The Driver Suit Blog-Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week 4, The Grand Finale

By David G. Firestone

The Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee meetings have been long, but not too contentious, I can’t stay mad at Alejandro when he shows me his belly, so now we present all 55 NASCAR Sprint Cup teams ranked from first to last on how their paint schemes looked. NR has a different meaning this week. NR now specifically referrs to teams that didn’t exist in 2013. Teams that ran different manufacturers in 2013 will be ranked when it came to last year. So, without further ado,

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 50 -The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Rank Last Year:2nd of 50-Classic, smooth looks with no needless clutter. Jimmie always runs great schemes

3-Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Rank Last Year:3rd of 50-The color schemes are good, and the design schemes work very well.

4-Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Rank Last Year:5th of 50-The zebra stripe Interstate Battery scheme wrecks a perfect score for Kyle this year

5-Stewart Haas Racing #4 Rank Last Year:NR-With the exception of Hunt Brothers Pizza, which uses an awful shade of green, Kevin has consistently run a series of great schemes.

6-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:18th of 50-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

7-Richard Childress Racing #31 Rank Last Year:35th of 50-A lot of great schemes this year, but Wix is overdone, and the Cat/Quicken Loans hybrid looks awful

8-BK Racing #23 Rank Last Year:NR-The Dip Your Car scheme is awful, but the rest of the schemes are very good, and are very attractive.

9-Stewart Haas Racing #41 Rank Last Year: NR-The Slate scheme does not work, but all the other schemes work very well.

10-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

11-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:6th of 50-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

12-Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Rank Last Year:24th of 50-A pink-washing scheme and a terrible shade of green on the WEMO scheme cost this team the 2nd place spot,knocking them down to 5th. They have run a lot of great schemes this season

13-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:45th of 50-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

14-Furniture Row Racing #78 Rank Last Year:4th of 50-The World Vision scheme needs work, as the color does not support a fade, but the Furniture Row, and Colorado Freedom Memorial work very well.

15-BK Racing #26 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-Bully Hill Vinyards is an over-designed joke with an awful color scheme. The yellow numbers on the Burger King scheme are awful, but the rest of the schemes are good, and defendable.

16-RAB Racing #29 Rank Last Year:NR-Good color scheme, mediocre design scheme.

17-Hendrick Motorsports #88 Rank Last Year:22nd of 50-National Guard, Mountain Dew, Kickstart, and Superman look good, and work well with the new number design, but Michael Baker, Kelly Blue Book, and Nationwide don’t at all.

18-Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Rank Last Year:11th of 50-While Cottonelle, the Silver Scheme, and Energizer work very well, but the rest of their schemes are mediocre at best. The white on the back doesn’t work.

19-Beard Oil Racing #75 Rank Last Year:NR-If the sides had a sponsor, and the stripe at the bottom was eliminated, it would work a lot better.

20-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:28th of 50-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

21-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Rank Last Year:15th of 50-While Bush’s, Clorox, Scott’s, Sullivan/Palatek, Kingsford, and Bush’s Grilling Beans work well,Kroger/USO is overdone, Charter Communications uses a horrid shade of green, and Hungry Jack just looks terrible.

22-Hendrick Motorsports #24 Rank Last Year: 36th of 50-Drive to end Hunger is too overdone, and the upside down D on the hood looks terrible. Their orange scheme is even worse. Panasonic is mediocre at best. Pepsi looks good, and all of the Axalta schemes are really good.

23-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

24-Joe Gibbs Racing #11 Rank Last Year:31st of 50-The Autisim Speaks scheme works well. The zipper scheme is decent, but odd. Sport Clips is over-designed, but with a good color scheme. The FedEx schemes have decent color schemes, but are over-designed on the front.

25-BK Racing #83 Rank Last Year:7th of 50-Voo Doo Barbecue is an over-designed mess. Dip your car is terrible, as is Zak. Burger King and Borla work well though.

26-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:9th of 50-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

27-Hillman Racing #40 Rank Last Year: NR-When the car doesn’t have a scheme, it looks very good. When it has a sponsor it looks awful.

28-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:27th of 50-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good

29-HScott Motorsports #52 Rank Last Year: NR-The black scheme is good, but the orange Florida Lottery scheme is a trainwreck. Less is more on a paint scheme.

30-HScott Motorsports #51 Rank Last Year:13th of 50-If the car is running a Brandt scheme it looks good, anything else looks terrible.

31-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 44th of 50-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

32-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:26th of 50-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

33-Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Rank Last Year:23rd of 50-Can all be summed up with medicore color schemes and mediocre design schemes

34-Swan Racing #30 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-The only time the car looked good was when it was unsponsored, but compared to last year’s design it looks amazing!

