The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts on Charlottesville, Virginia

By David G. Firestone

I’d be remiss not to address the situation that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. The shadow of the dark weekend that looms over us as a country can’t be ignored. Between an emboldened and vocal white supremacist movement, an anti-fascist movement that “doesn’t believe property damage constitutes violence,” two police officers killed in a helicopter crash, and a deranged driver killing a woman and injuring many others using his car, the last 72 hours have sent a clear message that the country is in a lot of trouble.

This last weekend will forever be known for the chaos of those protests, and the three deaths. What should also be known is that these alt-right white supremacists do NOT speak for all white people. They certainly do not speak for me and they don’t speak for many of my friends and family. Their views prove how uneducated, and disconnected from reality they really are. Hate has no place with me or my websites.

At the same time, this Antifa or anti-fascists movement is helping embolden the white supremacist movement. Peaceful counter-protesting is the easiest and best ways to fight back, since it sends the message that there are a lot more people who disagree with the white supremacist movement than agree with it. When violence breaks out, any message the counter-protestors have, is instantly lost. The focus shifts from the message to the violence, and that’s all anyone pays attention to. In the end, nobody wins.

We really have forgotten the lessons learned by Martin Luther King and Gandhi, who achieved changes not through violence, but through peace. Their movements and tactics made sure that the message was the focus. We need changes to happen, but the loss of focus on the change is ensuring we don’t get the message. Sadly, there are no easy answers, but we need to keep trying. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and right now, we really appear as a house divided.

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…

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Various Racing News Stories

By David G. Firestone

Since I’ve been on vacation, there have been a number of newsworthy events that have garnered my attention. I’m going to discuss some of them today and give my brief take on each story.

-Alex Bowman is going to replace the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 in 2018. I think this sums up Hendrick’s mindset perfectly. There are a number of decent drivers in both Cup and Xfinity Series competition, and people within Hendrick are convinced that Alex Bowman, who has done NOTHING in his career, aside from some ARCA races.

In three years, Hendrick Motorsports has gone from the gold standard down to the bronze standard. Hendrick is becoming the new Roush Fenway Racing! Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been replaced by Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman. Their program of supplying equipment to other teams has gone by the wayside. They simply are not as formidable and marketable than they used to be. The question needs to be asked, is this the beginning of the end of Hendrick Motorsports? If things keep going in the direction they are, then it very well could be

-The Silly Season continues with Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, and Paul Menard all switching teams for 2018. Blaney is going to Penske for a third full-time team, Erik Jones is replacing Matt Kenseth in the #20, and Menard is going to the Wood Brothers. I can’t really disagree with any of these moves. They are smart moves all around.

-Target announced that this is the last year they will be sponsoring the #42 of Kyle Larson. This is a little confusing since Larson can now be considered a top-shelf driver, and he is very much a championship caliber driver. However, if it comes down to the sponsorship not being economically viable, then it is the right decision.

-The NHRA announced that they will soon be regulating the so-called “swept-back headers” in Funny Car. Currently, the maximum angle they can be is 32 degrees, however, in 2018, that will change to 40 degrees. I’m going to be interested in seeing how this change will affect teams. It’s been established that Courtney Force, and, presumably, the rest of the John Force Racing Funny Cars use the 40 degree headers. Yet Matt Hagan, and presumably the rest of Don Schumacher Racing use the 32 degree headers. Will this put Force ahead of Schumacher? It remains to be seen.

-I was thinking about the rivalry between Force and Schumacher. Don Schumacher and John Force have a rivalry that rivals Force and Cruz Pedregon’s rivalry in the 1990’s. But what I’ve been noticing is that every year, one says something that riles the other up. What then happens is that there is a tension between the two for a while, but then that cools down. I’m wondering how far is too far? I’m really concerned that one or the other is going to take one step too far, and it’s going to get everyone in trouble. I hope both sides can work something out to avoid that happening.

-Indy Car has announced and shown the new cars that will be running in 2018. There are two different aero kits, one that is raced at super-speedway ovals, and the other which is raced at all other events. The drivers seem to be happy with this new package, and I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

-When it comes to this site, everything is back to normal starting this week. The Paint Scheme Grades and Tracker will be up and ready. It was a fun vacation, which I’ll discuss more on Friday!

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts on Vacation and Road Course Ringers

By David G. Firestone

It’s that time of the year again. It’s the week before July. This is the last week I will work on The Driver Suit Blog before I go on my vacation and take my sabbatical. You know the drill, I take all of July off, and enjoy the summer here in Chicago. I have a few things planned for my time off, and I will work on some side project.

As usual, I will be attending the Route 66 Nationals, and I will do my usual article on that. I’ve got somethings planned for Route 66, but more on that later. I plan to watch racing, and hang out. I work a tiring job, and this time off is nice.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy working on The Driver Suit Blog, but I need a break, and the summer time is a nice time. I will come back. I’m committed to The Driver Suit Blog, and I will continue my work.

Now that the sabbatical announcement is done, I’d like to discuss something about racing. Why do teams continue to use “road course ringers?” For the race at Sonoma, a number of teams decided to use these drivers, who have little Cup experience to try and win races. This hasn’t worked since 1973, but teams keep trying it.

This is part of an odd strategy of taking something that hasn’t worked in decades, and trying it again to see if it works this time around. If it hasn’t worked before, why would it work now? Are there exceptions, yes, but for the most part, it makes no sense. Why would you try something like that? It makes no sense, accomplishes nothing, and makes you look stupid.

That’s it for now, see you all in August!

