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…

The Silly Season…and Why It Isn’t Silly For Me…

By David G. Firestone

It’s August, the summer is winding down, you are seeing back to school ads on TV, Halloween stuff is popping up in stores, and the Silly Season is officially underway. For me, this begins the most hectic part of the year for The Driver Suit Blog. Within the next few months, driver changes, sponsor changes and team changes will be announced. There is always a shakeup of some kind, and this year will be no different.

Carl Edwards, for example, will be leaving Roush Fenway Racing after the season. It was announced on Tuesday that Edwards would be moving to Joe Gibbs Racing and driving the #19 Toyota Camry. He has sponsors, one of which is Arris, which is a communications company for 17 races. The remaining 19 races he has a sponsor for the other races, but that hasn’t been addressed yet.

Where a driver is in the points helps with these kinds of decisions. As it stands right now, there are 1- drivers in the Chase because of a victory, and X driver who are in the Chase because of points. Will that change before Chicagoland? I have no reason to believe it won’t. I will be watching the Federated Auto Parts 400 this year, in light of what happened last year. I would have to believe that something like last year can happen. As of today, there are 12 drivers, AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almorla, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmy Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano have a spot in the Chase due to wins. That leaves 4 spots open, and with 3 races to go it is highly unlikely that there will be 3 new winners, so some drama can and will happen.

The part where it gets really bad is that from here to Daytona in February, there will be 2015 paint schemes released on a regular basis. The problem is that every 2015 scheme I grade will have to be taken with a grain of salt. For example,in mid-August last year, Brian Vickers was announced to drive the #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine. The announcement included photos of the car. However, later on, a new design was released, and became the current standard. I didn’t complain too much because both designs are good. But this is a constant issue for me, do I grade them as-is, or do I back off and wait? This will get more and more frustrating between now and Homestead. An example of this is that Ricky Stenhouse Jr.and Greg Biffle  just announced one of their new car designs for 2015. I will take it with a grain of salt, but I will grade it below as I normally would.

Something I also have to take into consideration is that something late in the season will cause a major change to the playing field. A perfect example is the unpleasantness last year at the Federated Auto Parts 400. After that scandal, Napa announced that it would be leaving Michael Waltrip Racing, and that left Martin Truex Jr. without a ride. He moved to Furniture Row Racing, and the full-time #56 became the part time #66.

One other major story I am following and I’m sure you are as well is who will sponsor the Nationwide Series next season? It was announced in 2013 that after 2014, Nationwide Insurance would be leaving as the series sponsor. Nothing definitive has been announced as of today, but I would have to believe there will be an announcement before the season ends. I’m curious just as the rest of us as to who that would be. Comcast is negotiatinng a deal for the series, and I would think a deal would be announced quite soon.

There will be driver changes, sponsor changes, team changes, and schedule changes. A rumor is going around that The Southern 500 will move back to Labor Day, Atlanta will follow the Daytona 500, and that the first Bristol race is moving from early March to mid-April. Again, when the schedule is announced we will know for sure. There are little changes every year, and after a while these little changes add up to big changes.

One other bit of news I need to address is that on Monday, a number of teams stayed at Michigan to test some 2015 rule changes. All totaled, 6 different car configurations were tested for a total of 160 laps. Again, equipment changes are a common event between seasons and this is nothing new. Information will be taken, adjustments will be made, and there will be more testing during the off season. Once that happens, the rules package will be created and distributed to the teams for the upcoming season.

Now before I get into paint schemes, I’d like to discuss something that has been happening in F1 for a while and I think needs to be stopped. Between the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 27, and the Belgian Grand Prix on August 29, F1 is on it’s “summer break.” This is due to the high travel restrictions and the limit on active crew members an F1 team can have. Teams don’t show up to the track on the Friday before the race, they show up on the Monday before the race. While I am not unsympathetic to the demands on crew members, I am a racing fan. F1 is one of the most watched sports in the world, with telecasts that can get as many as 54 million viewers worldwide. Fans love the sport, and the summer break is a headache. So here is my solution. First, we double the number of active personnel that the team can have, so fresh guys that can be rotated. Second, we extend the season by 4 weeks, so that there can be time for drivers and crew to relax between events.

Now we have a lot of ground to cover when it comes to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS!

