The Great American Race…The Daytona 500

By David G. Firestone

We are on the eve of the biggest race of the NASCAR calendar. Tomorrow at 1 PM Eastern, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 will begin. The eyes of the racing world center on a 2.5 mile super speedway in Daytona Beach Florida. 43 drivers will start the race at 1:20 ET, which will run for 200 laps, covering 500 miles.

NASCAR has implemented an aerodynamic design for restrictor plate super speedway cars, which makes it next to impossible for cars to race in a 2-car tandem, but very easy for cars to draft in packs. Personally, I liked the 2-car tandems, the high speeds and many lead changes make for an exciting race, but I am in the minority. Because of the high speeds and pack racing, there is always the threat of a large multi-car wreck referred to as “The Big One.” There is a great chance that this can happen on the final lap, as all drivers on the lead lap can win the race in this last lap. A last lap wreck in 2001 took the life of 7 time Champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. which lead to a new set of safety rules which have saved lives across the whole of auto racing.

The Daytona 500 is the most prestigious race, and there are many legendary names who have visited victory lane. Including Lee Petty, Junior Johnson, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts, Richard Petty, Mario Andretti, Cale Yarborough, Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, Bill Elliot, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, and Bobby Labonte. There are a number of well-established drivers who never won the 500, including Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Terry Labonte, Bobby Isaac, Alan Kulwicki, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Rusty Wallace. Then there are the unlikely winners of the race, including Ernie Irvan, Sterling Marlin, Geoff Bodine, Michael Waltrip, Derrike Cope, Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne.

Chevy has unveiled an SS for the pace car. What I like about it is that it is the same shade of blue that Jimmie Johnson used to win the title last season. It is a great shade of blue to use, and it works very well with the simple design.  I also said that about last Saturday’s car…and well…it didn’t go as planned…

The best thing about the Daytona 500 is that unlike most races for the rest of the season, all the drivers bring their A game.  I hate start-and-park drivers, and when it comes to the Daytona 500, they don’t show up.  All 49 drivers who tried to get it are there to win.

Here is how the drivers will officially start.  I will add my paint scheme grade for each driver in order of where they start.

#1 3-Austin Dillon-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.

#2 78-Martin Truex Jr.-Nothing wrong with this scheme at all.  A+

#3 20-Matt Kenseth-The design still needs some work, however the overall design is improved with the lowering of the shark fin stripes on the bottom of the car.  I’ll give it a B

#4 11-Denny Hamlin-Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade.

#5 5-Kasey Kahne-Mediocre color scheme, uninspired overall design, and the huge quarterpanel numbers are awful.  C-

#6 24-Jeff Gordon-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

#7 9-Marcos Ambrose-Though a tad over designed, the car does has a clean look, and a great color scheme, so I will give it an A-

#8 41-Kurt Busch-Great design and color scheme, A+

#9 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.-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+

#10 27-Paul Menard-The contrasting color schemes just do not work here.  It looks like they took a Peak hood, roof and decklid, and placed it on a Menard’s car.  I can’t give this scheme a passing grade, so I’ll give it an F

#11 98-Josh Wise-Less is more…a lot more.  A+

#12 33-Brian Scott-Though it is a tad overdesigned, the orange works here, and the logos look really good.  B+

#13 43-Aric Almirola-Any car that has “Fueled By Bacon” printed on the roof is a winner for sure, and the design and color  earn this car an A

#14 21-Trevor Bayne-This scheme makes it very easy to see why it earned the Paint Schemie for Best Paint Scheme Set for 2013, and took the First Ford and First Overall place in the Paint Scheme Leaderboard last year.  A+

#15 47-AJ Allmendinger-Though the scheme is the same as last year, JTG Daugherty Racing has switched from Toyota to Chevy this season. That being said, I like this scheme, and I will give it an A

#16 42-Kyle Larson-The scheme looks decent, I like the white 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-

#17 38-David Gilliland-Good color scheme, decent design, plus unlike David Ragan, the hood decal is in the correct position, A-

#18 40-Landon Cassill-Less is more…a lot more.  A+

#19 31-Ryan Newman-New season, new driver, new scheme that looks great and earns an A

#20 15-Clint Bowyer-Same scheme as last year, same B+ grade.

#21 14-Tony Stewart -Same scheme as last year, same C- grade.

#22 1-Jamie McMurray-The design is much smoother than years past, and the new door number looks really good.  A

#23 26-Cole Whitt-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

#24 32-Terry Labonte-Grayscale…very bland…will give it a C+

#25 16-Greg Biffle-The sides and roof have gotten worse from last year.  I have to give it an F in that respect.

