2017 Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 2-Ford

By David G. Firestone

The Driver Suit Blog Paint Scheme Review Committee has met again, and after the latest round of negotiation and meetings, we have released our rankings on Ford’s paint scheme for 2017.  Here we go:

#1-Wood Brothers Racing #21 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 2 of 13

The Wood Brothers have had a great look in recent years. The throwback inspired scheme works very well. While the orange OmniCraft scheme was the low point, the A- it earned should show how solid a year The Wood Brothers had. That A- kept The Wood Brothers from a solid 4 GPA and a tie for the top spot.

#2-Stewart-Haas Racing #41 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: NA

A great showing for the #41, with 4 A’s and a B+. The schemes were all great, and the overall grade is very respectable.

#3-Stewart-Haas Racing #14 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: NA

Cars 3 and 5 Star Urgent Care were the low grades, and when the lowest grade you get in a season is a B, you know you are doing very well. Aside from the two B grades, all of their grades were solid A’s, but the law of averages keeps the #14 from a higher spot.

#4-Stewart-Haas Racing #4 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: NA

The new Busch and Busch Light schemes as well as the new Mobil 1 schemes were great, and the Jimmy John’s scheme were all great in 2017. The Busch Bucks, Busch Outdoor,Busch Light Outdoor, and Busch NA schemes took the grade down from a solid A scheme to a much lower GPA.

#5-Team Penske #2 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 3 of 13

The Penske Template can work well with the right color combination. Auto Trader, Detroit Genuine Parts, and Fitzgerald Glider Kits aren’t the right color combinations. Miller Lite had a great scheme, and the other schemes that used the Penske Template worked very well.

#6-Front Row Motorsports #38 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 5 of 13

Jacob Companies had some bad schemes this year, and 1000 Bulbs isn’t that great either. Those are the only bad schemes, as the rest are A grades. The average of grades is a harsh mistress, and the total average of the grades is mediocre.

#7-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 9 of 13

The range of grades was all over the place, with some amazing and some awful grades.

#8-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 12 of 13

Smithfield and STP were blah. The throwback was amazing. The less said about Fresh From Florida, the better. The grade averages were average, and the #43 gains a bit this year, but has a lot of work to do. Hopefully a new sponsor set will bring the grades up.

#9-TriStar Motorsports #72 Chevy SS/Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: NA

I still hate the door numbers, but TriStar made it work. Many of the schemes range from decent to awful. They had many one and two race sponsors, but unlike Premium, weren’t able to make their schemes work as well, and the overall rankings took a major hit.

#10-Front Row Motorsports #34 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: of 13

Fr8 Auctions is the same disaster it was. The camouflage scheme has somehow gotten worse from last year. Jacob Companies has to smear their designs on the sides of the car. These three are the only downs for the year, but their low grades had an impact, taking a car that usually has a great look has a lower grade.

#11-Team Penske #22 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 13 of 13

Of 9 grades, 4 of them are D’s, and 5 of them are A’s. This can be attributed to the pickiness of the Penske Template. Some color schemes work well, others don’t work at all. The throwback and Duralast schemes work very well, as do the Red Cross and the Indy 500 scheme, and the Pennzoil scheme. The rest of the schemes are just awful. The of average of all of these is a mediocre grades.

#12-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 8 of 13

Go Bowling, NESN, and the new Fifth-Third Bank were meh. Sunny D and a Pinkwashing scheme earned F’s. Eco-Boost was awful. The rest of the schemes including two great throwbacks were all solid this year. Sadly, the average of all of these is a lower score than what could have been.

#13-Stewart-Haas Racing #10 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: NA

Aspen Dental and Warriors in Pink were the bottom of the barrel. Colorado State and Warrior by Danica were bad. The rest of the schemes were great. Averaging all the grades out leaves the #10 near the bottom of the list.

14-Go FAS Racing #32 Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: 10 of 13

The #32 grades were all over the place, with numerous F’s, numerous A’s, and many in between. Go FAS is a team that gets many one or two race sponsors, and so the team is changing schemes all the time, some great, and some awful. The final report places Go FAS at the bottom of the list.

That does it for Ford, the Driver Suit Blog Paint Scheme Review Committee will have another round of meetings this week, and next week, I will discuss Toyota’s rankings!

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2017 Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 1-Chevy

By David G. Firestone

The racing season is over, holiday music is playing in stores, we’ve all had our fill of turkey, and the Driver Suit Blog Paint Scheme Review Committee has met again. This time, I’ve added a third member, Lucy the beagle, in addition to Alejandro the cat. After extensive meetings, we have come to our conclusions for the Leaderboard ranking for Chevy’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series paint schemes. So, without further ado, here we go!

