auto racing · paint scheme grades

Paint Scheme Grades-February 13, 2016

By David G. Firestone

Jamie McMurray #1 Sherwin Williams Chevy SS-The scheme from last year has had some slight changes, but it’s still a solid B+ scheme. I do like the 150th anniversary logo on the hood.

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Chevy SS-Much better looking scheme than last year, looks very good. Love the new design scheme. A+

Brad Keselowski #2 SKF Ford Fusion-A great look. The Penske template works quite well with this color scheme. No complaints at all. A+

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Ford Fusion-A new scheme that works very well. The color scheme is really good, and the subtle checkered flag motif works well. A+

Clint Bowyer #15 Visine Chevy SS-This is a case where the design scheme doesn’t work with the color scheme. It’s not a horrible look, but it’s not great. B+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Throwback Toyota Camry-Great look, great color scheme, great design, A+

Joey Logano #22 AAA of Southern California Ford Fusion-Same scheme as last year, same D grade.

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion-What a difference a year makes. Pennzoil had a horrible scheme last year, and they redeem themselves with this great scheme. Pennzoil has a great shade of yellow, and the design scheme looks really good too. A+

Jeffery Earnhardt #32 Can-Am/Kappa Ford Fusion-We have a new leader in the
“ Worst Template” category. Go FAS always over-designs their cars, and they’ve gone above and beyond with their new template. The color scheme is horrible, and the deigns scheme is even worse. I wish I could go lower than an F, but I can’t.

Jeffery Earnhardt #32 Keen Parts/Corvette Parts Ford Fusion-See above. F

Reed Sorenson #40 CRC Brakleen Chevy SS-It’s amazing how changing the primary color from red to black can take an A scheme down to a D-.

Kurt Busch #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevy SS-Same scheme as Monster Energy, same A+ grade.

Michael Annett #46 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SSSame scheme as last year, same A+ grade.

AJ Allmendinger #47 Kroger/Scott Chevy SS-Taking away the stars from last year makes a great scheme even better. A+

AJ Allmendinger #47 Kroger/Stoffer’s/Lean Cuisine Chevy SS-See above. A+

Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Red Vest Chevy SS-The amalgamation of Red Vest and Jimmie Johnson foundation does NOT look good. The shade of red is the only thing giving it a passing grade, though in this case, a D-.

Michael McDowell #95 K-Love Chevy SS– A+

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auto racing · friday feature

My Travels to Tucson

2016-2-2-mine-9By David G. Firestone

My parents have a condo in Tucson, Arizona, so every winter, I leave the bitter cold of Chicago for a week, and take my base of operations from “The Hauler,” which is my new nickname for my office, to Tucson. I love living in Chicago, but the cold during winter can be too much. Each year, we look for things to do in Tucson that I can’t do in Chicago. Last year, I went to the Pima Air and Space Museum, and the Penske Racing Museum. The year before that, I went to the Titan Missile Museum.

This year, I had three specific goals. I wanted to go to the Asarco Mineral Discovery Center, The Dragoon Brewery, and the Franklin Auto Museum. I also, as always, wanted to have some great Southwestern food. I got all three done, and then some!

I took Amtrak’s Texas Eagle down, as I always do. It’s a three day trip, and this year, I upgraded to a “Superliner Roomette” which is my own small room. It was well worth the price, where I have my own little private room, a whole bed, instead of a reclining seat, and a giant picture window.2016-1-29-amtrak-6 Meals are included, so I didn’t have to pay for food for the entire trip, and I have to say, the food was great.2016-1-29-amtrak-7 2016-1-29-amtrak-8I got in on Sunday, and met up with my parents, had dinner, and got back to sleep. Monday was spent puttering around. On Tuesday, we went to the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center. It’s a small museum and tour of the ASARCO Mission Mine. Mission Mine is an open pit mine in Pima, Arizona. According to ASARCO “Each year the mine has the capacity to process about 260,000 tons of copper concentrates which yields 132,700,000 pounds of copper and 1,234,000 ounces of silver.” The tour is about an hour long, and it goes into detail into how the mine takes copper ore, which looks like this:IMG_0793and turns it into 99.999% pure copper, the percentage needed for electrical wiring, which looks like this:IMG_0794We drove around the mine area in a tour bus, and passed by the pit. 2016-2-2-mine-7There is a small area for the tour, which features a giant tire for photos. I’m 6’1” and that tire makes me look small. 2016-2-2-mine-9There is an overlook area for the tour group, and it is REALLY far away from the mine. 2016-2-2-mine-8See those two dump trucks circled? Those are 51 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 24 feet tall! Then you go to the south mill, where the ore is ground down to the required size, and extracted using the flotation system. 2016-2-2-mine-1 2016-2-2-mine-2 2016-2-2-mine-3 2016-2-2-mine-4 2016-2-2-mine-5 2016-2-2-mine-13 2016-2-2-mine-6Pine oil is used to help separated the copper from the ore, so the whole area smells like pine oil, which isn’t a bad smell at all.

