Oakley…Not Just For Sunglasses Anymore!

98-romesburgBy David G. Firestone

When you say “driver suit” you think of names like Simpson, Sparco, Impact!, OMP, Stand 21, and Momo, you don’t automatically think of Oakley. Oakley started in 1975 as a sunglasses company by Jim Jannard in his garage in Foothill Ranch California. He got the name from Oakley, his English Setter. He went from working in his garage to one of the biggest sunglasses companies in the world. They design eyewear for athletes, the military, skiers, and, starting in the late 2000’s, motorsports apparel.

Oakley makes a number of racing items, the most prominent being driver suits. IndyCar drivers Justin Wilson, Ed Carpenter, Mike Conway, and Josef Newgarden all wear Oakley driver suits as do Alex Bowman, Ryan Truex, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Michael Waltrip, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in NASCAR and Tony Schumacher in the NHRA. While they make suits for the top drivers in the sport, for some reason they don’t seem to sell suits through their own site, you have to go to a third-party site to buy their racing suits…which to me seems odd, because no one else ever does that.98-romesburg 98-romesburgb 98-romesburg-pantThis particular suit was worn by Jason Romesburg, who was the rear tire changer for Paul Menard in 2010. Menard had a decent season, with a top 5, and 6 top 10’s and 17 laps led. The suit shows heavy use, with the right cuff on the pant leg destroyed.98-romesburg-pant-rlogo 98-romesburg-pant-rcuff In addition to the damage to the pant leg, what strikes me about this suit is that the material seems so light. While it is safety certified, it does not feel like a Nomex suit. It is very light for a suit of its size.

The suit is a two-piece and the jacket does not show as much wear as the pants, and I understand the reason. The logo about the Menard’s logo is for Mastercraft Doors. 98-romesburg-flogoPaul Menard races with Menard’s on the quarter panel and a rotating set of sponsors on the hood. Mastercraft Doors was on the hood for 3 races in 2010, the Brickyard 400, the Carfax 400 at Michigan, and the Ford 400 at Homestead. While the jacket doesn’t show as much wear, it does show some staining on the sleeves. 98-romesburg-rsleeve1 98-romesburg-rsleeve2 98-romesburg-rshoulder 98-romesburg-shoulder 98-romesburg-lseeve1 98-romesburg-lsleeve2There are stains on the white area of the sleeves. Since Romesburg was a tire changer, this is to be expected.

The two piece suit is very popular with pit crews because it has the same fire protection as a one piece but with less restriction than a one piece. If you have ever worn a one-piece jumpsuit you know that it does restrict movement, as opposed to a jacket and pants of the exact same size. So when you are changing 4 tires in 14 seconds, you need every edge you get. What I don’t see on the jacket are arm gussets. These would be used to add movement without subtracting fire protection. I have two theories on this, either the suit fit well enough that they weren’t needed, or because the crews were switching jackets so often that expense or time dictated that arm gussets couldn’t be used.

One detail I love are the television logos on the sleeves.98-romesburg-lsleeve2 98-romesburg-rsleeve2 The dual logos on the sleeves look good and actually work well for both sponsors. The suit actually looks pretty good, but I do not like the quilt pattern on the legs, because it isn’t represented on the jacket, and it does look pretty odd in this respect. It does look like the two were designed and made by different people. I’m also amazed by how lackluster the warranty label is…98-romesburg-tag2 98-romesburg-tag1 98-romesburg-pant-tag1 98-romesburg-pant-tag2That is the shortest warranty label I have ever seen on a modern suit. Let’s compare it to a Simpson tag…41-craven-tag1Wow that is a short warranty label, also, I don’t think a skull and crossbones don’t belong on this kind of suit, but it does say what it needs to say, just in a much shorter form than most driver suits.

In short, Oakley is making decent suits, and they are doing what they are designed to do, protect the driver from fire. I think Oakley suit could catch with minor league racers, provided they start marketing them better. The fact that they don’t sell them through their own website, and provide more info on the drivers who wear their suits make it hard to sell them to the general public. Puma, which has a lot of talent on its roster too, does not want to sell through its own website. Why they don’t is a mystery, as there is a lot of money in these suits, and people will pay for high quality suits made by a reputable company.