35-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:16th of 50-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

36-Richard Childress Racing #27 Rank Last Year: 20th of 50-Neon yellow looks terrible, when they use the stripes on the sides it looks even worse. The Pittsburgh Paints scheme looks really good though.

37-BK Racing #93 Rank Last Year:8th of 50-The Support Millitary scheme is the worst, and although Burger King, Dr. Pepper, and Iowa City Chop House do make up for it, it just isn’t enough.

38-CircleSport/Richard Childress Racing #33 Rank Last Year: 47th of 50-

39-Tommy Baldwin Racing #37 Rank Last Year: NR-Accell Construction has a great color scheme, but the design scheme ruins it.

40-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 Rank Last Year:29th of 50-Another example of a team where when the car is unsponsored, it looks better.

41-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:12th of 50-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

42-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:41st of 50-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

43-Identity Ventures Racing #87 Rank Last Year:NR-300 is a mess, and Morris,Hardick and Schinder/SmartBen looks too dull.

44-Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Rank Last Year:38th of 50-The Peak scheme is defendable, the color scheme is good, but the rest of the schemes are just awful.

45-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:34th of 50-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

46-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:25th of 50-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

47-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Rank Last Year:21st of 50-The over designing of the Bass Pro Shops schemes, as well as the use of orange and camo just look horrible. Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, and Code 3 look decent, but to some extent have issues. Mobil 1 is over designed, Rush uses too dark a yellow, Code 3 uses too bright a yellow.

48-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Rank Last Year:43rd of 50-Allstate Peterbuilt, and Pilot-St Jude Children’s Network work well, as both have good color schemes and design schemes. Anything else just looks awful.

49-Richard Childress Racing #3 Rank Last Year:NR-Cheerios is very good, and has a classic look. Dow schemes have a great color scheme, but have mediocre design. Anything else looks terrible on this car.

50-Germain Racing #13 Rank Last Year:40th of 50-The blue is too bright, as is the yellow. The car is overdesigned, and the whole car looks like a mess. The camo scheme is much worse.

51-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Rank Last Year:46th of 50-The only half decent scheme is Pepsi. Everything else is an over designed mess.

52-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Rank Last Year:37th of 50-The only scheme that doesn’t make my eyes hurt here is Aspen Dental. Terrible shades of orange and green, with ugly design. The pink-washing scheme is terrible.

53-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Rank Last Year: 49th of 50-Every single one of their cars is an ugly, over-designed mess that doesn’t look good at all.

54-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:19th of 50-Every scheme is terrible.

55-Michael Waltrip Racing #66 Rank Last Year:NR-Nothing about any of these schemes is good.

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The Driver Suit Blog-Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week #2-Ford

Ford

By David G. Firestone

Last Week, Chevy teams were ranked. This week, the Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee, made up of myself, and Alejandro my black cat have determined how Ford’s teams will be ranked. Alejandro was slightly more useful this week, keeping my leg warm while he slept. As with last week, teams that did not exist or did not run Fords last year will be marked with NR for Not Ranked.

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 17-The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:6th of 17-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

3-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

4-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:2nd of 17-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

5-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:16th of 17-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

6-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:11th of 17-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

7-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

8-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:10th of 17-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good.

9-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:3rd of 17-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

10-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 15th of 17-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

11-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:9th of 17-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

12-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:5th of 17-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

13-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:4th of 17-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

14-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:14th of 17-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

15-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:12th of 17-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

16-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:8th of 17-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

17-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:7th of 17-Every scheme is terrible.

Ford is in the rearview mirror, but next week we move on to Toyota!

The Driver Suit Blog-Ladies and Gentlemen…THE 2014 PAINT SCHEMIE AWARDS

CIMG1131By David G. Firestone

For the end of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, the Paint Schemies have returned! The Schemies will reveal the best  and worst paint schemes and driver suits of 2014. This was done using the Driver Suit Blog executive committee for paint scheme analysis and consists of me and me alone, and uses the following standards:

Color Scheme:How the colors look, and how they work with each other.

Overall Design:How good the design itself looks, is there too much, or not enough.

Primary Sponsor Logos: How the primary sponsor logos look on the car

Originality: How original is the scheme.

All of the above can work for or against a scheme, and all will be taken into consideration.

Let’s get the bad paint scheme awards out of the way.CIMG1131 - Copy

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Regular Season Single Paint Scheme .

The nominees are:

Austin Dillon #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy SS

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS

Casey Mears #13 Geico Military Chevy SS

Clint Bowyer #15 Duck Commander Toyota Camry

Greg Biffle #16 Hire Our Heroes Ford Fusion

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Platnum Ford Fusion

Parker Kligerman #30 Phoenix Warehouse Toyota Camry

Morgan Shepherd #93 SupportMillitary.org Toyota Camry

Josh Wise #98 Provident Metals Ford Fusion

And the winner of the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Regular Season Single Paint Scheme is…

MORGAN SHEPHERD!

