-Hour Energy/Bass Pro Shops Toyota CamryNew scheme for 2018 black with red designs on sides. C-

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota CamryNo change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #88

Alex Bowman #88 Nationwide Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2017, blue with white designs on sides. B+

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, black with blue,red,white,and yellow cutting edge designs across sides. F

LEAVINE FAMILY RACING #95

Kasey Kahne #95 Procore Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2018, black, white, and orange with cutting edge designs across whole car. F

 

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Some Off-Season News Stories

By David G. Firestone

For my first My Thoughts On for 2018, I’m going to focus on some news stories and other things that got my attention while I was on sabbatical.

The big story, at least to me is the indication that the NHRA is throwing in the towel on Pro Stock. It was announced that starting in 2018, any legal body may be used with any legal engine. This goes against one of the principal rules of the category, where the engine and body must be made n the same place. In short, a Chevy engine could be used in a Dodge, or a Ford, and vise versa.

If destroying one of the core tenants of a specific category to boost competition isn’t a move of desperation, I’m not sure what is. The NHRA is trying to extinguish a tire fire they themselves started, and now they are resorting to extreme measures. It may actually work in the long run, but it’s not a good look for a category that has been thrown to the wolves for two years.

While we are on the subject of the NHRA, there was an article by NBC Sports’ Jerry Bonkowski concerning changes that he thinks need to be made by 2019, when John Force’s contracts will expire, and he turns 70.

He makes some valid points, but a couple of points that he makes seem tone-deaf at least to me. For example: “Do we REALLY need three-day pro race weekends? Do Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock teams REALLY need four qualifying passes (typically two on Friday and two others on Saturday) in every national event weekend?”

Yes Jerry, we do. Remember that fans go to national events to watch their favorite drivers race. The two passes bring and keep fans in the stands. I’m not going to pay $50 for a ticket to see the national drivers and only watch them race once on a Saturday afternoon, and I’m not the only person who thinks this way.

Here is another gem: “Plus, the NHRA’s old business model of mixing the pro ranks with sportsman classes simply isn’t working any more. Don’t believe me? Have you been to a NHRA national event over the last few years? What happens when the pros finish up a particular round and hand the track over to the sportsman drivers?

Answer: the stands typically empty by at least half. Usually the only folks left in the stands are either fans or friends of some of the sportsman drivers. When the sportsman drivers attempt to show their skills, most other fans go out to the food court or product midway. Sure, those racing fans eventually go back to the stands, but usually not until the next pro round of qualifying or eliminations.”

According to Jerry’s “logic” I paid for my ticket, but I’m not allowed to do what I want when I go to a national event. I’ll check out the sportsman categories, but if I want to get something to eat, or buy some stuff, or go to the bathroom, I’ll do it during the sportsman categories.

Also, if you take the two points he made above into consideration, splitting the sportsman from professional categories, and reducing the number of runs,, going to a national event wouldn’t be worth the time or effort. Sure Sunday would be fun, but Saturday would be slow. Also, what would happen between rounds? What would be done to keep the racing fans attention? I don’t see this working out well.

Moving on to Danica Patrick. Danica announced that she will run the Daytona 500, and the Indy 500 in 2018, and then she will retire. This was followed by an article on IndyCar’s website about how she should be sent off with appreciation, not troll comments.

Reading the article, it’s clear the author, Jeff Olson, is a Danica fanboy, and he doesn’t like that people say bad things about her. He tries to compare the achievements of Brittany Force, Shirley Muldowney, Hellé Nice, Pat Moss, and Michele Mouton, to Danica Patrick. Here’s the difference between them and Danica, every other woman has found success by winning, as opposed to crashing, and racing in the mid-pack. Danica Patrick was always more hype than talent, and as a result, fanboys like him think she is better than she could ever be.