Before I get to the Paint Scheme Reviews, we have some breaking news on a story I had discussed in my Silly Season post a few weeks ago.  I had mentioned at the time that Comcast was in negotiations with NASCAR to become the title sponsor of the Nationwide Series.  Nationwide Insurance is leaving the series at the end of the season.  Well it was announced on Wednesday  that Comcast and NASCAR have come to a deal for a 10 year sponsorship of what will be called the Xfinity Series.  It was not revealed how much the deal was worth, but we are talking hundreds of millions of dollars.   I will be interested to see the series logo and what Xfinity does with the new deal.  Now on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS!

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Aluminum Pint Chevy SS A bit cluttered, the solid red works well with Budweiser, and it has a classic look with a modern twist. A-

Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS The front is a bit over designed, the ribbon on the side does work somewhat, and the orange, I’d never thought I would say this, is too dull. I’ll give it a C+

Joe Nemechek #66 Friedman Law Firm Toyota Camry Law firms can be good at what they do, and they are apparently great at designing race cars. Clean, simple, attractive with a good color scheme eans an A+

Clay Rogers #75 Beard Oil Chevy SS Beard Motorsports is making their debut with Clay Rogers at Richmond in the Beard Oil Chevy. Their first time car has a great design scheme and a great color scheme and earns an A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Nationwide Chevy SS A great design with a great color scheme and a great simple design. My sticking point with this is that I do not like the silver numbers, the font design just doesn’t work. I’ll give it a B+

David Stremme #90 Junie Donlavey Tribute Chevy SS Junie Donlavey passed away earlier this year, and Circle Sport Racing will run this design based on his 1972 Ford Gran Torino. It looks amazing, and I have to give it an A+

Josh Wise #98 Provident Metals Ford Fusion Looks good, good color scheme, decent design scheme. Too many stripes. I looked Provident Metals up and found that they are a precious metal dealer who make a currency called “Zombucks” which they jokingly market as “currency for the Apocalypse.” I’ll give it an A-

Home Beer Brewing Project Update…

DSCN1093Two weeks ago, I started the work on brewing beer using the Mr. Beer Homebrewing Kit.  It fermented for two weeks, and I bottled it this week.  The recipe will make 2 gallons of beer, which fits into four 2-liter bottles.  I added the sugar to the bottles…DSCN1114added some liquid to the bottom to get the mixture started…DSCN1115then I bottled the four 2-liter bottles…DSCN1116Now I have to wait two more weeks for the carbination to complete….DSCN1117then I have to chill for two days prior to enjoying…Ugh!  Well, I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll have some jam while I wait…

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Grading the 2014 All-Star Race & How Far We Have Come In the Last 50 Years…

headerBy David G. Firestone.

The 2014 Sprint All Star race is behind us, and as usual, there were a myriad of different paint schemes.  Some were good, others not so much, but I have to say there were a lot of great schemes in this year’s race.  Let’s start with the Sprint Showdown.  Unlike in previous years, The Showdown took place on Friday, and the All-Star Race was on Saturday.  The Showdown was a great event, which saw Clint Bowyer winning, AJ Allmendinger finishing second, and in the upset of the year, Josh Wise winning the Sprint Fan vote, and advancing to the All Star Race.  Let’s get to the grades:

#1 Josh Wise #98 DogeCoin Ford Fusion Such colors! Much design! So good! A+

#2 Dave Blaney #77 Amy R. Fochler Ford Fusion I think that this is the first time a lawyer has sponsored a Cup car, and it is a great design. A+

#3 Ryan Truex #83 Burger King Toyota Camry Great simple design, and I love the Borla Exhaust design adds a unique look. A+

#4 David Stremme #33 Little Joe’s Autos Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme A+

#5 Landon Cassill #40 Hillman Racing Chevy SS Silver is a very attractive color on race cars, and this is a perfect example. A+

#6 Aric Almirola #43 Farmland Ford Fusion Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

#7 AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

#8 Reed Sorenson #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme A+

#9 Alex Bowman #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry Like the silver, and the design scheme is very good. A

#10 Cole Whitt #26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry This is one of the few schemes that has both a classic and modern look at the same time, and paired with a great color scheme, it earns an A

#11 Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion Though a tad over designed, the car has a clean look, and a great color scheme, so I will give it an A-

#12 David Gilliland #38 Loves Truck Stops Ford Fusion Good color scheme, decent design, A-

#13 Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SS While I like the color scheme and number and logo designs, the white stripe up the side kills the look. It takes an A scheme to a B+ scheme.

