The Driver Suit Blog-The Infinite Hero Challenge Coin Program Celebrates 5 Years!

[Editor’s note: I am on vacation until the end of July, normal operations will resume then.]

By David G. Firestone

I’ve discussed Jack Beckman on The Driver Suit Blog many times. He is a great driver, he connects with the fans, and he was kind enough to grant me an interview last year. I’ve been into the Infinite Hero Challenge Coin program since the beginning, and love collecting them. Well, I’m back with another profile of the coins for 2018.
Launched in 2011, The Infinite Hero Foundation “…is to combat the most difficult front line issues – mental and physical – facing returning military heroes and their families.” Military personnel returning from overseas deployment face long term employment, mental and physical problems that the majority of Americans don’t understand. They work with other non-profit veterans groups and give out grants to help service men and women cope with these long term problems.
In April 2014, they started appearing on the side of Jack Beckman’s funny car. The late Terry Chandler, who also sponsors Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make a Wish Foundation Funny Car, is the financial backer of the car. She pays for Infinite Hero to race on the sides of the car. This also began the NHRA coin program. When Jack Beckman gets into his funny car to race, he carries Infinite Hero Challenge Coins in the pocket of his driver suit. Once the race is over, he will autograph them and sell them at the track and on eBay. They cost $100 with all proceeds going to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

The 2014 design is quite thick, and has a ridged edge. One side featured “Courage, Honor, Virtue, Heroism,” around a globe design with an Oakley logo. Oakley is a partner with the Infinite Hero Foundation. The other side features an Infinite Hero Foundation logo with purple enamel. The coin was placed in a round, flat plastic container, with black foam braces. The coin lacks the blue enamel that the coin that comes with the glasses coin, and future coins, and has a very plain look. I do like the plain look. Jack used was identical to the one sold in stores. Jack autographed the plastic case. In 2014, this 1/24 scale die cast was produced. It is a full replica of Beckman’s funny car. Valvoline was a primary sponsor, and this was the only season Infinite Hero and Valvoline were together on the car. It’s also the only time that Infinite Hero Challenge appeared on the older Dodge funny car body. In 2015, the current body was introduced, and Pennzoil replaced Valvoline. Jack has autographed the windshield. A redesigned coin of the same size was introduced for 2015. The Oakley logos are gone. One side features a design similar to the globe design, but the globe design has been replaced with an American Flag design. “Courage, Honor, Virtue, Heroism” has been replaced with “Duty, Honor, Innovation, Courage.” The new emblem on the reverse side has one of the across bands removed. The new packaging is an upgrade, with the circular plastic cylinder replaced with an attractive box. It comes with a card that Jack Beckman autographed, and on the reverse it has the Infinite Hero Foundation Pledge. The first one is from The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Phoenix on February 22, 2015, where Jack was eliminated in the first round. The second one is from the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, where Beckman won the event, beating Courtney Force in the final round. Also in 2015, these hero cards were produced. Hero cards are given away at racing events and driver appearances. They have Jack’s picture, and information about the driver, team, and the Infinite Hero Challenge. For 2016, the coins got a major makeover. The Infinite Hero logo is now bigger. The words “Reimagine” and “Recovery” are stamped near the logo, and on the opposite side, a picture of Jack’s funny car replaces the flag motif. It should also be noted that the coin is slightly smaller, because it isn’t as tight in the coin case as the previous version. The Infinite Hero Pledge accompanies the coin. Also changed from 2016, Jack doesn’t sign the box and the pledge, he just signs the pledge. The 2017 Infinite Hero coin is slightly larger than the 2016 coin, and fits snugly in the box. The pledge piece remains unchanged. The coin itself has a plain pewter Infinite Hero Challenge logo on one side, and a blue enameled claw stripe design with a hex nut design on the border. Hero cards are given away at racing events and driver appearances. They have Jack’s picture, and information about the driver, team, and the Infinite Hero Challenge. For 2016-2017, a new card design was introduced. It has updated information, as well as the updated paint scheme introduced at the beginning of the season. Recently, I took a number of selfies with race car drivers, and made them into a book, and got them signed. This is me with Jack Beckman. Hector Arana signed the upper-left corner.This year’s design is done in memory of the late Terry Chandler, who passed away from cancer prior to the 2017 event. The front has a heart design with Chandler’s initials. The back of the coin has the Infinite Hero logo, with blue enamel. Jack also autographed a copy of the Infinite Hero pledge. For 2018, a new Hero card design  was released. Jack Beckman is a great driver, who races for a great sponsor, and supports a great cause. He has been really amazing not just to me, not just to to The Driver Suit Blog, but to the NHRA and their fan base. I’m glad he’s going to be racing for The Infinite Hero Challenge until 2020. As long as he is selling them, I will continue buying the Infinite Hero Challenge Coins, and promoting them on The Driver Suit Blog. I can’t wait to see next year’s coin design.

Next week, The Vest Project continues.


The Driver Suit Blog-Throwback Thursday-1974 #25 Sigma MC74

Yasuhiro Okamoto, Harukuni Takahashi, and Yojiro Terada 1974 #25 Sigma MC74

The Sigma MC74 is a smooth looking car. I do like the fins, and the lack of a tail works here. The shade of red is good, and the white works well with the red. I do think the design scheme is just a bit over done. I think there are too many white stripes. If the white on the bottom were changed to red, I would give it an A. This car as it is is worth a B+.

The Driver Suit Blog-Introduction to Racing Press Kits-Jack Sprague-1999

The Driver Suit Blog-The Vest Project Part 18-An ARCA Vest

By David G. Firestone

Until being taken over by NASCAR, ARCA was an alternate group to NASCAR, with their own rules, teams, drivers, and fan bases. Many drivers used ARCA to get to NASCAR, and if their NASCAR careers didn’t work, they had the option to return to ARCA.

Central Merchant Services, Inc sponsored a few teams in ARCA from 2006 to 2009 for S&H Motorsports and Venturini Racing among others. They had some success on track. During that time, one of the pit crews wore this Impact vest. The vest shows very light use.The blue collar is unadorned.The right chest features READYHOSTING.COM, and PILLDEPOT.COM embroidered into it.The left chest features ARCA RE/MAX SERIES, PORK, GLADIATOR GARAGE WORKS, HOOSIER RACE TIRE, and SUNOCO logos embroidered into it.The front torso features a blue CENTRAL MERCHANT SERVICES logo embroidered in the white material. There is blue material below that.Inside the front zipper is the Impact warranty label.The corners have Velcro comfort straps attached. The blue shoulder epaulets are unadorned. The vest has standard arm holes present. The back of the vest doesn’t show that much use.The blue collar is unadorned in the back.The back torso features a blue CENTRAL MERCHANT SERVICES logo embroidered in the white material.It’s sad that ARCA, once an independent stock car racing series with its own identity is going to become just another NASCAR developmental series. Guys like Billy Venturini need ARCA to help their careers, and help keep their identity. I hope the ARCA guys are able to find their places after this is all said and done.

Next Week, we cover a familiar topic.

The Driver Suit Blog-Throwback Thursday-1974 #18 Ferrari 308 GT4

Jean-Louis Lafosse and Giancarlo Gagliardi 1974 #18 Ferrari 308 GT4

The Ferrari 308 GT4 is normally a great looking car. Add in the front and rear spoilers, and the car takes on the appearance of being modified by amateurs. The paint scheme is decent, the red works, the white roof and tail doesn’t. I do like the stripe across the whole car. I give this car a C.

The Driver Suit Blog-Introduction to Racing Press Kits-Rick Crawford-1999