#26 52-Bobby Labonte-Good color and design schemes, will give it an A

#27 10-Danica Patrick-Not only does Go Daddy continue to use the worst shade of yellow in NASCAR, they also have given the worst shade of orange a more prominent role in the car. Givng this car an F is a very fair grade.

#28 13-Casey Mears-The yellowish green they use is awful, and the side design is just too loud,  I’ll give it a D

#29 23-Alex Bowman-There are two things that work with this car, first is that the car is designed exactly like the label of a bottle of Dr. Pepper.  The other is that #23 represents the 23 flavors that make up Dr. Pepper.  Oh and it also has a great color scheme and design and I’ll give it an A

#30 99-Carl Edwards-Same scheme as last year, same A grade

#31 55-Brian Vickers-A good scheme, and the 55 lettering looks really good here, and the gold is a nice touch. A

#32 48-Jimmie Johnson-I have to say it looks amazing, and is an A+ grade

#33 2-Brad Keselowski-Best Throwback scheme of the last 5 years  A+

#34 17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.-Great Color and design schemes, and it just works.  A+

#35 22-Joey Logano-Same scheme as last year, same grade, D

#36 7-Michael Annett-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-

#37 18-Kyle Busch-I like this, it has a great shade of yellow, hard to find in NASCAR these days, and the peanut motif works very well. It is an original design, and I’ll give it an A

#38 4- Kevin Harvick-Same Scheme as last year, same grade, A

#39 36-Reed Sorenson-This scheme is great, with a great color and simple design schemes, and is amazing to look at. A

#41 30-Parker Kligerman-Mediocre design? Check.  Color scheme that makes me want to rip my eyes out? Check.  Muppet Rip-off on the hood check.  F grade? Check.

#42 66-Michael Waltrip-While I like the field motif, it looks too much like the Windows XP Bliss background for me to take it seriously. I’ll give it a B-

#43 34-David Ragan-What in the hell is going on here?  Why is the hood decal upside down?  Why in the world would they do that?  Were they drunk when they decaled the car?  The only thing that I can guess is that it is designed for an in-car camera…but that makes no sense either!  F-

I’ll give grades for those who Failed to Qualifty:

35-Eric McClure-Good color scheme, but the car looks over deisgned and it doesn’t look good at all. D+

77-Dave Blaney-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.

83-Ryan Truex-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.

87-Joe Nemechek-Not a bad scheme, but not a great scheme.  Decent color scheme, uninspired design.  C-

93-Morgan Shepherd-The scheme that swept the Paint Scheme Worst awards is back again, and earning an F  again!

95-Michael McDowell-Not only is McDowell and Levine Family Racing running a better template this year, the K-Love scheme actually improves on it. I can’t give this scheme anything lower than an A

Tune in to Fox at 1 PM Eastern for the 56th Daytona 500.  I will be looking forward to it, and  I will enjoy watching it.

Advertisements

The Sprint Unlimited Preview

By David G. Firestone

The 36th Sprint Unlimited starts tonight at 8:15 ET on Fox. This marks the beginning of the Daytona 500 and the beginning of the NASCAR season. I will be looking forward to it, and I will enjoy it as always.

The field will feature pole award winners and past winners of the event. These include:
· Denny Hamlin (4 poles)
· Kyle Busch (3 poles)
· Joey Logano (2 poles)
· Jimmie Johnson (2 poles)
· Matt Kenseth (2 poles)
· Ryan Newman (2 poles)
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2 poles)
· Jeff Gordon (2 poles)
· Carl Edwards (2 poles)
· Marcos Ambrose (1 pole)
· Kurt Busch (1 pole)
· Kevin Harvick (1 pole)
· Brad Keselowski (1 pole)
· Mark Martin (1 pole)
· Jamie McMurray (1 pole)
· Danica Patrick (1 pole)
· Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1 pole)
· Terry Labonte (past winner: 1985)
· Tony Stewart (past winner: 2001, 2002 and 2007)

The event will feature a number of segments which were voted on by NASCAR fans including myself, and many of you. The first segment will feature laps followed by a second segment of laps, and then a third segment of laps. Many special paint schemes will be run for this race, as is traditional. My personal favorite is the Miller Lite Throwback scheme being run by Brad Keselowski.

Now some factoids about the race.

*There are, in total, Chevy drivers, Ford drivers and Toyota drivers.

