Wheel Reviews-Pit Stop-1969

By David G. Firestone

Most movie fans haven’t heard of Jack Hill. He is an exploitation director, who made a number of films, including Foxy Brown, The Big Doll House, City On Fire, and Spider Baby. He is credited with discovering Pam Grier, Sid Haig, and Ellen Burstyn. Quentin Tarantino has gone so far as to call Hill “the Howard Hawks of exploitation filmmaking”.

At some point in the late 1960’s, Hill went to a figure 8 stock car race. A figure 8 track is in the configuration of an 8, and the cross is where a lot of wrecks happen. Hill as so enamored with this kind of racing, that he made a movie about it. Origially titled “The Winner” it had to be changed to “Pit Stop” to avoid confusion with the Paul Newman racing film Winning released that same year.

The movie starts with a clearly tricked out car pulling into a parking space. Even though the movie is called “Pit Stop,” The Winner title card is still present. Two more cars drive and park nearby while the opening credits roll. More and more cars pill up in the middle of the street.

While the group admires the first car, a man walks over to one of the other cars, and discusses a racing bet. While the man in the suit watches, a street race takes place. Engines rev, and the race starts. One car hits a spilled can of Schitlz, and drives into the side of the house. The other driver, the main character, and tries, but fails to evade the police.

The man who made the bets drives to the police station, where the driver is released. The man who made the bet, Grant Willard, played by Brian Donlevy. The driver is Rick Bowman, played by Richard Davalos. Rick clearly doesn’t trust Grant, but Grant reveals that he is involved with real racing.

Grant takes Rick to a figure 8 race at Ascot Park. As the announcer says last names, he mentions Curtis Turner. The racing action is intense, with a series of wrecks, and mangled cars. One car is racing with the hood blocking the front windshield. Rick is freaked out by the on-track action, and Grant asks he wants to try it. Rick states that he “…would rather go back to the joint.” Eventually, a winner is crowned, and the crowd hates him. The driver is Hawk Sidney played by Sid Haig.

After the race, Rick, Hawk, and Grant meet up at a bar. Grant introduces Hawk to Rick. Hawk gives Rick a speech, and he reminds me of Cutter from House of 1000 Corpses, also played by Haig. After the speech, Grant asks Rick if he wants to race, to which Rick responds with “where can I get a car?”

The scene shifts to a junkyard car dealer, who shows Rick a car, and they discuss racing, and Grant. The two agree on a deal for the car. Rick takes the car back to the track, and enters his first race. As with the last scene, the action is fast, and Rick and the driver who wrecked him get in a fight. As he got wrecked, he how has to work at the junkyard , until the car is paid in full. In the junkyard, Rick works on cars, while Hawk combs the yard for a car.

Hawk decides to tease Rick as he works on a car. As Hawk leaves, Rick meets Jolene, played by Beverly Washburn. The two talk about the fight at the track, and then she leaves. The scene shifts back to the track, where Rick and Hawk race. Again, the racing action is great. Rick gets wrecked, and has to end his race early. Rick meets and old mechanic, and it’s revealed that Grant told Hawk that Grant would give Hawk’s car to Rick if Rick beat Hawk. More of the same follows at the junkyard. Mixed in with the junkyard are sequences where Rick gets a series of tips on how to improve his racing.

Another race is shown, but Rick is in the crowd for this one. Here, Ed McCLeod is introduced. Hawk shows up with a custom car, and he makes it clear that he will cause bodily harm to anyone who messes up his car. Rick convinces Grant to a deal where if Rick beats Hawk, Grant will sponsor Rick at Phoenix International. Rick is more aggressive with his racing. Rick ends up wrecking Hawk to take the win. As the track crew sprays Hawks’ car with a fire extinguisher, they spray him in the face. Hawk is clearly enraged.

The scene shifts to a club where Jolene and Rick dance with each other. Rick and Jolene, go outside, and sit in a car. Rick is clearly drunk, and the two start to make out. They stop, and the two go for a drive. The two agree to go to a motel, and decide to get some more booze. A drunk Hawk stalks the two. Hawk crashes into Rick, and beats both Rick and his car, to Jolene’s horror. Rick fights back but Hawk continues the beatings.

Rick is taken to the hospital, where he is diagnosed with a concussion. He is told to get bed rest. Rick goes to a pay phone, and calls Grant, who is discussing a new car with a custom car maker. Rick asks Grant where he can find Ed McCLeod Grant jokes with Hawk about Rick, but Hawk’s demeanor strikes Grant as odd.

Rick walks into a random store room, where the lights are oddly flickering, which is caused by a welder. The welder is Ellen McCLeod, Ed’s wife, played by Ellen Burstyn. Eventually, Ed meets Rick. They discuss beating Hawk, and racing at Phoenix. Ed doesn’t believe Rick isn’t cut out for real racing. Rick convinces Ed to watch him at a race.

Another day, another figure 8 race, and more great racing action. Rick is getting his car ready, and has Jolene break his arm cast with a hammer. Hawk is also racing, and for some reason, has STP written on his hand. This would be a great time to mention that the announcing for the races is amazing, on par with Dorf Goes Auto Racing. Hawk and Rick avoid wrecks, and the race continues. Hawk gets spun out, and Rick wins. Ed admits that Rick is good “…for a rookie.”

