Endurance car racing has had many forms in the US. One of the most noted sanctioning bodies was the American LeMans Series. Founded in 1999 by Don Panoz, owner of Road Atlanta and the brains behind the Petit Le Mans, the American LeMans Series or ALMS was one of the major sports car racing series, in addition to the Grand-Am Road Racing. From 1999 to 2013, American LeMans raced LeMans Prototypes and Grand Touring classes in a number of rovals, and road courses. In 2014, American LeMans and Grand Am merged to create the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is run by IMSA.
As I mentioned last week, sports car racing doesn’t have the visibility of NASCAR or F1, but they do have a large and dedicated fanbase. Also, while NASCAR tends to have American based drivers, sports car racing attracts drivers from all over the world. One such driver is British driver Guy Smith. While he has a boring name, he has had a great career, winning the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2003 for Team Bentley in the Bentley Speed 8 LeMans Prototype. Prior to racing in sports cars, he raced in the Indy Lights series, then he raced in Champ Car. While racing sports cars, he would alternate between ALMS and Grand Am.
In 2005, Smith signed with Dyson Racing. Together, Smith and Dyson would go on to have a successful partnership for many years. The partnership has 6 wins, 42 podiums, and the 2011 championship. In 2011, the team won a single race, The 2011 Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT, but with 7 podiums in 9 races, they solidly won the championship. During that season, Smith wore this undershirt.The shirt shows light use, with some very light stains. Guy has signed the front of the shirt and added “Lime Rock 2011”The thick front collar has a Stand 21 tag sewn into it. The tag has the FIA Certification as well as the Stand 21 logo.The front has DUNLOP, BP BIOFUELS, THETFORD, MAZDA, DYSON RACING, and CASTROL logos heat-pressed into the white material. Guy has signed the area under the Castrol logo, and added “Lime Rock 2011.” The bottom-left side of the shirt features a Stand 21 tag, and sewn into the inside is a wash tag that indicates that the shirt is “50% Aramid 50% Viscose.” The shoulders and sleeves are in a black cloth, as opposed to the white front and back. They have no logos or patterns adornment. The back of the shirt is plain white. I’m noting something that I noticed. The shirt is 50% Aramid and 50% Viscose. What I find odd is that a racing undershirt would be certified when it is made of material that isn’t known for its fire retardant properties. I had never heard of Viscose prior to this, and from what I’ve been able to find, it’s more of a material used for a t-shirt or shorts, than for a racing shirt. Also, unlike the items I will examine in the coming weeks, this shirt is decently thick, and quite hefty.
It’s also worth noting that the reason there are sponsor logos on the shirt is so the driver doesn’t have to wear his firesuit up while on camera and the sponsors can still get exposure. I will discuss stuff of similar design in the coming weeks. What I’ve noticed is that while it’s practical, it is only being used in NASCAR by Jamie McMurray,
and Kyle Larson of Ganassi Racing.
I’m really wondering why this isn’t the standard in NASCAR like it is in Formula 1. It makes logical sense from a comfort perspective, and a sponsor exposure perspective. Every suit is designed with maximum sponsor exposure in mind. I can’t understand why an undershirt wouldn’t receive the same treatment.
Next Week, Formula 1 Month starts!