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Exhibition Race Paint Schemes. This category is a little different, as the Schemies will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

The Paint Schemie Award for Worst Exhibition Race Paint Scheme Goes To:

Blake Koch #32 Support Military Ford Fusion!

The paint scheme for worst driver suit goes to…

Joey Logano Auto Trader Ford Fusion

The Schemie for Least Improved Scheme Set from 2013 goes to

Greg Biffle’s #16 Ford Fusion

The next award is for Worst Paint Scheme Set, meaning the team that is running consistently bad schemes all year. The nominees are:

#16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion

#44 Xxxtreme Motorsports Chevy SS

#66 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry

The winner of the Award For Worst Scheme Set of 2014 goes to…

Michael Waltrip Racing #66 Toyota Camry!

CIMG1131Now after talking about the bad, we discuss the good. Here are the winners in the best category…

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme.

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Hawker Chevy SS

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Chevy SS

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s Toyota Camry

And the winner of the Paint Schemie Award for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme is…

JIMMIE JOHNSON!

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Best Exhibition Race Paint Scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

And taking these schemes into consideration, the Paint Scheme Goes To:

Dave Blaney #77 Folcher Law Ford Fusion

The Paint Schemie for Best Driver Suit of 2014 goes to…

JIMMIE JOHNSON!

The Paint Schemie for Most Improved Scheme Set goes to

We have a tie between Swan Racing/BK Racing, and Levine Family Racing, so both win the Schemie!

I will be adding a new category for this year, and it is best throwback scheme. It can be full time or special. The nominees are:

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion

David Ragan #34 Wendell Scott Tribute Ford Fusion

Aric Almirola #43 STP Ford Fusion

David Stremme #90 Junie Donlavey Ford Fusion

The winner of the Paint Schemie for Best Throwback Scheme is…

TERRY LABONTE

The final award of 2014 is the Paint Schemie for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2014. The nominees are:

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Chevy SS

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s Toyota Camry

The winner of the Paint Schemie is…

TREVOR BAYNE!

That’s all for the best and worst, now I wanted to do something in the way of a top 10 list, but I wanted to do something differnet. I wanted to do the top to logos that have never been the primary sponsor of a Sprint Cup Car, so here they are:

10: Apple

9: American Airlines

8: United Airlines

7: Lockheed

6: Microsoft

5: Bose

4: Boeing

3: Sprite

2: Fanta

1: Wendy’s

Now that’s all for this week, but stay tuned next week as the Paint Scheme Leaderboard Starts, this time with Chevy! See you soon!

The Driver Suit Blog-Bill Brach Vintage Suit

headerBy David G. Firestone

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the events in 1964 that led to the invention of the Nomex driver suit. I also briefly discussed what one of these pre-Nomex suits looked like. Well that was meant as a Uni-Watch article, and was written differently than I would normally write it. It didn’t run on Uni-Watch for a myriad of reasons not worth getting in to. So for this week, I will analyze the suit in Driver Suit Blog style

Before Nomex became the standard for driver suits, racing was living in the dark ages. Drivers would race in whatever they were wearing when they came to the track. Little if any consideration was given to fire safety. As such, many drivers perished in on-track fires. Even when the fire retardant suits began to spring up, they were of little value. Prior to 1967, and for some time after, your standard driver suit was little more than a cotton or polyester suit dipped in borax and other chemicals. This made them fire retardant, but very uncomfortable to wear. Nomex made the driver suit safe and comfortable to wear.

But what did these suits look like? Well this is an example of a polyester suit. It was worn by an Indianapolis based driver named Bill Brach. He was a member of the Murat Shrine in Indianapolis, and he raced in this suit.brach brachbThe suit itself dates to 1972 at least, because of an Archie Bunker For President patch.brach-rchestIt has a tag that says “Untreated, will burn,should be dipped.”brach-collar brach-tagThe polyester material is very flimsy, and is ripped in one part.brach-wearIt has a classic racing stripe up the side, similar to what Paul Newman wore in LeMans.brach-lchestThe belt has a metal-clasp to close it, unlike most suits, which use Velcrobrach-beltThe sleeves can be unzipped for comfort, which compromises the fire protection.brach-lsleeve2 brach-lsleeve3The back has MURAT 500 SHRINE CLUB in chain stitching on the back.brach-blogo

This is an example of a suit from yesteryear. One that has been made obsolete. It is delicate, thin, and in a fire was of limited value. Nomex has become the standard, and suits like this are now simply relics.