#1-Beard Motorsports #75 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NA

Beard Motorsports has had a great year, in terms of paint schemes. They have run two races, had two A schemes, and earned a perfect 4 for the year.

#2-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 11 of 24

While the Farmer’s Insurance and Great Clips schemes are meh at best, Kasey ran a series of A schemes for most of the year. He finishes the year with a respectable average in terms of grades.

#3-Circle Sport/TMG #33 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NA

Cirlce Sport/TMG had a slew of great schemes for almost all of the year. They all had great A looks…except for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scheme which earned a solid F. This not only knocked out of the first place spot, but down surprisingly lower than what they should have been.

#4-Richard Childress Racing #27 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: of 24

The 2017 Menard’s template has worked very well, with the exception of Knauf, Sylvania, and Jack Links Beef Jerkey. This is another instance of 3 schemes derailing what could have been a perfect season for 2017.

#5-JTG Daugherty Racing #37 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NA

While the #37 team had a lot of A’s and no really bad schemes, the lower graded schemes took the whole grade from a great position to a dull position. Still, they didn’t get lower than a C, and their GPA was decent enough.

#6-Premium Motorsports #55 Chevy SS/Toyota Camry Rank Last Year: 2 of 24

Aside from Low T, Star Com Fiber, Wind River, the #55 has had a very solid showing in 2017, with a lot of A schemes.

#7-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 3 of 24

The #47 had a solid B+ year, and with an A graded throwback, they had a good solid showing in 2017. The Kroger looks were all great in 2017, and the throwback is amazing.

#8-Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 22 of 24

The #1 had a varried season in 2017. They had a decent amount of A’s, but with the number of B and C level grades, it took what could have been a perfect year down to a decent year.

#9-Rick Ware Racing #51 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NA

Rick Ware Racing has a lot of one and two race sponsors, and, as is prone to happening, the grades for these schemes are varied. However, overall, there are a lot of A’s, and only one really bad grade. But with all the grades averaged, the final rank is much lower than it could have been.

#10-Richard Childress Racing #31 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 12 of 24

The #31 has a lot of different schemes, which have been everything from bad to amazing. While no single scheme has received an F, the Okuma scheme did get a D grade, and the rest of the grades were all over the map in between. The final average is much lower than it could have been.

#11-Premium Motorsports #15 Chevy SS/Toyota Camry Rank Last Year: NA

Low T is a bad scheme, and Michael Waltrip’s D- Aaron’s scheme completely derailed an almost perfect season for paint schemes. The #15 had many one and two race sponsors, but they were almost all great. The #15 could have been higher, if not for the two low scores.

#12-Hendrick Motorsports #24 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 19 of 24

NAPA has a much better look, the Kelly Blue Book and Mountain Dew schemes work very well. The Hooters scheme left a lot of room for improvement, and the Sun Energy scheme is still a disaster. It’s sad the Hooters, and Sun Energy derailed what could have been a great season for the #24.

#13-Leavine Family Racing #95 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 17 of 24

WRL Contractors was awful. Race Wipes, and Devour Frozen Meals were mediocre at best. The rest of the schemes were great. Adding up and averaging the grades from all of the schemes takes what could have been a great season down to a mediocre season.

#14-Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 16 of 24

The grades for the #3 were all over the place, with a number of Dow schemes working well, to other Dow schemes not working as well. #3 cars tended to be over designed in 2017, and the lower ranking is evidence of this.

#15-Germain Racing #13 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 23 of 24

Geico Military was the only blemish on the #13’s season. They had 3 A grades, Geico, Twisted Tea, and the Smokey Yunick Throwback. The branded camouflage scheme doesn’t work very well at all. It took a solid A down to a solid C.

#16-Hendrick Motorsports #88 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 10 of 24

Axalta had a series of really bad schemes this year. Mountain Dew-S-A was meh, and the rest of the schemes were great. Every other scheme was great, but the law of averages strike again. A great season derailed by a few bad apples.

#17-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 18 of 24

Tommy Baldwin had 4 A schemes, but the other 4 schemes were either C or D schemes. Averaged out, they had a very low score this year.

#18-TriStar Motorsports #72 Chevy SS/Ford Fusion Rank Last Year: NA

I still hate the door numbers, but TriStar made it work. Many of the schemes range from decent to awful. They had many one and two race sponsors, but unlike Premium, weren’t able to make their schemes work as well, and the overall rankings took a major hit.

#19-Gaunt Bros Racing #96 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NAA B+ and a C- for their two schemes do not add up to a great average. It was a meh year for a part-time team.

