By David G. Firestone
If I could give a new collector two pieces of advice, they would be 1: In this hobby, when you stop learning, it stops being fun and 2: Research, research, research. Research is critical in any hobby, and that is, for the most part, why The Driver Suit Blog exists. I put a lot of research into this hobby, and I will give some pointers to help my fellow collectors.
First, always get a picture of the item you are going to buy beforehand. This is useful for a number of reasons. First, you can photo match the item. If you are not able to find an exact photo of the suit, helmet or accessory, you can “style match” the item. Style matching is finding evidence that the driver or crew member wore a design similar to the item in question. Drivers wear multiple versions of the same suit for a number of reasons. Nomex is a great material, however, if the suit catches fire, the Nomex will change color, and will not protect the area of the burn after the fire. So if a driver gets into a fiery crash in practice, and the suit gets damaged on the arm. The suit will have to be replaced for the race, because it is very possible that a similar crash could occur during the race, and wearing the damaged suit would wind up burning the driver.
Figuring out WHEN the suit was worn can be tricky, but in addition to photo matching, you can do a driver search on Racing Reference. Racing Reference is a site devoted entirely to racing stats, and for every race they list, they have driver, owner and sponsor information. So for example, let’s take this Stevie Reeves suit:
and clicking the races in his Nationwide Series Statistics section, you can look at each of his sponsors. In this case, he was only sponsored by Big A Auto Parts in 1997. So it can be concluded that the suit was worn in 1997.
In some cases, you will not be able to find a photo of the driver wearing the suit, that is just the law of the land. When searching for a photo, I use Getty Images, Google, YouTube, and eBay. It might seem strange that I use eBay but it works quite well and I have had a lot of success. People sell photos, press kits, hero cards and other such things on eBay, and this is a gold mine. In some cases, I have no luck in searching for photos, and I will take a break, get something to eat, play with the cat, take the dog for a walk, and I will have a moment when I realize I should change a parameter of the search. Sometimes it works, other times it does not.
When it comes to learning, when you stop, the hobby stops being fun. I’ve been collecting sports memorabilia since I was 5, and I’m constantly learning new things about it all the time. Never stop learning, because every hobby is constantly changing, and new information can be very useful.
I also have to cover this story. I gave Swan Racing a lot of bad reviews for paint schemes last year, and I said this year, they stand a good chance of winning the Schemie for most improved paint scheme set. Well, it looks as though they will have to shut down due to a lack of sponsorship. As it stands right now, the team is shutting down and Cole Whitt does not have a ride for Richmond. I will update the story as I learn more information.
Now we move on to…
PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS
Brad Keselowski #2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme, I like the black B post, A+
Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy SS The Coca Cola 600 is held as the July 4th race, and as such, NASCAR teams like to run patriotic schemes. The scheme as a whole is good, and red, white and blue is a great color scheme. I give it an A. Something else to note: Notice that the name on the windshield is in a patriotic design, as opposed to white lettering on a black background. Is this going to be run by all teams? Stay Tuned!
Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers/Thank A Million Teachers Chevy SS I really hate the huge FARMERS lettering on the side of the car, and I’m guessing that the design on the lettering is a photo mosiac. The color scheme is not good, and there are a number of dark designs on the black background which are almost impossible to see. I support the idea of Thank a Million Teachers, but this scheme looks awful, and earns an F
Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Chevy SS Sadly this is the best Bass Pro Shops scheme I have seen in 2014, and it is a C+ design so that isn’t saying much. Why can’t we go back to this?
Greg Biffle #16 Scotch Ford Fusion Greg’s paint scheme downward spiral continues, with this horrid scheme! The green and plaid doesn’t work with the Biffle template, and it just looks like a mangled mess that earns an F grade!
Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Certainteed Chevy SS This scheme works! I love the color scheme, and the design is really good. A+
Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Pittsburgh Paints Chevy SS I love this scheme! The color works well, the design is original. It stands out, and it just plain works! A+
David Stremme #33 Newton Building Supplies Chevy SS Red and white is a good color combination, and if the side did not have the small rectangle just behind the front wheel, I would give it an A, but it takes it down to a B+
Kyle Larson #42 Target 25th Anniversary Chevy SS Really simple design, and a good color scheme. I will tentatively give this scheme an A until I see the real scheme.
Kyle Larson #42 Axe Peace Chevy SS Decent color scheme, but much too overdesigned. Too much visual noise, and i just don’t like it. The green number look awful as well. D-
Ryan Truex #83 VooDoo BBQ Toyota Camry color scheme is not great, and the car in general is way too overdesigned. I can’t give this scheme anything less than a D-
Carl Edwards #99 Fordalwaysracing.com Ford Fusion See Brad Keselowski Above…A+
Also, NASCAR.com has come up with their staff picks for the best paint schemes in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck Series. I can’t say I disagree with most of their choices in this respect!