Collar Guard…Not a Product, but a Safety Feature-Revisited

1-lajoie-collar

By David G. Firestone

Like shoulder epaulets, the collar of a driver suit has made a transition. It has gone from safety accessory to fashion piece, but unlike the epaulet, it is not only ornamental. Because the collar is still a piece of safety equipment. It goes without saying that fire is an ever present danger in auto racing. The collar protects the neck from burns. This may seem minor, but many people who die from burns die from infection. When the skin is compromised, it can’t stop germs from getting inside the body, and as such makes infection a serious risk during burn injuries.

But the fashion aspect of collars is interesting as well. With the standard alignment of sponsors on the top of the suit, the Series logo, tire manufacturer logo, car manufacturer logo, and other sponsor logos are on the top, and the primary sponsor logos are present on the collar and epaulets. This Randy Lajoie example shows how the suit appears during an televised interview:

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Note a couple of things: First, the fabric on the collar overlaps just a bit here, but when the driver wears it, it meets perfectly at the center of the neck. Second, it allows the driver to breathe easily. Comfort Vs. Safety is a constant debate. This is one kind of collar, the other kind of collar is what I call the Velcro collar, as shown in this Alex Barron suit from 1998:36-barron-collar

The Velcro collar is exactly what it sounds like, a collar with a strap which Velcros shut. This provides a little more protection in case of fire. It also has another use, as sponsor ads are popular to put on the front of the Velcro strap. This has been used quite often over the years…41-craven-collarbarber-collar

This is due to the fact that for quite some time the open face helmet was used, and the collar provided extra fire protection where the helmet failed. In this day in age, helmets come standard with Nomex socks on the bottom, so the collar, while still a key safety feature, is not as critical. But for sponsor logo placement, it really can’t be beat.

If the collar does not have a Velcro closure, then the primary sponsor logo is sewn into either side of the collar. Like the Lajoie example above, or this Mike Skinner example below, this can be used very effectively as a place for sponsor logos.31-skinner-collar

Like most other aspects of the driver suit, the choice of Velcro or not comes down to driver preference. Kyle Bush, as well as older brother Kurt favor the Velcro style, whereas Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards prefer the non-Velcro variety. Many pit crew shirts have a similar design to the driver design as well.

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2019 Throwbacks Ranked!

By David G. Firestone

The throwback race is behind us. You know what that means. I’m going to rank all of the 2019 throwback schemes. As in previous years, the top ranked scheme will be the winner of the Paint Scheme for Best Throwback Scheme. Let’s get going!

1. Austin Dillon #3 DOW Salutes Veterans Chevy Camaro-Black and gold works well, especially on a throwback. This is a great scheme, with a great color scheme, and I can’t give this less than an A.

2. Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Throwback Ford Mustang-The Miller scheme had a unique look, and while I preferred the standard Miller Genuine Draft scheme, this is still a great scheme. A

3. William Byron #24 City Chevrolet/Hendrick Autoguard Chevy CamaroCole’s City Chevrolet Lumina is my favorite car in Days Of Thunder. This is a great replica, and it looks really good. This is getting an A.

4. BJ McLeod #51 Jacob Companies Throwback Chevy Camaro-An underrated NASCAR movie with a lot of great cars, this is a faithful replica of the #7 Chicken Pit/Zenon Ford Thunderbird. This is an amazing look, and I give it an A.

5. Chase Elliott #9 NAPA Throwback Chevy Camaro-You could put all of Bill Elliott’s pre-1999 schemes in a hat, pick one out at random, and be guaranteed to pick a great scheme. 1981 was a great scheme, and this faithful throwback is an amazing representation. I love this scheme! A

6. Landon Cassill #00 StarCom Fiber Throwback Chevy Camaro-I always love metallic siver, and the Coors Light look is a great look. I also like the design as a whole. This is getting an A.

7. Alex Bowman #88 Axalta Throwback Chevy Camaro-The Tim Richmond Folgers scheme was a great scheme, and it’s nice that Axalta is doing a faithful throwback. This is a great look. A

8. Austin Dillon #3 American Ethanol Throwback Chevy Camaro-Dale’s Olympic scheme was a great scheme. This somewhat faithful replica looks really good, and I can’t really say anything bad. A

9. William Byron #24 City Chevrolet/Hendrick Autoguard Chevy CamaroCole’s City Chevrolet Lumina is my favorite car in Days Of Thunder. This is a great replica, and it looks really good. This is getting an A.