Jolene congratulates Rick, and Hawk approaches menacingly. Hawk offers to buy Rick a beer, then apologizes. The scene shifts to the club, where Hawk dances, and Grant, Ed, and Rick discuss business. An idea comes across to bring Hawk along to Phoenix to win the race.

Rick goes back to his motel, drinks, and smokes. Jolene is all over him. They talk about the idea of him winning at Phoenix. The discussion turns to religion, and Jolene babbles for a little bit. Back at the shop, the cars are coming along, and Rick is enamored with Ellen. The group goes off-roading in the desert. The desert hill climbing scene is very well shot, and is great.

That night, a friendly sing along near a fire happens. Jolene is really into it, dancing around, where others are talking about their cars. Ellen decides to take a walk in the desert. After asking if there is any place left in the world without empty beer cans, the two make out.

The scenes shifts to the race track, where Sonny Simpson, the new antagonist,is introduced. Hawk decides to tease Sonny. Hawk qualifies better than Sonny. Sonny is easily riled, and Hawk is trying to get in Sonny’s head. Rick qualifies well, and then Ed qualifies. Ellen and Ed discuss the upcoming race at the Oasis Motel. Ed and Ellen decide to take a real vacation. Ed also tells Ellen that if he wins, they will start a family.

The scene shifts to Jolene taking a shower, while Rick reads Hot Rod. Jolene tries to get Rick to notice her, but he keeps reading. The two begin arguing. Rick is stressed because of the race, Jolene is upset because Rick keeps getting mad.

Race day begins at Phoenix. Rick makes an adjustment to his car, while Grant looks on. Grant tells Rick that he doesn’t car who wins the race, so long as one of his drivers wins. The race begins. Hawk eventually takes the lead. Sonny isn’t going down quietly, and the two battle for the lead. Hawks engine eventually gives out, and Rick starts moving up the lead. A dejected Hawk looks over his car. Sonny is now in the lead, and is rapidly lapping the field. Sonny gets spun out, and Rick is in second. Ed and Rick are first and second in the race, coming into the checkered flag, and Ed is spun out and hit. Rick takes over. Ed climbs out of the car, and is placed in an ambulance. Rick goes on to win the race.

After the race, it’s revealed that Ed has been taken to the hospital. Rick makes his way to the hospital, and eventually finds Jolene, who tearfully tells Rick that Ed has died from his injuries. As Rick walks into the hospital room, Grant, Ellen, and Hawk give Rick looks. Though Grant tries to reassure Rick that nobody blames Rick for what happened. Ellen breaks down into tears, while Grant and Rick leave to discuss Riverside. Rick asks Jolene to come to Riverside, and Jolene responds with “I don’t like you anymore.” Grant pulls up in his car, Rick gets in, and the movie ends.

I’m going to give this movie an A. I really can’t complain. The acting is amazing, especially Sid Haig. The story is good, the characters work well, and the music is awesome. I really can’t say anything bad about it.

Next week, I revisit a non-racing topic.

Paint Scheme Tracker-January 29, 2020

By David G. Firestone

CHIP GANASSI RACING #1

Kurt Busch #1 Monster Energy Chevy CamaroNo change. A

TEAM PENSKE #2

Brad Keselowski #2 Discount Tire Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Autotrader Ford MustangNo change. C

Brad Keselowski #2 Pirtek Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, dark purple with yellow Penske template. F

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wabash National Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Dent Wizard Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 20 #12. F

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #3

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy CamaroNo Change. B+

Austin Dillon #3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, black top, green stripe around number, silver bottom. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #4

Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang-New scheme for 2020, silver replaces black on hood and roof. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Light Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy Johns Ford MustangNo change. A-

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #6

Ryan Newman #6 Oscar Meyer Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, green with white and bacon motif. A

Ryan Newman #6 Castrol Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2019, white, green, red, and black with zig-zag designs. C

Ryan Newman #6 Oscar Meyer Ford Mustang-New scheme for 2020, black with red and yellow bottles and splatter motif. F

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #8

Tyler Reddick #8 Caterpillar Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #9

Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Chevy CamaroNo change. B+

Chase Elliott #9 Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Chevy Camaro-New scheme for 2020, black with green Camaro stripes and green stripes on sides. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #10

Aric Almirola #10 Smithfield Foods Ford MustangNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #11

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota CamryNo Change. B+

TEAM PENSKE #12

Ryan Blaney #12 Menard’s/Jack Links Beef Jerky Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 2020 #21. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, reverse color scheme of Shell/Pennzoil. D

Ryan Blaney #12 Dex Imaging Ford MustangNo change. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Body Armor Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, the designs on sides have been cleaned up. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #14

Clint Bowyer #14 Rush’s Truck Stops Ford MustangNo change. A

Clint Bowyer #14 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #17

Chris Buescher #17 SunnyD Ford MustangNo change. F

Chris Buescher #17 Fastenal Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, side stripes have been toned down. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #18