#14 Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS The scheme looks decent, I like the red on the back, though I do not like the Target logos at the bottom. That takes a scheme that was an A grade to a B-

#15 Paul Menard #27 Menards/Serta Chevy SS Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

#16 Michael Annett #7 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SS Good color scheme, but the awful template is back for Tommy Baldwin. It is really sad, because this could be a great scheme, but the template takes it from an A to a C-

#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Building For America’s Bravest Ford Fusion Much too overdesigned, and another example of why camoflage on race cars NEVER WORKS! The only thing keeping this design above water is a great color scheme. C-

#18 Joe Nemechek #66 Land Castle Title Toyota Camry If the bottom was a single color stripe, I would give it very high marks, but the over design makes it look awful. C-

#19 JJ Yeley #44 Phoenix Warehouse Chevy SS My first thought when I saw this scheme was it looked like the color scheme from the 1994-1995 NBA All-Star Game jerseys which is a decent color scheme. But to say the car is overdesigned is an understatement. This scheme is awful. Not even a great color scheme can help this car pass. F

#20 Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy Cares Chevy SS Same scheme but with a bunch of logos on the hood, instead of just one. F

#21 Casey Mears #13 Geico Chevy SS Once again, it needs to be said…CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! I’l give this an F!

#22 Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

#23 Blake Koch #32 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever. F-

Now we move on to the All-Star Race, which saw Jamie McMurray pull an upset and take the win, thus guaranteeing him entry into the event for the next 10 years.  Overall there were a lot of great schemes, though I wish more teams would run special schemes.

#1 Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion Best Throwback scheme of the last 5 years  A+

#2 Josh Wise #98 DogeCoin Ford Fusion Such colors! Much design! So good! A+

#3 Marin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Chevy SS Nothing wrong with this scheme at all.  A+

#4 Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Great color and design schemes. A+

#5 David Ragan #34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion Overall design and color schemes are good, and the only complaint is that the Taco Bell logo should be in color as opposed to black and white.  A+

#6 Kurt Busch #41 Haas Chevy SS Great design and color scheme, A+

#7 AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

#8 Brian Vickers #55 Aarons Toyota Camry A good scheme, and the 55 lettering looks really good here, and the gold is a nice touch. A

#9 Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion The stripes work well here, and the color scheme is good. A

#10 Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops/National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS As Bass Pro Shops schemes go this year, this one is really good. Good color scheme, good design scheme, no camo, A

#11 Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS Great overall design, great color scheme, though the D on the hood reversed to miror the curves of the hood looks odd.  Still it’s a good scheme and Ill give it an A

#12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS The new metallic numbers work, and the overall design is decent, since it incorporates the design used on the numbers.  I’ll give it an B+

#13 Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry The front nose design and stripes are awful. The color schemes are great, as are the logos and numbers, but the stripes kill it. The best grade I can give is a C+

#14 Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy SS  It’s a bit overdesigned, but the green looks good(I hate most shades of green used in NASCAR) and it earns a C

#15 Kasey Kahne #5 Time Warner Cable Chevy SS It is a good color scheme, but the design on the side needs a little tweaking. Get rid of the needless zig-zag pattern and it works a whole lot better. It is still a decent scheme, so I will give it a C

#16 Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS This is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

#17 Matt Kenseth #20 Home Depot/Huskey Toyota Camry I would give this scheme an A grade, but the yellow back bumper ruins it.  The clash between the two just works awkward, and it takes an A scheme down to a C

#18 Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Red and yellow is a really great color scheme, but the design is all wrong. It just looks awful. D

#19 Ryan Newman #31 Cat/Quicken Loans Chevy SS What in the blue hell is going on here? I’ve liked Ryan’s schemes this year but this is an F scheme, even though I like the color scheme.

#20 Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS Only one word can sum up this scheme…overdesigned. F

#21 Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

#22 Greg Biffle#16 3M Ford Fusion-The sides and roof have gotten worse from last year.  I have to give it an F in that respect.

Also, check this video out concerning how different pit stops in open wheel racing were between 1950 and today:

The video shows how far we have come in pit stops, but we also have come a long way in driver uniforms.

By David G. Firestone

50 years ago this week, 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 reenforced 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 llustrates 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.

