What’s Summer Without a Bit of Mud?

By David G. Firestone

I don’t often do mid-week posts, but this week warrants one. Tonight at 7PM EST on Fox Sports 1 the CarCash Mudsummer Classic Presented by CNBC Prime’s ‘The Profit’ will be held at Eldora Speedway in Rossberg Ohio. Since that name is a bit too long, I’ll just call it the Mudsummer classic. This will be the second year in a row the Camping World Truck Series will host a points paying event on the dirt track.

Last year, Ken Schrader qualified on the pole, and Austin Dillon went on to win the race. Kyle Larson, Michael Annett, Ty Dillon, Matt Crafton, and Norm Benning will be among the drivers who will join them on this historical dirt track owned by Tony Stewart. The trucks and tires will be modifiend from their normal configuration to accommodate the dirt track. Further info can be found here. I did a little research after watching the video and found that the Truck Series switched from Goodyear Eagles to Goodyear Wranglers in 2005.

The heat race style format from last year will be back again this year, and unlike most NASCAR Big 3 series races, there will be work done on the cars while the race is under red. It will be pit stops, but it will still be allowed. The qualifying was a bit confusing, but it was still fun to watch. You had better believe I will be watching the entire event flag to flag. Fox Sports explains it in detail here.

The question that was asked numerous times last year and will be asked this year is “will there be a Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series race on dirt in the near future?” To that I say…”THERE DAMN WELL BETTER BE!” The mud racing is fun to watch, and it brings many of the drivers back to the roots. It also brings NASCAR back to its roots, as well as stock car racing as a whole back to its roots. The fans loved it last year, I’ll bet they’ll love it this year, and you know as well as I do they’ll want more. But if it does happen, it will probably happen at another track besides Eldora. Since Tony Stewart owns the track, he can’t compete because he has a really unfair advantage. So when it does happen, it will happen at another track. I think that Davenport Speedway might be a good venue.

I will enjoy tonight’s race, I hope you do too, and I’ll be back on Saturday with my usual work…this time on number design…see you then!

The End of An Era in Evanston

DSCN0972By David G. Firestone

We all have at least one place that we always remember fondly from our childhood. It could be a restaurant, a park, the home of a close friend, or family member, or a park. We all have at least one, probably many. It is always sad when one of these places goes away. Well this happened to me this last week, when an Evanston institution began the process of moving.

Tom Thumb in Downtown Evanston was a place that I and a number of my friends spent a great deal of our childhood. Some of us were skateboarders, some of us were RC car fanatics, some of us, like me were model builders and die cast collectors. It had been in the same place for 49 years, but they announced that they were going to move after a zoning decision was made to replace the current building with a two-story building for two restaurants. So, on July 12, after 49 years as an Evanston institution, it closed. I went there on the 12, and made, with a heavy heart, my last purchase.photo 2 photo 1This was a sad day because I am a huge NASCAR fan, and for many years, Tom Thumb was the only store in Evanston that sold NASCAR stuff. It was also one of, if not the oldest skate shop in the midwest. I went there, looked around the store where I spend my childhood, took it all in, and bought my last purchase, this 1997 Darrell Waltrip 25th Anniversary set.DSCN0972I bought this for two reasons. The first is that I love this set, I remember many of these schemes from races I watched in 1997. They all look really good, and they bring back memories. The second reason, and I didn’t even think about this until I started doing some work for next week. During my research, I was grumbling about how many different paint schemes each car runs every week, and it dawned on me that this might be the first example of that in the Sprint Cup Series.

