Firesuits have evolved over the years. Their primary function has always been to protect the wearer from burns in the event of the fire. They also have to allow the wearer to perform whatever task they are required to do for the team. In recent years, they have also become advertising pieces for the sponsor of the team. These three requirements created one of the oddest firesuit setups in racing history…the three-piece firesuit.
Three-piece firesuits have a vest, a corresponding undershirt, and a pair of pants. In theory, the three-piece allows for the same protection as a two-piece, with the advantage of giving the wearer less restriction while moving, and the ability to change the vest in case of sponsor change, fire damage, or in case the vest needs cleaning. This seems like a great idea, but for whatever reason, despite being used by many teams in the Truck, Xfinity, and Sprint Cup Series, the three-piece never took off, and remains an oddity in racing uniform design.
The drawbacks for the uniform design are quite obvious. Yes, the vest/shirt combo has an SFI 5 rating, however, without the undershirt, the vests are…well…useless. Fire doesn’t choose what to burn and what not to burn, and without the undershirt, the vest is little more than a fashion accessory. Also, this type of suit could have different vests for the top, but a new pair of pants is needed for new sponsors. Nothing is saved in terms of costs.
Recently, I purchased a huge amount of vests at a decent price, and I will examine the whole three-piece suit thing for a while. We are going to start with this Joe Nemechek vest from 2007.Here is what it looks like with an undershirt, but more on that later.The team was sponsored for three races by the Swig Inc. division of the now-defunct Brunton Vineyard Inc. They raced in three races, Daytona, Fontana, and Las Vegas, and had no real major successes during that season. The vest is designed exactly like Nemechek’s driver suit.The collar has BRUTON VINEYARDS embroidered into it.The right chest has NASCAR NATIOWIDE SERIES, CHEVY, and NEMCO MOTORSPORTS logos present. The Nationwide Series logo is out of place, but more on that later.The left chest has MOONSHINE RACING and BCC SPORTS logos present.The front torso has SWIG and BRUNTON VINEYARDS logos embroidered into it.The warranty label is present inside the front zipper.The unique thing about vest is that the bottom has a hem which can be tightened. There are Velcro straps which can be adjusted present. The shoulders have red epaulets with GOODYEAR logos embroidered into them. The vest has classic vest sleeve holes present where the sleeves and gussets would be. The back of the suit has large SWIG and BRUNTON VINEYARDS logos present. The second tag is in the back of the hem. This tag is an identification tag, which has been left black, except for what appears to be DB4 written in blue marker.Next week, we will keep with the vineyard theme, and examine another vest, which, like this vest, has an oddity to it.