An Interview with Alexis DeJoria

By David G. Firestone

[Editor’s Note: Though I teased, and had prepared an NHL article ready for this week, to coincide with the NHL Draft, the next two articles came together this last week, and I can’t keep them in reserve. The NHL article will run sometime soon.]

Though it was produced by Casa 7 Leguas, one of Mexico’s oldest distilleries for years, Patrón Tequila wasn’t always the high quality product we know today. In fact, for many years, it was more along the lines of bottom-shelf store brand tequila, that was consumed for intoxication, as opposed to flavor. That all changed in 2000. In 1989, St. Maarten Spirits, owned by John Paul DeJoria and Martin Crowley, purchased the rights to the brand.

In 2000, St. Maarten Spirits, hired Ed Brown as CEO. Brown realized that making the brand into a premium brand would increase sales. In 2002, the company moved production to a brand new facility. Inspired by Gray Goose ads, Patrón Tequila advertising began to promote the product as “premium” and it boasted “taste and sophistication.” Eventually, with a little help from Lil Jon, and other hip hop, and country singers, Patrón Tequila has not only become a fixture in the trendiest nightclubs and restaurants, but also a part of pop culture.

One other way Patrón Tequila boosts their product is through auto racing sponsorship. Patrón Tequila could be considered more devoted than most companies to auto racing. CEO Ed Brown is also a driver for Extreme Speed Motorsports, an FIA World Endurance Championship team, which races in the Weathertech SportsCar Championship. Brown and his team have won the 2014 Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 2016 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Patrón Tequila’s other major racing sponsorship comes in the form of John Paul DeJoria’s daughter Alexis. Alexis DeJoria got her start in 2005 in the NHRA Sportsman division, first racing in Super Gas before moving to Super Comp, and winning the Sportsman Nationals. In 2006, she stared racing in Top Alcohol Funny Car, and by 2009, she had founded her own team, sponsored by Patrón Tequila.

2011 was a big year for Alexis. She scored her first win in Top Alcohol Funny Car at the 2011 NHRA Northwest Fall Nationals, becoming the second woman to do so. She also got her nitro licensee, and joined Kaletta Motosports, driving the Patrón Tequila Toyota Funny Car. She had moderate success in 2012, and 2013.

2014 was her breakout year, winning the first race at Phoenix, the first race at Las Vegas, and the coveted US Nationals at Indianapolis. She also became the first woman to race a sub 4-second run, with a 3.998 run at Brainerd.

In 2015, Alexis didn’t have the same success as the previous year, making it to only one final round, losing to defending Funny Car champion Matt Hagan. She did make the Countdown to the Championship, finishing 8th in the standings. 2016 was looking to be a good year. She won the first Las Vegas race, and set personal ET and speed records at Topeka, where she ran a 3.875ET 332.18 MPH in Q2. Sadly, a broken pelvis at Toyota Sonoma Nationals, at Sonoma, and a concussion at the Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas stalled what could have been a championship season.

2017 has been a mixed bag for Alexis. She has had some good runs, and put up some good numbers. Though a family issue has forced her to miss a few events, she isn’t out of the championship picture yet. If Robert Hight can win the Funny Car championship from the 10th seed, Alexis can surely win too.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Alexis about her Funny Car uniform. After the Jack Beckman interview, I decided to take a bit of a different route, this time, more focusing on Alexis’ preferences, as opposed to trying to get as much general Funny Car uniform information. I’d also like to say a huge Thank You to Allison McCormick, who went above and beyond to help make this interview a reality! Without further ado, my interview with Alexis DeJoria:

Dave-What is your uniform setup for a race weekend, that is, how do you rotate suits, helmets, shoes, gloves, etc over a race weekend?

Alexis-I have two firesuits, two helmets, two sets of gloves, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of fire boots, and multiple pairs of carbonex underwear and tops. Throughout the race season, I go back and forth between the two suits. They get pretty dirty so I try not to wear one over and over again. I rotate between the two of them and at the end of the year, I sign them and auction them off for charity.

Dave-How long do driver gloves, shoes, and balaclavas tend to last?

Alexis-I’ve had my balaclavas and some of my carbonex underwear, tops and socks for a few years. I take really good care of my things. They do get pretty thrashed, but I take them home and wash them after every race and hang them to dry. Shoes, it just depends. I wear them until they have holes in them basically; until they’re no longer safe. Same goes for my gloves.

Dave-Some drivers black out parts of their helmet visor to cut down on distraction, which Jack Beckman referred to as “the Clydesdale effect.” I have noticed that you prefer to have your whole visor clear, have you tried the Clydesdale effect?

Alexis-I have not tried ‘the Clydesdale effect.’ For me personally, I like to be able to focus on the top end of the race track where I want to end up, but also still be able to see in my peripheral vision. For me it helps, especially on race day; I like to see and be prepared for whatever may happen.