You never had this much variety in paint schemes before 1997. Each team ran one scheme for the majority of the season, maybe 2 or 3 different schemes and special schemes for the All-Star race, and possibly the Busch Clash. But Darrell Waltrip ran, in total, 7 different schemes, each based on a specific era in his career. Each had Western Auto Parts America as the primary sponsor, but were based for past sponsors. He started with Gatorade, which he ran for DiGard Motorsports, from 1975-1980. He won two Coca Cola 600′s(1978, 1979) a Winston 500(1977) the Southern 500(1978,1979)as well as 22 other races during that time.DSCN0990In 1981, he left DiGard for Junior Johnson Motorsports, and was sponsored by Mountain Dew, where he won 24 races including the 1982 Winston 500, the 1981 Busch Clash, and two of his three Sprint Cup ChampionshipsDSCN0991Pepsi replaced Mountain Dew and created The Pepsi Challenger which he ran in 1983 for Junior Johnson. He won 6 races for PepsiDSCN0992After Pepsi left, Budweiser took over the sponsorship, and from 1984-1986, he won 13 races, the 1985 Winston Cup Championship, the Inagural All-Star Race in 1985, the 1985 Southern 500, and the Winston 500. I find love how they call it “Red” instead of Budweiser since this was marketed to kids at the time.DSCN0993In 1987, he made the move to Hendrick Motorsports, and picked up Tide as a sponsor. He won the 1989 Daytona 500, The 1988 and 1989 Coca Cola 600′s and 6 other races. I loved that it was identical to the scheme used by Ricky Rudd that same season.DSCN0994From 1990-1997, he raced the #17 for Hendrick Motorsports in 1990, and then founded Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, which raced this scheme from 1990 to 1997. He won 5 races, but was never to get his former glory back. Western Auto left the team after 1997, and Darrell Waltrip Motorsports shut down shortly after the start of the 1998 season.DSCN0995The last scheme is one of the most innovative schemes in the history of NASCAR. His legendary Chrome scheme.  Darrell loved chrome, using chrome numbers, and a chrome helmet.  This was supposed to be used for just a single race, but it was raced a number of times that season. Nothing like this had ever been done in NASCAR before. There had been chrome numbers, but never a chrome car. This car was so far ahead of it’s time.  Darrell even had a Chrome driver suit that he wore with this car!DSCN09961997 would be the beginning of the end for Darrell Waltrip. He shut down his Winston Cup team in 1998, and joined Dale Earnhardt Inc. midway through the season. He would race for just two more seasons before fully retiring in 2000.

The idea of 7 different schemes seems like standard opperating procedure today, but back in 1997, this was revolutionary. This was unheard of. These schemes were all good, and they worked well, but this surprised some fans. 17 years later, this is the norm rather than the exception. If I did the paint scheme reveiws back in 1997, I would write one article at the beginning of the season, one before the all-star race, and maybe one midway through the season. There were no changes to paint scheme, or if there were, they were very rare.

Tom Thumb will reopen eventually. But whavever the new location, it will never have the same feel as the decades old building were it was once housed. I will miss it. I really will. But I find a bit of irony in that I bought the beginning of an era at the end of another era. I will visit Tom Thumb when they reopen, and I wish them the best of luck. From the residents of Evanston to Tom Thumb, we will miss you, and we wish you the best of luck in your new location!

We also have a paint scheme related news item to discuss.  This last week, NASCAR announced that the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup would have some new features on their cars.  Specifically,  all Chase contenders will have a yellow splitter cover, a yellow window stripe with black letters, yellow roof numbers, and a special Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup decal.  I’ve been speculalting that this might come to be, and now I have proof.  I am not going to discuss how I think it will look, until I have a good idea as to who is in the Chase, and how it will look on their cars.  Here is an illustration of how it looks.

With that out of the way, we move on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevy SS Another case where it looks like two different designers created the car without speaking to each other. It looks awful. The color scheme is good, so it passes, though just bearly with a D-

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Chevy SS For a Bass Pro Shops scheme it looks really good. It isn’t over designed, has a nice patriotic touch, and has a good color scheme. A+

Clint Bowyer #15 RK Motors Charlotte Toyota Camry Clint’s C scheme but with an even worse color scheme ends in a D-

Greg Biffle #16 3M Throwback Ford Fusions Greg Biffle is holding a contest to pick a throwback sheme for his race at Pocono in August. I would normally grade all four of these seperatley, however they all have the same traits, so I will grade them at once. All four have really good color schemes, and really nice logos, but they are all plagues with modern car numbers as well as modern designs. They simply look awful. I will vote for none of these schemes and give them all an F-

Trevor Bayne #21 QuickLane Ford Fusion A really good design with a really good color scheme. It works very well, A+

Cole Whitt #26 Scorpion Window Film Toyota Camry Good color scheme, good design, though the silver stripe on the bottom is a bit much. A-

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Splash Chevy SS The Splash logo looks really good, and I’ll give it a B+

Joe Nemechek #29 Toyota Cares Toyota Camry Great color scheme, awful design, they average out to a C-

Morgan Shepherd #33 ThunderCoal Chevy SS I liked the other ThunderCoal scheme, but this is just awful. Too many neon colors, and it is needlessly overdesigned. I give it an F

Alex Kennedy #33 MediaCAST Chevy SS Awful color scheme and way too over designed. F

Landon Cassill #40 Gallery Furniture Chevy SS Great color scheme, great simple design, though the 40 could be brighter. A

Kyle Larson #42 Cottonelle Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design A+

Michael Waltrip #66 Royal Teak Toyota Camry Good color scheme, great simple design, A+

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Worldvision Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design, I love that fade, looks great. A+

Ryan Truex #83 Voodoo/Armed Forces Motorsports Toyota Camry A D+ scheme with a new hood logo is still a D+ scheme.