#20-Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 13 of 24

The phrase “all over the map” accuratly describes the year that the #42 had. They had everything from high graded beauty, to low level messes. The grades were averaged, and the final grade is a meh grade, to say the least.

#21-MBM Motorsports #66 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NA

Three bad schemes, a meh scheme, and a great scheme add up to a low ranking. Carl Long’s return to the Cup Series had a really blah season, both aesthetically, and on track.

#22-Star Com Racing #00 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: NA

A single C rated scheme for this late season entry by Derrike Cope. I don’t hate the scheme, but I don’t love it either. It’s a very forgettable scheme, that could have been a lot better.

#23-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Chevy SS Rank Last Year: 21 of 24

The #48 was either feast or famine. The schemes earned either F’s or A’s, but more F’s than A’s average out to a D grade average, the worst of 2017, both for Chevy’s teams and the Cup Series as a whole.

So that is Chevy’s rankings for 2017. Next Week, the Driver Suit Blog Paint Scheme Review Committee will release their rankings for Ford.

The 2017 Paint Schemie Awards Are Here!

By David G. Firestone

With the month of November, and the 2017 racing season behind us, I’m happy to present the 4th Annual Driver Suit Blog Paint Schemie Awards! Regular readers know about this, but I’ll discuss this again. Every year, I pick the best and worst paint schemes and award them the Paint Schemie. This was done using the Driver Suit Blog executive committee for paint scheme analysis and consists of me and Driver Suit Blog assistant, my cat Alejandro, and uses the following standards:

Color Scheme:How the colors look, and how they work with each other.

Overall Design:How good the design itself looks, is there too much, or not enough.

Primary Sponsor Logos: How the primary sponsor logos look on the car

Originality: How original is the scheme.

All of the above can work for or against a scheme, and all will be taken into consideration.

Let’s get the bad paint scheme awards out of the way.First, the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Regular Season Single Paint Scheme .

The nominees are:

Ty Dillon13 Geico Military Chevy SS

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Sunny D Ford Fusion

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry

Matt Kenseth #20 Tide Pods Toyota Camry

Chase Elliott #24 Sun Energy Chevy SS

Matt DiBenedetto #32 Can Am/Kappa Ford Fusion

The 2017 Paint Schemie Award for Worst Regular Season Single Paint Scheme goes to:

Chase Elliott #24 Sun Energy Chevy SS

The next award is for Worst Paint Scheme Set, meaning the team that is running consistently bad schemes all year. The nominees are:

Starcom Racing #00 Chevy SS

Stewart-Haas Racing #10 Ford Fusion

Go Fas Racing #32 Ford Fusion

Hendrick Motorsports #48 Chevy SS

Furniture Row Racing #77 Toyota Camry

BK Racing #83 Toyota Camry

The The winner of the Award For Worst Scheme Set of 2017 goes to…

Hendrick Motorsports #48 Chevy SS

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Exhibition or Throwback Paint Schemes. This category is a little different, as the Schemies will go to the best and worst throwback. For this category, all exhibition race and throwback paint schemes qualify automatically.

The 2017 Paint Schemie Award for Worst Exhibition or Throwback Paint Schemes goes to…

Gray Gaulding #23 Bubba Burger Toyota Camry

Now after talking about the bad, we discuss the good. Here are the winners in the best category…First, the Paint Schemie Award for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme.

The nominees for the 2017 Paint Schemie Award for for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme are:

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Chevy SS

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry

Matt Kenseth #20 PEAK Antifreeze Toyota Camry

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

Chase Elliott #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy SS

The 2017 Paint Schemie Award for for Best Regular Season Single Paint Scheme goes to…

Ryan Blaney #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

The next category is Paint Schemie Award is for Best Exhibition or Throwback Paint Schemes, and it should come as no surprise that the competition was strong this year.

The 2017 Paint Schemie Award for Best Throwback Scheme of 2017 goes to…

Austin Dillon #3 American Ethanol Throwback Chevy SS

The final award of 2017 is the Paint Schemie for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2017. The nominees are:

Hendrick Motorsports #5 Chevy SS

Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Toyota Camry

Wood Brothers Racing #21 Ford Fusion

Stewart-Haas Racing #41

Premium Motorsports #55 Toyota Camry/Chevy SS

Beard Racing #75 Chevy SS

The 2017 Paint Schemie Award for for Best Paint Scheme Set goes to…

Beard Racing #75 Chevy SS

That’s it for the Schemies, next week, the Paint Scheme Leaderboard begins with Chevy!