*Chevy has 20 wins, Ford has 7 wins, and Toyota has 1 win.

*Mark Martin has competed in 20 consecutive events from 1989-2008.

*Dale Earnhardt Sr. has won 6 events, more than anyone else in 1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 and went on to win the Sprint Cup Championship 4 times in 1980, 1986, 1991, and 1993, he is one of 7 drives to do so.

*From 1979-2011 the event was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, first called the Busch Clash which was the brainchild of Monty Roberts, brand manager of Busch Beer, who sponsored the Pole Award. It remained the Busch Clash until 1998, when Budweiser took over the Pole Award, and it was renamed the Budweiser Shootout. In 2012, Sprint, the series sponsor took over the sponsorship after Budweiser announced they would drop the sponsorship in favor of sponsoring the Duel Races that determine the starting order of the Daytona 500.

*Petty Enterprises was not eligible to run the Shootout because of a rule stating that only drivers that ran the Busch/Budweiser pole award decal were eligible to enter the shootout. Richard Petty and his family did not support alcohol sponsorship or decals on race cars. So John Andretti, Bobby Hamilton, Jeff Green, and Aric Almirola who all had a number of poles with Petty Enterprises were not eligible to participate. I find it interesting that Petty has reversed course on the alcohol sponsorship rule, since Kasey Kahne was sponsored by Budweiser, and Marcos Ambrose will run at least one race sponsored by Twisted Tea.

*Buddy Baker won the inaugural Sprint Unlimited in 1979, which was a 20 lap sprint.

*Since many top drivers were excluded from the race due to not winning a pole award, they moved to the TV booth as color commentators. These included Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1981, Richard Petty and AJ Foyt in 1982 and 1983, Neil Bonnett in 1993, Darrell Waltrip in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999, and Kenny Wallace in 1998.

*There has never been a driver who has won the Sprint Unlimited, Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500 in the same year. Drivers have won 2 of 3 in a season, but never scored the hat trick.

*One of the first instances of a special paint scheme being used specifically for the Sprint Unlimited was the Chroma Premier scheme run by Jeff Gordon in 1997. He followed it up the next year with the legendary Chroma-lusion scheme, which feature a paint that changed color. Since then, special schemes have become commonplace.

*Richard Childress Racing has 8 Sprint Unlimited wins, most of any team. Hendrick Motorsports has 6 wins, and Joe Gibbs Racing has 5 wins.

The Unlimited starts tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox Sports 1, and I look forward to watching the event as I hope the rest of you do too.

Though I have had a VERY busy week, I still have time for…

Paint Scheme Reviews!

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

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-

Michael Annett #7 Accell Construction Chevy SS See Above

Marcos Ambrose #9 Mac Tools Ford Fusion Good color scheme here, and decent design, worth a B

Clint Bowyer #15 AAA Insurance Toyota Camry Great color scheme, good design, worth a B+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Peanut Toyota Camry I like this, it has a great shade of yellow, hard to find in NASCAR these days, and the peanut motif works very well. It is an original design, and I’ll give it an A

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion  This is why The Wood Brothers won the Paint Schemies and took the top spot in the Paint Scheme Leaderboard.  A++

Joey Logano #22 Autotrader.com Ford Fusion  Sometimes orange works, sometimes it doesn’t.  This is an example of an orange scheme that just doesn’t work.  If the white was taken out completely it might work, but this is just horrid, and I give it an F

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

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Peak Chevy SS Good design, awful color scheme, D+

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion I’ll give it a C+ until I can see a picture WITHOUT an Instagram filter!

David Ragan #34 CSX Ford Fusion  What in the hell is going on here?  Why is the hood decal upside down?  Why in the world would they do that?  Were they drunk when they decaled the car?  The only thing that I can guess is that it is designed for an in-car camera…but that makes no sense either!  F-

David Gilliland #38 Loves Truck Stops Ford Fusion  Good color scheme, decent design, plus unlike David Ragan, the hood decal is in the correct position, A-

Bobby Labonte #52 Phoenix Racing/HScott Motorsports Chevy SS Great color scheme, very simple yet attractive design, can’t say anything bad about it, A+

Michael Waltrip #66 Blue Def Toyota Camry While I like the field motif, it looks too much like the Windows XP Bliss background for me to take it seriously. I’ll give it a B-

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Kelley Blue Book Chevy SS  During my Daytona Preseason Thunder article, I said I wanted to see the #88 they used on a real car.   I got my wish, and I like this design overall.  The metallic gold is a bold choice, it doesn’t always work well.  I give it an A+

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

As many of you know, I don’t just research and collect driver suits and racing items, I collect and research many other things.  I recently had a column run in Uni-Watch concerning some lettering from the 1958 Washington Senators, and you can read my column here.