Michael McDowell #95 JPO Absorbents Ford Fusion Another great Levine Family Racing scheme. It is hard to believe how bad they were last year. Great color and design scheme equals an A+ scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion They took a D- scheme, and made it worse. Awful color scheme, awful design, F-

Why I Hate Politics and Paint Scheme Update

By David G. Firestone

I have a lot of paint schemes to discuss and we will get to that shortly. I wanted to discuss something that took place before the Coke Zero 400 last week. It is a bit murky, but here is what took place.

Charlie Crist is a former governor of Florida, and a former Republican. After a brief hiatus from politics, he has annoucned his intentions to run for the Governor of Florida as a democrat. He had plans to run the #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford driven by Josh Wise. After this was announced however, the Republican Party of Florida filed a lawsuit stating that it was a campaign contribution worth more than $3,000. Remember, this was the same team that was crowd funded by Reddit and Dogecoin at Talladega, and that sponsorship cost about $55,000. It was later reported that the Charlie Crist decals had been removed from the car. Phil Parsons Racing stated the deal was in response to a series of negative ads toward Crist, and that the Crist decals were part of a deal with recording artist Lee Brice. They also stated that they didn’t pull the sponsorship due to the lawsuit, and that the $25,000 sponsorship would be returned.

I frankly don’t buy any of that for a second. I think that it was because of the lawsuit, and that Phil Parsons Racing did not want to get thrown under the bus because of it. They tried to handle it as diplomatic as possible, but it still sounds sketchy. The other reason I have a huge problem with this is because the simple fact that politics and racing don’t mix. Look at what’s happened with F1 and IndyCar. Politics are a constant issue in the sport, and I for one am tired of it. Look at the Ayrton Senna/Alan Prost battle in the 1990′s! Look at The Split! Politics ruins racing!

This is not the first time a politician with deep pockets has sponsored a race car, but I hope that this is the last time. I’m not against politics, I’m against forcing it into something it has no place being in! If tobacco, cel phone carriers, and hard liqour have or had been banned from sponsoring cars, then so should politicians.

Ok enough serious stuff, on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS!

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Hawker Chevy SS Nothing bad to say here…A+

Jamie McMurray #1 Lexar Chevy SS Great Color Scheme, great design, A+

Austin Dillon #3 Great Stuff Chevy SS Color scheme is good, the design looks very odd. The gold numbers and chain design does not suit the car at all, and if they were left off, I would give it an A, but this scheme earns a B-

Austin Dillon #3 NRA Museum Chevy SS Good color scheme, decent design, B+

Austin Dillon #3 Cheerios Protien Chevy SS Much too overdeisgned, decent color scheme, C-

Kasey Kahne #5 Team Stream Chevy SS Good color scheme, but Kasey loves to drive overdesigned cars, and this is no exception. I’m giving it a C which is a very fair grade here.

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Chevy SS Good color scheme, decent design, B+

Marcos Ambrose #9 Black and Decker Ford Fusion Good color scheme, Good design, A

Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy/Florida Lottery Chevy SS It looks like two people designed this car, and they didn’t talk to each other while designing it. Both sets of color schemes are awful, and both design schemes are awful. F-

Greg Biffle #16 3M/DAV Ford Fusion Green usually doesn’t look good, camo never looks good, so this scheme earns an F

Greg Biffle #16 3M Aerospace Ford Fusion See Above F

Greg Biffle #16 NESN 30th Anniversary Ford Fusion A bit less overdesigned, at least by Greg Biffle’s standards, and I do like the Red Sox and Bruins logos as well, so I will give it a C

Greg Biffle #16 3M Ford Fusion Good color scheme, decent design, B+. Nice change for Greg Biffle.