Dave-You suffered a series of crashes during the season last year, and missed a number of races as a direct result. Did you have to modify your uniform

Alexis-No modifications to my uniform were made. There were some modifications done to the cockpit of the race car to make it safer in the event of something like that happening again. But no, as far as what I wear personally, there were no modifications.

Alexis was also kind enough to share some pictures of her racing uniform:Image by Gary Nastase

Images by William Lester

Alexis DeJoria has experienced a lot of ups and downs in her racing career. Her driving talent and her tenacity have helped her reach the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. She is a popular driver, and having met her in person at Route 66, I can honestly say she is an amazing person. I would like to thank her, and Allison McCormick for helping make this happen!

Next week, I will post an interview with Del Worsham.

Herbert’s Helmet

By David G. Firestone

While he is the first driver to run 300 MPH in eliminations, and boasts 10 NHRA and 20 IHRA race wins, Doug Herbert is most well known for his legendary explosion during the 1999 NHRA Finals. He is a long-time driver, who also runs a camshaft company, and is working on a land speed record attempt.

Sadly, Herbert lost his two sons in a car accident. He decided that he needed to do something, and so he founded B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe). This non-profit organization is devoted to teaching teenagers about safe driving, and reduce the number of teen fatalities in traffic accidents.

1999 was actually a great year for Herbert, where he won four events, and made six final rounds, and won the Winston No Bull $100,000 Challenge at the O’Reilly Nationals in Baytown,Texas. While he had a career season, the 1999 finals saw his dragster explode violently. Though he was not seriously hurt, the explosion was not how he wanted that season to end. One good thing that did come from that season is that Snap-On renewed their sponsorship with Herbert. Snap On was Herbert’s sponsor since 1995.

Snap On was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1920. Their approach was to design and build quality tools, and have their franchisees visit their customers at their companies or job site, rather than having them stocked in stores. This business model proved successful, and Snap On has been making tools in the US for many years. Since the 1980’s, Snap On has been sponsoring auto racing, including NASCAR and the NHRA, promoting various products.

In 1999, Snap On began promoting their Southern Thunder tool boxes and chests with a series of racing items. This comes as no surprise, since Southern Thunder was a racing themed set of tool boxes. These tool boxes are now pretty valuable, with some examples selling for well over $3000. During that time, Simpson Race Products made this replica Southern Thunder Helmet, which Herbert Signed.The all-black helmet has a SNAP ON logo above the visor, SNAP ON RACING logos on the sides, a SOUTHERN THUNDER logo on the back of the helmet, and Doug Herbert’s bold signature in silver Sharpie on the top. Unlike many replica helmets, this is a functional helmet, made to be worn. It has a full strap system, and it is in great condition.Snap On racing is alive and well in both the tool business, and auto racing sponsorship, currently sponsoring Cruz Pedregon in the NHRA, and picking up teams for one race deals in NASCAR. Herbert is still active in auto racing, and he wants to build a car that can go 500 MPH on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Next week, we will do something special for the NHL Draft.

Frank Kimmel-ARCA Legend

By David G. Firestone

Founded in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio the Midwest Association for Race Cars or MARC was created by John Marcum, who, at one point, was working with Bill France Sr. as an official in NASCAR. It operated from 1953 to 1964 as MARC, when it changed to the Auto Racing Club of America, or ARCA. Though an independent stock car organization, ARCA has had a long partnership with NASCAR.

While many racing fans see ARCA as a minor league racing organization, it has a dedicated fan base, and a dedicated series of drivers and teams. With a decent television contract, and good sponsorship, the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard’s has solid backing and will be a part of American auto racing for years to come.

With 80 ARCA Racing Series wins and 10 Series Championships, Frank Kimmel is the winning-est driver in ARCA Racing Series history. He holds numerous records, including have a top 10 points finish every year from 1992 to 2015.

