Jacksonville, Florida’s own Patty Moise has raced in NASCAR for many years. She didn’t win a race, but has a few top 10’s in the Xfinity Series. In 1994 and 1995, she raced the Purex Thunderbird for Doug Taylor. I like the shades of blue and red, and the design is decent. My only complaint is that I think the white stripe between the two isn’t needed, and it’s visually distracting. Other than that, it’s a great scheme that earns an A-.
Corpus Christi, Texas can be proud to call Terry Labonte a son. A two time Cup Champion, with 34 wins across all three of NASCAR’s top series, Labonte is one of the most underrated drivers in the history of NASCAR. In 1993 1994, and, he drove the #14 MW Windows Chevy. The 1993 MW Windows Lumina is all white with a series of red stripes on the sides, which wrap around the front. It’s a great look, with a great color scheme. A
Editor’s note, I will be away on vacation until August. Here is a Friday Feature to tide you over.
I must have said the word Nomex a thousand times on this blog, but what exactly is Nomex? In short, it is a flame-resistant meta-aramid cloth material. It is an aramid material, which is the same thing as Kevlar, but it is not as strong as a bulletproof vest, but it has great thermal, as well as chemical resistance, which makes it great for racing firesuits.The development of the Nomex firesuit has been a long road. This road has seen its share of driver deaths and injuries. Before the Coca Cola 600, I discussed the deaths of Fireball Roberts, Eddie Sachs, and Dave McDonald in fire-related crashes over the course of 6 days in 1964. What took place from there would cross the paths of racing and a young drag racer.
Bill Simpson was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1940. He took up drag racing at a young age, and at age 18, broke both arms in a drag racing crash. As he recuperated, he thought of safety in racing for the first time. He developed the idea of an X shaped parachute, and using materials from his uncle’s army surplus shop, developed a functional drag racing parachute. Don Garlits noticed the new parachutes, and took an interest, which helped the Simpson Drag Chute company to form. As time went on, he started making other racing equipment, which caught the attention of drivers, and, oddly enough, NASA. During a project, he met Pete Conrad, who introduced the now 27 year old Simpson to Nomex in 1967.
Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. Far from the uses it has today, 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. Simpson saw what the material could do, and decided it would work well to make driver suits, and other uniform items. Contrary to what most people think, Nomex is not fire PROOF, rather it is fire RETARDENT. It does burn, but burns at a much slower rate, and that protects the driver in the event of a fire. Bill Simpson decided to show how much better this material was by having a “burn off.” He put on one of his Simpson racing suits, doused himself in gasoline, and lit himself on fire. Though he was fully engulfed in flames, he was not hurt. Though he admits that is was a bad idea, it sold drivers on Nomex. Even today, 46 years later, Nomex is still the go-to material for driver suits.
Nomex is used for many other things. Nomex sheet is used in power cords for insulation. Fire-fighters use Nomex for protection in saving lives. Fighter pilots wear Nomex suits in case of cockpit fires. Nomex was developed for NASA and NASA still uses a lot of Nomex. It is used in what NASA refers to as the “Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit”, or in regular English, the “outer layer of a spacesuit.” The spacesuits that space shuttle astronauts wore on liftoff and touchdown were primarily made of Nomex. Almost every project that NASA has done in the last 40 years involves Nomex in one form or another, so it is a very versatile material.
Interestingly, as safety concerns increased, and safety equipment changes for the better, you begin to see that Nomex is beginning to have competition in the driver suit market in terms of fire protection. While I’m typically a traditionalist when it comes to sports uniforms, for driver suits that is a great thing. Developing a new material that serves the same purpose as Nomex, but can do it better and longer is a great thing. Eventually, Nomex will go the way of typewriters, film cameras, the printing press, and the floppy disk as an invention that is obsolete but changed the world. Friday Feature to tide you over.
For the next set of Throwback Thursday, we will focus on the Xfinity Series. Hailing from Vallejo, California, Jeff Gordon has raced in NASCAR for many years, and has had a lot of success. Almost all of Gordon’s success came in car #24, but he had a little success in the #1 Baby Ruth Bill Davis Thunderbird in the Xfinity Series, which accounts for three of his five Xfinity Series wins. The Baby Ruth Thunderbird is an amazing look, with a great color scheme, and a subtle design scheme. All in all, this earns an A.
By David G. Firestone
Landon Cassill #00 Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Chevy Camaro-Black and pink is a bold color choice, and the overall look is really good. I can’t say anything bad about this scheme, so I won’t. A
Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Throwback Chevy Camaro-You could put all of Bill Elliott’s pre-1999 schemes in a hat, pick one out at random, and be guaranteed to pick a great scheme. 1981 was a great scheme, and this faithful throwback is an amazing representation. I love this scheme! A
Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Throwback Toyota Camry-Darrell’s 1990’s Parts America scheme was a great scheme. It looked amazing, and still holds up today! This is a great throwback scheme, and I can’t give this less than an A!
Ricky Stenhouse #17 Fastenal Throwback Ford MustangDarrell’s 1990’s Parts America scheme was a great scheme. It looked amazing, and still holds up today! This is a great throwback scheme, and I can’t give this less than an A!