Here is a line from the end of his fanboy rant: “Someday, a woman will win consistently in motorsports. She’ll win multiple championships. She’ll drive for the best teams, race the best cars and beat the best competition. Hopefully when that day comes, gender won’t define her. She’ll simply be a racer.” Have you paid any attention to the NHRA in the past few years? In the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Series, between the 1976-2017, women have won 145 national events and nine championships in four categories:

Shirley Muldowney-TF-18 wins-3 championships

Lucille Lee-TF-1 win

Lori Johns-TF-4 wins

Shelly Anderson-TF-5 wins

Angelle Sampey-PSM-42 wins, 3 championships

Cristen Powell-TF-1 win

Karen Stoffer-PSM-8 wins

Melanie Troxel-TF/FC 5 wins

Peggy Llewellyn-PSM-1 win

Ashley Force Hood-FC-4 wins

Hillary Will-TF-1 win

Erica Enders‐Stevens-PS-23 wins, 2 championships

Courtney Force-FC-9 wins

Angie Smith-PSM-1 win

Alexis DeJoria-FC-7 wins,

Brittany Force-FC-7 wins, 1 championship

Leah Pritchett-FC-5 wins.

If Jeff Olson did more than five minutes of research, he would have realized that women are very well established in the NHRA, and that’s just the top 4. He mentioned Brittany Force and Shirley Muldowney, but failed to mention any other woman in the NHRA. How could you not even mention Peggy Llewellyn, the first woman of color to win in the NHRA? He’s a fanboy, and he is upset that the public doesn’t respect his driver.

Fanboys annoy me on a profound level. Let me be clear here, there are differences between fans and fanboys. A fan is someone who roots for a certain driver, but is able to understand that said driver isn’t always going to win. Fanboys worship their driver, and whenever they don’t win, they can’t stand it. Their favorite driver is the best driver, and nothing can convince them otherwise.

Some of Matt Kenseth’s fanboys really got on my nerves at the end of the season last year. Many of them were up in arms because Dale Jr. was getting a bigger sendoff. First off, at the beginning of the season, nobody knew that Kenseth would retire. Second off, Dale Jr. getting a bigger send off than Matt Kenseth is for one simple reason: merchandise sales. Dale Jr. was always the big guy at the merch table. Of the 10 best selling die casts, 5 of them were Dale Jr. cars. Matt Kenseth didn’t make the top 10. Kenseth also didn’t make the top 10 in terms of top selling drivers.

Dale Jr. is to racing what Hulk Hogan was to wrestling. Kenseth is more along the lines of Bret Hart. Kenseth and Hart were more skilled in their respective careers, but Dale Jr. and Hogan were more popular, and sold more merchandise. NASCAR celebrated their most profitable driver, because, in the end, they are out to make money. Kenseth is a better driver than Dale, Dale sold more merchandise, that’s why Dale got the big sendoff. That’s why fanboys are aggravating.

That’s enough for now, I’ll be back next week.

The Driver Suit Blog-Paint Scheme Grades-January 6, 2017

By David G. Firestone

Jamie McMurray #1 GearWrench Chevy Camaro-Major improvement from last year. Much less cluttered look with a great color scheme, which earns an A.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Brad Keselowski #2 Auto Trader Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same D- grade.

Austin Dillon #3 AAA Chevy SS-The shade of red is really good, and the track pattern works will on the sides as well. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy Johns Ford Fusion-Reversing the scheme works well, this new scheme looks really good, and I can’t complain. A

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Ford Fusion-Black usually works well for a paint scheme, and this is no exception. Add in some great stripes, and a great color scheme, and this scheme is worth an A.

Trevor Bayne #6 Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same B- grade.

Chase Elliott #9 Sun Energy Chevy Camaro-Same scheme as last year, same F grade.

Ryan Blaney #12 Duracel/Menard’s Ford Fusion-Please let this be the new Menard’s template! This is an amazing looking scheme! Great color scheme, and a great design scheme! A

Ty Dillon #13 Geico Chevy Camaro-The cutting edge design doesn’t work well here, it’s just design for design’s sake. Last year, Geico earned an A, this year it earns a C.

Ty Dillon #13 Geico Millitary Chevy Camaro-The slight changes do nothing to help this scheme. It keeps the F it had last year.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Ford Fusion-While I was a fan of the old Fastenal scheme, this new version looks really good, and I can’t really say anything bad about it.A

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fifth-Third Bank Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same B- grade.

Daniel Suarez #19 Arris Toyota Camry-Taking the silver out of the scheme works well, and while the old scheme works well, this scheme works well too. A

Erik Jones #20 DeWalt Toyota Camry-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Paul Menard #21 Menard’s Ford Fusion-New sponsor for 2018, same as #12. A

Joey Logano #22 Auto Trader Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same D- grade.