Inspired by these events, the Nomex firesuit was introduced in 1967 as a replacement for the cotton coveralls dipped in chemicals. It was a lot more comfortable and safer than chemical-dipped cotton, so drivers were more willing to wear them. Like most new safety equipment in sports, it took a while to catch on. Nomex was created in 1967, 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.

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 pivital 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. He later recreated this for a Mazda commercial.

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. 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 was aluminized cotton or aluminized kevlar, which was not more comfortable, as it was like wearing aluminum foil.

So what did these pre-Nomex driver suits look like? They looked like this. This is a driver suit made by Hinchman in Indianapolis. It is basically a polyester suit that is customized to the driver’s preference. It is not all that different than a jumpsuit that one would wear to work. It is a very flimsy material, has no cuffs on the arms or legs, and, most amazingly, the tag states that the suit is “Untreated, will burn, must be dipped.” This suit was worn circa 1972, which is indicated by the “Archie Bunker for President” patch sewn into the chest. Like any new safety technology in sports, it takes time for it to become the standard, and for Nomex, this is no exception.

This race, along with the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2001 Daytona 500 have their legacies written in death, but unlike other similar events, the lessons they had to teach were learned, and the racing world as a whole is better for them. The deaths in these events were not in vain, and others are alive because of them. 50 years later, those 6 days in May 1964 are still having an impact on racing.

The Sprint Unlimited Preview

By David G. Firestone

The 36th Sprint Unlimited starts tonight at 8:15 ET on Fox. This marks the beginning of the Daytona 500 and the beginning of the NASCAR season. I will be looking forward to it, and I will enjoy it as always.

The field will feature pole award winners and past winners of the event. These include:
· Denny Hamlin (4 poles)
· Kyle Busch (3 poles)
· Joey Logano (2 poles)
· Jimmie Johnson (2 poles)
· Matt Kenseth (2 poles)
· Ryan Newman (2 poles)
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2 poles)
· Jeff Gordon (2 poles)
· Carl Edwards (2 poles)
· Marcos Ambrose (1 pole)
· Kurt Busch (1 pole)
· Kevin Harvick (1 pole)
· Brad Keselowski (1 pole)
· Mark Martin (1 pole)
· Jamie McMurray (1 pole)
· Danica Patrick (1 pole)
· Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1 pole)
· Terry Labonte (past winner: 1985)
· Tony Stewart (past winner: 2001, 2002 and 2007)

The event will feature a number of segments which were voted on by NASCAR fans including myself, and many of you. The first segment will feature laps followed by a second segment of laps, and then a third segment of laps. Many special paint schemes will be run for this race, as is traditional. My personal favorite is the Miller Lite Throwback scheme being run by Brad Keselowski.

Now some factoids about the race.

*There are, in total, Chevy drivers, Ford drivers and Toyota drivers.

*Chevy has 20 wins, Ford has 7 wins, and Toyota has 1 win.

*Mark Martin has competed in 20 consecutive events from 1989-2008.

*Dale Earnhardt Sr. has won 6 events, more than anyone else in 1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 and went on to win the Sprint Cup Championship 4 times in 1980, 1986, 1991, and 1993, he is one of 7 drives to do so.

*From 1979-2011 the event was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, first called the Busch Clash which was the brainchild of Monty Roberts, brand manager of Busch Beer, who sponsored the Pole Award. It remained the Busch Clash until 1998, when Budweiser took over the Pole Award, and it was renamed the Budweiser Shootout. In 2012, Sprint, the series sponsor took over the sponsorship after Budweiser announced they would drop the sponsorship in favor of sponsoring the Duel Races that determine the starting order of the Daytona 500.

*Petty Enterprises was not eligible to run the Shootout because of a rule stating that only drivers that ran the Busch/Budweiser pole award decal were eligible to enter the shootout. Richard Petty and his family did not support alcohol sponsorship or decals on race cars. So John Andretti, Bobby Hamilton, Jeff Green, and Aric Almirola who all had a number of poles with Petty Enterprises were not eligible to participate. I find it interesting that Petty has reversed course on the alcohol sponsorship rule, since Kasey Kahne was sponsored by Budweiser, and Marcos Ambrose will run at least one race sponsored by Twisted Tea.

*Buddy Baker won the inaugural Sprint Unlimited in 1979, which was a 20 lap sprint.

