Little Guy November Ends With An Undershirt

By David G. Firestone

Little Guy November ends a week early this year. I’ve been working on a project that will happen next week. Sports car racing doesn’t get the respect it deserves in America. NASCAR gets the most attention, IndyCar takes center stage on Memorial Day, and the NHRA is the star on Labor Day. Even with the lack of respect shown to sports car racing, it has a very dedicated fan base. The racing is always great.

One driver who has had a lot of success is Robert “Butch” Leitzinger. In his years of racing in American LeMans and Grand Am he has 15 wins in ALMS and 9 wins in Grand Am. He also has 4 wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, two in 1994, one in 1995, and one in 1996. During his 2001 season, he raced in Grand Am for 10 of the 13 races. He won five times, at Homestead, Lime Rock, Circuit de Trois-Rivieres, Watkins Glen, and the second Daytona race. He and Dyson Racing finished second in the standings. During that season, he wore this Stand 21 undershirt, which he also autographed. The shirt is in decent condition, and doesn’t show much use.The collar has a STAND 21 tag. There is no tag in the cowl.Butch signed the front torso in black Sharpie.There is a tag sewn into the left side of the shirt.The shoulders are unadorned.. The sleeves are unadorned. The back is unadorned, and doesn’t show any wear. Next week…a surprise!

Little Guy November Goes Across The Pond

By David G. Firestone

Little Guy November continues, this time in Britain. In 1980, Steve O’Rourke, manager Pink Floyd founded EMKA Racing. The team raced in British sports car racing, and occasionally Formula 1. The team had some success, including 3 wins, 6 class wins, 18 class podiums, and several championship runs.

The team went through a series of drivers, including a British driver by the name of Guy Holmes. Holmes was a small-time driver, who raced in various British series, and even raced in the 1996 24 Hours of LeMans. He raced in Britain for several years before EMKA Racing. In 1986, he wore this Mobil 1 double layer AWS Racewear firesuit. The suit shows light use, but is in great condition.The collar has a Velcro strap, and a MOBIL 1 logo is embroidered on the neck.The cowl has a standard tag with washing instructions. There is also a Nomex tag inside of the Velcro strap. The right chest features an AWS Racewear logo embroidered on the white background.The left chest is unadorned.The upper torso features a MOBIL 1 logo embroidered. There is a red stripe separating the white and the blue material.GUY HOLMES is embroidered in white on the blue material of the belt.The legs have standard cuffs, and are unadorned.The shoulders have white epaulets that are unadorned, and outlined in blue. The sleeves have white material on the outside, a red stripe, and blue material on the inside. There is an AWS Racewear logo embroidered, but the sleeves are otherwise unadorned. The back of the suit doesn’t show any real wear.The back of the neck has NORME 1986 1986 STANDARD ADVANCED WEAR AND SAFETY FIA FIA 1.082R.A.C.88 certification embroidered. I should point out that this is how I determined this suit from 1986. Information on Guy Holmes outside of 1995-1997 is impossible to find, so that’s how I came to that conclusion.The upper front torso features a MOBIL 1 logo embroidered.Guy Holmes is a racer who got to the top of his racing of choice, but who couldn’t get the job done, so he has faded into obscurity.

Next Week, an undershirt.

Little Guy November Continues With a Pair of Gloves

By David G. Firestone

Little Guy November starts in earnest. Hailing from Philo, IL, the self-proclaimed center of the universe, Kyle Schuett has raced the sprint car scene since at least 2005. He has numerous race wins and championships. He races in the southern Illinois area.

Even the little guys need to upgrade equipment, and Schuett is no exception. Suits, helmets, shoes, and gloves all need to be replaced. This SFI 3.3/5 rated K1 gloves is proof of this. The gloves show decent use, and have been autographed on the wrists. The right gloves features wear on the palm. There are certification tags present, and Kyle has signed the wrist. The left gloves features wear on the palm. There are certification tags present, and Kyle has signed the wrist. Admittedly, this was a short column this week, so I present…

TAILGATING TIME

Since this is November, there will be parties and get-togethers. You want to bring something interesting to the event, so I present:

Pumpkin Date Squares

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup flour plus 2 tablespoons

1/4 cup butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup cooked pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking power

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Instructions:

1-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2-Mix dates, walnuts, 2 teaspoons flour and set aside.

3-Melt butter and stir in sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla.

4-Beat inn eggs, sift in remaining 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking power and spices. Mix well.

5-Stir in floured dates and nuts.

6-Pour into greased 8×8 square baking pan.

7-Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Next week, a British racing suit.

Little Guy November Starts A Week Early This Year

By David G. Firestone

So last week I was ready to present this Ray Neveau driver suit, because from what I had researched, I thought that he was a professional driver. After doing my research, I realized that he was a weekend warrior. As such, I decided to push this article back a week, and start Little Guy November a week early. For those who don’t know, Little Guy November is a celebration of items worn by drivers who aren’t in the big leagues. These include minor league professional drivers, and weekend warriors. So, without further ado, let’s get to the suit!