MOMO and Christian Fittipaldi…A Match Made In Heaven

44-fittipaldiBy David G. Firestone

These last few weeks have been hell in Chicago weather-wise.  I have been under the weather myself, but this week, I wanted to touch on something that I covered in depth last year. After watching the Rolex 24 at Daytona, I learned that MOMO is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year. I first learned about MOMO when I covered Christian Fittipaldi’s Driver Suits back at the beginning of the blog. MOMO is one of the more ubiquitous racing safety companies in racing.sccatrack-blogo

MOMO is short for “Moretti-Monza” which is Giampiero Moretti’s last name and Monza, a town in the Province of Milan. Giampiero Moretti was a driver who won the 1998 24 Hours of Daytona. He created a company specifically to make racing products. MOMO has gradually expanded over the years, and is now involved heavily in almost all forms of auto racing.

One thing I have noticed is that MOMO steering wheels are used very heavily in NASCAR. Whenever there are in-car cameras, there is always one located near the ignition behind the steering wheel, and almost every one of them has a MOMO logo on them. They are also very involved in F1, and IndyCar racing in terms of parts. When the best and most recognizable teams in the biggest forms of auto racing all use the same group for their parts, it proves that MOMO is the best in what they do.

I also mention Christian Fittipaldi because he won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in an Action Express Coyote Corvette DP. This is his second win, his first one coming in 2004 in a Bell Motorsports Doran JE4-Pontiac. As covered earlier in the year, I own two Christian Fittipaldi MOMO driver suits. In all honesty, these two suits were my first introduction to MOMO as a brand. MOMO however has a large presence in auto racing.fittipaldiIn the SCCA Miami Grand Prix, these suits were issued to track workers. MOMO stated that these would be fireproofed for one race only. It feels like an old school chemical dipped suit, but I have no proof of that. It does not appear to have been worn, but it probably is not fireproof any more though. sccatrack sccatrackb2014 is the 50th anniversary of what I’m going to call “The dark week,” May 24-30 1964 when the World 600 and Indy 500 took place. Three drivers were killed by fire, which changed the safety culture of racing forever. I will cover that issue in depth later in the season.

Paint Scheme Reviews

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

Marcos Ambros3 #9 DeWalt Ford Fusion See Above

Kyle Busch #18 Skittles Toyota Camry When I first heard about Skittles returning to NASCAR, I thought it would look like this or this, so naturally I was worried, but I like this simple and attractive design. A+

Kyle Busch #18 Peanut M&M’s Toyota Camry Decent scheme, good color scheme, A-

Matt Kenseth #20 Dollar General Toyota Camry My major complaint was the black and silver stripes on the sides were too big and promenent. They solved that issue this season, and the car looks better. In fact, I’ll give it a B!

Jeff Gordon #24 AXALTA Chevy SS Classic Jeff Gordon design, and I like the blue on the flames, and the black flames on the back. A+

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Richmond Chevy SS Love this scheme, great design and color scheme, A+

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

Eric McClure #35 Hefty/Arm and Hammer Ford Fusion Good color scheme, but the car looks over deisgned and it doesn’t look good at all. D+

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

Kurt Busch #41 Slate Water Heaters Chevy SS Kurt is running a really good template this year, and this is another example. The condensation design is overdone, and it takes an A scheme down to a B-, otherwise it is a great design.

Aric Almirola #43 STP Ford Fusion This is one of my favorite schemes this year! A classic design, with great colors and a great look earns an A+

AJ Allmendinger #47 Kroger/USO Chevy SS Though the scheme is the same as last year, JTG Daugherty Racing has switched from Toyota to Chevy this season. That being said, I like this scheme, and I will give it an A

AJ Allmendinger #47 Bushes Baked Beans Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme, A

AJ Allmendinger #47 Kingsford Chevy SS See Above

AJ Allmendinger #47 Scotts Chevy SS See Above

AJ Allmendinger #47 Clorox Chevy SS See Above

AJ Allmendinger #47 Charter Communication Chevy SS I like the overall design, but that is an awful shade of green. Green is not a great color for a race car, neither is yellow, so yellowish-green definitly doesn’t work. I’ll be generous and give it a C-

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-

Michael McDowell #95 K-Love Ford Fusion Not only is McDowell and Levine Family Racing running a better template this year, the K-Love scheme actually improves on it. I can’t give this scheme anything lower than an A

Carl Edwards #99 Subway Ford Fusion A bad design from last year, earns a D-

The Goal of All Drivers in Racing…

trophiesBy David G. Firestone

I’m going to do things a little bit differently this week.  This week’s article will be done in conjunction with another article I am writing for my other blog. DGF2099.com, both are about the same subject, trophies, but this article will be on racing trophies, whereas the other article will be on other trophies.  Let’s get started.