10. JJ Yeley #52 Jacob Companies Throwback Chevy Camaro-This is a good look, and I can’t say anything bad about it. A

11. David Ragan #38 Thanks DW Ford Mustang-Darrell’s chrome scheme was a bold look that would look just as awesome today. While I think that metallic silver isn’t chrome, I do love this look, and I think this scheme is great. A

12. Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Throwback Toyota Camry-Darrell’s 1990’s Parts America scheme was a great scheme. It looked amazing, and still holds up today! This is a great throwback scheme, and I can’t give this less than an A!

13. Ricky Stenhouse #17 Fastenal Throwback Ford Mustang-Darrell’s 1990’s Parts America scheme was a great scheme. It looked amazing, and still holds up today! This is a great throwback scheme, and I can’t give this less than an A!

14. Matt DiBenedetto #95 Procore Thanks DW Throwback Toyota CamryFaithful 1970’s schemes always look awesome, and this is no exception. This is an amazing look, and I love everything about this scheme! A

15. Erik Jones #20 SportClips Throwback Toyota Camry-This is a smooth, simple look, and it’s a great look. The black works, the red works, and the scheme works. A

16. Garrett Smithley #54 AQRE Throwback Chevy Camaro-Not the scheme I was expecting, but this is a good look, and it’s a faithful replica. I give this an A.

17. Daniel Hemric #8 Caterpillar Throwback Chevy Camaro-This is a great scheme, not just because it looks awesome, but because I like how throwbacks are evolving in NASCAR. It used to be that throwbacks were either old schemes, or based on old schemes. Nowadays, everything from cans to trucks are being used. This example is based on an old Caterpillar tractor from the 1920’s. This looks amazing! A

18. David Ragan #38 Shriners Hospitals for Children Throwback Ford MustangDavid Pearson’s 1969 Torino Cobra is a great look, and this is a great throwback. I can’t give this less than an A.

19. Ryan Preece #47 Kroger Throwback Chevy CamaroI love this throwback! The shade of red works, the design looks great, and the car just looks awesome. I love good throwbacks, and this is a good throwback. A

20. Michael McDowell #34 Dockside Logistics Ford Mustang-This was a very unique scheme back in the day, and I like this faithful representation. This is a good look, and I like the silver door numbers. A

21. Ryan Blaney #12 Pennzoil Throwback Ford Mustang-Mike’s old Pennzoil scheme was simple, it was attractive, and it worked. This faithful replica works well, and earns an A.

22. Jimmie Johnson #48 Ally Throwback Throwback Chevy Camaro-This is so much better than his current Ally scheme, and it’s a faithful replica. This is a great scheme. A

23. Paul Menard #21 Motorcraft Throwback Ford MustangGlen’s 1956 Ford Fairlane had a great look, and this faithful replica is a great look. This is an amazing look, and I can’t give this less than an A.

24. Kyle Busch #18 Snickers Throwback Toyota Camry-The white design is a unique look, and it’s a good throwback. I like this, and I’m giving it an A.

25. Corey LaJoie #32 Keen Parts/Corvette Parts Throwback Ford Mustang-Jarrett’s Nestle scheme is an interesting throwback choice, but it’s well done, very faithful, and earns an A as a result.

26. Matt Tifft #36 Hilker Glass Throwback Ford Mustang-This is a bold look that isn’t over done. It’s also a faithful throwback. This is a great look, and I give it an A.

27. Martin Truex Jr. #19 Bass Pro Shops Throwback Toyota Camry-I’m not always a fan of Bass Pro Shops throwbacks, some are better than others. That being said, this scheme is a good look, with a great color scheme. This scheme gets an A.

28. Darrell Wallace Jr. #43 Victory Junction Throwback Chevy CamaroSpree was never one of my favorite sponsors. That said, after some time, I do see what they were doing with their scheme. This is a faithful representation of the old Spree scheme, and It works very well. A

29. Daniel Suarez #41 Haas Throwback Ford Mustang-The third Tony Stewart Championship throwback scheme is based on his 2005 Home Depot scheme, which is the best of the three. It’s faithful, and it has a great look, and that will always earn an A.

