With the rise of racing as a televised sport, sponsors and sanctioning bodies are eager to get their brands on television. This has given rise to an interesting industry, the interview cap. These are caps worn by drivers and/or crew members for interviews. In Formula 1, the drivers on the podium are issued caps with Pirelli logos, feathers on the brim, P-Zero on the left side, and the rank and location on the left side. IndyCar drivers are issued Firestone branded caps. NASCAR will issue hats to the drivers in victory lane, some drivers choose to wear their own sponsor caps, and then, the hat dance takes place.
The story behind these interview hats in drag racing is interesting. Mello Yello and the NHRA give these hats out to drivers at events, and there are a series of different colors. There are four different sets of interview hats. For qualifying and round winners who don’t wear a sponsor hat after getting out of a car for an interview, they are given a black hat. For 2016 the orange and gray hats were eliminated. They are all of the same design. For the driver who qualifies #1, they are given a green hat, with a #1 Qualifier patch with their respective class.I got a #1 qualifier interview cap from The Thunder Valley Nationals. It’s a one-size fits all green cotton hat. It has the old Mello Yello Drag Racing Series logo embroidered on the front, a #1 Qualifier patch on the side, and an NHRA logo above the Velcro strap, and the venue name BRISTOL on the Velcro strap. I got it signed by Tony Schumacher, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Fast Jack Beckman, Erica Enders-Stevens, JR Todd, Alexis DeJoria, John Hale, TJ Zizzo, Antron Brown, Terry McMillen, Hector Arana Sr. Clay Millican, Hector Arana Jr., Angelle Sampey, Robert Hight, Leah Pritchett, and John Force. The drivers who win the event get a yellow cap, with a winner patch to wear, similar in design to the #1 qualifier hat. The cap color is yellow, on the patch, the word WINNER replaces #1. As with the qualifyer hat, the race venue is embroidered into the back strap. This example is an unused winner circle hat, with no class on the side, or race venue on the back strap. It comes signed by Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman, and Matt Hagan. The drivers who win the championship get a white hat.
Most NHRA drivers wear these hats during interviews, except for John Force who prefers to wear his own hat for an interview after he qualifies #1 or wins. The white hat for the championship was possibly inspired by Force. Though I haven’t found any concrete evidence of that. Drivers do not keep these hats for themselves, even the championship ones, and they often find their way on to eBay. They are popular to get signed by drivers at events.
We are going to keep the headgear train rolling with a post next week about a helmet.