Once you get back, you can wander around the small outdoor exhibit area, and see various artifacts from the history of Arizona mining. 2016-2-2-mine-17 2016-2-2-mine-28 2016-2-2-mine-27 2016-2-2-mine-26 2016-2-2-mine-25 2016-2-2-mine-24 2016-2-2-mine-23 2016-2-2-mine-22 2016-2-2-mine-21 2016-2-2-mine-20 2016-2-2-mine-19 2016-2-2-mine-18We then went to the Desert Diamond Casino for lunch, and went home. We then went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday that night for dinner.

Wednesday, we went to the Dragoon Brewing Company taproom. 2016-2-3-dragoon-2I spend the afternoon trying different kinds of their beer. I tried the Stronghold Session American mild, which a little bitter for my taste. The Biere Del Bac is a Belgian-style quad, and I had that and a brandy barrel-aged version. The best by far was the Scout Porter, which is a mesquite-smoked porter. 2016-2-3-dragoon-3I wound up buying a 32 ounce can, which I downed after dinner. 2016-2-3-dragoon-8I also got a couple of pictures of the taproom, and the fermenters. 2016-2-3-dragoon-4 2016-2-3-dragoon-5 2016-2-3-dragoon-7For dinner, I had some damn good barbecue at Brush Fire, where I had some brisket and pork bellies with Sweet-n-Bold sauce. 2016-2-3-brushfire-1 2016-2-3-brushfire-2 2016-2-3-brushfire-3On Thursday, I went to the Franklin Auto Museum, but I’m gonna save that for next week…stay tuned!

auto racing · throwback thursday

Throwback Thursday-Mark Martin-1986

By David G. Firestone

Lone Star Peterbilt sponsored Mark Martin in the 1986 Daytona 500, which he drove this Ford Thunderbird.

The color scheme is good, blue and white rarely don’t work well with each other. The gold door numbers are good too. Metallic gold is an underused color for race cars in my book. I do like the design of using the aspects of the hood in a color coded manner. Wrapping the blue around the C-post and covering the back of the car is a decent look.

I will say that I don’t like the fact that the blue stops short of the front wheel well. It doesn’t continue to the front of the car either. That, to me, looks like laziness. It looks like whoever was designing just got to the front wheel and said “that looks good enough.” It just isn’t a good look, and takes away from a good scheme.  Also, why is Mark Martin’s name in quotes?

auto racing · paint scheme tracker

Paint Scheme Tracker-February 10, 2016

By David G. Firestone

CHIP GANASSI RACING TEAM #1

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Beechcraft Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, blue top, reverse wave formation across sides, white bottom, with silver accents. B+

Jamie McMurray #1 Sherwin Williams Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, main design has been moved slightly to the rear. 150’th anniversary logo added to hood.B+

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, red and yellow front with a spike transition to rear. A+

TEAM PENSKE #2

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford FusionSame basic scheme as 2015, but Miller has been removed from hood, similar 2014. A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford FusionNo Change. A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford FusionNo Change. A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Auto Trader Ford FusionNew sponsor for 2016, same as #22 Auto Trader. D-

Brad Keselowski #2 SKF Ford FusionNew scheme for 2016, similar to 2015 scheme, but fits to Penske Template. A+

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #3

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SSSame basic scheme, but the hood logo is slightly larger. B+

Austin Dillon #3 Cheerios Chevy SSNo change. A+

Austin Dillon #3 American Ethanol Chevy SSNo change. A-

STEWART-HAAS RACING #4

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2015, designed around a Busch throwback can. A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Light Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2015, designed around a Busch Light can. A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy John’s Chevy SSNo change. A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Outback Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, mountain design starts near brake duct, instead of at front of car. B+

Kevin Harvick #4 Ditech Chevy SSNo change. A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Chevy SS-New scheme for 2016, white background, with the Pegasus wing starting at the side of the front, extending to the door numbers. A+