30. Aric Almirola #10 Smithfield Throwback Ford Mustang-For Tony Stewart’s Hall of Fame election, Stewart-Haas Racing’s cars are being painted in the colors of Tony’s Cup Championship schemes. The first from 2002, is based on Tony’s Home Depot. It’s a faithful replica, so that’s good, and I do like the Home Depot’s shade of orange. All things considered, this gets an A.

31 Clint Bowyer #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang-This second Tony Stewart Throwback is based on his 2011 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy. Like the #10, it’s a faithful replica, with correct colors. I liked the design back then, and I like this now, so this gets an A.

32. Paul Menard #21 Quaker State/Menards Steve Kinser Throwback Ford MustangIt’s a good throwback, with a great design, and that will always earn an A.

33. Matt DiBenedetto #95 Toyota Throwback Toyota Camry-It’s a smooth look, it has a great color scheme, and that will always earn an A.

34. Reed Sorenson #77 Motor Racing Network Throwback Chevy Camaro-A fauxback, but a good one. Blue and gold works well, and the design is simple. I give this an A.

35. Kurt Busch #1 Star Nursery Throwback Chevy Camaro-My only complaint is the forced black spot for the Monster Energy logo. Other than that, this is a really great throwback. A-

36. Kurt Busch #1 Chevrolet Accessories Throwback Chevy Camaro-The black Monster Energy area looks out of place. This is visually distracting and takes away. The scheme looks good, but the black takes it from an A to an A-.

37. Ryan Newman #6 Oscar Meyer/Velveeta Throwback Ford Mustang-Full disclosure, I loved the old Mark Martin Valvoline design. This new version with Oscar Meyer and Velveeta colors is not as great. The red, white, and blue design works well. Red, green and white doesn’t work as well. It’s still decent, so I’ll give it a B+.

38. Kyle Larson #42 Clover Throwback Chevy Camaro-I never liked the green Kodiak scheme, I always preferred the white scheme. This is a faithful replication, but it doesn’t pop as much as some of the others. I’ll give this a B.

39. Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Throwback Ford Mustang-I was not a fan of the Harvick Shell/Pennzoil scheme, and I’m not a fan of this throwback. There are other Shell schemes that could work, but this is just a meh scheme. I’ll give it a C.

Next week, I revisit an older article.

PBR…Not the Beer, Power Boat Racing Revisited

By David G. Firestone

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of boat racing. I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I’m not seeking it out. Boat racing isn’t much, compared to auto racing, in terms of fan bases. The American Power Boat Association will never be on the level of NASCAR or the NHRA. I’ve had a powerboat suit in the past, but I haven’t found anything in the boat racing category for some time…until now.

Created in 1903 by an act of the New York legislature, The American Power Boat Association, or APBA, acts under the Monacco-based Union Internationale Motonautique, the world governing body for powerboating. The APBA promotes powerboating across the country.

In 1993, veteran powerboater Bob Idoni raced the Spirit of Numancia in the Super Boat category, with Fernando Souza. While I haven’t been able to find a lot of information about the season, I was able to find out that he won the 1993 Cape Coral race, the final race of the season in Cape Coral, Florida, in the Super Boat category. For that season, this Simpson double-layer firesuit was made. I’m not 100% sure what Numancia” refers to, though I’m guessing it may be the city where Fernando Souza hails from. The suit shows light use. The collar is cream with black outlines. There is no adoration, and there is a Velcro-closure.The standard Simpson warranty label is in the cowl. There is a small flag tag that reads “6/93” indicating when the suit was made.On the right chest, there is a TAG HEUER WATCHES patch, a SIMPSON patch, and an American Flag patch sewn.On the left chest there is SPIRIT OF NUMANCIA and BOB IDONI embroidered.The front torso is unadorned.The belt is the same cream with black outlines as the collar. The belt is otherwise unadorned.The legs have NUMANCIA embroidered. The cuffs are standard cuffs.

The shoulder epaulets are the same cream outlined in black as the belt and collar, and are unadorned. The right sleeve is unadorned. The left sleeve features a SIMPSON patch. The back of the suit shows some very light use.While the back of the neck is unadorned, the area just below the neck has FUTURE SUIT 504 embroidered. This is, from what I have been able to determine, an inventory thing.A large SPIRIT OF NUMANCIA logo is embroidered in the upper section of the back torso.Next week, the throwback scheme grades for 2019.