First, we have our first 2015 paint scheme,

Greg Biffle #16 Ortho Fire Ant Killer Ford Fusion  Great color scheme, good design, I give it an A-, the number still looks horrible.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fastenal Ford Fusion Decent design, great color scheme, I hope this scheme stays on…A

Now on to 2014 Schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite/Careers for Veterans Ford Fusion This is a rare case where the quarterpanel logo needs to be bigger. The lettering is hard to see in this photo, and was harder to see on the telecast. It takes an A scheme down to a B+

Michael Annett #7 Pilot /Allstate Peterbuilt Chevy SS Great color scheme, great simple design, A+

Greg Biffle #16 Roush Perfomance Ford Fusion Red and black is a great color combination, and I like the dot fade effect. This is the best Biffle scheme all year and it earns an A

Greg Biffle #16 Hire our Heroes Ford Fusion Another prime example of why came and race cars don’t mix.  This is just an awful mess.  The American flag motif just looks horrible with the camo, but I think it might look good by itself.  I’ll give it a D

Kyle Busch #18 Doublemint Gum Toyota Camry Great color scheme, great design, A+

Alex Bowman #23 Dustless Blasting Toyota Camry I don’t like green on race cars, but at least here it is used tastefully. It works very well and earns an A+

Cole Whitt #26 Bully Hill Vineyards Toyota Camry Good color scheme, odd design for the sponsor. A vineyard using a spilled wine design to sell wine…not a good look. C-

Cole Whitt #26 Speed Stick/Iowa City Chop House Toyota Camry I find it amazing that the same team that brought the terrible scheme above could come up with an A+ scheme for the race one week later.

Travis Kvapil #32 Keen Parts/Try Androzone Ford Fusion Great simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Travis Kvapil #32 Skuttle Tight Ford Fusion Great simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Alex Kennedy #33 Circle Sport Chevy SS Good color scheme, bad design, it’s giving me a headache, D+

David Stremme #33 ThunderCoal Chevy SS Good color scheme bad design, C-

Aric Almirola #43 Eckrich Ford Fusion Ok, I thought we had this said, but I’ll say it again…CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! It takes an A scheme down to a C-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevy SS Another classic Jimmie Johnson A+ scheme!

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS  Reportedly, Jimmie was unhappy with the color scheme change from blue to white and asked Lowes to swtich back to blue after a series of sub-par finishes.  Lowes agreed, and the car is another classic Jimmie Johnson A+ scheme!

Joe Nemechek #66 Landcastle Title Toyota Camry Great simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Nelson Piquet Jr. #77 Worx Ford Fusion Another tasteful use of green, another A+ scheme!

Josh Wise #98 Provident Metals Ford Fusion  The word horrible is not enough to describe this car!  Too overdesigned and with a bad color scheme, I can only give it an F

Carl Edwards #99 Ford Eco-Boost Ford Fusion The word of the day is overdesigned. Good color scheme, but overdesgined and a C- gradeDSCN1093Before I go I wanted to tell you about a project.  I recently bought a Mr. Beer home brewing kit.  It is a kit for beginers like me who have no experience brewing beer.  It is a realativly simple process.  The kit comes with a 2 gallon fermenter, some booster sugar, brewer’s yeast, a pale ale hopped malt extract, and some no rinse cleanser. DSCN1097 DSCN1095   You need a non wooden spoon, a glass bowl a can opener and a measuring cup.  DSCN1096You use the no rinse cleanser to sanitize everything you use to make the beer, then you place the hopped malt extract and booster containers in hot water while you boil 4 cups of water.DSCN1099While the water is boiling, you fill the fermenter with 4 quarts of cold water.  Once the water is boiled, you add the hopped malt extract, and booster sugar, and mix well.DSCN1100 DSCN1101  Then you pour the mix into the fermenter, add more water, and then add the yeast.  DSCN1105 DSCN1108 DSCN1109Now comes the hard part, we have to wait two weeks for it to ferment.  I’ll keep you posted.

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.

Ted Musgrave-My Favorite Driver to Collect Part 2

musgrave2By David G. Firestone

Last week, I discussed my favorite driver to collect, and this week I will examine his most well-known sponsor. From 1994-1997 Musgrave was sponsored by the Family Channel. The distinctive patriotic red white and blue design with that Family Channel logo was eye catching. The Family Channel logo was classic 1990’s design. It was also an idea whose time had come, and is still a great idea.