Ray Lipper and Center Line Wheels Part 2

By David G. Firestone

Our last Friday Feature for Minor League Month is a continuation of what I started last week. Last week, I examined a driver suit worn by Center Line Wheels founder Ray Lipper. While the suit was an interesting find, it was only part of a larger uniform set. This week, I will examine the rest of the contents of the uniform set. This has to be the most comprehensive uniform set I have ever seen.

There is a black restraint harness included, which shows some light wear. There is also a set of orange Simpson gloves, both of which show heavy wear on the palms. Ray also wore these white Simpson racing shows, both of which show heavy wear. The right show has a tear in it, and the left shoe has some damage. The soles have dirt caked in them. This white balaclava was also worn, though there is no indication of who made it. This Linea Sport Nomex undershirt, which is thick and shows a lot of use is included in the lot. I’ve been trying to find out information about Linea Sport, but I’ve had no luck. This Italian-made pair of long-johns shows decent wear, as per the shirt, but are not as heavy as the shirt. This is a pair of black Nomex socks. They have no manufacturer indicated, and one is deformed from them being in a ball for some time. Moving on from the uniform elements, the lot also comes with a number of miscellaneous items.Race cars tend to be very loud, so Ray wore this par of earplugs, complete with original box. Cadillac Shoe Products has no affiliation with the Cadillac automobile company. This pair of black Cadillac shoe laces came with the set. This set of (presumably) car keys was used by Lipper at some point.A small, orange Snell Sport Vynl folder is included, and the contents of which are very interesting. This is a paper race result from the 1980 SCCA Formula Super Vee USA Robert Bosch/Valvoline Championship. One of the Gold Cup race took place at Watkins Glen on July 5, 1980. Lipper finished 16th, driving a Super Vee. He won $250 for his efforts.In preparation for a race at what is now Sonoma Raceway, Lipper hand drew this map of the track, and added notes as to what he should do in the car while driving in that area.This is a map of Watkins Glen, both the track, and the way to the track. It shows a lot of wear. In addition to racing in the United States, Lipper also raced in New Zealand. This is Lipper’s Motorsports Association of New Zealand(MANZ) license. The Manawatu Car Club is New Zealand’s oldest car club. Lipper was a part of it in 1982, and this is his member ticket. While Center Line Wheels may not be an independent company anymore, their lineage lives on. Ray Lipper has retired, both from Center Line and Racing. He’s been inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame, and is another example of what makes racing great. He’s a businessman who races to help promote his company.

It’s that time of year again…next week…THE PAINT SCHEMIES!

Ray Lipper and Center Line Wheels Part 1

By David G. Firestone

Minor League Month continues, and this week is the first of two articles about a business man who raced to help promote his business.

In April of 2017, Center Line Wheels ceased production after 47 years. In August of 2017, the company was acquired by Corona, California based wheel manufacturer Design Infini. During those 47 years, Center Line had been a well-known aftermarket wheel rim company, which made high performance rims. Since Center Line had been a performance wheel company, it makes sense that they had been involved in motorsports, including supplying wheels to racing teams, as well as sponsoring teams.

Center Line was founded as the Center Line Tool Corporation in 1970 by Ray Lipper. Lipper saw the need for a good performance rim, and soon the company started focusing only on wheels. Lipper was also an avid racer, and raced in SCCA, and CART. His time in CART was not successful, with a DNS at the Phoenix race, and was one of 47 drivers not to qualify for the 1982 Indianapolis 500. He was elected to the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2002. During his racing career, he wore this racing uniform.

The uniform set, which is one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen, includes a suit, gloves, shoes, an undershirt, long johns, a harness, and some other miscellaneous stuff. We’ll look at the other stuff next week, this week, we will focus on the white Simpson driver suit, which shows some light use, and is very thick, and heavy duty.The collar has a Velcro-closure, with no adornment.The cowl tag is an older Simpson warranty label, used into the late 1980’s.While there is no large sponsor patch on the torso, there are a number of smaller patches on the chest and torso. On the right side, there is an older VALVOLINE logo, RAY LIPPER embroidered in a patch, a SIMPSON patch next to the name, and a WATKINS GLEN US GRAND PRIX patch below that.The left side of the front has CART,CENTER LINE RACING WHEELS,SCCA,ROAD AMERICA CAN AM 1981 CHICAGO REGION SCCA,and VW MOTORSPORT patches sewn into it.The suit features an unadorned white belt.The legs have a red stripe running up the white material, and have standard cuffs.The shoulders have red stripes that extend down to the cuff of the sleeves, and white straps that would be used to pull the driver out of the car in case of a fire. The right sleeve has a UNITED STATES AUTO CLUB patch, and has the red stripe extending to the cuff. The left sleeve features a SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS patch, as well as a PPG INDUSTRIES patch.The back of the suit doesn’t show any wear to speak of.The back of the neck is unadorned.The upper back of the suit has a large GOODYEAR patch sewn into it.Ray Lipper is an automotive engineer who has raced all over the world. He was just as focused on racing as he was on making quality wheels. Next week, I will examine the rest of the uniform set.