PBR…Not the Beer, Power Boat Racing Revisited

By David G. Firestone

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of boat racing. I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I’m not seeking it out. Boat racing isn’t much, compared to auto racing, in terms of fan bases. The American Power Boat Association will never be on the level of NASCAR or the NHRA. I’ve had a powerboat suit in the past, but I haven’t found anything in the boat racing category for some time…until now.

Created in 1903 by an act of the New York legislature, The American Power Boat Association, or APBA, acts under the Monacco-based Union Internationale Motonautique, the world governing body for powerboating. The APBA promotes powerboating across the country.

In 1993, veteran powerboater Bob Idoni raced the Spirit of Numancia in the Super Boat category, with Fernando Souza. While I haven’t been able to find a lot of information about the season, I was able to find out that he won the 1993 Cape Coral race, the final race of the season in Cape Coral, Florida, in the Super Boat category. For that season, this Simpson double-layer firesuit was made. I’m not 100% sure what Numancia” refers to, though I’m guessing it may be the city where Fernando Souza hails from. The suit shows light use. The collar is cream with black outlines. There is no adoration, and there is a Velcro-closure.The standard Simpson warranty label is in the cowl. There is a small flag tag that reads “6/93” indicating when the suit was made.On the right chest, there is a TAG HEUER WATCHES patch, a SIMPSON patch, and an American Flag patch sewn.On the left chest there is SPIRIT OF NUMANCIA and BOB IDONI embroidered.The front torso is unadorned.The belt is the same cream with black outlines as the collar. The belt is otherwise unadorned.The legs have NUMANCIA embroidered. The cuffs are standard cuffs.

The shoulder epaulets are the same cream outlined in black as the belt and collar, and are unadorned. The right sleeve is unadorned. The left sleeve features a SIMPSON patch. The back of the suit shows some very light use.While the back of the neck is unadorned, the area just below the neck has FUTURE SUIT 504 embroidered. This is, from what I have been able to determine, an inventory thing.A large SPIRIT OF NUMANCIA logo is embroidered in the upper section of the back torso.Next week, the throwback scheme grades for 2019.

A Couple Of Random Items This Week

By David G. Firestone

I’ve decided that this week, I’ll get a few items I’ve been putting off out of the way. I’ve got a couple things, a Jeff Gordon orthopedic brace, and a Furniture Row Racing crew issued t-shirt. Let’s start with the Jeff Gordon Brace.

2001 was a banner year for Jeff Gordon. With six wins, 18 top 5’s, and 24 top 10’s, Gordon handily won the Winston Cup Championship, his final championship. 2001 was also the year marred by the death of Dale Earnhardt.

The scrutiny that the 2001 Pepsi 400 fell under was intense. The first race at Daytona since Earnhardt’s death was a spectacular race with a great finish. Jeff Gordon started 5th, but during lap 143, he was involved in “the big one.” He wound up finishing 37th, three laps down. During that race, he wore this orthopedic brace for unspecified reasons, which he threw in anger after the race. Gordon wore this brace for some time, and it shows a decent amount of wear. Let’s switch gears. At the end of 2018 season, Furniture Row Racing ceased operations, due to a lack of funding. As is the case with such teams, their equipment is sold off. This is an example of a t-shirt issued to crew members. Shirts that are sold to the public aren’t this great.  The shirt is unworn, and doesn’t show any wear.The shirt is made by Bella Canvas, and is a size M. There is a tag in the cowl.The front torso features a FURNITURE ROW logo.The sleeves feature TOYOTA, FURNITURE ROW, DENVER MATTRESS, BASS PRO SHOPS, 5-HOUR ENERGY, and AUTO OWNERS INSURACE logos printed on the top, and nothing in television position. The back torso features TOYOTA, FURNITURE ROW, BASS PRO SHOPS, 5-HOUR ENERGY, and DENVER MATTRESS logos printed on the torso. With those finally out of the way, next week, a boating firesuit!

Parts and Recreation Revisited

By David G. Firestone

I know I promised to do an orthopedic brace piece, that will take place next week. You can’t collect racing memorabilia without talking about equipment. The parts and pieces that make the car go, are just as important, and interesting as most other racing memorabilia.