It was founded by Pat Robertson in 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service, which focused on Christian Broadcast Network programing. By 1981, it had re-branded as the CBN Cable Network, which began to focus more on family-friendly programing. It was a channel where families could watch together without needless violence, and gratuitous sex, something that should be redone today. The major moment was in 1990 when the channel became too profitable for the non-profit Christian Broadcast Network, and was transferred to International Family Entertainment, Inc. The CBN Cable Network became The Family Channel, and began to air recent dramas and sitcoms, as well as cartoons. In 1994, to gain visibility, The Family Channel joined forces with Roush Racing to create the #16 Family Channel Ford Thunderbird. This partnership lasted for 3 years, and Ted raced in 124 races, with 15 top 5’s and 36 top 10’s.

During the 1997 season, The Family Channel was purchased by Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. which was a joint venture between News Corporation, and Saban which re-branded the channel as Fox Family channel. This was out of necessity, as the average age of the viewer under the Family Channel banner was much older, and Fox Family set about trying to win back the younger viewers. The channel was used for everything from movies to cartoons, to Fox programing to Major League baseball. It became clear when the channel went from 10th in ratings to 17th in Nielsen ratings, that something was not working. Many outside observers felt that the push for younger viewers alienated the previous viewers.

In July 2001, almost 4 years to the date, the channel was sold to ABC and re-branded it ABC Family, which still operates to this day. It has come up with a format that amalgamates the two different styles of network. Though it hasn’t regained its previous glory, it has created a network that is family-friendly and appeals to families, not just young kids.

The #16 race team it spawned has had just as interesting a history. Roush had started in NASCAR in 1988, with Mark Martin as a driver and Stroh’s Light as the sponsor. They had a lot of success as a combo, and a second team was created in 1992. Wally Dallenbach Jr. started driving the Keystone Beer sponsored #16 Ford Thunderbird in 1992. Changes came in 1994, When Ted Musgrave was taken on as a sponsor. Ted was kept on until midway through the 1998 season, when he was let go from the team, and replaced with Kevin Lepage.

In 1999, TV Guide became one of the primary sponsors, and Lepage had a decent start to the season. As 1999 went on, Primestar left, TV Guide stayed and Lepage slipped in the points standings. I own a Kevin Lepage race-worn and signed helmet from 1999. It has the distinctive red and yellow scheme that TV Guide was known for. lepage99-1 lepage99-2 lepage99-3 lepage99-4 lepage99-5 lepage99-6 lepage99-7 lepage99-8 In 2000, Family Click took over as a sponsor, but Lepage slightly improved finishing 26th . At the end of the season, Family Click left the team, Lepage was released, and the #16 team disappeared for the entire 2001 season.

In 2002, the #16 Roush Racing Ford came back to NASCAR with Greg Biffle. They ran a limited schedule with 7 races started of the 10 races Biffle attempted to qualify for. In 2003, Biffle raced in the #16 Ford full-time, winning the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award. Biffle continues to race in the #16 Ford full time and has had a lot of success, having won 19 races between 2003 and 2013. This team has a very bright future ahead of it.

Now on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Greg Biffle #16 Megulars Ford Fusion Best scheme Greg Biffle has run all year…and since that this is a C+ scheme, that is really sad. The color scheme is good, but the car design is awful.

Travis Kvpail #32 SK Handtools Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme A+

David Stremme #33 Mace Chevy SS Great design, great color scheme, and I think that this is the first self-defense spray I have seen sponsor a car, so A+

David Reuitmann #35 MDS Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Justin Allgaier #51 SEM Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Justin Allgaier #51 AccuDoc Chevy SS Decent color scheme, yellow is a bit too bright, otherwise a great scheme, A-

Dave Blaney #77 Humphrey Racing Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Josh Wise #98 Trench Shoring Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 4-The Grand Finale

By David G. Firestone

The focus group of one has had its meetings, and has made its decisions.  Here are all 50 teams that ran the Sprint Cup this year ranked first to last on their paint schemes:

#1-Wood Brothers #21-A classic design scheme that just seems to get better with age. The Henry Ford design combines classic and modern elements for an amazing look.

#2-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Jimmie Johnson went with a very classic look, with a day scheme and a night scheme, which worked very well. Johnson did not have a bad look all year.

#3-Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Simple traditional designs. That is the secret to their success on the leaderboard. Color schemes are great as well. Nothing wrong with these schemes.

#4-Furniture Row Racing #78 When it came down to picking a number 1 for Chevy, for both the Paint Schemie and the Leaderboard, I had to flip a coin to pick a number 1, and Johnson won. Kurt Busch ran a series of very solid schemes, not a lot to comment on and it always looks good.

#5-Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Like Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch on the Chevy side, the Toyota winner for both the Paint Schemie and Leaderboard was decided by a coin flip. More modern than the 55, all these schemes are good, with amazing paint schemes and really good design.