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Battery Center Toyota Camry No. Redeeming. Features. Whatsoever. F-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Cargil Ford Fusion Much MUCH TOO OVER DESIGNED! F

Jeff Gordon Panasonic Toughbook Chevy SS Blue and white work very well, and while it is a bit over designed, it works, and I’ll give it an A

Jeff Gordon #24 Pepsi Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, A+

Cole Whitt #26 Rinnai Toyota Camry The color scheme is good, and the design is great, so it gets an A+

Cole Whitt #26 Tapout Muscle Recovery Toyota Camry Simple design, great color scheme, A+

Boris Said #32 7-Eleven Ford Fusion I normally hate green on race cars, but this works well. I like the design scheme too, and I give it an A

Bobby Labonte #33 Thunder Coal Chevy SS Great simple design and a great color scheme, A+

Alex Kennedy #33 MediaCast Chevy SS The color scheme is awful, and the design is worse. F

Reed Sorenson #36 Theme Park Connection Chevy SS Ugly design, good color scheme, C-

David Gilliland #38 Long John Silvers Free Fish and Fries Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme, great look, A+

David Gilliland #38 Love’s Truck Stops Ford Fusions CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! F

Landon Cassill #40 Snap Fitness Chevy SS So So design, good color scheme C+

Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS Whadaya Know? An A+ Patriotic scheme!

Aric Almirola #43 Waffle House/Smithfield Ford Fusion The understated patriotic design scheme works well, and the color scheme works well too. B-

Justin Algaier #51 CSSUSA Chevy SS Looks good, overall design is good, color scheme is good, and I’ll give it an A

Brian Vickers #55 Aarons/Florida State Toyota Camry Good design with a good design color scheme, A

Brett Moffit #66 Toyota Toyota Camry Good color scheme, simple design, looks very good, A

Tommy Drissi #66 Hercules Toyota Camry I don’t even know where to begin…it just looks awful. F

Martin Truex Jr. #78 World Vision Chevy SS Good color scheme decent design, B-

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Kelly Blue Book Chevy SS A decent scheme, but a bit overdeisgned. Color scheme looks good. B

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS See David Gilliland Love’s above. F

Michael McDowell #95 K-Love Ford Fusion I like the color scheme, and the overall design is another good Levine Family Racing scheme that earns an A

Josh Wise #98 Dogecoin Ford Fusion Good simple design with a good color scheme equals an A grade

Josh Wise #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford Fusion Since this design is what was raced, I will grade it as such. The color scheme is decent, but it is a tad too overdesigned. It is a D+ look.

A Day At The Races

Scan0001By David G. Firestone

Every summer, I make a pilgrimage to two places, Jim’s Original and The O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. This last week, I did both. Jim’s Original is still good, and the Route 66 Nationals are always fun.DSCN0798 DSCN0797 DSCN0787 DSCN0786 DSCN0785This year, I went on Saturday and Sunday. Normally I would only go on Saturday, but this year I decided to double the fun. I went with Argie, a friend from work, and I spent Saturday watching racing and wandering through the pits. NHRA tickets promise that “every ticket is a pit pass” and trust me, they more than live up to that claim. DSCN0781 DSCN0784 DSCN0796You can walk around the pits and watch as the teams setup cars before races and fix cars after races. The wear and tear on nitro cars is such that the entire engine has to be disassembled, repaired, and reassembled between races, sometimes in as little as 45 minutes. Needless to say, speed is paramount.DSCN0783I had been fortunate enough to get a pass to the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality tent. This not only got me the tickets, but also a chance to meet Tony Schumacher, and Ron Capps. I came into the tent a little later than normal, and I got to listen Tony talk to the crowd, and take questions. I got a chance to ask him something that I have always wanted to ask a driver… “What is the weirdest thing you have ever autographed?” Having done autograph signings since I was 5, I’ve seen a lot of odd stuff get autographed over the years, and I was interested in the answer. He responded that he has signed a lot of body parts, arms, legs, etc, and that his wife hates that.

A few minutes later, he mentioned that he wears a 5-layer firesuit, as well as two additional layers of fire protection. That adds up to a total of 7 layers. Most NASCAR suits make up 3 layers, with an additional layer underneath. Nomex is not a lightweight material, and on days like Saturday, when it was 88 degrees outside, that can get very uncomfortable. He is also credited with the aforementioned canopy to Top Fuel dragsters.

One thing I love to do is to buy race-used equipment from dragsters, and I did so this year as well. I bought a couple of valves from Tasca Racing, one large,tascavalve2-1and one small,tascavalve1-1Both show tremendous use, and have chips missing from them. Valves like these are used for one race and then replaced. The wear they go through for one run is very evident.tascavalve2-1 tascavalve2-4 tascavalve2-3 tascavalve2-2 tascavalve1-1 tascavalve1-2 tascavalve1-3 tascavalve1-4

The other race used piece of equipment is a gasket from Morgan-Lucas Racing. It shows a huge amount of wear, and is a very heavy, thick and durable gasket.morganlucasgasket-2 morganlucasgasket-1