One incarnation that Don Garlitts worked with before he settled on Swamp Rat XIV was Swamp Rat VIII. Swamp Rat VIII was built in 1964. Swamp Rat VIII was designed to use the Dodge 426 Elephant Hemi engine. The 426 was a lot harder to tune than the old 392, so Garlitts did not have a good year, though once he figured it out, it was an impressive car. The 426 Hemi was such a good design, it is still the car used by the NHRA to this day, in Top Fuel and Funny Car. Garlitts cut the car in half, and used the front half to make Swamp Rat X. In 2005, Garlitts rebuilt the car, and in 2006, took it to a few vintage races.  This is a set of spark plugs pulled from that recreated car. The set of 8 plugs comes in a Styrofoam case, which has been autographed by Garlitts. Each plug shows some wear, some more than others. This is a spark plug from Morgan Lucas Racing.In 1970, Johnny Rutherford raced an Eagle chassis with an Offenhauser engine. He didn’t score a win, and had 3 DNS’s. These plugs came from that Offenhauser engine. They have been mounted to a wood display, with a small paper sign. When the race is on, a thousand things can go wrong with the car, especially the engine. One of the most common pieces of equipment to go wrong is with pistons. Top fuel and funny car pistons generate 1,250 horsepower each. If they aren’t aligned right, aren’t lubricated enough, or something is wrong, that can cost the driver a win or even a championship. This example is a piston head used and autographed by Brandon Bernstein. It was only used for one run, but shows some light use, and is in good condition. Now let’s look at an interesting Del Worsham piston from 2002. The story behind this piston is interesting. At the 2002 Checker Schuck’s Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, Del Worsham beat John Force in the final. Worsham temporarily denied Force his 100th event win. This mangled piston wrecked the engine block during that run. The piston chewed the block and itself up during that final run. Part of the piston arm is still wedged inside the piston, and one side is almost completely gone. Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota isn’t known as a place where records get broken. In 2015, the big highlight for funny car at Brainerd was Del Worsham vs. Matt Hagan in an elimination round. During that run, Hagan ran a blistering 3.879 second elapsed time. This piston head came from Hagan’s car during that historic run. This piston shaft was used and autographed by Bob Vandergriff. Valve springs help the opening and closing of the valves at the speed the engine requires. These are three examples, one from Cruz Pedregon, and two from Paul Lee. On the subject of Paul Lee, these are what are known as manifold burst panels. These are specifically design to burst when the pressure in the manifold gets too high. They are meant to sacrifice themselves to save the engine. I also have this head gasket from Paul Lee. NHRA engines are sealed systems, under a lot of pressure and heat. Expansion of engine parts will occur, and copper head gaskets are used to keep the seal intact. They will expand with the rest of the engine. This is an example Paul Lee’s funny car. It is bent, and shows staining from race wear. This is a head gasket from Morgan Lucas. It shows decent wear. At Route 66 in 2014, I got this ignition coil from Morgan Lucas Racing. Ignition coils are used to turn on cars in general, but this MSD 8142 is designed to fire up these 11,000 horsepower engines, which need a lot of electricity to start and operate. I was fortunate enough to have Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps autograph it in person. I have this timing belt from Bob Tasca’s Motorcraft Funny car, this one used in his first qualifying session at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Tennessee. This run he had a 4.15 second, 306 MPH run. This thing is HUGE, measuring over 64 inches in circumference and 3 inches across. Pistons in an engine need things to function. An example are valves, and valve springs. The valves move in conjunction with the movement of the pistons. One set introduces fuel and air into the engine, and the other set removes exhaust from the engine. These examples are from Bob Tasca’s funny car. This burnt hose cover is a perfect example of why Nomex is the go-to material for driver suits. This Nomex hose cover went through a serious fire, and was burnt. Nomex isn’t fireproof, it’s fire retardant, which means it will burn, but much slower than most fabrics. It will burn, but will protect whatever it is covering from fire damage for a brief time. The easy way to see if the material has been compromised is if the fabric is discolored. Notice the areas of light on the black fabric, that means that area of the fabric has been compromised. This Jimmie Johnson spark plug is part of a display which features other parts, specifically a piece of the track bar, a lifter, a valve spring, and a piece of sheet metal. Part of the plug has been modified to make the plug useless. Interestingly, sometimes oil was sold to collectors, as is evidenced by this display of oil from Kyle Busch’s #18 Toyota Camry when he won the 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas. The package is about 5 inches long by 3 inches wide. Inside the box is the display. It has a small oil drum with a small amount of motor oil. The oil has a thick viscosity, which is needed because of the wear that Cup engines produce during a race. The COA comes in the box, and states that this is #359 of 504. Let’s switch from engines to wheels. I have a brake rotor used by John Andretti in the 1998 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte, which has been signed by Richard Petty. In 2014, at the U.S. Nationals, TJ suffered a major engine explosion. He still has the blower drive seen flying in the video. I wound up getting one of the rear tires from that race. Rear tires from top fuel dragsters are 3 feet tall by 17 inches wide. I’m planning on getting a glass to and making a coffee table at some point. The level of wear on the tires is amazing, with large patches of damage from the explosion. TJ also signed it and personalized it to me! I also got a front tire, which is 22 inches tall, by 3 inches wide. These tire covers are meant to protect the tires from the shade. Why is this important? Well tires are 36 inches tall by 17 inches wide. These races often take place in bright sunlight on hot days. If there was no shades, tire pressures could be very uneven, and as a direct result, the tire wouldn’t race as well, and there could be safety issued. These are designed and marketed by Jeg’s. These are designed for top fuel dragsters. Funny cars have a square piece that covers the wheel on the body. Tires can be purchased whole, but since they can weigh as much as 90 pounds, they are often cut up and the pieces are sold, like sheet metal. This example, used by Kevin Harvick in the 2002 Daytona 500 is an example. it gives a good example of the thickness of the tire. Race-used lug nuts go hand in hand with tires. Lug nuts are used once, and then sold after the race, such as these Tony Stewart examples. Lug nuts are Super glued to the rim, and one of these still has superglue residue on it. Moving away from the wheels, this is a parachute bag used by Frank Pedregon Jr. It’s designed to hold the parachute on the back of the car, and was from the car when Frank hit Scotty Canon. One of the best tools at a drag racer’s disposal is the parachute, and for Scelzi, that was no different. You can’t be the first driver to reach 330 MPH in a funny car without a good parachute to stop the car. Scelzi raced with many different parachutes throughout his career, and this 12′ x 12′ Mopar example from his days with Don Schumacher Racing. It shows heavy use with numerous scuff marks, and holes. One of my big gets was a TJ Zizzo Peak parachute. Zizzo ran two of these chutes on the back of his dragster from 2010 to 2013., and this example is 12 feet by 12 feet. It shows a decent amount of wear, with stains and holes. There is a hole in the center that allows the chute to be deployed, and there is an inventory tag placed here as well. On the cables connecting the chute to the car, there is some extra protection. This is necessary because on top fuel dragsters, the engine is very close to the parachute attachment, and in the event of a fire, the chute will still be able to function. This shows some wear on the silver layer. Pilot chutes are universally used to deploy parachutes. When the cords are pulled, and the chute is released, the pilot chute deploys, which catches air and pulls the primary chute behind it. The chutes are strapped to a bar at the back of the car, and are covered in Nomex to prevent fire damage, then packed into a bag, before the race. This is a carbon fiber dashboard from a Cup car. It is very light, and SFI Certified. When KV Racing Technology folded, they sold off their assets, including this digital fuel pump, which still works. Next week, the orthopedic brace article I promised.