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #5

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SSNo Change. C+

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips Chevy SSNo Change. D+

Kasey Kahne #5 Liftmaster Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, geometrical designs on side changed. C

Kasey Kahne #5 Panasonic Toughbook Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, blue fade to black, with a couple of wave stripes, and some fade designs on side. A+

Kasey Kahne #5 Quicken Loans Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, red with hockey stick designs on sides, as well as geometrical designs on front and back. C+

ROUSH-FEWNAY RACING #16

Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Ford FusionNew scheme for 2016, white with blue line and checkered flag on bottom. A+

TOMMY BALDWIN RACING #7

Alex Bowman #7 Road Rippers Chevy SS-New scheme for 2015, shark motif on front, fades to fire motif and logo on back. F

STEWART-HAAS RACING #10

Danica Patrick #10 Nature’s Bakery Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, blue with white lettering on sides, white and black stripe across hood and roof. A+

Danica Patrick #10 TaxAct Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, white front, red TaxAct X logo, gray back. A+

Danica Patrick #10 Nature’s Pride Pumpkin Spice Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, same basic scheme as Nature’s Pride, but with orange and red color scheme, and some slight redesigns on the side. A+

Danica Patrick #10 Mobil 1 Chevy SS-New scheme for 2016, Bass Pro Shops has left, so the Mobil 1 scheme features a white background, with the Pegasus wing starting at the side of the front, extending to the door numbers. A+

JOE GIBBS RACING #11

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota CamrySlight redesign for 2016, hood logo moved slightly to the right, side stripes wider. A+

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Freight Toyota CamrySlight redesign for 2016, hood logo moved slightly to the right, side stripes wider. A+

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Ground Toyota CamrySlight redesign for 2016, hood logo moved slightly to the right, side stripes wider. A+

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Office Toyota CamrySlight redesign for 2016, hood logo moved slightly to the right, side stripes wider. A+

GERMAIN RACING #13

Casey Mears #13 Geico Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, much more subdued version of the 2015 scheme. A+

Casey Mears #13 Geico Millitary Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, black with camo motif across car. F

STEWART-HAAS RACING #14

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1 Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, the Mobil 1 scheme features a white background, with the Pegasus wing starting at the side of the front, extending to the door numbers. A+

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy SSSlight redesign, removal of Bass Pro Shops logo, cleaner rear end of the car. A+

Tony Stewart #14 Rush Truck Stops/Mobil 1 Chevy SSSlight redesign, removal of Bass Pro Shops logo, cleaner rear end of the car. A+

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevy SSNo Change. C+

HSCOTT MOTORSPORTS #15

Clint Bowyer #15 Five-Hour Energy Chevy SSNew scheme for 2015, the front stripe has been moved up to the top of the side, and the roof matches with the design. A+

Clint Bowyer #15 Peak Chevy SSNew scheme for 2015, Blue with white geometrical designs on side. A+

Clint Bowyer #15 Visine Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, same as 5-Hour Energy, but with black, white, and blue color scheme. B+

ROUSH-FEWNAY RACING #16

Greg Bffle #16 Cheez-its Ford FusionNew scheme for 2015, stripe has been extended down tot he bottom of the car, some slight rearangment of the crackers on the side of the car. A+

Greg Biffle #16 KFC Nashville Hot Ford FusionNew sponsor for 2016, all red with fire designs on quarter panel, and KFC stripes on roof. A+

Greg Biffle #16 Kleen Performance Products Ford FusionNo Change. B+

ROUSH-FEWNAY RACING #17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Ford FusionNo Change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #18

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries Chevy SSSlight redesign for 2015, stripes are wider, black stripe on bottom gone. F

Kyle Busch #18 Skittles Toyota CamryNo Change. A+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota CamryNew scheme for 2016, similar to 2014 scheme, but with vintage characters to celebrate M&M’s 75th anniversary. A+

JOE GIBBS RACING #19

Carl Edwards #19 Stanley Toyota CamryNo Change. B+

Carl Edwards #19 Stanley Toyota CamrySlight redesign for 2016, logos are bigger, outlines are bolder. A

Carl Edwards #19 Subway Toyota CamryNew scheme for 2016, green replaces black, box motif replaces stripe motif. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #20

Matt Kenseth #20 Dollar General Toytota CamrySlight redesign for 2016, black stripe across bottom now gone. A+