*Since many top drivers were excluded from the race due to not winning a pole award, they moved to the TV booth as color commentators. These included Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1981, Richard Petty and AJ Foyt in 1982 and 1983, Neil Bonnett in 1993, Darrell Waltrip in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999, and Kenny Wallace in 1998.

*There has never been a driver who has won the Sprint Unlimited, Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500 in the same year. Drivers have won 2 of 3 in a season, but never scored the hat trick.

*One of the first instances of a special paint scheme being used specifically for the Sprint Unlimited was the Chroma Premier scheme run by Jeff Gordon in 1997. He followed it up the next year with the legendary Chroma-lusion scheme, which feature a paint that changed color. Since then, special schemes have become commonplace.

*Richard Childress Racing has 8 Sprint Unlimited wins, most of any team. Hendrick Motorsports has 6 wins, and Joe Gibbs Racing has 5 wins.

The Unlimited starts tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox Sports 1, and I look forward to watching the event as I hope the rest of you do too.

Though I have had a VERY busy week, I still have time for…

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Kasey Kahne #5 Time Warner Cable Chevy SS It is a good color scheme, but the design on the side needs a little tweaking. Get rid of the needless zig-zag pattern and it works a whole lot better. It is still a decent scheme, so I will give it a C

Michael Annett #7 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SS Good color scheme, but the awful template is back for Tommy Baldwin. It is really sad, because this could be a great scheme, but the template takes it from an A to a C-

Michael Annett #7 Accell Construction Chevy SS See Above

Marcos Ambrose #9 Mac Tools Ford Fusion Good color scheme here, and decent design, worth a B

Clint Bowyer #15 AAA Insurance Toyota Camry Great color scheme, good design, worth a B+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Peanut Toyota Camry I like this, it has a great shade of yellow, hard to find in NASCAR these days, and the peanut motif works very well. It is an original design, and I’ll give it an A

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion  This is why The Wood Brothers won the Paint Schemies and took the top spot in the Paint Scheme Leaderboard.  A++

Joey Logano #22 Autotrader.com Ford Fusion  Sometimes orange works, sometimes it doesn’t.  This is an example of an orange scheme that just doesn’t work.  If the white was taken out completely it might work, but this is just horrid, and I give it an F

Cole Whitt #26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry This is one of the few schemes that has both a classic and modern look at the same time, and paired with a great color scheme, it earns an A

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Peak Chevy SS Good design, awful color scheme, D+

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion I’ll give it a C+ until I can see a picture WITHOUT an Instagram filter!

David Ragan #34 CSX Ford Fusion  What in the hell is going on here?  Why is the hood decal upside down?  Why in the world would they do that?  Were they drunk when they decaled the car?  The only thing that I can guess is that it is designed for an in-car camera…but that makes no sense either!  F-

David Gilliland #38 Loves Truck Stops Ford Fusion  Good color scheme, decent design, plus unlike David Ragan, the hood decal is in the correct position, A-

Bobby Labonte #52 Phoenix Racing/HScott Motorsports Chevy SS Great color scheme, very simple yet attractive design, can’t say anything bad about it, A+

Michael Waltrip #66 Blue Def Toyota Camry While I like the field motif, it looks too much like the Windows XP Bliss background for me to take it seriously. I’ll give it a B-

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Kelley Blue Book Chevy SS  During my Daytona Preseason Thunder article, I said I wanted to see the #88 they used on a real car.   I got my wish, and I like this design overall.  The metallic gold is a bold choice, it doesn’t always work well.  I give it an A+

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

As many of you know, I don’t just research and collect driver suits and racing items, I collect and research many other things.  I recently had a column run in Uni-Watch concerning some lettering from the 1958 Washington Senators, and you can read my column here.

Some Issues with the New Gen 6 Car

By David G. Firestone

I would like to discuss some issues that have come up in recent weeks with the new Gen 6 car. These issues seem minor, but with this new car, they need to be addressed. And because these issues are issues, it leads to a conclusion that is kind of stunning in my mind.

Two issues revolve around Denny Hamilin. The first is his $25,000 fine for “criticizing the product.” and I’ll get to that in just a minute. The other one is his massive L1 Compression fracture that he suffered at Fontana. This injury should never have happened, but it did. The Gen 5 cars, as unattractive as they were design-wise, were safety-focused. The discussion on how safe they were ended with Michael McDowell’s scary wreck during qualifying at Texas in 2008. The car suffered serious damage, but McDowell was unhurt. This wreck was just as bad, but Hamlin is out of the car until he is fully healed.

