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+


DIY Driver Suit 101

nova - CopyBy David G. Firestone

So let’s ask a hypothetical question. You are a weekend warrior. You have spent all your money on a bitchin’ Chevy Nova, and a plain driver suit. You want to decorate the suit, but can’t afford to give it the professional treatment. What do you do? If your name is James Wells, you get an iron-on and a couple of Sharpies, and you make do!nova novab

This unique example dates to the early 1980’s, and shows how a low budget team can have an attractive suit. The front of the suit has a Chevy Bowtie logo with “08 FOLSOM RACING” on the right and 08 JAMES WELLS written in Sharpie on the front. I also love the drop shadow effect that Wells tried to use.nova-rchest nova-lchestOn the back, Wells used a NOVA SS iron on. nova-blogoYes it looks really cool, but there is an issue. This is a single-layer suit. The iron on can clearly be seen on the inside of the suit. I get the feeling that it would negate the fire protection in the event of a fire. It’s a good thing that scenario never took place. I kept this entry short because of this week’s

Wheel Reviews

Released in December of 1966, Grand Prix is one of the best racing movies made, and is very accurate in detail of the racing itself. The plot centers around four drivers, American Pete Aron who is looking to make a comeback. Scott Stoddard is an English driver who needs to make a comeback as well. Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sarti is an older but wiser driver who is nearing the end of his career. Former motorcross rider Nino Barlini is a bright rookie, who is looking to make his mark on the sport.

The main plot centers around the battle for the 1966 Formula 1 World Championship. The season starts at Monacco, where Pete Aron is fighting both his teammate Scott Stoddard and a damaged transmission. The transmission freezes, causing a crash which sends Aron into the harbor, and Stoddard to the hospital. While this is taking place, Jean-Pierre Sarti wins the race and Barlini comes in second. From there, 4 sub plots, each focusing on one driver start.

Aron is fired from British Racing Motors, and is relegated to a job as a TV interviewer for the Federal Broadcasting Company. At the next event, he runs into Pat Stoddard, Scott’s unhappy wife, and the two of them begin an affair. After one race as an interviewer, he is signed by Yamaha Motors, wins the Belgium Grand Prix and starts his improbable run at the championship.

Scott Stoddard meanwhile is out of the car with his injuries, and spends a number of weeks in a British hospital. He eventually learns of his wife’s affair with Aron, and confronts her about it. She openly admits she wants out of the marriage, and leaves. Later, during the British Grand Prix, Stoddard takes a couple of pain killers to help him with the pain, but they cause him to nearly lose consciousness. He returns to the pits, and Aron takes the lead, but catches fire and Nino wins the race, setting up the battle for the championship.

Jean-Pierre Sarti and Nino Barlini race for Ferarri, and are both heavily involved for the championship. At an after race party in Monacco, Sarti meets attractive American fashion writer Louise Frederickson. The two begin an affair that lasts until the end of the season. Sarti is also upset that the cars are not working to his liking, and suffers some setbacks. At the Belgium Grand Prix, he suffers a suspension failure, and crashes into a barn, killing two kids accidentally. This has an effect on him, as he then begins to realize how absurd his life really is. While watching Nino celebrate after winning the British Grand Prix, he laments “I suppose what’s wrong with me is my life. But I can’t change that…or I won’t. I’ve begun to see the absurdity of it. All of us, proving what? That we can go faster, and perhaps remain alive? Nino, gambling his life for a trophy, then filling it with beer and doing tricks. Stoddard filling himself with drugs to drive, and still passing out from the pain. Don’t you see how absurd it is? Who cares?

Nino is a young single driver who comes from motorcycle racing to Formula 1. After the Monacco Grand Prix he meets Lisa, an attractive woman with no personality, and they start a relationship. Nino is a fun loving playboy, who take racing seriously. In the 2 car Ferarri team, Nino is the second car. After winning at Silverstone, he becomes the points leader. But before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Lisa sees him with two Japanese models, and leaves him for another man. That sets up the final race of the fictional 1966 season, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Before the race, Sarti’s car is late from the factory, and Louise has told him she is going back to America. Sarti’s wife shows up, and is none too happy about the affair.. Nino is sad about Lisa, but is able to put it behind him for the race. After a divorce seems inevitable, Scott and Pat fix their relationship. Pete has been watching footage of his previous races to help him get an edge. When Sarti’s car finally shows up, it is not to his liking. He argues with team manager Agostini Manetta, who says that he will decide to retire Sarti after the race. Sarti leaves, visibly disgusted by the proceedings.