From 2012 to 2013, Kimmel raced for ThorSport Racing, owned by Duke Thorson. In 2012, Kimmel won two races, had 10 top 5’s, and 16 top 10’s, and finished second in the championship. In 2013, Kimmel had 4 wins, 15 top 5’s, and finished in the top 10 in all 21 races, en route to his 10th ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard’s Championship. During that season, this two piece suit was worn by his pit crew.The jacket shows some decent use with stains, as do the pants.The collar has MENARD’S logos embroidered into it.The cowl has an identity tag indicating the jacket was worn by J. SZITTAI, and a Simpson MTO 23 tag present.The right chest features ARCA RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY MENARD’S, EIBACH SPRINGS, SUNOCO, and HOOSIER logos embroidered into the black material.The left chest features THORSPORT RACING, MENARD’S, and MALLORY IGNITION RACING logos present.The front torso features an ANSELL logo, and a MENARD’S logo. Ansell is an Australian company which manufactures protective and medical gloves and condoms.The area inside the front zipper has a new Simpson warranty tag.The hem does not have any comfort straps, nor does it have any wear. The shoulders have black epaulets with red outlines, and the right shoulder has a MENARD’S logo embroidered into it.The right sleeve has ARCA, ANSELL, MESSINA WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT, AARON’S, COMETIC, and JRI SHOCKS logos embroidered into the upper part, and an ANSELL logo in television position. The shoulders have black epaulets with red outlines, and the left shoulder has a ANSELL logo embroidered into it.The left sleeve has TOYOTA, MENARD’S, TURTLE WAX, SYLVANIA, NIBCO, U COAT IT, and EIBACH SPRINGS logos on the top part, and an ANSELL logo in television position. The back of the suit shows some light stains.The back of the neck has no adornment, but there is a white TOYOTA logo present.The back torso has ANSELL.COM, THORSPORT.COM, FRANKKIMMEL at Twitter, a large ANSELL logo, and a large MENARD’S logo.The pants have some stains on the lighter material.The waist has no real wear, and has a larger Simpson warranty tag sewn into it. The SFI Certification is in the back of the waist The legs have yellow and red stripes up the sides. The right leg has a MENARD’S logo, and an ANSELL logo on the left side.The back of the pants have some light wear, especially on the seat.Frank Kimmel’s retirement came at the end of the 2016 season. His career spanned 26 years, including starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, the Camping World Truck Series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, and IROC. He was never able to recreate his success in ARCA. He was a legend, and he will be missed.

Next week, we’re going back to drag racing, with an interesting autographed item.

Kodak…The Moment Is Gone, But The Memory Lives On

By David G. Firestone

Founded by George Eastman in 1888, Kodak used a model of selling inexpensive cameras, but with somewhat pricey film. Once a mainstay in the photography business, after digital cameras overtook film cameras in recent years, Kodak was forced to turn elsewhere for their business. While the business went south in recent years, Kodak is working with other technologies to help salvage their business. The name Kodak came about because Eastman wanted a name that conformed to three principles: it had to be short; it couldn’t mispronounced; and it should not resemble anything or be associated with anything else except for his business.

One of my favorite sponsors of NASCAR during the 1990’s was Kodak. When we bought camera film, we would always by Kodak film. They had one of my favorite shades of yellow ever. It is a marigold yellow, as opposed to the bright yellows used by sponsor such as Kellogg’s. This shade of yellow gave the car a very bold look, without being over-designed. This sponsorship started in 1986 with the Bobby Eller Pontiac Grand Prix of Trevor Boys. This sponsorship switched to the #4 of Rick Wilson, where it stayed until the end of the 2003 season. Kodak then sponsored the #77 of Penske-Jasper Racing until the end of the 2005 season, when they left the sport.

After the September 11 attacks, the nation exploded in a patriotic fervor not seen in years. NASCAR was one of the sports that fought on to send the message that we are not afraid. During the 2001 season, the team had four drivers, Rich Bickle, Robby Gordon, Bobby Hamilton, and Kevin LePage. The team struggled that season, failing to even score a top 10. During the 2001 season, a crew member wore this single-layer two-piece Simpson suit.The suit shows decent use, with scuff marks and some stains as well.

The black collars have yellow KODAK logos embroidered into them.The cowl has a SIMPSON warranty tag present.The right chest has a NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES logo, and a KODAK logo embroidered into it, and a SIMPSON patch sewn into it.The left chest features an American flag patch, a Chevy bowtie logo, a MORGAN MCCLURE RACING, and a FORWARD AIR logo embroidered into it.The front torso features a large KODAX MAX FILM logo, as well as a small CD2 logo embroidered into it.The black shoulder epaulets have white GOODYEAR logos embroidered into them. The right sleeve has KODAK MAX FILM, SAFETY KLEEN, MOOG, and UNOCAL 76 logos embroidered into them, no logos in television position are present. The left sleeve has SIMPSON, NASCAR, KODAK MAX FILM, MAC TOOLS, and BOSCH logos embroidered into it. No television logos are present on this sleeve either. The back of the suit shows some stains just above the hem.The back of the neck has a Chevy Bowtie logo, and the name BENDER embroidered into the yellow material below the neck.The back torso features a large KODAK MAX FILM logo embroidered into it.There are some dirt stains on the back, just above the hem.Contrasting with the jacket, the pants are black with yellow lettering, and show light use.The back of the pants have a SIMPSON warranty tag present, and it shows a lot of wear.The right leg has a KODAX MAX FILM logo in television position, and the cuff shows light wear. The left leg has a KODAX MAX FILM logo in television position, and the cuff shows light wear. The back of the pants show very light wear.In addition to this firesuit, I also have some sheet metal, namely a door number and contingency panel circa 1998, and a small piece from Ryan Newman’s #12 Kodak Dodge.I also have a 1/24 die cast from Sterling Marlin’s Kodak days. Though we take it for granted, single-layer suits for pit crew members were, for many years, the rule. Even though the risks on pit road had proven themselves, teams did not feel the need to emphasize multi-layer suits for their crew. In this day in age, the pit crew as as protected as they can possibly be. Now, the teams who work on the cars wear the exact same uniforms that the driver wear, in terms of safety. Suits like this are an example of how teams would conform to uniform rules as inexpensively as possible.