For this week, we will focus on collecting trophies. Drivers race for two things, the love of the sport, and to win. Climbing out of the car in victory lane feels good, and being presented a trophy for winning feels even better. Interestingly, trophies and awards from NASCAR and other racing series are frequently finding their way into private collections, such as mine. It might seem odd that trophies make their way into private collections, but there are a myriad of reasons for this.

One reason for this is that after their racing career ends, drivers will sometimes need to make some money, and will sell them. Other times, they are sold to raise money for charity. Sometimes it is because they need more space. After a driver passes away, the family will sell off the trophies, because they don’t have the same meaning to the rest of the family. In any event, these artifacts are unique items to collect, and are as unique as the drivers who won them.

Drivers have been awarded everything from surfboards, wine bottles, and guitars, to grandfather clocks, and gas pumps. The grandfather clock is given out to winners at Martinsville was started in 1964. The story goes that track founder Henry Clay Earles was talking with Curtis Turner, and in the course of conversation, Turner mentioned he did not have the room for trophies, and had to give some away, so he decided to award a trophy with a legitimate function, and as luck would have it, Ridgeway Clocks had a factory 3 miles away from the track. Earles gave the first grandfather clock to Fred Lorenzen when he won the 1964 Old Dominion 500, and the rest is history.

Interestingly, giving trophies that had everyday functions is a lot more common than most people realize. This example is a silver footed tray.onteroa-trophy1 It is 21 inches long, and 17.5 inches wide. It looks as though it could have been used for a tea service or as a serving tray for food at a party.onteroa-trophy2 onteroa-trophy3 It was awarded to the winner of the Oilzum Motor Oil Trophy Race at Onteora Speedway in Olive New York. onteroa-trophy4The name of the winner, and when the race was run has been lost to history. onteroa-trophy5It has some scratches across the front, but for a trophy as old as it is, it is still in very good condition.

Award and function combine again in this 4 inch tall silver mug given to the winner of something called the SCCA Rallye on December 1, 1957. It has not fared as well as the tray, showing rust spots and discoloration.ralleyecup1 ralleyecup2 ralleyecup3 ralleyecup4 ralleyecup5 ralleyecup6

Then again, there is something to be said for the traditional trophy. One driver who had a lot of them is Ernie Derr. Derr raced in IMCA or the International Motor Contest Association, which was founded in 1915, and is the oldest active auto racing sanctioning body in the United States. Derr has more victories and championships in IMCA than anyone else, having won a total of 328 wins and a staggering 12 IMCA championships. STP sponsored him for a number of years, and awarded him this STP Handicap trophy. Derr-1It is 11 inches tall, with a winged wheel design, and a vintage STP logo decal, which is peeling off. Though the mirrored background around the STP decal is discolored, it is still in decent condition, though I have not been able to figure out what the STP Handicap is.Derr-2 Derr-3 Derr-4Races are won and lost on pit road, and having a great crew chief is key to winning. Pit crews are given trophies for helping their team win. Buddy Parrot was a NASCAR crew chief for 34 years, and helped Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Rusty Wallace. In 1996, he joined Roush Racing, as crew chief for Jeff Burton. Burton did not win a race in 1996, but Parrott was awarded this 1996 RCA Pit Strategy award.parrott1 It is a Plexiglass hexagon, over a foot tall, and 3 inches wide, some of the lettering is engraved into the Plexiglass, other lettering is added with decals, which are slightly peeling off.parrott2 parrott3 parrott4 parrott5 parrott6

The reasons why collectors like these trophies in their collections is that a trophy represents a drivers true success. It is the same reason collectors collect championship rings in their favorite sport. The trophies themselves have stories behind them, they are uniquely designed, and are treasured by the drivers, though sometimes circumstances lead them to being sold or auctioned off.  They are unique and interesting to collect. and are great conversation pieces.

We will continue this discussion next week…