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota CamryNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #

Martin Truex Jr. # Bass Pro Shops Toyota CamryNo change. C-

Martin Truex Jr. # Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota CamryNo change. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #20

Erik Jones #20 DeWalt Toyota CamryNo change. A

Erik Jones #20 Stanley Toyota CamryNo change. C

WOOD BROTHERS RACING #21

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Menards/Maytag Ford MustangNo change. A

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Motorcraft Ford MustangNo change. A

TEAM PENSKE #22

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #24

William Byron #24 Hertz Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

William Byron #24 Axalta Chevy CamaroNo change. A

GO FAS RACING #32

Corey LaJoie #32 Pala Casino Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, red fade to black. A

Corey LaJoie #32 Schluter Systems Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, orange waffle design remains but black and red flames have been added. B+

FRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS #36

John Hunter Nemechek #36 Speedy Cash Ford MustangNo change. A

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING #37

Ryan Preece #37 Cottonelle Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, blue, white, yellow with a series of stripes and designs on sides and front. C

CHIP GANASSI RACING #42

Kyle Larson #42 Credit One Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Kyle Larson #42 Advent Health Chevy CamaroNew sponsor for 2020, green, blue, pink, and silver with cutting edge design on sides. F

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS #43

Darrell Wallace Jr. #43 Air Force Chevy CamaroNo change. A

Darrell Wallace Jr. #43 World Wide Technology Chevy CamaroNo change. C

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING #47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #47 Kroger Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, blue, with a white stripe and white designs on rear. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #48

Jimmie Johnson #48 Ally Financial Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, black with cutting edge designs on sides. A

MBM MOTORSPORTS #49

Chad Finchum #49 Garrison Homes/Toyota Knoxville Toyota Camry-New sponsor for 2020, blue and white with curves on sides. B+

SPIRE MOTORSPORTS #77

Ross Chastain #77 Advent Health Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2020, same as #42. F

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #88

Alex Bowman #88 Cincinnati, Inc. Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Alex Bowman #88 LLumar Window Film Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, vertical rectangle design. A

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Throwback Chevy CamaroNo change. A

LEAVINE FAMILY RACING #95

Christopher Bell #95 Rheem Toyota Camry-New sponsor for 2020, red, white, and black with stripes. B+

Christopher Bell #95 Procore Chevy Toyota CamryNo change. F

Paint Scheme Grades-January 25, 2020

By David G. Firestone

Chase Elliott #9 Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Chevy Camaro-The color scheme works well, it isn’t over designed, and the car looks great. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Body Armor Ford Mustang-Cleaning up the side really works, and the car goes from an A- to an A.

Corey LaJoie #32 Pala Casino Ford Mustang-I love a good fade, and with a great color scheme, this is a good fade. A

Corey LaJoie #32 Schluter Systems Ford Mustang-I would normally like the addition of flames, but this design is a bit over designed. In addition, the addition of red doesn’t really help. Still, it’s not terrible, so I’ll give it a B+.

Ryan Preece #37 Cottonelle Chevy Camaro-The best way I can describe this scheme is that there’s nothing wrong with this scheme, but nothing right either. I’ll give it a C.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #47 Kroger Chevy Camaro-This looks like a really good scheme, I like the color scheme, and the car as a whole looks great.

Wheel Reviews-The Hot Rod Story-Drag Racing-1965

By David G. Firestone

Hot Rod magazine first hit the shelves in January of 1948. Robert E. Petersen of Petersen Publishing Company published it, and NHRA founder Wally Parks was their first editor. It features tech tips, stories and many well designed and built hot rods. The NHRA or National Hot Rod Association and Hot Rod Magazine have been great for the sport of drag racing.

The two had an official partnership in a series of races. The Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drag Races took place at Riverside, California between 1961 and 1969. All the professional categories, and many sportsman categories took part in the event. The 1965 Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drag Races featured the A/FX (Factory Experimental) category, which would evolve into what we call Funny Cars.

In 1965, a film, The Hot Rod Story-Drag Racing, was produced covering the 1965 event. It was produced by Robert E. Petersen, and narrated by Dick Enberg. Surprisingly, there isn’t much information about this movie. Enberg hosts the movie as a sports show.

The opening features a drag race, with what can be called typical California drag racing music over the credits. Dick introduces the show, and then cuts to a historical package about the history of drag racing. The background music in this scene is very ill-fitting, better suited for a last dance at prom scene. The package covers circle track, as well as salt flat racing. The cars all look amazing in this package.

The history of the NHRA is detailed, and the various classes are discussed. Again, for some reason, very ill-fitting music is used in the background. Elapsed time is explained, and more beautiful racing footage is shown.

The scene shifts back to the current events. Enberg interviews Wally Park about the current state of the sport. The original slingshot dragster, here referred to as a “rail job” is discussed in detail. The safety aspects are discussed. The engine is also discussed, in detail.

The scene shifts to the racing action. The scene starts with fans packing the stands, as the drivers prepare their cars for the race. The technical inspection is also shown. The rare duel engine dragster is shown, as well as teams preparing the parachute. The drivers meeting takes place, where the rules are explained.