“Mighty” Mike Niemann Loves His Sharpies!

By David G. Firestone

Minor League November rolls on, and for this week’s edition, we are heading to the Bay Area, specifically to the San Francisco Region of the SCCA, for a suit that has an interesting wearer.

California has a rich racing history. The NHRA was founded there, and many racers come from the west coast. There are many oval and road courses dotting the course. One such course is Laguna Seca. Built in 1957, after Ernie McAfee was killed at the dangerous Pebble Beach Road Races, Laguna Seca has hosted USRRC, Can-Am, Trans-Am, Formula 5000, IMSA GT, CART, American Le Mans Series, Grand American, Monterey Historic Automobile Races, Speed World Challenge, AMA (American Motorcyclist Association), WSBK Superbike World Championship and MotoGP motorcycle races.

The SCCA races in the San Francisco Region, which often races at Laguna Seca. The drivers are guys who put a lot of effort into their cars. One such driver is “Mighty” Mike Niemann of Team Miataka Racing , who is well-known for his 1992 Mazda Miata, which he “painted” with $100 in Sharpies. He has raced in a number of SCCA events, all while wearing this driver suit.This Sparco suit shows decent use, with wear on the cuffs, and some wear on the front.The collar has a Velcro closure, and has a SPARCO logo on the front.The right chest features SUNOCO, TEAM MIATAKA RACING, and SCCA patches, as well as MICHAEL NEIMANN embroidered into it.The left chest features HANKOOK TIRES,NATIONAL AUTOSPORT ASSOCIATION,MAZDA, and LAGUNA SECA patches sewn into it.The front torso is unadorned, and shows some slight use.Inside the front zipper is the tagging, including the care tags, and the warranty label. The suit has a belt, which is blue, with white outlines, and has a SPARCO logo embroidered into it.The legs are unadorned, and have standard cuffs.The shoulders have epaulets, which have Sparco logos on the lower half, but are otherwise unadorned. The right sleeve has a MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA patch on the upper half, and are otherwise unadorned. The left sleeve features the SFI 3-2A/5 certification, and is otherwise unadorned. The back of the suit has an FIA Standard 3856-2000 RS.006.01 certification on the back of the suit. Other than that, the back is unadorned. Mike Niemann painting his car with Sharpies is proof that guys who race in their spare time are just as devoted as the guys who race professionally. It took Niemann 22 days to paint his car using his Sharpies. He still races these days, and I hope he races for many years to come.

Next week is the first of a two-part series for a driver who is also a racing businessman.

Minor League Month Starts With a Pair of Justin South Gloves

By David G. Firestone

Last year, I did Formula One Month through November. I was thinking about how I wanted to do November in 2017, and I decided that November should be Minor League Month. Basically, for the next four Friday Features, I am going to focus on the little guys, who race at the local racetrack, or race in regional series. For our first installment, we are going to examine a pair of gloves worn by short track driver Justin South.

Growing up in Gardendale, Alabama, Justin South has raced all over the Southern United States. He has raced as high as ARCA, but has mostly raced on short tracks around the Southeast.

Justin South races everything from Super Late Models to Pro Late Models, and has raced on everything from dirt to asphalt. Like many small-time drivers, he has to buy his own equipment, and he is left with extras, such as these two right Impact! racing gloves, one of which he has autographed.Both gloves are in decent condition, and show some wear on the palms. Justin has autographed one of the gloves.Both of the palms of the gloves show light use.The first glove shows light wear on the palms, and Justin has autographed the glove with the number 45. This would indicate that the glove was not signed during his time in ARCA, as he never raced a car with that number in ARCA, and more than likely came from his regional racing. They also have Impact! and SFI tags. The second of the two gloves is identical, including wear patterns to the first glove, except that this glove has not been autographed. Justin South is the kind of racer that is seen thousands of times over in the towns and hamlets of the United States. He is the every day man, who races in his spare time, hoping to achieve a dream. He has raced in ARCA, and he would love to race in ARCA again, and I’m willing to bet that if he got the chance to race in NASCAR, he would grab it. There are thousands of Justin Souths in the United States and all over the world. They race for their dreams, and they hope to grab the elusive brass ring of racing professionally.

Next week, I will examine a Laguna Seca suit.