A Piece of the On-Track Action

By David G. Firestone

Trading cards have always been a fickle business. Mostly geared towards kids, card companies slowly have begun to realize that there are adult collectors out there. In addition, the trading card boom of the late 80’s and 1990’s is now over. In the late 1980’s, card companies began producing more and more cards. They did sell, but it soon became clear that many of these cards wouldn’t have any real value, much like the comic book boom and Beanie Baby boom happening around the same time.

In order to bring buyers back, card companies started trying some interesting giveaways. Some worked, like autographs and swatch cards. Others, like the infamous Ty Cobb jersey fiasco, weren’t as successful. Starting as early as 1991, companies started putting autographed cards randomly in packs. As this proved a popular draw, this continued and expanded for many years.

Early autograph cards came in the form of standard 3½ inch by 2½ inch cards, which the subject has signed. I’ve collected a number of 1994 Finish Line Gold signed cards, pulled out of packs. The cards are signed in gold pen. These include Ricky Craven, Ray Evernham signed on a #24 car card, David Green, Dale Jarrett, Robert Presley, and a couple of Hermie Sadler signed cards. As time went on, companies began stepping up their game, and started creating special cards specific to autographs. These have also included some memorabilia swatches. An example is this 2004 Donruss card is a standard 3½ inch by 2½ inch card, with a small piece of wood inside the card, which Kiner signed. Because of the wood, the card is much thicker than normal. The card depicts Kiner in a Pirates uniform. There is a COA of sorts on the back. Standard cards that don’t have memorabilia swatches are standard thickness, and frequently have the driver sign the card directly. I have a number of these cards, including this 2004 Wheels Kyle Petty, this 2006 Press Pass Mark Martin, and this 2007 Press pass Cale Gale, Other card companies use stickers, which the player signs, and can be added to the card at a later date. This has led to controversy in the past. This Christy Hemme TriStar card from 2012 is an example of this. With the success of autographed cards, companies began making cards with swatches of game-used memorabilia inside them. This has, to a certain extent, rejuvenated the market. I used to hate these cards, but I’ve softened my stance on them. These started in the early 2000’s, as exampled by this 2003 Eclipse John Andretti/Kyle Petty race-used tire card. The most popular item to put in a card is a uniform swatch. The uniform is usually the most visible part of the player. The uniform is cut into small pieces, usually 1 inch square, and placed in special thick cards. Since these cards are thicker, packs that don’t have these cards have special piece of cardboard. Other uniform pieces, and equipment is put in these cards. Some examples include this Kasey Kahne/Brian Vickers 2005 Press Pass driver suit card, this Ryan Newman 2006 Eclipse car cover card, this 2012 Panini Limited Derrick Rose uniform card, this 2013 Carl Edwards Press Pass tire card, this 2013 Press Pass Denny Hamlin driver suit card, this 2013 Press Pass Elliott Sadler driver suit card, this 2013 Press Pass Michael Waltrip driver suit card, this 2014 Press Pass Carl Edwards driver suit card, this 2014 Press Pass Casey Mears sheet metal card, this 2014 Press Pass Brian Scott driver suit card, and this 2017 Panini Matt Kenseth driver suit card. Not all swatch cards are of athletes. Historical figures are also featured, as exampled by this large swatch 2016 Leaf Jack Ruby Wardrobe card. Sometimes the memorabilia comes from a specific event, This example is a piece of a tire from Kurt Busch’s 2014 Martinsville victory, from Press Pass. Some of the more valuable and desirable swatch cards have multiple pieces from a player. I have a few examples, including this 2013 Press Pass Greg Biffle Driver Suit/Sheet Metal card. And this 2016 Casey Mears Panini Driver Suit/Sheet Metal/Tire card. Sometimes two members of a team, and their memorabilia are featured on cards, such as this 2017 Panini Jamie McMurray/Kyle Larson driver suit card. Early on, when special inserts were still in their infancy, holograms, which were becoming more common, were placed in cards at random. Upper Deck used team logo holograms in their early baseball card series. In 1994, Finish Line Gold added a limited edition Ernie Irvan hologram card, which was limited to 5000 pieces. This example is #2201. Also in 1994, Finish Line Gold randomly inserted phone cards, numbered to 3000. Included were Jeff Gordon, #2083, Ernie Irvan, #803, and Kyle Petty #1155. One seemingly unintended side effect of these various kinds of cards being placed in boxes is the box break. What people on YouTube will do is get boxes, and open all of the packs in the box, and see what kinds of goodies are inside of the box. I’ve done a number of them. I’ve made a compilation of my box beaks:

I hope this trend continues for some time, as it is helping card sell, and the videos are fun to watch.

Tailgating Time:

I promised that I would bring back Tailgating Time, and I’m following through. This is a recipe for Chicken Parm, which is popular now, and would work well for a gathering to watch the Daytona 500!

Chicken Parmesan

8 Servings


2 pounds chicken cutlets

Garlic salt

8 ounces mushrooms(or more)

1 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon salad oil

1 tomato sauce

8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese


1-Brown chicken in heavy skillet, remove to flat baking dish

2-Sprinkle with garlic salt

3-Cover with mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, top with Parmesan cheese

4-Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until tender, serve with pasta.

Next week, a race-worn pit crew suit that saw victory lane!


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