Matt Kenseth #20 DeWalt USA Toyota CamryNo Change. A+

WOOD BROTHERS RACING #21

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft Ford FusionNo Change. A+

TEAM PENSKE #22

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford FusionNo change D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Ford FusionNo Change. D

Joey Logano #22 Auto Trader Ford FusionNo Change. D-

Joey Logano #22 AAA of Southern California Ford FusionNo Change. D

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford FusionNew scheme for 2016, all yellow, with some lighter yellow geometrical designs across car.  A+

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #24

Chase Elliott #24 NAPA Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2015, blue with white stripes across side which start at brake duct. A+

Chase Elliott #24 3M Chevy SSNew scheme for 2015, black and white replaces silver, extra geometrical designs on sides. B+

Chase Elliott #24 Kelly Blue Book Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, same basic color scheme but gold has been removed. Scheme has been redesigned into a more haphazardly designed stripe pattern. C+

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #27

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Moen Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, black front, extending into Menard’s template, yellow rear. B-

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Peak Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, redesigned to match Clint Bowyer’s Peak Chevy. A+

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #31

Ryan Newman #31 Cat Chevy SSSlight redesign for 2016, yellow stripes are narrower, and hood logo is slightly larger. A+

Ryan Newman #31 Granger Chevy SSNo change. B +

GO FAS RACING #31

Jeffery Earnhardt #32 Can-Am/Kappa Ford Fusion-New sponsor for 2016, black, green, and yellow, with a series of geometrical designs across whole car. F

Jeffery Earnhardt #32 Keen Parts/Corvette Parts Ford FusionNew sponsor for 2016, black, white, and yellow, with a series of geometrical designs across whole car. F

FRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS #34

Chris Buescher #34 Love’s Truck Stops Ford FusionNew scheme for 2016, Front Row Template has been reversed, red replaces back as secondary color. A+

HILLMAN RACING #40

Reed Sorenson #40 CRC Brakleen Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, black replaces red as primary color. D-

STEWART-HAAS RACING #41

Kurt Busch #41 Monster Energy Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, black with yellow and white numbers and lettering. A+

Kurt Busch #41 Haas Automation Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, red front, fades to black rear end. A+

Kurt Busch #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevy SS-New scheme for 2016, red front, fades to black rear end. A+

Kurt Busch #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevy SS-New scheme for 2016, same as Monster Energy, but with Haas on rear. A+

CHIP GANASSI RACING TEAM #42

Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, vertical fade from red to white replaces side fade from 2015. A+

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS #43

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Ford FusionSlight redesign for 2016, roof numbers turn from yellow to red. B+

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS #44

Brian Scott #44 Twisted Tea Ford FusionAside from the number change, no significant changes for 2016. A

Brian Scott #44 Albertsons’s Ford Fusion-New sponsor for 2016, all blue with white hood. A+

HSCOTT MOTORSPORTS #46

Michael Annett #46 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SSNo Change. A+

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #48

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Chevy SSSlight redesign for 2016, stripes are narrower, and hood logo is slightly forward. C-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Chevy SSSlight redesign for 2016, stripes are narrower, and hood logo is slightly forward. C-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s Pro ServicesSlight redesign for 2016, stripes are narrower, and hood logo is slightly forward. C-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevy SS-New scheme for 2016, designed to look like Superman’s suit. A+

Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Red Vest Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, Jimmie Johnson Foundation logo replaces the Lowe’s Template.  D-

FURNITURE ROW RACING #78

Marin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Toyota CamryOther than the switch from Chevy to Toyota, there are no major changes. A+

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #88

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 TaxSlayer Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, red top and front, white bottom and back, gold designs separate the two. A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Nationwide Chevy SSNew scheme for 2015, reminiscent of old Mountain Dew/Amp Energy scheme. A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Axalta Chevy SS-New sponsor for 2016, red top, fade to yellow bottom, across whole car. A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Nationwide/Batman Chevy SS-New scheme for 2016, designed to look like Batman’s armor. A+

CIRCLE SPORT/LEAVINE FAMILY RACING #95

Ty Dillon #95 Cheerios Chevy SSNew sponsor and manufacturer for 2016 for Leavine Family Racing, after having merged with Circle Sport, and aligned with RCR. Aside from the new number, and a larger Kroger’s logo, no change. A+

Michael McDowell #95 Thrivent Financial Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, looks similar in design to the 2014, with a black, red, and white color scheme. B+

Michael McDowell #95 K-Love Chevy SSNew scheme for 2016, simpler template. A+

 

auto racing · my thoughts on

My Thoughts on 2016 Racing Rule Changes

By David G. Firestone

The term “game changer” is thrown around an awful lot these days. It’s a new buzzword. It’s been thrown around so much that it has more or less lost its meaning. It’s really sad, because when a real game changer happens, it’s overlooked. The three point line, deferring the coin toss, the DH rule, and the goalie mask were all game changers. A new kind of wing sauce, an action movie, and a new car are not game changers.