After the meeting, Enberg discusses the Christmas Tree. Ray Brock explains the way the tree works. After that, the pre-race ceremonies take place, where all the cars are paraded for the fans. Several names of drivers are discussed, including Connie Kalitta, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, and Don “the Snake” Prudhomme. The registration and paperwork aspects of racing are discussed. The weight is measured, and the safety team inspects the cars. A beautiful scene of driver Les Allen painting the number on his car is shown. An even more amazing scene of Les Allen putting his fire protection on follows.

Les drives to the starting line, and completes a run. Enberg questions Allen, who is disappointed in the run. He ran 169 MPH but he wants a run of 185. He plans on running every weekend. Qualifying continues, with more and more drivers making runs. The stock category is discussed next . There are many shots of races, all of which have beautiful cars and awesome racing. Shirley Shahan, one of the few women in the event, is interviewed. A/FX Factory Experimental is also discussed.

Top gas, a category similar to Top Fuel is discussed. It should be noted that by 1971, Top Gas had been dropped as a category. Some of the waiting drivers including Don Prudhome, and Tom McEwen, and Ed “The Ace” McCullochare interviewed by Enberg.

The “rail job” races are up next. The racing action is great, but the music is ominous for some reason. After some more racing, Connie Kalitta is discussed. The Bounty Hunter is shown racing his Ford dragster. It’s mentioned that the engine has a shelf life of 12 races. At the time of production, the speed record in top fuel was 206 MPH. Kalitta discusses how a broken engine part messed up his run. He also discusses how the turn around worked in 1965.

Back to racing again, now the focus is on the parachutes. A scene where a driver gets loose is shown. The scene shifts to the pits as eliminations starts. The teams furiously work over their engines. One dragster is getting a new rear end from another dragster in order to race. For some reason, a scene featuring top gas is reused.

The official in the tower is shown. A race is shown from the perspective of the car, first from behind the front wheel, and second, facing the parachute. Another race is from the perspective of the driver. The point that anyone can win is proven when an underdog wins, trophies are presented, and the movie comes to an end.

I am giving this movie an A-. My one complaint is that at times, the music isn’t really suited to what’s being shown on screen. Aside from that, everything else about the movie is great. The narration, footage, and pacing all work well. The movie does a great job explaining the basics. Some parts haven’t aged well, but all in all, this is a great movie for drag racing fans.

Next week, a Jack Hill drama.

Paint Scheme Tracker-January 22, 2020

By David G. Firestone

TEAM PENSKE #2

Brad Keselowski #2 Discount Tire Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Autotrader Ford MustangNo change. C

Brad Keselowski #2 Pirtek Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, dark purple with yellow Penske template. F

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wabash National Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Dent Wizard Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 20 #12. F

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #3

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy CamaroNo Change. B+

STEWART HAAS RACING #4

Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang-New scheme for 2020, silver replaces black on hood and roof. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Light Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy Johns Ford MustangNo change. A-

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #6

Ryan Newman #6 Oscar Meyer Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, green with white and bacon motif. A

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #8

Tyler Reddick #8 Caterpillar Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #9

Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Chevy CamaroNo change. B+

Chase Elliott #9 Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Chevy Camaro-New scheme for 2020, black with green Camaro stripes and green stripes on sides. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #10

Aric Almirola #10 Smithfield Foods Ford MustangNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #11

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota CamryNo Change. B+

TEAM PENSKE #12

Ryan Blaney #12 Menard’s/Jack Links Beef Jerky Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 2020 #21. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, reverse color scheme of Shell/Pennzoil. D

Ryan Blaney #12 Dex Imaging Ford MustangNo change. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Body Armor Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, the designs on sides have been cleaned up. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #14

Clint Bowyer #14 Rush’s Truck Stops Ford MustangNo change. A

Clint Bowyer #14 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #17

Chris Buescher #17 SunnyD Ford MustangNo change. F

Chris Buescher #17 Fastenal Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, side stripes have been toned down. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #18

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota CamryNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #

Martin Truex Jr. # Bass Pro Shops Toyota CamryNo change. C-

Martin Truex Jr. # Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota CamryNo change. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #20

Erik Jones #20 DeWalt Toyota CamryNo change. A

Erik Jones #20 Stanley Toyota CamryNo change. C

WOOD BROTHERS RACING #21

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Menards/Maytag Ford MustangNo change. A

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Motorcraft Ford MustangNo change. A

TEAM PENSKE #22

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #24

William Byron #24 Hertz Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

William Byron #24 Axalta Chevy CamaroNo change. A

GO FAS RACING #32

Corey LaJoie #32 Pala Casino Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, red fade to black. A

Corey LaJoie #32 Schluter Systems Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, orange waffle design remains but black and red flames have been added. B+

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING #37

Ryan Preece #37 Cottonelle Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, blue, white, yellow with a series of stripes and designs on sides and front. C

CHIP GANASSI RACING #42

Kyle Larson #42 Credit One Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Kyle Larson #42 Advent Health Chevy CamaroNew sponsor for 2020, green, blue, pink, and silver with cutting edge design on sides. F

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING #47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #47 Kroger Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, blue, with a white stripe and white designs on rear. A

SPIRE MOTORSPORTS #77

Ross Chastain #77 Advent Health Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2020, same as #42. F

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #88

Alex Bowman #88 Cincinnati, Inc. Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Alex Bowman #88 LLumar Window Film Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, vertical rectangle design. A

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Throwback Chevy CamaroNo change. A

LEAVINE FAMILY RACING #95

Christopher Bell #95 Rheem Toyota Camry-New sponsor for 2020, red, white, and black with stripes. B+

Paint Scheme Grades-January 18, 2020

By David G. Firestone

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy Johns Ford Mustang-Same scheme as last year, same A- grade.