Hailing from Santa Ana, CA, Ray Neveau founded Class Auto Center in 1981. He is also in charge of a number of other auto body shops in the Orange County, California area. Many auto body shops race cars as a method of promotion. Owners also like to race cars as a hobby. Ray Neveau is no exception.

In 1993, Ray Neveau raced in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour. He raced in three races at Saugus, CA, Tuscon, and Mesa Marin. His attempts weren’t successful. He also raced in a number of local events, as evidenced by this black firesuit. This double layer non-certified suit shows light use.The red collar has white stitching and a Velcro closure.Inside the cowl is a standard Simpson tag. There are two flags present, one with MSL, the other has a manufacture date of 2/93.The right chest features two small SIMPSON patches and RAY NEVEAU embroidered.The left chest is unadorned.The front torso features the word SHARP in red chain-stitched lettering with a white outline. You don’t see chain-stitching on driver suits that often, and that’s why I love this suit!The suit has a belt. It is black with white stitching.The legs have standard cuffs, and are unadorned.The shoulders have red epaulets that are unadorned. The right sleeve is unadorned. The left sleeve has a SIMPSON patch on the upper part, the rest of the sleeve is unadorned. The back of the suit has no real wear.The back of the neck has no adornment on the red material.The back torso is unadorned.Next week, Little Guy November continues with a pair of gloves.

Pit Boards…Unique and Under-Appreciated-Revisited

Pit Boards…Unique and Under-Appreciated-Revisited

By David Firestone

Editor’s Note: I had an article planned for today, but I decided to save it for the beginning of Little Guy November. As such, I will be revisiting an old article.

Today, I thought we should discuss an item that everyone sees, but not everyone understands…the mighty pit board. Pit Boards are an item that most average collector wouldn’t think that would come up for sale, but they do. I am a proud owner of one myself:

This beauty of an item is from MRD Motorsports, and was used between 2007 and 2009 for Chad McCumbee and Blake Bjorklund, among others. Made from a thick plastic inside, with the color design made with a plastic similar to many campaign signs, it shows very nice use, with scratches and scuff marks. There are two types of pit boards. One type hangs above the pit lane, to help indicate to the driver where his pit is. This board almost always has the car number and holes cut into it to cut down on wind resistance. This is an example of one used by MRD.The other type, like the one shown above, is to indicate to the car where to stop in the pit. In years past, a crew member would stand behind the board and the car would drive up to him. Since this was as dangerous as one thinks it is, in the 1990’s, pit crews switched to the “lollipop” form still used today. The board is held on a long pole and held where the driver can see and hit it to stop.

Boards are often customized to driver preference. Kevin Harvick is known for his “Happy Face” pit board. Some drivers use sponsor names, other use car numbers. It all looks confusing on pit road sometimes. In this example, the MRD Motorsports board has the car number design on it. This board shows where the pole was attached to the board.  It also shows numerous scratches and scuff marks from race use. The back of this board is plain black. That is due to MRD being a low budget team, with limited resources.

Ok, with that out of the way, we will start Little Guy November a week early next week!

Let’s Take A Break From Racing For A Bit…

By David G. Firestone

We’re gonna do thing differently this week. Racing isn’t the only thing going on in the world. Sometimes, it’s great to just take a step back, and look at some other things that might be interesting.

Gaius Sallustius Crispus, known popularly as Sallustwas a well-known Roman historian, politician, and first member of his family to serve in the Roman Senate, commonly refered to as a novus home. He lived from 86 BCE to 35 BCE. His most famous work was The Conspiracy of Catiline.

Sallust’s Jugurthine War is a monograph recording the war against Jugurtha in Numidia from c. 112 BC to 105 BC. It’s one of his lesser known works. Numerous adaptations have been printed, including this Latin version from 1758.This well-worn manuscript shows a large amount of wear and tear, including numerous notes on what could be called the cover, and many of the pages.

Next week, going back to racing with a driver suit

 

 

A Costume of a Firesuit

By David G. Firestone

While racing suits are primarily designed to protect driver from fire, their outer designs have become the focus to the majority of people, and it’s not hard to see why. The amount of effort it takes to get all of the sponsors fair placement for visibility is staggering.