I say this because last week, just before I went on Vacation, The NHRA made a huge game changer of an announcement. Starting in 2016, the “Back Up Certification Rule” which requires a run within one percent of a record setting run to certify it as a record has been eliminated. So, effective immediately, any run that is a record setting run is automatically the record.

I’ve never like the 1% rule, I thought is was pointless. However, in the early days of drag racing, the automatic timing equipment was far less reliable than the CompuLink systems we have today, so it was needed to work around that. Since 2009, the CompuLink system has been very effective, and the 1% rule was a dinosaur of a rule.

This is really going to change the game. Remember Brainerd last year? Oh yeah, how could you forget? There were six different record setting runs in the nitro categories. Yet only Jack Beckman and Antron Brown came away with a set record, because they backed it up with 1%, so two of the six runs were for naught. With the new rules package, all six of those runs would be record setting runs, and Matt Hagan, not Jack Beckman would have the national ET record, with a 3.879, instead of Jack Beckman’s 3.883.

With the Winternationals this weekend, could we see new national records set? Well the conditions are hotter than Brainerd, but if Nitro Spring Training is anything to go by, there is a lot of speed coming from the various teams. John Force Racing, Don Schumacher Racing, and Kalitta Motorsports had a lot of good showings, so it would not shock me if at least one record is set this weekend.

As a part of this rule change, the 20 point bonus for setting the national ET record has also been eliminated. Again, this is a real game changer of a rule. The key to winning the countdown is to get as many points as you can during those six events. Remember “The Run” in 2006? The record ET point bonus is what gave Tony Schumacher the title. This will have a definitive effect on the championship standings. I’ll be interested to see how this works out.

The other game changer is scheduled to be announced tomorrow. It’s the NASCAR charter system. I haven’t discussed my feelings on it yet, but I’m going to say that I think it’s pointless. I’ve heard it described as similar to a taxi medallion system, where the teams purchase the charter from NASCAR, and if the owner chooses to leave the sport, they can sell it. It seems like a pointless change, designed to get more cash out of team owners. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Brian France.

Above and beyond that, if the rumors I’ve heard are true, the races will only feature 40 drivers instead of 43. Why? What could this possibly accomplish? Were there any short fields in 2015? I don’t remember any, and even if there were, it really didn’t matter that much, as there are a number of “start and park” teams that will occupy the bottom. I’m not sure that this will change that much, then again, I’ve been wrong before.

I’m going to reserve my judgment on the Chase format for the Xfinity and Truck Series, as it could actually work out quite well. That said, I understand a lot of people hate the new system, but I like the idea of taking away mulligans and keeping the pressure up. I think there will be an interesting championship scenario this year.

auto racing · friday feature

The Infinite Hero Foundation-A Great Cause, and a Great Driver!

beckman-1By David G. Firestone

Editor’s Note: I will be traveling to Tucson, Arizona this week, and I’m getting ready to fly for the first time in 11 years as you read this. I will have the Friday Feature and Throwback Thursday items next week, but no tracker or grades. In the meantime, here is my Friday Feature for the week.

I wrote about the Infinite Hero Challenge Coin program last year, and I’m going to revisit it. I’ve learned some more information about Infinite Hero Coins, that I didn’t have before, so I’m going to add this new info, for the sake of completeness.

Infinite Hero quickly realized that Oakley was a great partner, and began working with them to come up with some unique merchandise as a part of the partnership. The Infinite Hero Foundation was founded in 2011, and quickly acquired a partnership with Oakley. This resulted in a series of merchandise items sold by Oakley, with proceeds going to help the Foundation.

I’m not into sunglasses myself, but many people are, and Oakley has a lot of fanboys. So, once these glasses began to hit shelves, they sold quickly. This is a review from 4 years ago, of one such pair.