Ryan Newman #6 Oscar Meyer Ford Mustang-Good color scheme here, and I do like the side designs. The design works well, and gets an A.

Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Chevy Camaro-Same scheme as last year, same B+ grade.

Ryan Blaney #12 Dex Imaging Ford Mustang-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy Camaro-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

William Byron #24 Axalta Chevy Camaro-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Kyle Larson #42 Advent Health Chevy Camaro-Bad color scheme, combined with a bad color scheme will ALWAYS earn an F.

Ross Chastain #77 Advent Health Chevy Camaro-Same scheme as #77, same A grade.

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Throwback Chevy Camaro-Same scheme as last year, same A grade.

Christopher Bell #95 Rheem Toyota Camry-I think there are too many stripes here. Toning them down would be better. I do like the color scheme, so this gets a B+.

Wheel Reviews-The Devil on Wheels-1947

By David G. Firestone

Kids who street race has been a movie trope for years now. From American Graffiti to The Fast and The Furious, there are no shortage of movies featuring street racing. But when did this tread start? Well, it’s not as straight forward as it might seem. Some movies aren’t so much about telling a story, so much as they are about teaching morals. The subject of dangerous driving has spawned a number of movies. Sometimes, these movies were shown at schools as part of a class. Other times they were theatrically released.

That brings us to this week’s movie, The Devil on Wheels. The Devil on Wheels is a safety movie disguised as a drama. Produced by Benjamin Stoloff and directed by Crane Wilbur, the movie is less than subtle about the fact that hot rods and speeding are bad. Supposedly, it’s also the first movie to show women in bikini tops, but since two piece suits are hundreds of years old, I’m taking that fact with a grain of salt. What is the movie like?

Like any other ham-fisted old moral movie, it starts with vintage ominous music. Shots of cars filmed from an overpass play under the opening credits. The movie opens with Michael and Todd working on their hot rod, and discussing various adjustments, when they are joined by Rusty and Peggy.

Mickey’s father John gets a new Ford, and is driving it home, when he witnesses a horrific car accident that kills a little girl. The father was driving fast, missed a curve, which resulted in the death of the daughter. John wants to act as a witness, but is rebuffed. John makes it home, and the entire neighborhood comes over to see the new car. The hot rodders are impressed that the speedometer goes up to 120, and John lectures them on the dangers of speeding.

John takes the family on a drive, and promptly proves himself a hypocrite, dangerously passing multiple lines of cars, until he causes a fender bender. John freaks out on the other driver, until a cop shows up, and starts writing tickets to John. The scene shifts to court, where it’s revealed that the car John hit is the town judge, who tells him that his driving habits are awful. The judge, Judge Roger Tanner, lets John off with a lecture. On the way home, John nearly gets hit by a passing car. He again proves he’s a hypocrite, by complaining. The kids know the judge’s daughter from the country club.

The scene shifts to the country club pool, where Mickey starts hitting on Sue, the judge’s daughter. Using the accident as an excuse, they start a conversation which ends with Sue telling Jeff off. Rusty and Peggy are smitten with Jeff. Eventually, Jeff and Sue go out for a date. They seem to hit it off.

John takes his wife to the train station, and goes back to his old driving habits. They discuss Mickey’s new hot rod, which is seen driving, but has some issues under the hood. Rusty and Peggy mock Mickey for his slow driving habits, and not drag racing. The teasing works, and Mickey drives to the drag race. This includes a scene where a bunch of kids discuss their cars in hilarious scripted manners.

The first race is a free for all, to check out the new drivers. It eventually attracts the attention of the police, and all involve scatter. One driver gets caught, and the group has been arrested. Judge Tanner summons the kids, and makes it clear that hot rods are banned, and that anyone who violates this ruling, will have their parents summoned to courts. John makes Mickey gives up his hot rod.

Mickey and Todd speed and drive wrecklessly to catch his mom’s train. They run a railroad crossing, and they pull in to a mortuary, to lose the cops. The scene shifts to a beach at night, here the group is hanging out. Peggy is scared that she failed her finals, Rusty is smitten with Todd. As they listen to the radio, they hear a story about a hot rod that ran into the ocean. They speculate as to who the driver is, and decide to stop in the morgue.

Since the morgue is closed, they decide to break it, through a back door. Peggy is justifiably resistant to the whole situation. As they walk through the morgue, they feel the need to ring the doorbell, before entering a door, which leads to an office. They discuss the various items in the room, before focusing on a table with a cloth. The cloth starts to move, which is actually a cat. There is an eerie noise, which turns out to be dripping water.