Next week, I will examine a pit crew suit that conforms to modern standards.

The Golden Anniversary of Nomex in Auto Racing

By David G. Firestone

Memorial Day is a day to honor the sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price keeping our freedoms free. Our servicemen should always be the focal point of Memorial Day. From Saratoga to Afghanistan, from Gettysburg to Vietnam, throughout the history of our country, our soldiers have fought for us, and will always be ready to fight for us. Never forget their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their loved ones.

Memorial Day is also known as one of the most important days in auto racing, with the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis 500, and the Coca Cola 600. With the television contracts, and internet coverage, it seems a world away from 1964. 10 days in 1964 would set the ball rolling.

With the current safety culture in auto racing, we take driver safety for granted. Yet recent incidents, such as what happened with Aric Almirola in Kansas, and Sebastien Bourdais at the Indianapolis qualifying spotlight that not every safety system is perfect. Yet the culture of auto racing safety is so much different than it was in 1964. Events over the course of 6 days in May of 1964 changed the culture, cars, and uniforms of auto racing forever. Three deaths in two races over those six days demonstrated that current safety methods were ineffective at best, and 3 talented drivers lost their lives. The 1964 World 600 and the 1964 Indianapolis 500 helped introduce reinforced fuel tanks and Nomex driver suits, among other things. 50 years later, those events are still being felt

The World 600 began in the early afternoon on May 24, 1964. For the first six laps, it was business as usual, but on lap 7, on the backstretch, Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett wrecked, and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts swerved to avoid them, and wrecked. He was trapped in the car by the pedals, and his car caught fire. Ned Jarrett ran and pulled Roberts from the car, and paramedics took him to the hospital. 39 days after the wreck, while still in the hospital from his injuries, he died from pneumonia.

NASCAR had rules concerning “fire retardant” uniforms but these were inadequate at best. These uniforms were cotton coveralls traditionally used by workmen that had been dipped in a number of fire retardant materials including Borax. These were not only ineffective, but were extremely uncomfortable to wear. They were known for inflaming the skin, and aggravating asthma. Fireball was not wearing these coveralls during that race, because he had a doctor’s note stating he should not wear them. There is some debate over what the doctor’s note was for, either for asthma or skin hives. It illustrates why these uniforms were not popular, they were so uncomfortable to wear that drivers did not want to wear them.

6 days later, on May 30, the 48th Indianapolis 500 was held. Dave MacDonald started 14th, and Eddie Sachs started 17th when the green flag dropped. MacDonald was racing a car built by racing innovator Mickey Thompson, which by all accounts was badly built and difficult to drive. The first lap led into the second, which saw Dave MacDonald lose control of his car and smash into the inside wall. The fuel tank instantly ignited and the car went across the track, and collected a number of other cars, including Eddie Sachs car, which also exploded on impact. Sachs was killed by the impact, but MacDonald was seriously burned, and his lungs were scorched, the lung damage proved to be fatal.

The writing was on the wall. There needed to be a change in racing uniforms. A material needed to be used that would be either fire resistant, or fire proof. One option was asbestos, which was used in auto racing uniforms, but that led to mesothelioma. In fact, Steve McQueen claimed that the asbestos suits worn for racing gave him his mesothelioma . There seemed to be no effective solution. However, events in Florida would change everything.

Nomex was created in the 1960’s for NASA. 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. While parachutes were a good use for Nomex, it soon became clear that this new fire retardant cloth had many more uses. It was also used in space suits, and eventually found its way into the public, being used for fire fighters, cooking gloves, and race car uniforms.

Depending on who you ask, Bill Simpson is credited with introducing Nomex to driver suits. The story goes that Simpson started making Nomex suits after learning about the material from astronaut Pete Conrad while Simpson was working as a consultant for NASA. One of the pivotal moments in the history of the suit was when Simpson had heard that a competitor had been badmouthing his products, and so, in something he said later was “the dumbest thing I have ever done,” challenged the competitor to a “burn off.” Simpson put on his suit and lit himself on fire.

Why did it take so long to make critical changes to driver uniforms? The events that took place in 1964 were tragic, and it clearly illustrated why the old system didn’t work. The only change made immediately after the events was the rule that fire retardant suits were now mandatory, regardless of how it made the driver feel. In today’s sports safety culture, there would be focus groups, meetings within the sanctioning body, and changes within a few months after the event. But by 1964 standards, just rigidly enforcing the rule was the best course of action, even if said materials either didn’t exist or weren’t publicly available at the time.