Paint Scheme Reviews

Jamie McMurray #1 Keurig Chevy SS Great color scheme, simple design, A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion Too overdesiged. Not a good look. Good color scheme. B-

Brad Keselowski #2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion Black and Red is always a good scheme, and the overall design is good. The sticking point for me with this scheme is that APPLE ALE is almost invisible on the quarter panel. So for a final grade, it gets a B-

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevy SS A good patriotic scheme. A

Denny Hamln #11 FedEx/Autism Speaks Toyota Camry This is, by far, the best design Denny has run all year! I can’t say anything bad about it! A+

Clint Bowyer #15 RK Motors Charlotte Toyota Camry Same bad 5 Hour Energy scheme, but with an even worse color scheme. F

Greg Biffle #16 Fastenal Ford Fusion What’s worse than camo? Blue camo! F

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Ford Fusion A mediocre scheme, that is much too overdesigned. D-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Cargill/Winn Dixie Ford Fusion Great color scheme, and I love the flame design on the side. A+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Good color scheme, good design, A+

Ryan Newman #31 Quicken Loans Chevy SS Good design, great color scheme, A

Ryan Newman #31 Wix Filters Chevy SS Awful design, and awful color scheme, F

Alex Kennedy #33 Dream Factory Chevy SS Yeah it is a tad overdesigned, but it is for a charity to help children with life-threatening illnesses. So I’ll give it a B

Reed Sorenson #36 Click it or Ticket Chevy SS Another potentially good design with a great color scheme ruined by an overly complex design. B-

David Ragan #38 The Pete Store Ford Fusion Good color scheme, great design, A+

Landon Cassill #40 CRC Brakeleen Chevy SS Good design, good color scheme, Solid A.

Landon Cassill #40 NBS Chevy SS Great design, and a good shade of green…something not seen in NASCAR much. A+

Kurt Busch #41 Haas Chevy SS If the black were blue, and the red and white stripes were kept, I would like it more, but this scheme earns a C.

Kyle Larson #42 Cottonelle Chevy SS The blue looks decent, but the target logos on blue look awkward. The 42 would look better in white than dark blue as well. C+

Aric Almirola #43 Nathans Hot Dogs Ford Fusion As much as I like Nathans Hot Dogs, this is awful! The clash between the green and blue is horrific, and I can’t give this a passing grade.

Justin Allgaier #51 Hendrickcars.com Chevy SS I like the color scheme, but the car is a bit too overdesigned. Still it earns a C

Dave Blaney #77 Fochler Veterans Law / Valor 4 Vets Ford Fusion Really good patriotic scheme here, nothing wrong, A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard/Superman Chevy SS I love the red and yellow numbers, and the overall color scheme is great. The design is a bit overdesigned though, and it brings it down to a B.

Michael McDowell #95 JPO Absorbents Ford Fusion Levine Family Racing keeps cranking out good schemes, and this A scheme is no exception. Good color and design schemes.

Michael McDowell #95 JTS/Black Dragon Ford Fusion See Above…A

Michael McDowell #95 K-Love Ford Fusion Good design, but the sky blue is awful. It just looks awful. B-

Josh Wise #98 Reddit/iRacing Ford Fusion Good design, great color scheme, A

Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion See Ricky Stenhouse Above…D-

The Driver Suit Blog-Grading the 2014 All-Star Race & How Far We Have Come In the Last 50 Years…

headerBy David G. Firestone.

The 2014 Sprint All Star race is behind us, and as usual, there were a myriad of different paint schemes.  Some were good, others not so much, but I have to say there were a lot of great schemes in this year’s race.  Let’s start with the Sprint Showdown.  Unlike in previous years, The Showdown took place on Friday, and the All-Star Race was on Saturday.  The Showdown was a great event, which saw Clint Bowyer winning, AJ Allmendinger finishing second, and in the upset of the year, Josh Wise winning the Sprint Fan vote, and advancing to the All Star Race.  Let’s get to the grades:

#1 Josh Wise #98 DogeCoin Ford Fusion Such colors! Much design! So good! A+

#2 Dave Blaney #77 Amy R. Fochler Ford Fusion I think that this is the first time a lawyer has sponsored a Cup car, and it is a great design. A+

#3 Ryan Truex #83 Burger King Toyota Camry Great simple design, and I love the Borla Exhaust design adds a unique look. A+

#4 David Stremme #33 Little Joe’s Autos Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme A+

#5 Landon Cassill #40 Hillman Racing Chevy SS Silver is a very attractive color on race cars, and this is a perfect example. A+

#6 Aric Almirola #43 Farmland Ford Fusion Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

#7 AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

#8 Reed Sorenson #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme A+

#9 Alex Bowman #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry Like the silver, and the design scheme is very good. A

#10 Cole Whitt #26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry This is one of the few schemes that has both a classic and modern look at the same time, and paired with a great color scheme, it earns an A

#11 Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion Though a tad over designed, the car has a clean look, and a great color scheme, so I will give it an A-

#12 David Gilliland #38 Loves Truck Stops Ford Fusion Good color scheme, decent design, A-

#13 Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SS While I like the color scheme and number and logo designs, the white stripe up the side kills the look. It takes an A scheme to a B+ scheme.