Mickey eventually finds his way into a room with bodies in it. After some searching, he finds a body with a toe tag, revealing that the driver was Bob Cooper, who the group knows. As this is going on, a police officer arrives, and the group scatters, leaving Rusty behind. As the group discusses what to do, the cops arrive, a chase ensues, and the end result is a fatal accident.

Rusty is trapped in the morgue, and Mickey sneaks back into his house. Jeff and Sue arrive, and John meets with the two of them. Sue and John clear the air, and it’s revealed that the two are going to get engaged. The happy moment is interrupted by a phone call, which troubles John. The three of them leave. Mickey wanders around aimlessly, until a news report reveals that Todd has died in a crash that also killed Mickey’s mother.

Sue tries to console Mickey, but Mickey is convinced that his mother is still alive. Mickey calls his uncle, hoping that his mother is still there. As he talks, it becomes clear that his mother is, in fact, dead. Mickey is devastated. Mickey insists on going to the hospital, and meets with Jeff and John. Jeff tells a distraught Mickey to “be a man” and the three of them go into a room, where it’s revealed that his mother is alive, but just barely. Mickey reveals that he was the hit and run driver, and that Todd was the driver killed in the wreck. John disowns Mickey, but Jeff comes to his defense.

Mickey is arrested, and charged with suspicion of manslaughter. Jeff accompanies Mickey to the police station. The scene shifts to the police station, where Rusty is discussing the situation with her father and the prosecutor. He claims that she encouraged the behavior, and has responsibility.

At the trial, it’s revealed that Mickey’s mother will recover. In front of the judge, John claims that he is just as responsible for what happened. He proceeds to give a long-winded and melodramatic speech about the whole series of events. Mickey pleads guilty. The judge tells him not to tell his mother about the proceedings. At the hospital, Mickey tearfully tells his mother about the accident. At the end of the movie, John and his wife go to pick up Mickey. John almost goes back to his old ways, in the passenger seat, until he hears a police siren, and he realizes the truth. The movie fades to black.

I’m going to give the movie a B-. There really isn’t that much racing to speak of, and the racing shown uses sped up footage. The movie is more about driving safely. In this respect it does get the message across. The acting is good, and the set design is decent. Some of the writing could use work, though. The only race shown has a sequence where a series of rodders discussing their cars. It’s not very well scripted, and it comes across as awkward.

My one real complaint here, is that the movie is told from the perspective of the teenagers, and as a result, the laws and cops are considered the enemy. In this sense, the movie hurts itself. Other than that, there are no real antagonists in the movie, which does hurt it a little more. It’s not a terrible movie, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

Next week, another hot rod movie, The Hot Rod Story Drag Racing.

Paint Scheme Tracker-January 15, 2020

By David G. Firestone

TEAM PENSKE #2

Brad Keselowski #2 Discount Tire Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Autotrader Ford MustangNo change. C

Brad Keselowski #2 Pirtek Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, dark purple with yellow Penske template. F

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wabash National Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Dent Wizard Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 2019 #12. F

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #3

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy CamaroNo Change. B+

STEWART HAAS RACING #4

Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang-New scheme for 2019, silver replaces black on hood and roof. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Light Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy Johns Ford MustangNo change. A-

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #6

Ryan Newman #6 Oscar Meyer Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, green with white and bacon motif. A

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #8

Tyler Reddick #8 Caterpillar Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #9

Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Chevy CamaroNo change. B+

STEWART HAAS RACING #10

Aric Almirola #10 Smithfield Foods Ford MustangNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #11

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota CamryNo Change. B+

TEAM PENSKE #12

Ryan Blaney #12 Menard’s/Jack Links Beef Jerky Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 2019 #21. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2019, reverse color scheme of Shell/Pennzoil. D

Ryan Blaney #12 Dex Imaging Ford MustangNo change. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #14

Clint Bowyer #14 Rush’s Truck Stops Ford MustangNo change. A

Clint Bowyer #14 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #17

Chris Buescher #17 SunnyD Ford MustangNo change. F

Chris Buescher #17 Fastenal Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, side stripes have been toned down. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #18

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota CamryNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #19

Martin Truex Jr. #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota CamryNo change. C-

Martin Truex Jr. #19 Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota CamryNo change. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #20

Erik Jones #20 DeWalt Toyota CamryNo change. A

Erik Jones #20 Stanley Toyota CamryNo change. C

WOOD BROTHERS RACING #21

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Menards/Maytag Ford MustangNo change. A

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Motorcraft Ford MustangNo change. A

TEAM PENSKE #22

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #24

William Byron #24 Hertz Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

William Byron #24 Axalta Chevy CamaroNo change. A

CHIP GANASSI RACING #42

Kyle Larson #42 Credit One Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Kyle Larson #42 Advent Health Chevy CamaroNew sponsor for 2020, green, blue, pink, and silver with cutting edge design on sides. F

SPIRE MOTORSPORTS #77

Ross Chastain #77 Advent Health Chevy Camaro-New sponsor for 2020, same as #42. F

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #88

Alex Bowman #88 Cincinnati, Inc. Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Alex Bowman #88 LLumar Window Film Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, vertical rectangle design. A

Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Throwback Chevy CamaroNo change. A

LEAVINE FAMILY RACING #95

Christopher Bell #95 Rheem Toyota Camry-New sponsor for 2020, red, white, and black with stripes. B+

Wheel Reviews-Speed-1936

By David G. Firestone

First off, Happy New Year! 2020 is upon us, which means that for the month of January, I will spotlight some little-known racing movies. Before we get to this week’s review, I do have some housekeeping things I need to discuss.