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On A Few Things

By David G. Firestone

So FOX had their “driver’s only telecast” where the analysts, commentators, and pit road reporters were replaced by drivers for one race. Many people liked the idea, and they thought the telecast was decent. I am not one of those people. I hated the idea, and the result was as bad as I thought I would be.

The pit road reporting wasn’t good. Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were not good on pit road. When you have professional pit road reporters coaching you through the course of the telecast, and you still mess it up, that says a lot. I hated the play by play, Kevin Harvick,Joey Logano, and Clint Bowyer do not have a future in broadcasting. The only decent part were Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin as Analysts.

Is this how desperate FOX and NASCAR are for ratings? The fact that ratings and attendance are down has forced changes, but not all changes are good. There’s a reason you have a dedicated play by play announcer, who went to broadcasting school, and was trained to call sports, and one or more color commentators, who are former athletes, and can add insight to what the play by play guy is saying. When you have a group that are basically all color commentators, it just doesn’t sound good.

On a lighter note, I got an email recently from the author of The Racing Champions Blog. He is a collector of 1/64 Racing Champions cars, which many young racing fans collected growing up. His research on the individual cars is great, and the blog is a great read. I do have a number of Racing Champions cars. Maybe I’ll do a Friday Feature on them at some point.

I’ve also started a couple of new projects on YouTube. It’s under the banner of Dave Tries. One is a beer sampling video series, which I post on Saturdays, and a soda review series that I do on Tuesdays. That’s been keeping me busy lately. I’ve got a couple ideas for videos brewing, and I’ll keep you posted.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On The Dale Jr./Eagles Paint Scheme Controversy

By David G. Firestone

Some minor controversy last week, but it proves something I’ve been, and a lot of people have been saying for a while. It was announced earlier this year, that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would drive a Philadelphia Eagles themed car for Axalta All-Pro Teachers Program, a Philadelphia-based effort to reward teachers. This was all set, until last week, when the NFL canceled the scheme, because they have a rule that states that club logos can’t be used to promote another sport.

Can I ask a relevant question? Does the NFL’s greed, selfishness, and myopia know no bounds? What the NFL has essentially done is screw over a charity and cost them money by blindly enforcing a pointless rule. The merchandise sales from this event would have brought in a lot of money for the charity, and, while Dale Jr. is a Washington fan, he, Axalta, the NFL, and the Eagles would get some free good publicity. Thanks to the NFL, nobody looks good right now. Nobody wins in this situation.

Who in the NFL looked at the fact that the Eagles are trying to reach out and help teachers and said “No, our rules are more important than community outreach?” The NFL is completely out of touch with the world around them! This rule really proves that the NFL is run by a greedy corporation that doesn’t seem to understand the value of cross-promotion. The MLB, NHL, and NBA understand the value, especially in cities that have multiple teams. City loyalty is a powerful thing, and the fact the NFL doesn’t understand this is proof that they don’t understand the world they live in.

I could understand this if this was just a race car scheme, with no charity behind it, but why would you screw over a charity for a rule that makes no sense? What exactly did you accomplish by doing this? Oh…I see, you “protected your logos.” You do realize that there are ways to protect logos without making yourself look bad, and screwing over a charity initiative…right? I hope your lawyers and executives are happy…you’ve screwed over a teacher’s charity! You must feel really proud right now!

Add this, along with racial issues, domestic violence, player health, October breast cancer awareness funds, to the list of reasons that prove that the NFL doesn’t seem to care how people see them. I’m really wondering who works in the PR department of the NFL, because they all seem to suck at your jobs. Think about this for a second. If you bend the rules, you will help out the community and make yourself look good. But you live in a world where rules take precedent over PR image. This is new low for the NFL…I hope protecting your logos was worth it!

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts on a Lack of Discussion on Nomex

By David G. Firestone

So after over 15 hours and 1262 miles of auto racing, the Memorial Day Trifecta is complete. The Grand Prix of Monaco, The Indianapolis 500, and the Coca Cola 600 have passed us by. I watched all 3 events, and I noticed something that I’d been wondering about, and it really made me mad.

As I discussed on Friday, this is the 50th anniversary of the implementation of Nomex as a material for driver suits. It’s one of the most important safety advancements in the history of auto racing. The 1964 Indianapolis 500 and the 1964 World 600 were the two races that helped bring the issue of fire protection to light. By 1967, three years later, Nomex would hit the racing scene, and has saved countess lives in racing accidents.

You would think that at least one of the telecasts would discuss this at least once…but no. None of the telecasts discussed it. The only time it was mentioned was on a special during the weather delay in the Coca Cola 600, and all that did was to mention the crash and fire, and didn’t even discuss that it led to Nomex.

Why is this being ignored? This is, again, one of the most important advancements in the history of auto racing, and this is the 50th Anniversary of it’s introduction. I could understand some of the telecasts during other races not talking about it, but the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 not talking about it makes no sense.

The HANS device, the SAFER Barrier, and the new designs of race cars are all important, but Nomex was the original driver safety advancement, and 50 years after being implemented, it is still the best material for driver suits. Sit back and think about that for a minute. In a world where technology is advancing to the point it’s impossible to keep up sometimes, Nomex has been the best material to make driver suits for 50 years. Granted, the newer Nomex is designed to be more comfortable, but nothing has surpassed it.

With all the talk about auto racing safety in recent weeks, I would love to see a piece during a pre-race show about what Nomex is, and why it’s so important. I think the issue needs to be discussed, and I can only hope it will be discussed.