#14 Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS The scheme looks decent, I like the red on the back, though I do not like the Target logos at the bottom. That takes a scheme that was an A grade to a B-

#15 Paul Menard #27 Menards/Serta Chevy SS Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

#16 Michael Annett #7 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SS Good color scheme, but the awful template is back for Tommy Baldwin. It is really sad, because this could be a great scheme, but the template takes it from an A to a C-

#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Building For America’s Bravest Ford Fusion Much too overdesigned, and another example of why camoflage on race cars NEVER WORKS! The only thing keeping this design above water is a great color scheme. C-

#18 Joe Nemechek #66 Land Castle Title Toyota Camry If the bottom was a single color stripe, I would give it very high marks, but the over design makes it look awful. C-

#19 JJ Yeley #44 Phoenix Warehouse Chevy SS My first thought when I saw this scheme was it looked like the color scheme from the 1994-1995 NBA All-Star Game jerseys which is a decent color scheme. But to say the car is overdesigned is an understatement. This scheme is awful. Not even a great color scheme can help this car pass. F

#20 Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy Cares Chevy SS Same scheme but with a bunch of logos on the hood, instead of just one. F

#21 Casey Mears #13 Geico Chevy SS Once again, it needs to be said…CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! I’l give this an F!

#22 Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

#23 Blake Koch #32 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever. F-

Now we move on to the All-Star Race, which saw Jamie McMurray pull an upset and take the win, thus guaranteeing him entry into the event for the next 10 years.  Overall there were a lot of great schemes, though I wish more teams would run special schemes.

#1 Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion Best Throwback scheme of the last 5 years  A+

#2 Josh Wise #98 DogeCoin Ford Fusion Such colors! Much design! So good! A+

#3 Marin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Chevy SS Nothing wrong with this scheme at all.  A+

#4 Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Great color and design schemes. A+

#5 David Ragan #34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion Overall design and color schemes are good, and the only complaint is that the Taco Bell logo should be in color as opposed to black and white.  A+

#6 Kurt Busch #41 Haas Chevy SS Great design and color scheme, A+

#7 AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

#8 Brian Vickers #55 Aarons Toyota Camry A good scheme, and the 55 lettering looks really good here, and the gold is a nice touch. A

#9 Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion The stripes work well here, and the color scheme is good. A

#10 Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops/National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS As Bass Pro Shops schemes go this year, this one is really good. Good color scheme, good design scheme, no camo, A

#11 Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS Great overall design, great color scheme, though the D on the hood reversed to miror the curves of the hood looks odd.  Still it’s a good scheme and Ill give it an A

#12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS The new metallic numbers work, and the overall design is decent, since it incorporates the design used on the numbers.  I’ll give it an B+

#13 Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry The front nose design and stripes are awful. The color schemes are great, as are the logos and numbers, but the stripes kill it. The best grade I can give is a C+

#14 Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy SS  It’s a bit overdesigned, but the green looks good(I hate most shades of green used in NASCAR) and it earns a C

#15 Kasey Kahne #5 Time Warner Cable Chevy SS It is a good color scheme, but the design on the side needs a little tweaking. Get rid of the needless zig-zag pattern and it works a whole lot better. It is still a decent scheme, so I will give it a C

#16 Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS This is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

#17 Matt Kenseth #20 Home Depot/Huskey Toyota Camry I would give this scheme an A grade, but the yellow back bumper ruins it.  The clash between the two just works awkward, and it takes an A scheme down to a C

#18 Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Red and yellow is a really great color scheme, but the design is all wrong. It just looks awful. D

#19 Ryan Newman #31 Cat/Quicken Loans Chevy SS What in the blue hell is going on here? I’ve liked Ryan’s schemes this year but this is an F scheme, even though I like the color scheme.

#20 Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS Only one word can sum up this scheme…overdesigned. F

#21 Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

#22 Greg Biffle#16 3M Ford Fusion-The sides and roof have gotten worse from last year.  I have to give it an F in that respect.

Also, check this video out concerning how different pit stops in open wheel racing were between 1950 and today:

The video shows how far we have come in pit stops, but we also have come a long way in driver uniforms.