I had to make some difficult decisions in December. I spent a decent amount of time burnt out from The Driver Suit Blog, YouTube, and issues from other aspects of my life. As such, I’ve decided not to do Throwback Thursdays for 2020. These were filler anyway, so it isn’t the end of the world.

The second decision is that 2020 will probably be the last year for The Driver Suit Blog in its current form. I’ve been operating at an unsustainable level for some time, and it’s finally caught up. I will not give up, but I will probably not run as many new Friday Features as I once did, or I might rerun stuff more. I haven’t made the final decisions yet. The Driver Suit Blog isn’t going away, but I have to change for the better. With that out of the way, on to the review!

Jimmy Stewart had an acting career that spanned from 1935 to 1991. He worked with many esteemed directors, like Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Otto Preminger, and Cecil B. DeMille. Some of his most well-known movies include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Naked Spur, Rear Window, Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. His likeable personality made him box office gold, and a box office god.

While most might not consider Jimmy Stewart the top choice to play a racing driver, in 1936, he starred in Speed, an MGM drama about an engineer working to make his invention a reality. Produced by Lucien Hubbard and directed by Edwin L. Marin, the movie is Stewart’s first starring role, and costars Ted Heally of Three Stooges fame. The movie was seen as “passable” by many critics, claiming that the storyline was weak.

Jimmy Stewart plays Terry Martin, an engineer at the Emery Motors in Detroit. The scene opens at a car factory which also houses a dirt track. The scene opens with Jane Mitchell watching a car get destroyed, as a part of testing. Terry is the driver, and although he crashes, he is unhurt. Clarence “Gadget” Haggerty played by Ted Healy is ensuring that Terry isn’t hurt. Jane and Terry talk for a while, and then Terry takes a tour of the factory. Jane and Terry hit it off.

Frank Lawson is an automotive engineer who is competing for Jane’s hand. As they are touring the factory, and takes her in to a restricted area, which houses testing equipment. It’s clear that Terry is her choice. Terry and Frank don’t really like each other.

The scene shifts from the factory to a random dirt road. As Frank and Jane are driving, Terry and Gadget drive by, the two testing out a new carburetor. While Jane, Frank and Jane talk, Gadget makes some adjustments to Frank’s car, which causes it to shut off, after he claims “…it’s nearly perfect as we can make it. Nothing can go wrong with it.” Gadget and Terry tease Frank, and Terry takes Jane back to the plant. En route to the plant, Terry asks Jane if she can go with him to a company party, though she declines. Frank asks her at the factory, but she initially declines his advances as well.

The scene shifts to the party, which is decorated with racing flags. Terry dances with Gadget’s date, and Frank shows up with Jane. The party progresses very slowly, as does most of the film. Terry gets drunk at the party, and then has an argument with Jane, and sends her away, not listening to her explanation. Executive Jo Sanderson confronts Terry, and they try to figure out why Jane knows as many high up as she does.

The company decides to fund the carburetor, with Frank added on the project. There is obvious tension between the two. Jane arrives and tells them that the carburetor will be placed in a car in Indianapolis, in a race car. Frank and Terry perfect the carburetor, and the team races at Indianapolis.

The scene shifts to Indianapolis, where the the team prepares for the race, and witness a crash. Jane is understandably nervous when the driver is pronounced dead. Terry gets into the car, and starts his run with Gadget, which proves a successful run, equaling the track record. Frank and Terry have a brief argument about Jane, which is broken up by Jo. The team drives back to the hotel.

At lunch, Jane and Terry meet up, and Jane explains that she is interested in him. Terry’s inferiority complex is becoming more of an issue. Frank and Jo show up, and Terry has to leave to get back to the track to continue his race work, with Frank following him. The team prepares for the race, with Terry insisting that there is something wrong with the carburetor, and Frank stating that everything is ok.

The scene shifts to the day of the race, which starts on time. The car proves itself fast, with the team watching excitedly. Terry avoids a spin, and the race continues. At lap 150, Terry makes his attempt for the lead, which he eventually gets. Terry gets into a crash, flipping over the wall. The team rushes over to the car, where Terry is hurt, but Gadget suffers serious injuries.

At the hospital, Gadget’s injuries are severe, Terry is healing. Jane walks into Terry’s room, and they discuss the events of the day. Terry blames Frank for the accident, claiming that Frank was muscling in on Terry’s carburetor design. Jane reveals that she was the one who demanded that Frank be added to the project. Terry is enraged, thinking that Jane has feelings for Frank, and sends her away.