#6-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 This team combines classic and modern looks, and uses Petty Blue very effectively. The Transportation Impact scheme was not good at all, and kept the 43 team out of the top spot.  Extra Credit for the Maurice Petty Tribute Scheme.

#7-BK Racing #83 Great designs all around, but the hood needs work. Why is it black when the rest of the car is red?

#8-BK Racing #93 See Above, but the Old Dominion scheme drags it down.

#9-Penske Racing #12-Though only raced for one race, the SKF design worked very well. A great color and great design scheme. If this had been raced for multiple races, I would have ranked it higher, but it is still a solid scheme.

#10-Richard Childress Racing #29 The Bad Boy Buggies scheme is bad, and the Rheem/Budweiser combo scheme is awful, but aside from those, Kevin Harvick has had a very good season, paint scheme wise

#11-Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #42 Get rid of the Axe Apollo scheme and the Camouflage scheme, and Juan Pablo Montoya would have the top spot.

#12-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 This set earned a place in the top 5 because it improved by a lot over the course of the season. It has a great color scheme, but the early schemes were not great, but since Stanley redesigned their logo, and made some changes to the car, it is a very nice set.

#13-Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott #51 Guy Roofing and Hendrick Cars are hideous, but apart from that, they have run a great set of paint schemes. Bonus points given for the Neil Bonnett throwback scheme.

#14-Michael Waltrip Racing #56 The Get Back and Give Back scheme is horrid, but the rest of the schemes are really good.

#15-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Most of what they ran this year was great, but the Bushes Baked Beans car has an odd overall design, and a weird color scheme. The Clorox scheme has a bad color scheme, as does the Charter scheme, as does the Wounded Warrior Project scheme.

#16-Roush Fenway Racing #17 A pinkwashing scheme as well as the Valvoline NexGen scheme kick Ricky Stenhouse Jr. out of the top spot. Sad thing too, as Ricky had a very solid year when it comes to paint schemes

#17-Joe Gibbs Racing #81 Alert Energy is awful. Double Mint is awesome.

#18-Penske Racing #2 While I miss the beer colored wheels from last year, Keselowski has had a decent year, the color scheme is great, though there is too much white on the car. The Redd’s Apple Ale scheme was great, but the Fan Mosaic and Patriotic schemes need some work.

#19-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Greg Biffle had a lot of great schemes, but he had a number of awful ones , including a pinkwashing scheme as well. Get rid of the pinkwashing scheme, the Scotchguard, give blood, and Megulars schemes, and he would be in the top 5.

#20-Richard Childress Racing #27 The yellow is too bright, but other than that, the schemes are really good.

#21-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Some of these schemes are good, others not so much.

#22Hendrick Motorsports #88 Dale Jr. runs good schemes most of the time, but Soldiers of Steel, Orange Amp Energy, and Camouflage are just brutal. Additional points lost for a pinkwashing scheme.

#23-Joe Gibbs Racing #20 If the Dollar General was more plain, and did not have the orange back, I would love to give Matt Kenseth a higher spot, and a pinkwashing scheme does not help.

#24-Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #1 Bad Boy Buggies is even worse here, and the Bass Pro Shop schemes are awful. A number of good schemes here as well.

#25-FAS Lane Racing #32 The Oxy Water scheme, and the gray scale C&J Energy Services schemes do not work, but the rest of the schemes they ran do

#26-Front Row Motorsports #38 The template they run works very well when the color scheme matches that of the sponsor. When it doesn’t match, it looks awful.

#27-Front Row Motorsports #35, See above

#28-Front Row Motorsports #34, See above, aside from the CSX scheme, which looks great, and the Peanut Patch scheme which looks awful.

#29-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 This team looks better without a primary sponsor than they do with one.

#30-Max Q Motorsports #37 Simple, yet attractive. Would be higher if they ran more races.

#31-Joe Gibbs Racing #11 The Jason Leffler tribute scheme and the FedEx delivery manager schemes are great, but the rest are just awful. I miss the Gen 5 schemes

#32-Nemco Racing #87 The word that can best describe this set is dull. Not bad, but not spectacular.

#33-Circle Team Sport #40 Interstate Moving is really good. Moon Shine Attitude Attire is really awful, and their pinkwashing scheme is even worse.

#34-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Geek Squad and Fastenal work well, the rest…not so much.

#35-Richard Childress Racing #31 A few good schemes but most of them are mediocre at best.

#36-Hendrick Motorsports #24 See Above

#37-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Worst shades of yellow in NASCAR, and the pinkwashing scheme is so much worse.