By David G. Firestone

50 years ago this week, events over the course of 6 days in May of 1964 changed the culture, cars, and uniforms of auto racing forever. Three deaths in two races over those six days demonstrated that current safety methods were ineffective at best, and 3 talented drivers lost their lives. The 1964 World 600 and the 1964 Indianapolis 500 helped introduce reenforced fuel tanks and Nomex driver suits, among other things. 50 years later, those events are still being felt

The World 600 began in the early afternoon on May 24, 1964. For the first six laps, it was business as usual, but on lap 7, on the backstretch, Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett wrecked, and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts swerved to avoid them, and wrecked. He was trapped in the car by the pedals, and his car caught fire. Ned Jarrett ran and pulled Roberts from the car, and paramedics took him to the hospital. 39 days after the wreck, while still in the hospital from his injuries, he died from pneumonia.

NASCAR had rules concerning “fire retardant” uniforms but these were inadequate at best. These uniforms were cotton coveralls traditionally used by workmen that had been dipped in a number of fire retardant materials including Borax. These were not only ineffective, but were extremely uncomfortable to wear. They were known for inflaming the skin, and aggravating asthma. Fireball was not wearing these coveralls during that race, because he had a doctor’s note stating he should not wear them. There is some debate over what the doctor’s note was for, either for asthma or skin hives. It llustrates why these uniforms were not popular, they were so uncomfortable to wear that drivers did not want to wear them.

6 days later, on May 30, the 48th Indianapolis 500 was held. Dave MacDonald started 14th, and Eddie Sachs started 17th when the green flag dropped. MacDonald was racing a car built by racing innovator Mickey Thompson, which by all accounts was badly built and difficult to drive. The first lap led into the second, which saw Dave MacDonald lose control of his car and smash into the inside wall. The fuel tank instantly ignited and the car went across the track, and collected a number of other cars, including Eddie Sachs car, which also exploded on impact. Sachs was killed by the impact, but MacDonald was seriously burned, and his lungs were scorched, the lung damage proved to be fatal.

Inspired by these events, the Nomex firesuit was introduced in 1967 as a replacement for the cotton coveralls dipped in chemicals. It was a lot more comfortable and safer than chemical-dipped cotton, so drivers were more willing to wear them. Like most new safety equipment in sports, it took a while to catch on. Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. Its main use at the time was for the Apollo Command Module parachutes. NASA needed a material that could stand up to the heat of reentering the earth’s atmosphere, and still remain fully functional.

Bill Simpson is credited with introducing Nomex to driver suits. The story goes that Simpson started making Nomex suits after learning about the material from astronaut Pete Conrad while Simpson was working as a consultant for NASA. One of the pivital moments in the history of the suit was when Simpson had heard that a competitor had been badmouthing his products, and so, in something he said later was “the dumbest thing I have ever done,” challenged the competitor to a “burn off.” Simpson put on his suit and lit himself on fire. He later recreated this for a Mazda commercial.

Why did it take so long to make critical changes to driver uniforms?  The events that took place in 1964 were tragic, and it clearly illustrated why the old system didn’t work. The only change made immediately after the events was the rule that fire retardant suits were now mandatory, regardless of how it made the driver feel. In today’s sports safety culture, there would be focus groups, meetings within the sanctioning body, and changes within a few months after the event. But by 1964 standards, just rigidly enforcing the rule was the best course of action. Remember that in 1964 race car drivers were seen as somewhat expendable. Driver deaths in racing were stunningly common back then. As such, while there was a need for improvement, it was not a priority for sanctioning bodies. The sad fact is that back then, driver deaths were part of the allure of racing. People would go to these events and hope to see a fatal crash, as crass as that sounds. As for the suits themselves, the only other options besides chemical dipped cotton was aluminized cotton or aluminized kevlar, which was not more comfortable, as it was like wearing aluminum foil.

So what did these pre-Nomex driver suits look like? They looked like this. This is a driver suit made by Hinchman in Indianapolis. It is basically a polyester suit that is customized to the driver’s preference. It is not all that different than a jumpsuit that one would wear to work. It is a very flimsy material, has no cuffs on the arms or legs, and, most amazingly, the tag states that the suit is “Untreated, will burn, must be dipped.” This suit was worn circa 1972, which is indicated by the “Archie Bunker for President” patch sewn into the chest. Like any new safety technology in sports, it takes time for it to become the standard, and for Nomex, this is no exception.

This race, along with the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2001 Daytona 500 have their legacies written in death, but unlike other similar events, the lessons they had to teach were learned, and the racing world as a whole is better for them. The deaths in these events were not in vain, and others are alive because of them. 50 years later, those 6 days in May 1964 are still having an impact on racing.

The Driver Suit Blog-Ted Musgrave-My Favorite Driver to Collect Part 2

musgrave2By David G. Firestone

Last week, I discussed my favorite driver to collect, and this week I will examine his most well-known sponsor. From 1994-1997 Musgrave was sponsored by the Family Channel. The distinctive patriotic red white and blue design with that Family Channel logo was eye catching. The Family Channel logo was classic 1990’s design. It was also an idea whose time had come, and is still a great idea.