It just wouldn’t be a race for me without getting some autographs.  I bought a Ron Capps funny car die cast, and had his sign it in person, and it looks really good.capps22 capps1 capps7 capps9 capps19I had a pair of gloves I wanted to get signed, and I did, by Tommy Johnson Jr.johnsonglove-1 johnsonglove-2 johnsonglove-8 johnsonglove-6 johnsonglove-5My favorite item it this brightly painted  helmet.  7-gordon1 7-gordon2 7-gordon3 7-gordon4 7-gordon5It was signed by Robby Gordon when I bought it7-gordon5a, and I got it signed by Clay Millian,7-gordon1a Terry McMillen, 7-gordon3aTony Schmacher, Tommy Johnson Jr.,7-gordon1bRon Capps,7-gordon1c and the legendary Shirley Muldowney.7-gordon2a

One thing I didn’t do as much this year was take pictures. I did take some, but not as many as last year. I did make a number of videos, as shown below.

That’s all for this week, I’ll return next week with a set of paint scheme reviews, and believe me, there are a lot of them!  Hope you are all having a fun summer!  Happy Belated Canada Day for our friends up North, Happy Fourth of July to my readers in the USA, and to everyone else, See you soon!

Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher Engine Tests

Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher Engine Tests, Saturday June 28, 2014, Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Illinois.

NHRA Burnouts…In Slow Motion

How better to appreciate the subtlety of NHRA Burnouts than in 120p slow motion.

Weekend Warriors-The SCCA Part 1

nilsson-rsleeve1By David G. Firestone

While the Sprint Cup, IndyCar, and Formula 1 drivers get all the glory, the overwhelming majority of drivers are weekend warriors, guys and gals who spend their own money on their cars, and race for the love of the sport. These drivers aren’t “professionals” per se, but they still have a love for the sport.

It was on these drivers that the Sports Car Club of America, or SCCA was founded in 1949. It wasn’t about professionals, it was about enthusiasts who loved the sport, and who loved to race. As time went on, however, battles for control of sports car racing, and battles for control over professional auto racing became too great, and the SCCA had to start sanctioning professional events. With help from Curtis LeMay of the United States Air Force, the SCCA started racing at Air Force bases, and they became a nationally recogized auto racing sanctioning body.

Today, the SCCA sponsors many different forms of auto racing, including professional, hill climbing, autocross, rally racing, and club racing, which features unpaid amateur racers. As in all sports, the need for fire protection is constant. So what do drivers wear in the SCCA?nilsson nilssonb

Made in November of 1992, this suit was made for Tommy Nilsson, who raced in a number of events in the SCCA California Sports Car Club Region.

It features a purple and yellow color scheme, with a small number of patches.nilsson-chest nilsson-lchestIt shows great use, and has a lot of wear on it.nilsson-f nilsson-b nilsson-belt nilsson-lsleeve2 nilsson-rsleeve2No arm gussets,or design on the shoulder epaulets,nilsson-rshoulder nilsson-lshouldercuffed legs, and no logos on the legs,nilsson-legs

This is the perfect example of the weekend warrior suit. Not designed for the driver, but bought by the driver. Not customized for the driver, but customized by the driver. An example of the uniforms worn by the majority of the people who make up this sport.

Wheel Reviews

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is more of a goofy racing comedy, featuring Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby, and John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton, Jr., Ricky Bobby’s teammate. Ricky is a hot driver, winning all the races, while Cal comes in second, and harbors jealousy toward Ricky as such. As Jean Girard, a French former F1 driver begins to challenge him, he pushes himself too far, and wrecks at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He thinks his career is done, but gets back in the car, only to have fear overtake him and is fired by his team. His wife leaves him, and he winds up taking a job as a pizza deliveryman, before his estranged father comes back into his life, and helps him conquer his fear, by having him drive a muscle car with a live cougar inside it, and he starts his own team and fields a car at Talladega.

Ricky patches things up with Cal, Girard, and his team, and then the race starts. Ricky passes the entire field after starting at the back, but Girard retains the lead. After his replacement driver at his old team causes The Big One, only Ricky and Gerard are in contention for the race, due to the fact that their cars are the only ones running. The two crash into each other during the final laps, both cars stop short of the finish line, and both Ricky and Girard exit their cars and run across the finish line. Cal comes out as the winner.

Bascially it is a goofy Will Ferrell comedy, and from a technical standpoint it is really good. The driver suits look really good, and I love what the movie did with sponsors. Wonderbread Old Spice, and Perrier are all primary sponsors, and in terms of the humor of the movie works well. I can’t say anything bad about the movie, so it gets an A+

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