Notice the coin in the box? Of course you did. Aside from glasses and boots, Oakley realized that the coin would sell too. So sometime, I’m guessing 2012-2013, this coin was sold.ihc-2013-1It is quite thick, and has a ridged edge. One side featured “Courage, Honor, Virtue, Heroism,” around a globe design with an Oakley logo. Oakley is a partner with the Infinite Hero Foundation. The other side features an Infinite hero Foundation logo. The coin was placed in a round, flat plastic container, with black foam braces. The coin lacks the blue enamel that the coin that comes with the glasses coin, and future coins, and has a very plain look. I do like the plain look.ihc-2013-1 ihc-2013-2 ihc-2013-3 ihc-2013-4In April 2014, they started appearing on the side of Jack Beckman’s funny car.  Terry Chandler, who also sponsors Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make a Wish Foundation Funny Car, is the financial backer of the car.  She pays for Infinite Hero to race on the sides of the car.  This also began the NHRA coin program. This is a new form of racing memorabilia I have never seen before, though it’s a great idea. When Jack Beckman gets into his funny car to race, he carries at least 5 Infinite Hero Challenge Coins in the pocket of his driver suit. Once the race is over, he will autograph them and sell them at the track and on eBay. They cost $100 with all proceeds going to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

The idea of items carried in a pocket is not a new one. NASA has done this for years. Many space shuttle flights carried first day covers in the storage bay. When the shuttle landed, the covers were removed, and sold to collectors. I’m a little surprised this hasn’t been done before with auto racing, because I think that it would create a new memorabilia market.

The 2014 design that Jack used was identical to the one sold in stores, but the Infinite Hero Foundation logo has a purple enamel present. Jack autographed the plastic case.ihc-2014-1 ihc-2014-3 ihc-2014-2 ihc-2014-4A redesigned coin of the same size was introduced for 2015. The Oakley logos are gone. One side features a design similar to the globe design, but the globe design has been replaced with an American Flag design. “Courage, Honor, Virtue, Heroism” has been replaced with “Duty, Honor, Innovation, Courage.” The new emblem on the reverse side has one of the across bands removed. The new packaging is an upgrade, with the circular plastic cylinder replaced with an attractive box. It comes with a card that Jack Beckman autographed, and on the reverse it has the Infinite Hero Foundation Pledge. The first one is from The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Phoenix on February 22, 2015, where Jack was eliminated in the first round. ihc-2015-2 ihc-2015-3 ihc-2015-4 ihc-2015-5 ihc-2015-6 ihc-2015-7The second one is from the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, where Beckman won the event, beating Courtney Force in the final round.ihc-2015-2-1 ihc-2015-2-7 ihc-2015-2-6 ihc-2015-2-5 ihc-2015-2-4 ihc-2015-2-3 ihc-2015-2-2The Infinite Hero Foundation is a worthwhile charity, designed to help our nations veterans. I fully support them, and I encourage my readers to try and buy at least one of these coins. Jack Beckman is a great spokesman for the Infinite Hero Foundation. I reached out to him for an interview about his racing uniforms, and he happily obliged…

DGF-Could you explain, from a driver’s perspective, how you want your suit to fit?

JB-It really depends on the kind of vehicle you are driving. Top Fuel dragsters you are more sitting on the ground, funny cars you are sitting more upright. Sponsors want their logos front and center, so we have to work around that. I also don’t like my suit to be too baggy, because when they put the seven point harness on, it will fold over.

DGF-You wear an SFI 20 rated suit, how many layers of Nomex does your suit have?

JB-Well, the SFI rating is only based on how long the suit will protect the wearer. In testing, a 20 rated suit will protect the wearer for up to, I think, 40 seconds, and that is based on how long it takes the mannequin in the testing facility to sense the fire. Older generations of suit would need 12 layers to do what the new materials could to in 6 or 7 layers. If there were an amazingly durable material, you could have it in one or two layers.

DGF-When a suit is burned so that the Nomex is discolored, do you feel anything?

JB-The discoloration is from the dye in the suit, but not really. The big screens and the slow motion video are astounding though. We as drivers experience it in the moment, but watching it on the big screen, you see so many more things than you never would notice otherwise. When the body gets lifted during the explosion, the firewall that’s to shield the fire coming back from the engine is no longer there. Then you can feel it get warm. But the materials today and the construction of the suit, they’re just light years better than one and two generations ago, to the point that I don’t ever want to say that there’s a “routine fire” but you could have one that looks pretty darn impressive on the big screen, and get out of the car 100% unscathed.

DGF-My next question, it’s a hypothetical one, but it is one I think I need to ask, For most of your career, you have worn Impact driver suits. If you were to switch manufacturers, let’s say to Simpson, would you be able to notice the difference?