It was founded by Pat Robertson in 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service, which focused on Christian Broadcast Network programing. By 1981, it had re-branded as the CBN Cable Network, which began to focus more on family-friendly programing. It was a channel where families could watch together without needless violence, and gratuitous sex, something that should be redone today. The major moment was in 1990 when the channel became too profitable for the non-profit Christian Broadcast Network, and was transferred to International Family Entertainment, Inc. The CBN Cable Network became The Family Channel, and began to air recent dramas and sitcoms, as well as cartoons. In 1994, to gain visibility, The Family Channel joined forces with Roush Racing to create the #16 Family Channel Ford Thunderbird. This partnership lasted for 3 years, and Ted raced in 124 races, with 15 top 5’s and 36 top 10’s.

During the 1997 season, The Family Channel was purchased by Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. which was a joint venture between News Corporation, and Saban which re-branded the channel as Fox Family channel. This was out of necessity, as the average age of the viewer under the Family Channel banner was much older, and Fox Family set about trying to win back the younger viewers. The channel was used for everything from movies to cartoons, to Fox programing to Major League baseball. It became clear when the channel went from 10th in ratings to 17th in Nielsen ratings, that something was not working. Many outside observers felt that the push for younger viewers alienated the previous viewers.

In July 2001, almost 4 years to the date, the channel was sold to ABC and re-branded it ABC Family, which still operates to this day. It has come up with a format that amalgamates the two different styles of network. Though it hasn’t regained its previous glory, it has created a network that is family-friendly and appeals to families, not just young kids.

The #16 race team it spawned has had just as interesting a history. Roush had started in NASCAR in 1988, with Mark Martin as a driver and Stroh’s Light as the sponsor. They had a lot of success as a combo, and a second team was created in 1992. Wally Dallenbach Jr. started driving the Keystone Beer sponsored #16 Ford Thunderbird in 1992. Changes came in 1994, When Ted Musgrave was taken on as a sponsor. Ted was kept on until midway through the 1998 season, when he was let go from the team, and replaced with Kevin Lepage.

In 1999, TV Guide became one of the primary sponsors, and Lepage had a decent start to the season. As 1999 went on, Primestar left, TV Guide stayed and Lepage slipped in the points standings. I own a Kevin Lepage race-worn and signed helmet from 1999. It has the distinctive red and yellow scheme that TV Guide was known for.       lepage99-1 lepage99-2 lepage99-3 lepage99-4 lepage99-5 lepage99-6 lepage99-7 lepage99-8In 2000, Family Click took over as a sponsor, but Lepage slightly improved finishing 26th . At the end of the season, Family Click left the team, Lepage was released, and the #16 team disappeared for the entire 2001 season.

In 2002, the #16 Roush Racing Ford came back to NASCAR with Greg Biffle. They ran a limited schedule with 7 races started of the 10 races Biffle attempted to qualify for. In 2003, Biffle raced in the #16 Ford full-time, winning the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award. Biffle continues to race in the #16 Ford full time and has had a lot of success, having won 19 races between 2003 and 2013. This team has a very bright future ahead of it.

Now on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Greg Biffle #16 Megulars Ford Fusion Best scheme Greg Biffle has run all year…and since that this is a C+ scheme, that is really sad. The color scheme is good, but the car design is awful.

Travis Kvpail #32 SK Handtools Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme A+

David Stremme #33 Mace Chevy SS Great design, great color scheme, and I think that this is the first self-defense spray I have seen sponsor a car, so A+

David Reuitmann #35 MDS Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Justin Allgaier #51 SEM Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Justin Allgaier #51 AccuDoc Chevy SS Decent color scheme, yellow is a bit too bright, otherwise a great scheme, A-

Dave Blaney #77 Humphrey Racing Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Josh Wise #98 Trench Shoring Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

The Driver Suit Blog-Die Casts-Celebrating the Machines

100_4177 - CopyBy David G. Firestone

How I have gone as long as I have without delving into the subject of die casts? I really don’t know, but for this week’s column, we are going to discuss it. Racing as a sport is half man, half machine. When it comes to collectibles, they both get virtually equal billing. One of the biggest collectibles in racing is the legendary die cast car.