Phantom Sponsorships Revisited

By David G. Firestone

At first glace, this driver suit looks like it has no primary sponsorship at all, but dig deeper and you find the real story behind it.

From 2000 to 2008, car #12 in the Sprint Cup was driven by Ryan Newman and sponsored by Alltel Wireless. In 2002, Ryan Newman’s first full season the series was sponsored by Winston cigarettes and called the Winston Cup Series. In 2004, Winston left the series and Nextell took over as the series sponsor. At that time, there were a number of wireless companies sponsoring cars in the Cup series, including Cingular and Alltel. As they were under contract with teams before the Nextell sponsorship took effect, they were allowed to stay as car sponsors in the Cup series under a grandfather clause.

The first phantom sponsorship happened in 2007, when Cingular merged with AT&T. That set into motion a chain of events that began early in the season, when AT&T tried to re-brand the 31 car driven by Jeff Burton, and Sprint said that it was a violation of the grandfather clause. After a number of injunctions and legal wrangling, came the 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol in August, when NASCAR, under pressure from Sprint told the 31 team that they could not have any AT&T logos on the car, hauler, pit shirts, driver or crew uniforms, or helmets. The result was this unique scheme.

Image courtesy of Jayski

Eventually a settlement was reached where the Cup team could keep AT&T decals on the car for the rest of the season, but would have to find a new sponsorship for the next season. This deal was met, and the next year, Jeff Burton drove a Caterpillar sponsored car.