JB-Hmm…interesting question. If they are using different materials, maybe. The older style Impact suits, when I first started running funny car in 2006, were much stiffer, it was a different material, it was bulkier, more constrictive. I believe, along manufacturers lines, you might still have a choice of material there. The construction methods are all very similar, and sizing, it’s an individual thing. You can check a box on your order form that says “small” “medium” or “large,” or you can send them custom measurements and they’ll build it to that. So I don’t think you would notice with the newest light weight material for manufacturer to manufacturer. That said, you’d have to stick me in a room with a blind fold, and have me try on every men’s suit so I could give you an answer with some authority.

DGF-Along those same lines, would you have any concerns going into the switch?

JB-Well they all have to meet the same criteria. Here’s the thing, the NHRA rule book mandates a minimum amount of protection. When they tell you, if you drive a fuel funny car, you need a 3.2-20 suit, which includes a certain spec of gloves and over-boot worn on top of your driver shoes. They don’t tell you that you have to wear thermal underwear underneath. Up until 4 years ago, they didn’t tell you that you needed to wear a head sock under your helmet. You don’t have to wear inner-liner gloves under your fire gloves. I wear all that stuff. So it’s up to the driver if they want more protection than the minimum.

The fire suit manufacturers have to prove that their equipment satisfies a certain spec. There is no spec higher for drag racing that the 20. But it’s possible that some of the suit manufacturers make them to a higher level spec. I’ve been in some pretty big fires, and have walked away, I singed my eyebrow once, when the concussion blew my visor up on the helmet. Aside from that, I have had zero injuries, which gives me a lot of confidence in the equipment I wear. I feel that I have tested several times, and it’s passed with flying colors every time. Now the other manufacturers have to meet that same spec.

DGF-Do you, over the course of an event, wear the same suit for every run, or do you switch them out occasionally?

-Typically at the beginning of the year, we will have two suits constructed, just in case one gets in a fire, and gets disfigured. I had a sleeve changed out, and it wasn’t a safety issue, it had melted some of the sponsor logos. Typically, I won’t switch suits until we get to The Countdown, because the funny car suits tend to get run down, and dirty from the continual clutch dust, run after run. I just want a fresh looking suit for the photo shoot, once I get to The Countdown. Then I’ll save the suit I wore for the first 18 races as a backup suit. I will wear the same suit the whole weekend long. The only thing I rotate out over the course of a weekend are the thermal underwear and the head sock because once I get out of the car, they’re sweaty, and I’ll hang them up to dry, and put fresh ones on for the next run, and keep rotating them.

DGF-When you are getting into your uniform prior to a run, start to finish, how long does it take to get everything on?

JB-It’s no longer…getting suited up is really no longer than getting street clothes on. I’ve got thermal underwear, top and bottom, so that would be like putting on underwear and a t-shirt. I’ve got my driving shoes…I’m sorry, I put on my firesuit, driving shoes, my over-boots-so it’s almost like a pair of slip-om rain galoshes over your tennis shoes. The thing that’s a little more time consuming is once your getting ready to get into the car, is getting the head sock on, getting that tucked down into the collar of the jacket, my helmet on, and strapped. I wear glasses, so I put those on. Inner gloves have to go on, outer gloves have to go on. I’ve got to walk over to the car, duck down underneath, get in, and then, the 7-way harnesses, as well as the fact that I’m wearing a head and neck protection device, they make it really tight, once you are in the cockpit, and the crew guys are working in some pretty constrictive spaces. The body’s still on the car, so they’re ducking under that. You’ve got this bulky firesuit, so you’re taking up most of the cockpit. They’re getting these straps laid out on you, they gotta plug the radio in, plug the air hose into the helmet, get all the straps buckled in, then get you tightened, so that can take a good amount of time, but I’ll tell you, you get in a pretty good rhythm with this thing.

I typically get suited up and walk over to the car five pairs from when we run. If we were pinched for time, we could do it with two pairs to go. But I don’t like to do that for a couple of reasons. The first one is that you just hate to feel rushed, but I’m okay with that, psychologically it doesn’t affect me. I don’t like doing that to the crew guys because typically, once they’ve got me strapped into the car, they’ve got a couple other tasks that they need to do as we’re towing up to the starting line. I don’t want to rush them, and have them feel any extra anxiety about the things they need to get done.