Corey LaJoie #32 Morton Group/GMN Ford Mustang-Matte black with sponsor logos is always a good look, and I can’t say anything bad about this scheme. A
Matt Tifft #36 Acquire Investments/Bounce Innovation Hub/Unshackled Ventures Ford Mustang-Good color scheme, but way too over designed. If toned down, this scheme would be better. C
Chris Buescher #37 Hellmann’s Chevy Camaro-Good color scheme, but way too over designed. If toned down, this scheme would be better. D
David Ragan #38 Thanks DW Ford Mustang-Darrell’s chrome scheme was a bold look that would look just as awesome today. While I think that metallic silver isn’t chrome, I do love this look, and I think this scheme is great. A
David Ragan #38 Compressor World Mustang-Great color scheme, but the car is a tad over designed. I think that the designs on the side are a bit too much. It’s still a good scheme, so I’ll give it a B.
Kyle Larson #42 Clover Chevy Camaro-It’s a simple look, and a good one. Black and green are an underrated color combination, and the design works very well. A
J.J. Yeley #51 Jacob Companies Chevy Camaro-This toned down Jacob Companies scheme works very well, and the car looks great. A
Cody Ware #52 SBC Contractors Chevy Camaro-The American flag motif works very well, and the car as a whole looks amazing. I also like that they took a picture of a real flag and used that. This is a great looking scheme. A
Joey Gase #66 Cocopah Speedway/IMCA Winter Nationals Toyota Camry-Metallic silver is a great color for race cars, and this is no exception. I also love the mountain and flag motifs as well. This is a great scheme. A
Justin Haley, #77 Formula One Imports Chevy Camaro-Matte black with sponsor logos is always a good look, and I can’t say anything bad about this scheme. A
Alex Bowman #88 Valvoline Patriotic Chevy Camaro-It’s a minimalist design, white as the base color, and patriotic materials have been added. This is a great look, and I can’t complain about this! A
Matt DiBenedetto #95 Procore Thanks DW Throwback Toyota Camry-Faithful 1970’s schemes always look awesome, and this is no exception. This is an amazing look, and I love everything about this scheme! A
By David G. Firestone
TJ Zizzo is the driver, he’s based in Lincolnshire Illinois, I’m based in Evanston, I’ve purchased a number of items from him.
One of the things that I got was a visor. When I purchased it back in 2014, I’d been wanting to get an NHRA visor from some time, and I got one that had the modification I’ve been seeing. The visor shows some light use. I asked TJ why he had this modification, and he said that he wants to focus on the task at hand. He said that drag racing drivers can notice things, birds, scoreboards, women in the crowd, etc in the car in the moments leading up to the race, and this modification helps the driver by giving him tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is seen by the majority of people as a bad thing, but in something like drag racing, where intense focus for a brief period of time is a mandate, tunnel vision is a good thing. Top fuel dragsters have 10,000 horsepower and can go from 0 to 325 mph in less than 3 seconds. When you are behind the wheel of a car with that much power, you need to focus on the race as much as possible. TJ wears this style of visor because, the less he can see out of the helmet, the more he can focus on the race. TJ even said that this visor is much less covered than his current version, which looks something like this…In 2014, at the U.S. Nationals, TJ suffered a major engine explosion. He still has the blower drive seen flying in the video. I was amazed how heavy it was. He has one shelf in his new shop that has the pieces of the engine, and the damage suffered, from a fan’s stand point. The manifold that blew was made of solid magnesium and was heavy duty. The crankshaft in question was not only broken, but was slightly bent near the break. I wound up getting one of the rear tires from that race. Rear tires from top fuel dragsters are 3 feet tall by 17 inches wide. I’m planning on getting a glass to and making a coffee table at some point. The level of wear on the tires is amazing, with large patches of damage from the explosion. TJ also signed it and personalized it to me! I also got a front tire, which is 22 inches tall, by 3 inches wide. I’m not sure when it was raced, but it does show wear and it has ZIZZO written on the tread. To give an idea the size difference between the two, here are the two of them together in my office…One of my big gets was a TJ Zizzo Peak parachute. Zizzo ran two of these chutes on the back of his dragster from 2010 to 2013., and this example is 12 feet by 12 feet. It shows a decent amount of wear, with stains and holes. There is a hole in the center that allows the chute to be deployed, and there is an inventory tag placed here as well. On the cables connecting the chute to the car, there is some extra protection. This is necessary because on top fuel dragsters, the engine is very close to the parachute attachment, and in the event of a fire, the chute will still be able to function. TJ’s example shows some wear on the silver layer. One thing that a lot of non drag racing fans don’t realize is that many drivers pack their own chutes. Race car drivers are control freaks, and so this makes sense. The logic a few drivers use is that if I mess it up, I don’t have anyone to blame for it except myself.
The pilot chute is attached here as well. Pilot chutes are universally used to deploy parachutes. When the cords are pulled, and the chute is released, the pilot chute deploys, which catches air and pulls the primary chute behind it. The chutes are strapped to a bar at the back of the car, the straps pre-covered in Nomex to prevent fire damage, then packed into a bag, before the race. I’ve discussed the importance of spark plugs, and their prevalence in the auto racing memorabilia market before, so I won’t go into that again. I will show one of TJ Zizzo’s race-used spark plugs, which he managed to autograph. Given the size of the plug, that isn’t easy to sign.Ok, so I need to explain what is going to happen in July. As usual, I’m going on vacation for the month of July. I’m going to do things differently this year. I’m going to cut my Friday Features from four to two. The Tracker and the Grades will be updated in August. Monday Videos and Throwback Thursday will be unaffected.
Jim Yates and Joe Gibbs from Alexandria, Virginia teamed up to field this 1996 Firebird. This McDonald’s design was only used from 1995 to 1996. It is one of the few paint schemes that looks good no matter what kind of race car it is used on. The car is all red, except on the front where there is a white design that makes an M, with the Golden Arches on top of that. This is a great scheme that earns an A.