In 2009, the Alltel sponsorship changed because Verizon purchased most of Alltell’s assets. Instead of a long court battle, Verizon, who was also sponsoring Roger Penske’s IndyCar teams basically sponsored the team but focused on their Nationwide Series with car logos, as the restrictions on Verizon were not in effect in the Nationwide Series, and allowed car #12 driven by David Stremme to run a Penske Racing scheme for the car they were paying for.

Image courtesy of Jayski

That resulted in this very stylish David Stremme driver suit.The thing I find interesting is the fact that even though the car was running Penske decals, no mention of Penske is visible on the collars or shoulders, and no television logos are present. I also think it is interesting that the red stripes across the chest look like old Verizon logos, but are just different enough to throw Sprint off the scent.

When NASCAR got Monster Energy to sponsor the series, the situation was much different. Monster is only sponsoring the series for a short time, and this was largely avoided.

Next week, an orthopedic brace.

How I Spent My 2019 Summer Vacation

By David G. Firestone

Well, my 2019 summer vacation is officially over. I had a lot of fun over summer break. I didn’t really do much. I did watch a lot of racing, as usual. I worked on a series of projects, and I went to a wedding.

Watching racing is always fun! I enjoy taking my weekends and just lying on my couch, and watching NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar, F1, IMSA, Formula E, or whatever else is going on. Many times while I’m watching, I do some website work, but just not having to do that is so much better.

The racing this summer was great. Though I do have a couple bones to pick. I’ll start with the NHRA. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel with your telecasts! I want to watch Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle. I don’t want to watch the nitro categories in one live telecast, and the rest tape delayed until later in the evening. Also, could you bring Pro Stock back for the entire season? The fans want it.

Now on to IndyCar. At the the time of this writing, the Mid-Ohio television ratings have not been released. But if there is an improvement, you can bet that IndyCar will brag about them on their website. I get that you want your ratings up. I get that you are happy when the ratings go up. But bragging about your ratings makes you look desperate. First off, compared to other forms of racing, your television ratings are still bad. Second, these “improvements” in these ratings aren’t as great. If ratings are up across the board, stating that your ratings are improving isn’t that much as you think it is.

OK, with all that said, I did go to a wedding this year. My friend Van got married to his sweetheart, and our group of friends got together to attend his wedding.

My only complaint was that this wedding took place in the midst of the July heatwave, so we all had to wear suits in 98 degree weather. The humidity didn’t help at all. Still, we had a great time. Matt, Josh and I also hung out, and spent a long time playing cards. It was great seeing the guys again.

I also spend time making review videos. I made several sampling videos, including cider,

a series of beer,

and Turkish delight.

In the end, all good things come to an end, including my vacation, so starting now, things will be back to normal.

Next week, I revisit the concept of “Phantom Sponsorships.”

Warranty Labels…Unseen by Many

90-stricklin-tagBy David G. Firestone

Editor’s note, I will be away on vacation until August. Here is a Friday Feature to tide you over.

This week, we take a look at a suit feature that is unseen by most race fans. Every suit has one, the so called “Liability Tag. ”-Every piece of racing equipment has some form of “liability tag” which basically states that anything that happens to the wearer of the item is the wearer’s fault and not the company’s fault. The Simpson tag, which has remained virtually unchanged since the 1980’s reads as follows:

“Warning-Auto Racing is Hazardous-this Article is sold without warranty expressed or implied. No warranty or representation is made as to this product’s ability to protect the user from any injury or death. This garment is made of Nomex and other flame retardant materials. Even with the high quality of this garment there could be fires or circumstances where this garment will give only minimal protection. Nomex underwear should be worn under this garment. This garment is manufactured to comply with the rules as set forth by S.C.C.A., N.A.S.C.A.R. , S.F.I., F.I.A., and other regulatory bodies.”Cleaning Instructions” Dry clean only. Dry clean alone. Specify using perchloroethylene only.”36-barron-tag2Sparco’s tags are located behind the zipper andhave two different statements. Older suits have this tag:

“Although this product is manufactured from special materials that satisfy certain safety standards and may carry the approval of various authorities for its use in specific circumstances the manufacturer or supplier can not be held liable for its protective qualities under all activities, circumstances, and conditions.”barber-tag1Newer Sparco tags have this warning in both English and Italian:

“It is important to carefully read the user’s handbook concerning the care of the garment. This suit will offer protection from fire and the transmission of heat for a limited time, but it does not offer total protection against any kind of hear or fire. The fabric used to make this suit is subject to aging. It is recommended that the suit is inspected frequently for any signs of wear or damage that may result in a loss of protection to the wearer. If the suit has been worn extensively and shows signs of war or damage it is recommended to wear another suit. Sparco is not responsible for any damages the suit incurs from improper use of the suit bu the user, or any third party. Through improper care of the suit, misuse of the suit, or discoloration of the suit from perspiration, or any use of the product after the expiration date, as described in the instruction manual. Do not leave this garment under sunlight, or any artificial light. This suit is not intended for use in go-karts.”12-stremme-tagImpact! Suits use this simple warning:

“Motorsports are dangerous. the user of this product assumes the risk of injury or death. No warranty or representation is made that this product will protect the user from injury or death”

This is by no means unique.  Almost all sports equipment to a certain extent has this type of warning.  This example is from an XFL helmet. outlaws-helmet9 outlaws-helmet10 outlaws-helmet7

 

Nomex-The Core Of Driver Suits

By David G. Firestone

Editor’s note, I will be away on vacation until August. Here is a Friday Feature to tide you over.

I must have said the word Nomex a thousand times on this blog, but what exactly is Nomex? In short, it is a flame-resistant meta-aramid cloth material. It is an aramid material, which is the same thing as Kevlar, but it is not as strong as a bulletproof vest, but it has great thermal, as well as chemical resistance, which makes it great for racing firesuits.The development of the Nomex firesuit has been a long road. This road has seen its share of driver deaths and injuries. Before the Coca Cola 600, I discussed the deaths of Fireball Roberts, Eddie Sachs, and Dave McDonald in fire-related crashes over the course of 6 days in 1964. What took place from there would cross the paths of racing and a young drag racer.

Bill Simpson was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1940. He took up drag racing at a young age, and at age 18, broke both arms in a drag racing crash. As he recuperated, he thought of safety in racing for the first time. He developed the idea of an X shaped parachute, and using materials from his uncle’s army surplus shop, developed a functional drag racing parachute. Don Garlits noticed the new parachutes, and took an interest, which helped the Simpson Drag Chute company to form. As time went on, he started making other racing equipment, which caught the attention of drivers, and, oddly enough, NASA. During a project, he met Pete Conrad, who introduced the now 27 year old Simpson to Nomex in 1967.

Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. Far from the uses it has today, its main use at the time was for the Apollo Command Module parachutes. NASA needed a material that could stand up to the heat of reentering the earth’s atmosphere, and still remain fully functional. Simpson saw what the material could do, and decided it would work well to make driver suits, and other uniform items. Contrary to what most people think, Nomex is not fire PROOF, rather it is fire RETARDENT. It does burn, but burns at a much slower rate, and that protects the driver in the event of a fire. Bill Simpson decided to show how much better this material was by having a “burn off.” He put on one of his Simpson racing suits, doused himself in gasoline, and lit himself on fire. Though he was fully engulfed in flames, he was not hurt. Though he admits that is was a bad idea, it sold drivers on Nomex. Even today, 46 years later, Nomex is still the go-to material for driver suits.

Nomex is used for many other things. Nomex sheet is used in power cords for insulation. Fire-fighters use Nomex for protection in saving lives. Fighter pilots wear Nomex suits in case of cockpit fires. Nomex was developed for NASA and NASA still uses a lot of Nomex. It is used in what NASA refers to as the “Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit”, or in regular English, the “outer layer of a spacesuit.” The spacesuits that space shuttle astronauts wore on liftoff and touchdown were primarily made of Nomex. Almost every project that NASA has done in the last 40 years involves Nomex in one form or another, so it is a very versatile material.

Interestingly, as safety concerns increased, and safety equipment changes for the better, you begin to see that Nomex is beginning to have competition in the driver suit market in terms of fire protection. While I’m typically a traditionalist when it comes to sports uniforms, for driver suits that is a great thing. Developing a new material that serves the same purpose as Nomex, but can do it better and longer is a great thing. Eventually, Nomex will go the way of typewriters, film cameras, the printing press, and the floppy disk as an invention that is obsolete but changed the world. Friday Feature to tide you over.