Remember that in 1964 race car drivers were seen as somewhat expendable. Driver deaths in racing were stunningly common back then. As such, while there was a need for improvement, it was not a priority for sanctioning bodies. The sad fact is that back then, driver deaths were part of the allure of racing. People would go to these events and hope to see a fatal crash, as crass as that sounds. As for the suits themselves, the only other options besides chemical dipped cotton were asbestos suits, aluminized cotton or aluminized Kevlar, which was not more comfortable, as it was like wearing aluminum foil.

There were a handful of drivers wearing Nomex suits in 1966. However, these were in more of a research and development aspect. Yes we have this new wonder material, yes it’s better than everything we have now, but will it work in a real-world situation? That was the question that existed in 1966. Competition Press reported that “During the past season, experimental driving suits were worn by Walt Hansgen, Masten Gregory, Marvin Panch and Group 44’s Bob Tullius; these four representing a fairly good cross section in the sport. The goal was to get use-test information on the comfort and laundering characteristics of Nomex. The Chrysler-Plymouth team at the recent Motor Trend 500 at Riverside also wore these suits.” The test was a success.

With the success of 1966, in 1967, Nomex suits were unleashed on auto racing. While more expensive, the suits were safer than anything ever seen in auto racing up to that point. The early suits seem primitive compared to the 3-layer breathable suits worn today, but even the most important uniform advancement in the history of auto racing needed a humble start. 50 years after Nomex was unleashed on auto racing, it still the best material for auto racing uniforms. It says a lot about a material, when nothing better comes along to replace it for 50 years.

Sadly, while Nomex was one of the greatest innovations in auto racing safety, it wasn’t enough. There were many other advancements, from new car design, to the HANS Device, to SAFER Barriers that has led to auto racing being as safe as it is today. The culture of the sport has changed to put safety at the top of concerns. Drivers are no longer expendable, they are the focal point of all safety changes.

For 50 years, Nomex has been the best and most reliable material for firesuits, and I can only hope that another material comes along that is more comfortable and fire resistant than Nomex. If there is such a material, and it makes it way to auto racing, the sport will only get safer. Here’s to a good Golden Anniversary for Nomex!

Pit Crew Shirts-Fashon and Racing Meet

By David G. Firestone

I’m not a fashionista…and that’s putting it lightly. I wear my work uniform to work, and when I’m off duty, I wear t-shirts, and shorts, especially while lounging around the house. When I go out with friends and/or family, or when I go to races, I will wear pit crew shirts. I will pair these with baseball stirrups, shorts, and a baseball cap.

Pit crews are proud of what they do. They get to work on race cars for a living, which many fans would love to do. Sponsors are proud of their race teams, and want their crew members to represent the brand. As a result, teams and sponsors create pit crew shirts. These shirts are designed similar to the driver suits. Like driver suits, they are sold to collectors after the season. These aren’t as valuable as other race-used memorabilia, and while some collect them, others, like me wear them.

There are many kinds of materials that pit crew shirts are made of. Some of the older ones are made of polyester with heavy patches. Then there are newer shirts that are made of a light, breathable materials, with the logo sublimated on the material, like this 6Xl Dollar General Truck Series shirt. The shirt shows some light wear, but is in great condition.