As Terry is dealing with his injuries, Gadget is brought to see him. Though his injuries, Gadget thinks that the two are going to work on the carburetor, but Terry rebuffs him. Gadget hits on the idea for placing the carburetor in a car to attempt a land speed record(301.129 mph at the time of filming). Mr. Dean, the head of the factory, says that the carburetor isn’t being funded due to the board of directors. As Mr. Dean speaks with the owner, Jane walks in and talks with the owner, and somehow gets the decision reversed

Mr. Dean and Terry talk, and it’s revealed that the decision has been reversed. Terry isn’t willing to work with Frank. The car is readied for the test at Muroc Dry Lake in California. Jean comes in and talks with Terry about publicizing the test, and it seems as the tension between the two is gone. The new team prepared for the race, and they end up going to a barn dance. At the dance, all involved are having a great time. Frank eventually shows up. Terry is worried about the attempt the next day. Terry and Jane get into a fight, and she leaves in a huff.

The scene shifts to the test the next day. The Falcon, the custom designed car, is prepared for the test. Frank, Gadget, Jane and the rest wish him the best on his attempt. The attempt is broadcast on the radio. The Falcon outruns an airplane taking a picture of the attempt from above. As the test is going, a fuel pipe breaks, and causes a crash. Terry, having loosened his helmet, is injured in the wreck. Emergency teams arrive, and tend to him. Frank puts Terry into the car, and drives to seek help. They end up at Muroc hospital.

As Terry lies in the hospital, he wonders how he got there. It’s revealed that driving Terry in the Falcon set the record. Jane Mitchell is revealed to be Jane Emery, niece of the owner, and heir to the company. Gadget and Fanny Lane make up, and Terry and Jane finally fall in love.

In summary, I agree with the critics who say that the movie is passable. It’s nothing ground breaking, and there are a lot of cliches. I didn’t like this movie for the same reason I loved Greased Lightning. In Greased Lightning, there is a great ratio of racing plot and character plot. With Speed, it’s mostly character plot, with a little racing plot.

The characters aren’t great either. Jimmy Stewart is good in his role, but the rest of the characters aren’t good. The antagonist, Frank Lawson, isn’t really that unlikeable, and doesn’t fill the antagonist role well. Most of the other characters are bland. Only Terry has any real depth to him. Even characters who are supposed to be protagonists aren’t really likeable. The twist with Jane at the end is predictable. The whole movie is a bland racing movie. I’m giving this a C. It’s bland and mediocre.

Next week, a movie from 1947.

Paint Scheme Tracker-January 8, 2020

By David G. Firestone

TEAM PENSKE #2

Brad Keselowski #2 Discount Tire Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Autotrader Ford MustangNo change. C

Brad Keselowski #2 Pirtek Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2020, dark purple with yellow Penske template. F

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wabash National Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford MustangNo Change. A

Brad Keselowski #2 Dent Wizard Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 2019 #12. F

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #3

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy CamaroNo Change. B+

STEWART HAAS RACING #4

Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang-New scheme for 2019, silver replaces black on hood and roof. A

Kevin Harvick #4 Busch Light Ford MustangNo change. A

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING #8

Tyler Reddick #8 Caterpillar Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

STEWART HAAS RACING #10

Aric Almirola #10 Smithfield Foods Ford MustangNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #11

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota CamryNo Change. B+

TEAM PENSKE #12

Ryan Blaney #12 Menard’s/Jack Links Beef Jerky Ford MustangNew sponsor for 2020, same as 2019 #21. A

Ryan Blaney #12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang-New sponsor for 2019, reverse color scheme of Shell/Pennzoil. D

STEWART HAAS RACING #14

Clint Bowyer #14 Rush’s Truck Stops Ford MustangNo change. A

Clint Bowyer #14 Mobil 1 Ford MustangNo change. A

ROUSH-FENWAY RACING #17

Chris Buescher #17 SunnyD Ford MustangNo change. F

Chris Buescher #17 Fastenal Ford MustangNew scheme for 2020, side stripes have been toned down. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #18

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota CamryNo change. A

JOE GIBBS RACING #19

Martin Truex Jr. #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota CamryNo change. C-

Martin Truex Jr. #19 Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota CamryNo change. B+

JOE GIBBS RACING #20

Erik Jones #20 DeWalt Toyota CamryNo change. A

Erik Jones #20 Stanley Toyota CamryNo change. C

WOOD BROTHERS RACING #21

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Menards/Maytag Ford MustangNo change. A

Matt DiBenedetto #21 Motorcraft Ford MustangNo change. A

TEAM PENSKE #22

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford MustangNo change. D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford MustangNo change. D

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #24

William Byron #24 Hertz Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

William Byron #24 Liberty University Chevy CamaroNo change. A

CHIP GANASSI RACING #42

Kyle Larson #42 Credit One Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS #88

Alex Bowman #88 Cincinnati, Inc. Chevy CamaroNo Change. A

Alex Bowman #88 LLumar Window Film Chevy CamaroNew scheme for 2020, vertical rectangle design. A