Die cast cars began as an industry in the early 20th Century, but the early cars were very basic, with a simple body design and rolling wheels. They were of very poor quality, lacked detail, and often broke for no apparent reason. An zinc-based alloy named Zamak solved this problem. In 1953 Jack Odell, co-owner of Lesney Products in England had a moment that revolutionized the industry forever. His daughter went to a school that allowed the students to bring toys, provided they were small enough to fit in a matchbox. He created a small die cast steam roller that could easily fit in a matchbox. For the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, he created a similarly sized model of her Coronation coach. After selling 1 million of these small coaches, he realized he was on to something, and thus the Matchbox line of die cast cars was born. In 1968 Mattel launched the Hot Wheels brand, which, like Matchbox created cars in 1:64 scale, or S-Scale for railroading. In 1997 after being sold numerous times, Mattel bought Matchbox and has been fostering the brand ever since.

Race cars are a popular version of die casts, as most boys who love racing will buy the die cast of their favorite driver, and play with it as if they are driving the car. I’m guilty of this, as I’m willing to bet the majority of racing fans are, if you don’t believe, check this out. In the beginning, die casts were marketed and sold to kids, but as time went on, it became clear that grown up fans liked these as well. So die cast manufacturers began to create larger “adult collectibles,” typically in either 1:18 scale, or 1:24 scale, or one of the accepted G scales. The adult die casts will feature alcohol and tobacco sponsors, and are much more accurate in design, with cloth window nets, and working hoods, decklids, and roof spoilers. As time progressed, these cars gained a very dedicated following, and have become very profitable for NASCAR, IndyCar and F1. Interesting to note that the standard size for NHRA and NASCAR die casts is 1:24 and 1:64 whereas IndyCar uses 1:18 and 1:64 and F1 use 1:18 and 1:43. NASCAR die casts can also be purchased in 1:43, 1:32, and 1:18, here is how they compare to each other:100_4177An adult collectible die cast as mentioned above, is very accurate, such as this Jamie McMurray example from 2010. The amount of accuracy in this design is stunning! 1-mcmurray-1 1-mcmurray-2 1-mcmurray-3The window net is made of cloth,1-mcmurray-1 - doorthe contingency decals are all accurate1-mcmurray-1 - numberthe roof features a place for the in car cameras, as well was a pair of functioning roof spoilers.1-mcmurray-1 - roofThe hood opens to display a very accurately recreated engine.1-mcmurray-1 - hoodWhereas this Dale Earnhardt Jr. die cast, this one a children’s toy has a plastic window net,88-earnhart-1 88-earnhart-2 88-earnhart-3the contingency decals aren’t as accurate,88-earnhart-1-doorthe roof does not feature working roof spoilers, or an in-car camera pod,88-earnhart-3 -roofand the hood doesn’t open.88-earnhart-3 - CopyIf we look at an IndyCar die cast, we see some different things. This example is an Alex Barron example from 1998, purchased because I have the matching driver suit. This particular die cast is a 1:18 scale, and features a working suspension that when you move the wheels move the steering wheel. Everything else about the car, including the helmet and driver suit are perfect as compared to the real car.36i-barron-1 36i-barron-2 36i-barron-3Everything that I just said about the Jamie McMurray die cast can also apply to this Dale Earnhardt IROC model. Again the accuracy in this design is amazing!1-earnhardt1 1-earnhardt2 1-earnhardt3 1-mcmurray-1 - de hoofOne of my personal favorie die casts is this Cruz Pedregon 1:32 die cast from 1998. The body can be removed from the rest of the car to reveal details of the car.pedregon-1 pedregon-2 pedregon-3 pedregon-4 pedregon-5 pedregon-6 pedregon-7 pedregon-8 pedregon-9 pedregon-10 pedregon-11 Haulers, which are used to transport cars to and from races, but they aren’t made as much today as they used to, sadly. This example is a Ricky Rudd example from the early 1990’s.rudd2 rudd3 rudd1  Now we move from replica cars to the real ones as we get to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion Very solid design, the yellow works very well, and the black numbers and stripes work very well, and I can’t give it anything less than an A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford Fusion Another very solid design with a great color scheme that earns an A+

Dave Blaney #77 Plinker Arms Ford Fusion I would love for the side design to be more simplified. It is a decent scheme, but the door design is too busy, and it is very distracting. I give this scheme a C-, bad design, good color scheme.

Ryan Truex #83 Borla Exhaust Toyota Camry This is actually a great scheme, with the oversized exhaust design that starts on the area where the real exhaust starts, and extends to just under the numbers. The number has been redesigned since last year and they work very well. I give this scheme an A.

In Memorandum 2013 Continued.

Andy Granatelli-Former CEO of STP, partially responsible for STP’s sponsorship of Richard Petty.

Bruce Pepper-Brother of ThorSport Racing GM David Pepper.

Dennis Wood-Former owner of Phoenix International Speedway

Now comes the best news of the new year so far…THE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA STARTS LATER TODAY!  The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship starts off the racing season later today.  Fox will carry the first part of the race starting at 2PM/1PM CST, and Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 will carry the race as well.  You had better believe I will be watching and enjoying it.