The shoulders have epaulets with DOLLAR GENERAL logos present. The sleeves have logos, the right sleeve has SUNOCO and SAFETY KLEEN, the left has NASCAR, TOYOTA RACING DEVELOPENT, TUNDRA, and SIRIUS XM logos. This is one of the newer shirts, and it has a jocktag. The shirt was made by ESM of Indianapolis.Sticking with the Camping World Truck Series, this 6Xl shirt was worn by the crew from Venturini Racing, when they were sponsored by ZloopIt in 2014. It has a combo of thin polyester, and breathable mesh. It is in great condition. The shirt has blue epaulets on the black material, and the epaulets have ZloopIt logos. The sleeves have logos, the right sleeve has NASCAR, TOYOTA RACING DEVELOPENT, TUNDRA, and SIRIUS XM logos, and the left sleeve has a SUNOCO logo. There is an Outer Circle tag in the cowl, indicating that the size is 6XL.Moving on to the Xfinity Series, this is a Nike-made example from when PPI Racing was sponsored by Albertson’s. It is in great condition. The shoulders have no adornment at all, the chest logos are all embroidered. The sleeves have patches, the right one has a 57 patch, an ALBERTSONS logo, and a NASCAR logo. The left sleeve has a FORD logo, an ALBERTSONS logo, and a NIKE logo. The cowl has a classic Nike 3Xl tag present.This example, from when John Andretti raced for Braun Racing, with Camping World as a sponsor. The shirt is made from a slightly thicker polyester with sublimated logos. It’s in great condition. The blue shirt has yellow epaulets, with CAMPING WORLD logos present. The sleeves have the same set of logos on each side. First is the Impact Z logo, then there is a CAMPING WORLD logo, followed by a FREEDOM ROADS, and a TOYOTA. The cowl features an Impact crew tag, no size tag is present.Sticking with Braun Racing in the Xfinity Series, this Berringer Wines pit crew shirt comes from that team as well. This is also a thicker polyester in great condition. The shoulders have no epaulets, or adornment, and the logos are sublimated. The sleeves have sublimated logos. The right sleeve has ABF, FOE, OGIO, SEM, and NEW BALLANCE logos. The left sleeve has HAAS AVOCADOS, TOYOTA, NORTHEASTERN SUPPLY, SEYMOUR and BRAUN ABILITY logos. The shirt is made by Vicci, and there is a size 4XL tag in the cowl.One of the best designs in pit crew shirts is Texaco Havoline, as exampled by this Juan Pablo Montoya shirt from his days with Chip Ganassi Racing. It is in great condition. The shoulders have epaulets with HAVOLINE logos, and the chest has logos as well. The sleeves have sublimated logos, including, NASCAR, HAVOLINE, WRIGLEY’S BOSCH, LINCOLN WELDING, and SUNOCO logos on the right sleeve.  The left sleeve has NASCAR, HAVOLINE, COORS LIGHT, TARGET, FREIGHTLINER, and SHERWIN WILLIAMS Logos. The cowl has a tag from Revi, but there is no size tag present.Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a two-time Xfinity Series champion, and while with Roush-Fenway Racing, he was sponsored by CitiFinancial, and this pit crew shirt was prepared. It is in decent condition. The shoulders have epaulets with CitiFinancial logos on them. The sleeves have sublimated logos. The right sleeve has a MAC TOOLS logo and a DUPLICOLOR logo. The left sleeve has a NASCAR logo and a FORD logo. The shirt is made by The Winning Team, and a tag is present in the cowl. There is also a size 5Xl tag as well.One of Greg Biffle’s sponsors in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was the National Guard. This shirt, made of dress shirt material, with heavy patches. The shoulders have epaulets with NATIONAL GUARD logos embroidered into them. The right sleeve has MAC TOOLS and JACKSON HEWITT logos, and the left sleeve has NASCAR, FORD RACING, and LABOR READY logos embroidered into it. The cowl has a tag from Apex designs, and size XXXL tag.Front Row Motorsports has a few different sponsors, so, like many teams, they have team-branded pit crew shirts. This is one example, and it’s in great condition. The shoulders have unadorned epaulets. The sleeves have sublimated logos. The right sleeve has SUNOCO, SHERWIN WILLIAMS, SEM, LINCOLN WELDERS, and THE PETE STORE logos. The left sleeve has NASCAR, FORD PERFORMANCE, RACING ELECTRONICS, DR PEPPER, and K&N logos present. This is one of the newer shirts, and it has a size 3XL jocktag. The shirt was made by ESM of Indianapolis.Bob Vandergriff is a former driver who turned into a team owner. For many years, he was sponsored by CJ Energy Services, This long-sleeve pit shirt was prepared for a crew member. The sleeves are a thin polyester, the rest of the shirt is a thicker material. The shoulders are completely unadorned. The sleeves have black on the outside, but gray flame materials on the undersides. The right sleeve has VANDERGRIFF APPAREL GROUP and SPLIT SECOND SPEEDSTERS logos The left sleeve has THE VANDERGRIFF FOUNDATION, and HEDMAN HUSLER HEDDERS logos. The Vandergriff Apparel tag is printed directly on to the back of the collar. It indicates the size as 4XL.The fan appeal of pit crew shirts hasn’t been lost on teams, and there have been replica shirts made in the past. But for some seasons, replica crew shirts are made, but other seasons, they aren’t. Fans do like these, but for some reason, they are not as prevalent as replica driver suit jackets. I can only hope that these shirts do start getting made again.

Next week, we discuss the 50th Anniversary of the introductory of Nomex.

Most NASCAR Teams Have A Contingency Plan!

By David G. Firestone

Contingency means many different things. Some definitions include “a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty,” “a provision for an unforeseen event or circumstance,” “an incidental expense,” or “the absence of certainty in events.” When it comes to NASCAR however, contingency has a very specific meaning. The group of small decals in front of the door number on stock cars are refereed to as “Contingency sponsorship.”