NASCAR needs to be safety-focused, putting driver and fan safety before anything else. The fact that Denny has an L1 compression fracture because of a wreck is proof that there is a lot of room for improvement in the Gen 6 car. That isn’t the only issue with the car that needs to be addressed. The car seems to change with each race. At a super speedway, the spoiler is lower than it is at other tracks. At intermediate tracks the roof cameras are not used for reasons that have yet to be explained to the general public. It almost seems as though NASCAR is making the rules up as they go along. Please pick a design and setup and stick with it.

The other issue that needs to be discussed is penalties surrounding the new car. Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for saying that the car has room for improvement. Why was he fined for that? I understand that the car was designed by many different people, who put a lot of time and effort into it, but here is the thing…the people who designed the car are not the ones who are the focal point of racing, the driver is. If the drivers are complaining about the car not being competitive, and not driving the way it is supposed to, it should be addressed. The Gen 4 and Gen 5 cars went through a lot of refining, and so should the Gen 6 car.

One penalty that was issued was to Penske Racing for having suspension parts unapproved by NASCAR. Although all of Ford’s engines come from Roush Yates, many teams use their own designs for equipment used in the car. As such, these parts have to be approved by NASCAR. Obviously these parts weren’t approved. Yet Penske, Brad Keselwoski, and Joey Logano are swearing up and down that they were legal, and working in a gray area. If the parts are unapproved, they are unapproved.

The other major penalty was to Matt Kenseth for having a connector rod that was 3 grams under the minimum weight required by NASCAR. My concern with this issue is that the engine in question came from Toyota Racing Development. TRD knows what the rules and regulations are, and they knew what the parts should have been. I do not believe for a second that of the people involved with making the engine, not one of them knew didn’t realize that the parts were illegal. They knew what it was, and they sent it out anyway. That brings up an important question. 8 teams in the Sprint Cup work with TRD. In total that accounts for 10 different teams. Each team has a primary and backup car. There is also an additional engine at the teams disposal. So for each Toyota team there are 3 engines for use. If Matt Kenseth is running illegal equipment, who else is?

On to paint schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion Black and Red is always a good scheme, and the overall design is good. The sticking point for me with this scheme is that APPLE ALE is almost invisible on the quarter panel. So for a final grade, it gets a B-

Tony Stewart #14 National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS Good color scheme and overall design, but the major issue I have is with the NATIONAL WILD TURKEY being on a curve and not as visible It gets a B-

Jeff Gordon #24 AARP Chase Card Chevy SS The color and designs are all over the place, and the giant credit card on the hood is pretty ugly. Not good at all, F

Kevin Harvick Bell Helicopters Chevy SS A simple design with a good color scheme. Not much else to say other than good job, and it gets an A grade.

Jeff Burton #31 Airgas-Bulwark Chevy SS Meh. That sums it up. Uninspired color scheme, and bland design give it a mediocre look and a C- grade.

Jeff Burton #31 American Ethanol Chevy SS Good color scheme and design. A-

David Ragan #34 CSX Play It Safe Ford Fusion This is a very solid scheme, with great colors, great design and an overall great look. CSX did this scheme very well and it gets an A+

JJ Yeley #36 NASCAR Day Chevy SS Another simple yet attractive scheme that works very well. Nothing more to say than great job, and enjoy your A grade.

David Gilliland #38 EZ Pawn Ford Fusion Good color scheme though the design is a bit over complex. As such it gets a B+.

Ryan Newman #39 Code 3 Associates Chevy SS Ok, you can have either flames OR a racing stripe, but not both. Because the combo takes a good design and makes it into a horrible design. The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme being as good as it is, but it earns a D-

Bobby Labonte #47 Pine Sol Toyota Camry Yet another simple yet amazing good scheme that earns an A grade!

Elliot Sadler #81 Alert Energy Gum Toyota Camry A good scheme with a consistent design and a decent color scheme that earns a B+ grade.

Travis Kvapil #93 Dominion Raceway Toyota Camry Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that a speedway that doesn’t exist yet is sponsoring a car for one race? That aside, the door design needs work, but the color scheme is solid, and I give it a B-