Racing has a place in pop culture. Racing has been featured in music, movies, television, and internet media. For some productions, they place a lot of effort into costume design. Lower end productions will acquire a jumpsuit, and place patches on it, as this white suit made by Red Kap. The suit doesn’t show any real wear.The collar has no adornment, and doesn’t close. It’s designed to be folded like a polo shirt.A Red Kap tag is in the cowl with JS written in Sharpie above it.The right chest features a VALVOLINE patch, a GOODGUYS HOT RODS and STREET RODS patch, and an NGK SPARK PLUGS patch sewn into it.The left chest features a GOODYEAR patch, an STP patch, and a blue star.The suit has no belt.The legs are unadorned, with no special cuffs.The suit has no epaulets, and the right shoulder has a GOODYEAR patch, identical to the one on the left chest, sewn into it.The right sleeve has an NGK SPARK PLUGS patch sewn into the upper part, and the end of the sleeve is unadorned. The suit has no epaulets, and the left shoulder is unadorned.The left sleeve is unadorned. The back of the suit is almost unadorned, with the exception of a VALVOLINE patch on the lower back.

What gets me about this suit is the fact that there was clearly a lot of effort put into the design of this suit. The patches are sewn in to the suit, and they are all auto racing related. Yet the random placement of the patches baffles me. If the small patches weren’t so spread out, this suit would look a lot better. I get that whatever this suit was used for was on a budget, but a little research would have been better, but the effort does deserve to be respected.

Next week, we go off topic.

Beckman’s Back For 2019

By David G. Firestone

I’ve discussed Jack Beckman on The Driver Suit Blog many times. He is a great driver, he connects with the fans, and he was kind enough to grant me an interview last year. I’ve been into the Infinite Hero Challenge Coin program since the beginning, and love collecting them. Well, I’m back with another profile of the coins for 2018.
Launched in 2011, The Infinite Hero Foundation “…is to combat the most difficult front line issues – mental and physical – facing returning military heroes and their families.” Military personnel returning from overseas deployment face long term employment, mental and physical problems that the majority of Americans don’t understand. They work with other non-profit veterans groups and give out grants to help service men and women cope with these long term problems.
In April 2014, they started appearing on the side of Jack Beckman’s funny car. The late Terry Chandler, who also sponsors Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make a Wish Foundation Funny Car, is the financial backer of the car. She pays for Infinite Hero to race on the sides of the car. This also began the NHRA coin program. When Jack Beckman gets into his funny car to race, he carries Infinite Hero Challenge Coins in the pocket of his driver suit. Once the race is over, he will autograph them and sell them at the track and on eBay. They cost $100 with all proceeds going to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

The 2014 design is quite thick, and has a ridged edge. One side featured “Courage, Honor, Virtue, Heroism,” around a globe design with an Oakley logo. Oakley is a partner with the Infinite Hero Foundation. The other side features an Infinite Hero Foundation logo with purple enamel. The coin was placed in a round, flat plastic container, with black foam braces. The coin lacks the blue enamel that the coin that comes with the glasses coin, and future coins, and has a very plain look. I do like the plain look. Jack used was identical to the one sold in stores. Jack autographed the plastic case. In 2014, this 1/24 scale die cast was produced. It is a full replica of Beckman’s funny car. Valvoline was a primary sponsor, and this was the only season Infinite Hero and Valvoline were together on the car. It’s also the only time that Infinite Hero Challenge appeared on the older Dodge funny car body. In 2015, the current body was introduced, and Pennzoil replaced Valvoline. Jack has autographed the windshield. A redesigned coin of the same size was introduced for 2015. The Oakley logos are gone. One side features a design similar to the globe design, but the globe design has been replaced with an American Flag design. “Courage, Honor, Virtue, Heroism” has been replaced with “Duty, Honor, Innovation, Courage.” The new emblem on the reverse side has one of the across bands removed. The new packaging is an upgrade, with the circular plastic cylinder replaced with an attractive box. It comes with a card that Jack Beckman autographed, and on the reverse it has the Infinite Hero Foundation Pledge. The first one is from The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Phoenix on February 22, 2015, where Jack was eliminated in the first round. The second one is from the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, where Beckman won the event, beating Courtney Force in the final round. Also in 2015, these hero cards were produced. Hero cards are given away at racing events and driver appearances. They have Jack’s picture, and information about the driver, team, and the Infinite Hero Challenge. For 2016, the coins got a major makeover. The Infinite Hero logo is now bigger. The words “Reimagine” and “Recovery” are stamped near the logo, and on the opposite side, a picture of Jack’s funny car replaces the flag motif. It should also be noted that the coin is slightly smaller, because it isn’t as tight in the coin case as the previous version. The Infinite Hero Pledge accompanies the coin. Also changed from 2016, Jack doesn’t sign the box and the pledge, he just signs the pledge. The 2017 Infinite Hero coin is slightly larger than the 2016 coin, and fits snugly in the box. The pledge piece remains unchanged. The coin itself has a plain pewter Infinite Hero Challenge logo on one side, and a blue enameled claw stripe design with a hex nut design on the border. Hero cards are given away at racing events and driver appearances. They have Jack’s picture, and information about the driver, team, and the Infinite Hero Challenge. For 2016-2017, a new card design was introduced. It has updated information, as well as the updated paint scheme introduced at the beginning of the season. Recently, I took a number of selfies with race car drivers, and made them into a book, and got them signed. This is me with Jack Beckman. Hector Arana signed the upper-left corner.This year’s design is done in memory of the late Terry Chandler, who passed away from cancer prior to the 2017 event. The front has a heart design with Chandler’s initials. The back of the coin has the Infinite Hero logo, with blue enamel. Jack also autographed a copy of the Infinite Hero pledge. For 2018, a new Hero card design  was released.