Aside from the series logo, and pole decal, many of these small decals are from companies that made equipment used in cars, or used by the team. Some may include sponsors that aren’t paying enough to qualify as an associate sponsor, which earns a much bigger decal on the rear of the car. For many years, there was little, if any thought given to the layout of the decals. For example, here is a contingency panel from Steve Park in 1997.Here is one from Bobby Hamilton during his time in 1999.As can be seen, decals are covering other decals, there seems to be no thought given to appearance in this respect. The decals appear to be sent wherever there is room. Interestingly, I have found that while this was somewhat forced, at least they were consistent.

In more recent years, teams have become very conscious of contingency decal placement. These are some more recent car sides, and as you can see, decal placement is very clean and the setups are more thought out. This transfers over to the die cast models. This is an example of a Carl Edwards model, vs a picture of the real thing.

These small decals are a big business. Many fans will put them on their cars and tool boxes. They can be found on eBay. They are also seen on many other racing categories. But since body panels don’t hit the collector market, or the decals are on the chassis in some instances, they don’t often get bought by collectors.

Next week, I will show my collections of pit crew shirts.

The Vest Project Part 16-Front Row Motorsports Part 2

By David G. Firestone

Last week, I gave a brief overview of the history of Front Row Motorsports. I primarily discussed their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series history. This week, I’m going to discuss their Xfinity Series history. Like many Cup teams, Front Row Motorsports decided that they should expand from the Cup series to what is now the Xfinity Series starting in 2008. This is a rational decision, as many teams use driver feedback from the Xfinity Series to help their Cup cars, and often use the Xfinity Series as a developmental program for future drivers.

Front Row’s efforts in the Xfinity Series weren’t great. Their driver lineup for that time period was Eric McClure for 32 races and Brian Simo for 3 races in the number 24 Chevy 2008. For the following season, Tony Raines was in the # 34 Chevy for all 35 races in 2009. Jeff Green, Kevin Hamlin and Johnny Sauter each ran a few races each in the #36 Chevy in 2010. Their efforts resulted in a top 5 and three top 10’s, as well as three laps led during that time. A couple of members of the Front Row pit crew wore this vest during that time.The vest shows heavy wear, in the form of a lot of stains and some scuff marks from race-use.

The collar is unadorned, and there is no tag in the cowl, though the name DENNIS is written in faded Sharpie .The right chest features a NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES logo, a GOODYEAR logo and a FRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS logo embroidered into it.The left chest features a TACO BELL patch,and a LONG JOHN SILVERS logo embroidered.The front torso is unadorned, but it has a large amount of black staining present on the white material.Underneath the front logo, next to the zipper is a tag that indicated that the vest was also worn by “Ryan” as that is written in faded Sharpie, and the warranty tag.Impact has special Velcro adjustment straps on the hem, and this vest is no exception. The vest epaulets are black strips with no logos present. The standard vest sleeve holes are also present. The rear of the vest is unadorned shows some dirt and scuff marks below the logo.The back of the neck is unadorned.The back torso of the vest has a lot of dirt visible on the white material.While Front Row had little success in the Xfinity Series, it wasn’t enough to justify them continuing to compete in the Series, especially when they switched from Chevy to Ford in the Cup Series starting in 2010. It’s also understandable that multiple crew members would wear this vest. These vests, though an affordable option to one-piece suits, are still expensive to produce, and if a crew member leaves the team, the vest can still be used with another crew member. I love uniforms like this that shows a lot of wear. You don’t see that too much in racing memorabilia.

Next week, I’m going to discuss a design aspect that a lot of people notice, but might not understand.

The Vest Project Part 15-Front Row Motorsports Part 1

By David G. Firestone

In NASCAR, there are usually two kinds of teams: big and small. The big teams include Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Furniture Row Racing. Big teams are multi-car teams that are championship caliber, and have little if any trouble with sponsorship issues. Small teams are teams like Tommy Baldwin, Germain Racing, Premium Motorsports, BK Racing, The Wood Brothers, Go FAS Racing, Circle Sport/TMG, Rick Ware Racing, and Leavine Family Racing. These teams, while they may have more than one team, are often underfunded, have mediocre drivers and on track results.

Interestingly, there is a third group, which could really either be considered big or small, depending how one looks at them. These teams include Richard Childress Racing, JTG Daugherty, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, and Front Row Motorsports. These are all teams that while they have multiple teams and decent sponsorship, they aren’t championship caliber, even though they do often make the playoffs and win races. The have a decent driver or two, and have decent fan bases. One of the most well-known and least appreciated of these teams is Front Row Motorsports.

Founded by Bob Jenkins and Jimmy Means in 2005 as a single-car team, the original team merged will Mach 1, and began a two-car operation. Eventually, the team shad as many as three teams, with two full time. Since team owner Bob Jenkins owns over 150 franchises from Yum! Brands, including Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s, as well as Morristown Driver’s Services or MDS, those sponsors frequently appear on the sides of his cars. While the team hasn’t shown much strength on many tracks, they show strength on superspeedways.