#38-Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Clint has consistently run cars with great color schemes, but awful designs. Except for Duck Dynasty, and pinkwashing, which are just hideous.

#39-Humphrey Smith Racing #19 Another car that just looks better without a primary sponsor.

#40-Germain Racing #13 Nothing really wrong, but nothing really right with these schemes.

#41-Penske Racing #22 Red and yellow is a really great color scheme, but the design is all wrong. This design gets even worse with the AAA scheme, which has an even better color scheme. The Pennzoil scheme is good, but not good enough to save the set.

#42-Stewart Haas Racing #39 I have to give them credit, their schemes are mostly awful, but at least they are creative.

#43-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Worst. Door. Number. Ever. The rest of the car isn’t good either, and a pinkwashing scheme doesn’t help.

#44-Phil Parsons Racing# 98 The schemes come in one of two food groups, bland or awful. Great colors, but the designs are horrid.

#45-Levine Family Racing #95 Worst template in NASCAR.

#46-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Innovation can be a bad thing. This, for example is what happens when you let Karl Benjamin design your cars.

#47-Circle Sport/RCR #33 It amazes me how two different teams can use the same car number, and both can put awful designs on their cars. Special credit for the Honey Nut Cheerios scheme, which is just horrific.

#48-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Yuck.

#49-Hamilton-Means Racing #52 Paulie Harraka had a great scheme, but Brian Keselowski…not so much.

#50-Swan Racing #30/26 Please tell me this is an experiment on how to make the worst paint scheme in history? Is Swan Racing competing with Travis Pastrana for the most obnoxious paint scheme in NASCAR?

Paint Scheme Leaderboard Part 2- Chevy

By David G. Firestone

Last week, I ranked the Ford teams based on their paint schemes, and this week I will do the Chevy teams and next week I’ll rank the Toyota teams, so without further ado all the Chevy teams ranked from best to worst:

#1 Hendrick Motorsports #48 Jimmie Johnson went with a very classic look, with a day scheme and a night scheme, which worked very well. Johnson did not have a bad look all year.

#2 Furniture Row Racing #78 When it came down to picking a number 1 for Chevy, for both the Paint Schemie and the Leaderboard, I had to flip a coin to pick a number 1, and Johnson won. Kurt Busch ran a series of very solid schemes, not a lot to comment on and it always looks good.

#3 Richard Childress Racing #29 The Bad Boy Buggies scheme is bad, and the Rheem/Budweiser combo scheme is awful, but aside from those, Kevin Harvick has had a very good season, paint scheme wise

#4 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #42 Get rid of the Axe Apollo scheme and the Camouflage scheme, and Juan Pablo Montoya would have the top spot.

#5 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott #51 Guy Roofing and Hendrick Cars are hideous, but apart from that, they have run a great set of paint schemes. Bonus points given for the Neil Bonnett throwback scheme.

#6 Richard Childress Racing #27 The yellow is too bright, but other than that, the schemes are really good.

#7 Stewart Haas Racing #14 Some of these schemes are good, others not so much.

#8 Hendrick Motorsports #88 Dale Jr. runs good schemes most of the time, but Soldiers of Steel, Orange Amp Energy, and Camouflage are just brutal. Additional points lost for a pinkwashing scheme.

#9 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #1 Bad Boy Buggies is even worse here, and the Bass Pro Shop schemes are awful. A number of good schemes here as well.

#10 Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 This team looks better without a primary sponsor than they do with one.

#11 Max Q Motorsports #37 Simple, yet attractive. Would be higher if they ran more races.

#12 Circle Team Sport #40 Interstate Moving is really good. Moon Shine Attitude Attire is really awful, and their pinkwashing scheme is even worse.

#13 Richard Childress Racing #31 A few good schemes but most of them are mediocre at best.

#14-Hendrick Motorsports #24 See Above

#14 Stewart Haas Racing #10 Worst shades of yellow in NASCAR, and the pinkwashing scheme is so much worse.

#15 Stewart Haas Racing #39 I have to give them credit, their schemes are mostly awful, but at least they are creative.

#16 Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Worst. Door. Number. Ever. The rest of the car isn’t good either, and a pinkwashing scheme doesn’t help.

#17 Hendrick Motorsports #5 Innovation can be a bad thing. This, for example is what happens when you let Karl Benjamin design your cars.

#19 Circle Sport/RCR #33 It amazes me how two different teams can use the same car number, and both can put awful designs on their cars. Special credit for the Honey Nut Cheerios scheme, which is just horrific.