The race starts, and Sarti stalls the car. He is able to get it fired, but loses a lot of time. Nino jumps to an early lead, with Aron and Stoddard, behind him. Sarti makes up a lot of time. During the last race, each driver is heard in voice overs and flash backs explaining why they do what they do. Toward the end of the race, Sarti makes it up to fourth, but then a piece comes off Aron’s car, hits Sartis car, and Sartiis involved in a fatal crash. His wife is shaken, Louise is horrified. Agostini does what no team owner ever wants to do, and shows the black flag to Nino, calling him into the pits as a result of Sarti’s death. Nino sadly complies with the order, visibly shaken. Stoddard and Aron are unaware of what has happened to Sarti, and battle for the win and the championship, with Aron coming out on top. While celebrating the championship, Aron calls Stoddard up, and the two rivals celebrate together. As they celebrate, the track announcer states that Sarti has died, and the celebration is cut short. The movie ends with Aron walking through the now empty race track, and looking at the starting grid, and hearing the engines, and the crowd on race day.

Overall this was a great movie, but it did have some issues. The in-car camera angles were revolutionary for the day, but there were a lot of needless visual effects during races. The use of race footage was a great move, and it looks really good. The schedule for the fictional 1966 F1 racing season, differs significantly from the real 1966 season, but it still looks good. Interestingly, Nomex was mentioned by a track announcer after a firey crash. It was likely added during editing, since in 1966, Nomex was being tested as a material for driver suits. I give this movie an A+


Wheel Reviews-Days Of Thunder

By David G. Firestone

If you ask people what the quintessential NASCAR movie is, most would say Days of Thunder. Certainly it is a good movie. It stars Tom Cruise as Cole Trickle, who is based on Tim Richmond, and Robert Duvall as Harry Hogge, based on Harry Hyde. The movie starts with the Daytona 500, which features Rowdy Burns, played by Michael Rooker, wrecking Richard Petty, and while this is going on, Tim Dalland, based on Rich Hendrick, recruits Harry Hogge, a former crew chief who left the sport after the death of a driver was linked to his methods. Dalland talks Hogge into meeting Cole Trickle, a sprint car driver with no stock car experience. Rowdy sets up a car for a test, and Cole proves his talents fast.

Hogge and Cole don’t agree on much during their first races, and they meet little success. Finally, Hogge takes Cole to a track and tells him that if he races Hogge’s way, he can win, but if he races Cole’s way, he won’t. He is quickly proven right, and Cole becomes a winner. Rowdy and Cole develop a fierce rivalry, and at the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in July, they get into a crash, and both are seriously injured.

As they recover, they become good friends. Cole meets Dr. Claire Lewicki, and the two begin a romantic relationship. Dalland hires Russ Wheeler, based on Rusty Wallace, to fill in for Cole. Cole is back in the car before the end of the season, but Rowdy’s injuries are career ending. Russ proves himself to be a dirty driver, and wins at North Wilksboro after wrecking Cole on pit road. An understandably upset Cole wrecks him after the race, and is fired by Dalland.

Rowdy asks Cole to race for him in the Daytona 500, and Cole agrees. Russ gets dirty again, and damages Cole’s transmission. Cole comes back and wins the race. Standard Hollywood ending. But what makes this movie really good is that there are a lot of things that happened in real life. There is a scene where Cole wants to pit, but because the crew is eating ice cream, he can’t. That happened to Benny Parsons in 1987. A subplot where Rowdy and Cole must drive together to have dinner took place with Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine in the 1980’s. The scene where Cole and Rowdy race a pair of rental cars to the breaking point was a common occurrence between Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly.

The 1990’s uniforms are amazing, but the really odd thing is after Cole wins the Daytona 500, his uniform is heavily soiled, and has a large tear in the leg. I still don’t understand how a brand new suit can get that level of damage, after one race. I still love this movie, and I highly recommend it.

I did this as a stand alone post because I came across something that I felt deserved to be on the blog.  I found this:days of thunder

That is an eBay listing for a suit worn by Carl Elwes while playing Russ Wheeler!  The suit looks really good, and I would buy it provided it wasn’t so expensive!dot2 dot3 dot1It has a classic late 1980’s/early 1990’s look, and the Hardees color scheme looks really good.

Editor’s note, for the next 3 weeks, I will be taking a badly needed vacation, so while I have articles ready to go, I won’t have any paint scheme reviews until I come back.

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-