DGF-Alright, you mentioned gloves, shoes, and over-boots, how long do those items typically last over the course of a season?

JB-I’ll typically put my firesuit on with my driving shoes, and my boots on in the tow vehicle, I’ll walk up to the starting line, inspect things, walk back to the tow rig, so I’ll put a couple of miles a year on my driving shoes. The only thing that wears them out, as you can imagine, is the sole if you walk enough steps. Other than that, you can get a full season out of them. The over-boots, it really depends. If you have a fire, since they’re typically near the source of the fire, I would replace them after that. They get pretty beat up with the clutch dust on them, and blowing them out run after run, so I’ll typically use two pairs of them over the course of a season. Same thing with the gloves. Putting them on and off is what eventually wears them out. I like wearing the tight gloves which means the crew guy is rolling them up, stretching them over my hand, pulling them back down over the cuff of the firesuit, and that takes its toll on them. We’ll make 170 runs over the course of a year, so after 100 runs, it’s usually time to replace those.

DGF-I’d like to talk about your helmet visor for a second, because I’ve noticed that there are a lot of drivers who black out part of their visors to create tunnel vision, so they can only focus on their lane. Are you one of those drivers?

JB-The Clydesdale Effect? Like blinding the horses so they don’t get spooked? No, I’ve tried that in the past, and I’m a big proponent of doing anything that you think will make you perform better. If you think a red glove will make you drive better than a blue glove, it will. It’s psychological more than it’s mechanical. There is definitely a value in removing distractions, when you get up to the starting line. But to do that, you’d better have three visors prepared. Let’s say you wear a clear visor, and the helmet rolls out of the tow vehicle in the staging lane, and the visor gets scratched. You’d better have another clear visor, with the blinders in place. Because if you swap it out for one without them, that’s gonna screw you up, probably, right? You did it for psychological purposes, and now somethings change. Ponoma is a track where we really face, Sonoma it happens too, but Ponoma is probably the worst, we get very high glare conditions, and you have to go to a dark visor. So you’d better have a dark visor prepared for that, and a clear one ready to go in case the clouds come in. So I’m fine with that. I feel like whatever a driver needs to do to keep them in a mental zone, where their performance is at a top level. That’s not to say in two years, I might decide that that works better for me. I’ve tried yellow visors, clear visors, light tint, dark tint, glasses, no glasses, and the reality is that I’m pretty much the same without them. But I do the one that I feel like, removes the most distractions, and therefore, puts me at a higher level of focus.

DGF-Alright Jack, this is my last question. I’m a memorabilia guy, and do you keep uniforms, or other items from special moments in your career that have special meaning to you?

JB-Yeah, it’s funny you ask that, because my wife is so clean and organized, and not sentimental. And I don’t get to keep anything. I get some bitchin’ souvenirs from fans, and I bring them home and say “where do you think that’s gonna go?” So I’ve got a little pile of stuff there. Yes, I do keep all my helmets. I’ve only ever sold…I’m sorry, let me rephrase that, I’ve only ever…not kept…two of my helmets. One of those I gave to my good friend Ronnie Swearingen, and last I checked, it was on display, with the rest of his helmet collection at the Garlitts museum. The other one was I had a duplicate helmet painted because a gentleman really, really, REALLY liked the design, and I told him “I’m not getting rid of helmets.” He paid to have a duplicate made, and I wore it for one race. Firesuits, Schumacher gets them back at the end of the year, and puts them on eBay. But if we do multiple suits, usually I can keep one of them.

DGF-Alright Jack, thank you very much, it was an interesting interview.

JB-You know it’s interesting, I’ve done thousands of interviews, which typically means, when I do an interview not much is unique. Yours was a completely unique interview.

auto racing

Throwback Thursday- Eddie Bierschwale-1986

By David G. Firestone

Eddie Bierschwale in his 1986 Kodak Pontiac Grand Prix is our feature for this week’s installment of Throwback Thursday.

I really miss Kodak in NASCAR, I really do. They had one of my favorite shades of yellow that has ever graced the side of a race car. The shade of red they used contrasts quite well with the yellow, and works well. The outline on the door numbers is a bit unnessciary, but I can live with it. I like what they did with the hood and roof, giving it a camera film motif. I also like the yellow bordered red numbers on the roof as well.

As much as I like the paint scheme, the 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix is horrible looking. The bubble rear windshield, and the bumper on the front end look awful, and take away from a decent look. I will say that I like the color-coordinated window net. I think that should make a comeback.