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same D grade.

Ryan Newman #31 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Chevy Camaro-Its a decent color scheme, but it’s a bit over designed. Reversing the black and the red could improve this scheme. C-

Kyle Larson #42 Credit One Chevy Camaro-Cleaning up this scheme works well, and the new design has a smooth look, with a good color scheme. A

Darrell Wallace Jr. #43 Air Force Chevy Camaro-Taking a good scheme, and adding in a new black stripe could be either bad or good. In this setting, it works well. A

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Chevy Camaro-It’s an ugly, over designed mess, but it’s ugly and over designed in a new way. What I’m trying to say is that it’s ugly and over designed. F

Kasey Kahne #95 Procore Chevy Camaro-Last year’s scheme was a great looking scheme. This year, it’s an over designed mess, that doesn’t look good. Why Kasey thinks he is a design genius is only known to him, but his designs suck. F

The Driver Suit Blog-Wheel Reviews-The Last American Hero

By David G. Firestone

Before there was Talladega Nights, there was Days of Thunder. Before Days of Thunder, there was The Last American Hero. Directed by Emmy Award winning director Lamont Johnson, The Last American Hero is loosely based on the life of NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. The Last American Hero is the name of an essay written by Tom Wolfe that appeared in Esquire Magazine, and was also released in “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.”

The movie starts off with Jeff Bridges playing Elroy Jackson, Jr., who is called “Junior Jackson.” He is a hot shot moonshine runner, who gets his father arrested and his family still blown up because of his hot shot driving. In order to pay for his father’s legal bills and provide for his family, Junior decides to become a racing driver. First, he places third in a demolition derby, where he adds a spear to the front of his car. After that, he decides to try stock car racing.

He races in a number of dirt track races in Concord, North Carolina After winning a number of races, he gets in a fight, where the track promoter gets hurt, and tries to blackball him. Junior travels to Hickory, where he works his way into a race, but his car fails him, and he doesn’t finish the race. When he gets to the speedway, he meets Marge, an attractive woman who takes a liking to him, as she does a lot of race car drivers. A country boy trying to adapt to city life,the pressure of providing for his family and racing takes its toll on him. He is approached by Burton Colt, a team owner with an offer to drive, but he declines.

After his dad is released from jail, he scolds Junior about wanting to work in moonshine. Junior reconsiders the offer, and races one race for Burton. In the climatic scene, Junior ignores the orders from the team, and ends up winning the race. The movie ends with Marge leaving, and Junior going into the VIP area for a press conference.

The movie was a box office bomb, making $1,250,000 on a $2,130,000 budget. The movie is best remembered for the theme song “’I’ve Got a Name” by Jim Croce. In fact, the theme song is really one of the best parts of the movie. The Last American Hero had a decent plot, and really good acting. The cars and racing scenes all look good. Jeff Bridges is really strong in this movie, as are most of the other actors.

The movie could have been much better, but there are quite a few things that bring it down. There is way too much padding in the movie. There is a sequence that takes place at a K-Mart, where Junior tries to call home, but nobody answers. He then sees a booth to make your own record. He records a rambling message to his family, and then walks away. This scene is completely pointless, and could be edited out, and the movie wouldn’t lose anything.

The “romance” that takes place between Junior and Marge is even worse. It’s established quickly that Marge is a race car driver groupie, who will sleep with any and all race car drivers she comes across. The romantic subplot is a waste of time, and it heads nowhere. While all of the characters are somewhat deep, Marge is as two dimensional as it gets. She’s as shallow as a parking lot puddle, and really unlikable.

The ending almost seems as though there was more about to happen. The last scene features Burton and Junior haggling over a racing contract, and then Junior heads into the VIP room. The credits roll, fade to black. This seems like there was another scene that needed to take place, but that scene was either never shot, or edited out. It’s a really odd ending, that leaves a few plot lines unfinished.

All in all, it’s mediocre at best. It’s got a few good things, but overall, it could be a lot better. I’m going to give this movie a C-. Not disastrous, but a lot of room for improvement.

Next week, Wheel Reviews continues with a NASCAR DVD set.