The 2019 coin design features the features the Air Force seal, with SGR “FAST” JACK BECKMAN INFINITE HERO FUNNY CAR engraved on the outside. The standard Infinite Hero challenge logo is on the reverse. This was autographed by Jack at the Route 66 Nationals.

Jack Beckman is a great driver, who races for a great sponsor, and supports a great cause. He has been really amazing not just to me, not just to to The Driver Suit Blog, but to the NHRA and their fan base. I’m glad he’s going to be racing for The Infinite Hero Challenge until 2020. As long as he is selling them, I will continue buying the Infinite Hero Challenge Coins, and promoting them on The Driver Suit Blog. I can’t wait to see next year’s coin design.
Next week, a suit that was used for something other than racing.

Drag Racing’s Greatest Families-The Pedregon Family

Drag Racing’s Greatest Families-The Pedregon Family

By David G. Firestone

Before we dive into this weeks Friday Feature, I want to discuss why I reposted an old article last week. As happens sometimes, I had to deal with a couple of minor things last week, and I didn’t have enough time to get to the Friday Feature. I hate doing things this way, but real life gets in the way. Now on to the Pedregon Brothers!

When “Flaming” Frank Pedregon passed away in 1981, he had no idea his sons would become some of the most respected drivers in Funny Car. Fast forward to 2019, and one son Tony has 43 event wins, fourth on the all time win list, and two championships, and the other Cruz has 33, and two championships, including the only Funny Car championship not won by John Force in the 1990’s. The Pedregons have gone down as one the greatest families in the history of drag racing.

The first brother to have real success in Funny Car was Cruz. He started racing in 1987 in a top alcohol dragster, moved to top alcohol funny car, then to top fuel in 1991, and in 1992 won the Funny Car championship. The biggest rivalry in drag racing in the 1990’s was John Force vs. Cruz Pedregon. Both were driving Pontiac Firebirds for a while, with Cruz driving this Interstate Batteries/Hot Rod car, represented by this 1/32 die-cast.

John Force was not going to be denied, and decided to get in Cruz’s head by hiring Tony as a driver. By 1993, both Pedregon brothers were racing in full time funny cars Tony and John did not have the best of relationships. Both John and Tony were racing the same design car, but Tony would have to, on occasion, throw a race for John. This is a 1:24 scale mock-up of his Castol funny car from his days with John Force.

In 1998, Tony won 2 events, one at Texas, the other at Denver. During that season, he wore these Simpson Holeshot drag boots.

These boots are unlike most racing shoes because they are designed to cover both the shoe, and the end of the leg of the driver suit. Why would funny car drivers wear such boots? Well, to answer that, let’s look at the design of the inside of a funny car. This is a Ron Capps diecast, but it shows how the car is set up.

The driver sits almost on top of the rear axle, with the 10,000 horsepower engine, and nitromethane fuel tank directly in front. Should there be an engine explosion, which isn’t uncommon, the fire would blow back into the driver. There are firewalls in place, but those can’t always be counted on to protect the driver from the full effects of fire in the time it takes to get a funny car stops. That’s where these boots come in. They will give that little extra bit of help to the driver in exiting the car.  They are rated 15, not bad for 1998 standards, but would have a 20 rating in 2019. Both boots have been signed by Pedregon and he added the inscription “’98.”

In 2002, the Pedregon brothers formed Cruz Pedregon Racing, Inc., and both have had driver duties. This visor was used by one of the brothers, and autographed by both. It’s designed for a Simpson Bandit-style helmet.

The Pedregon brothers didn’t use “The Clydesdale Effect” with this visor. I asked Cruz if he uses The Clydesdale Effect, and this was his response:

“I did, but honestly, to me, if your susceptible to that, you probably have something else going on. Part of your God given ability to focus, to me should be, even if something is in your vision, your focus should be the thing you are focused on, not things on the outside. I did try that at one time, and all it did was verify that I’m really screwed up.”

I also came across this Cruz Pedregon race-used visor. It’s a Simpson visor, which shows a number of scratches, and scuff marks, and Cruz has autographed the visor with the inscription “2X FC CHAMP!.”

The last item 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.

Next week, Driver Suit Blog favorite Jack Beckman gets the spotlight!

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:

1-lajoie-f

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.