Mach 1 Motorsports, which would merge with Front Row in 2005, was founded by William Edwards in 2004, and raced with Randy LaJoie, Todd Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Larry Gunselman, Derrike Cope, Chad Chaffin, Jeff Fuller, P.J. Jones, Ted Christopher, and Mike Skinner in 35 races from 2004 to 2005. The team was a failure, failing to score even a top 10. While Randy LaJoie raced the #34, everyone else raced the #98, except Mike Skinner, who raced the #00. During their run, a crew member wore this vest/shirt pit crew suit.Obviously, being a minor team searching for sponsorship, this Impact! vest/shirt combination was used. The vest could be swapped out if a sponsor was found for a race, or even a season. The vest itself is in good condition, though some race wear is present. The undershirt doesn’t show that much wear.

The vest shows some scuff marks from race-use.The collar is unadorned, and there is no tag in the cowl.The right chest features a NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES logo and a Chevy bowtie logo embroidered into it.The left chest features a GOODYEAR logo embroidered.The front torso has a MACH 1 MOTORSPORTS logo present.Underneath the front logo, next to the zipper is the Impact warranty tag.Impact has special Velcro adjustment straps on the hem, and this vest is no exception. A second Impact tag is in the bottom of the hem, in the rear, and has the name J MAZZA written in faded Sharpie.The vest epaulets are blue strips with white outlines, with no logos present. The rear of the vest shows some scuff marks below the logo. The back of the neck features 34 embroidered into the collar, and an American Flag patch sewn just below it.Just below the American Flag patch is a MACH 1 MOTORSPORTS logo, embroidered higher than the logo on the front.While the shirt did see race use, it doesn’t show any wear to speak of.The collar doesn’t have a tag, but it has an Impact logo on the back of the neck, and the name Adam is written in faded Sharpie in the square.The front of the shirt is unadorned blue Nomex.The shoulders are unadorned. The right sleeve has an IMPACT Z logo, a NASCAR logo, and the SFI certification. Usually,the SFI certification is on the left sleeve, but here it is on the right sleeve for some reason. There are no logos in television position. The left sleeve has an IMPACT Z logo, a NASCAR logo, and a SUNOCO logo, with no logos in television position. Aside from the small Impact patch just below the neck, the back of the shirt us unadorned, and shows no wear. Front Row Motorsports is a small team but they are making an impact in the Cup Series. They have two wins, and have decent showings, especially at superspeedways. They also have a history in the Xfinity Series, which we will examine next week.

Trophy Design Is Interesting, Especially In The SCCA

By David G. Firestone

I’m fascinated by trophy design. Trophies can be anything from The Wally, to a tea service, to a cut glass bowl. Racing trophies are anything from functional items to stand alone trophies, to over sized napkin rings. When it comes to the smaller events, or smaller sanctioning bodies, trophy design can be very interesting.

Like many national racing sanctioning bodies, The Sports Car Club Of America or SCCA has several regions that have their own racing. Other sanctioning bodies that have regions are NASCAR, and the NHRA, to name a few. While some drivers go on to national success, many drivers come to be great in one specific region.

The Southern Indiana is one of 115 regions, which are divided in to nine divisions. One such region is the Southern Indiana Region, which holds events in Southern Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. One driver who raced in a number of events was a driver named Walter Scott. Racing from at least 1960 to 1995, Scott won a number of different awards and trophies, which survive in my collection, including this small bowl.

The bowl is for a 10th place finish for an unnamed event or series in 1960, and is in great condition. For another unnamed event or series in 1962 , Scott finished 10th. He was awarded this small bowl as a result. Walter Scott was a navigator for a driver in something called the “Thimsen’s Terrible Rallye” in 1965. The duo finished 2nd. This trophy was awarded to him for that 2nd place finish. For a third place finish in an unnamed Rallye in 1970, Scott was awarded this small bowl. It has some scratches. 1973 had Walter Scott perform well, and winning this small Thimsen Memorial Trophy for Rallyist Of the Year, which has some small scratches and dings. That same year, Scott won a small bowl for finishing 7th in something called the SIR Concourse, which shows some scratches. Walter Scott was still going in 1988, where he won this large trophy for the 1988 Year End Award for finishing 6th place. It doesn’t show any damage. In 1995, the Southern Indiana Region celebrated 40 years. Walter Scott had been a member for 35 years, and was awarded this plaque clock to commemorate his long time with the SIR. In 1996, Walter Scott competed in a Rallye called the “Tulips and Other Spring Flowers,” where he finished first in his class. He was awarded this small plaque as a result. It is in great condition. Racing trophy design is an interesting topic, because the various kinds of trophies are interesting. I would genuinely love to sit in on a design session for a racing trophy, and see how it is designed from paper to final product. Some drivers cherish their trophies, other drivers give them away. It’s a fun topic to discuss and I hope to discuss it again soon.

Next week, we revisit The Vest Project.