Which Way Does Your Favorite Team Lean?

99-edwards1By David G. Firestone

Number designs are an important detail in American auto racing, especially NASCAR, where the number is used on all of the merchandise sold to fans. The number is an identity for the driver and for the fans. While I was watching the Camping World RV Sales 301, for some reason, I noticed that the majorty of the car number are slanted. As the race went on, I noticed that almost all of them were slanted to the right. The Carl Edwards die cast above shows what I mean. Let’s look at the driver’s side car number up close.99-edwards1 - CopyAs you can see, the numbers are slanted with the top slanted to the right of the bottom. This gives the illusion that the numbers are being blown back by the speed of the car. I kept thinking about this and I decieded to see just who uses which slant when designing numbers for race cars. I wound up doing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Verizon IndyCar Series, and Formula 1. Here is what my research found…


Jamie McMurray-1-Straight

Brad Keselowski-2-Right

Austin Dillon-3-Left

Kevin Harvick-4-Right

Kasey Kahne-5-Right

Michael Annett-7-Right

Marcos Ambrose-9-Right

Danica Patrick-10-Right

Denny Hamlin-11-Right

Ryan Blaney/Juan Pablo Montoya-12-Right

Casey Mears-13-Right

Tony Stewart-14-Right

Clint Bowyer-15-Right

Greg Biffle-16-Right

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.-17-Right

Kyle Busch-18-Right

Matt Kenseth-20-Right

Trevor Bayne-21-Straight

Joey Logano-22-Right


Jeff Gordon-24-Right

Cole Whitt-26-Right

Paul Menard-27-Right

Joe Nemecheck-29-Right

Parker Kligerman-30-Right

Ryan Newman-31-Left

Travis Kvapil/Blake Koch/Boris Said/Eddie MacDonald-32-Right/Straight

RCR/Circle Sport-33-Left(RCR)/Right/(Circle Sport)

David Ragan-34-Right

David Reutimann-35-Right

Reed Sorenson-36-Right

David Gilliland-38-Right

Landon Cassill-40-Right

Kurt Busch-41-Right

Kyle Larson-42-Right

Aric Almirola-43-Right

JJ Yeley-44-Right

AJ Allmendinger-47-Right

Jimmie Johnson-48-Right

Justin Allgaier-51-Right

Bobby Labonte-52-Right

Brian Vickers-55-Right

Michael Waltrip/Joe Nemechek-66-Right

Dave Blaney-77-Straight

Martin Truex Jr.-78-Right

Ryan Truex-83-Right

Joe Nemecheck-87-Right

Dale Earnhardt Jr.-88-Left

BK Racing-93-Right

Michael McDowell-95-Right

Josh Wise-98-Right

Carl Edwards-99-Right


Juan Pablo Montoya-2-Straight

Helio Castroneves-3-Straight

Jacques Villeneuve-5-Right

Townsend Bell-6-Right

Mikhail Aleshin-7-Right

Ryan Briscoe-8-Straight

Scott Dixon-9-Straight

Tony Kanaan-10-Straight

Sebastien Bourdais-11-Right

Will Power-12-Straight

Takuma Sato-14-Straight

Graham Rahal-15-Right

Oriol Servia-16-Right

Sebastian Saavedra-17-Straight

Carlos Huertas-18-Right

Justin Wilson-19-Right

Ed Carpenter/Mike Conway-20-Right

JR Hilderbrand-21-Right

Sage Karan-22-Right

Marco Andretti-25-Right

Kurt Busch/Franck Montagny-26-Right

James Hinchcliffe-27-Right

Ryan Hunter-Reay-28-Right

James Davison-33-Straight

Carlos Munoz-34-Right

Martin Plowman-41-Straight

Pippa Mann-63-Right

Josef Newgarden-67-Straight

Alex Tagliani-68-Straight

Simon Pagenaud-77-Right

Charlie Kimball-83-Straight

Buddy Lazier-91-Right

Jack Hawksworth-98-Straight


Sebastian Vettel-1-Straight

Daniel Ricciardo-3-Straight

Max Chilton-4-Straight

Nico Rosberg-6-Straight

Kimi Raikkonen-7-Straight

Romain Grosjean-8-Right

Marcus Ericsson-9-Straight

Kamui Kobayashi-10-Straight

Sergio Perez-11-Right

Pastor Maldonado-13-Right

Fernando Alonso-14-Right

Jules Bianchi-17-Straight

Felipe Massa-19-Straight

Kevin Magnussen-20-Straight

Esteban Gutierrez-21-Straight

Jenson Button-22-Straight

Jean-Eric Vergne-25-Straight

Daniil Kvyat-26 Straight

Nico Hulkenberg-27-Straight

Lewis Hamilton-44-Straight

Valtteri Bottas-77-Straight

Adrian Sutil-99-Straight

Ok, that’s a lot to swallow, so let’s add the total number of number designs and look at the data:

*NASCAR-54          *IndyCar-33            *Formula 1-22         *Totals-109

Right-47-87%         Right-19-58%            Right-4-18%             Right-70-64%

Straight-3-5.5%    Straight-14-42%        Straight-18-82%     Straight-35-32%

Left-4-7%                 Left-0-0%                    Left-0-0%                  Left-4-4%

The Sprint Cup car numbers overwhelmingly are designed to lean to the right. In fact, only 6 of the 54 teams don’t use numbers that lean to the right. In IndyCar, it is much more down the middle, with 19 cars with right leaning numbers and 14 straight leaning numbers. Formula 1 is the straightest series, with only 4 of the 22 numbers being slanted. NASCAR is the only group of the series that has left-leaning numbers, all 3 of which 3, 31, and 33, are raced by Richard Childress Racing.

It is one of those odd idiosyncrasies of racing design that a lot of people see but don’t notice.  In fact, I didn’t notice until a couple weeks ago that the numbers seem to lean from one side to another.  I also am curious as to why so many teams choose to have the car numbers lean to the right.  I’m not saying it looks bad, they, for the most part, look really good.

Now we continue our theme with…


Austin Dillon #3 Mycogen Seeds Chevy SS The red black and white scheme works very well, and it has a really good design that works well and earns an A

Kevin Harvick #4 Mobil 1 Chevy SS For a Mobil 1 design, this is pretty good. It is a lot less clutter, and shorter stripes than Tony Stewart’s car, and the color scheme is good. A+

Juan Pablo Montoya #12 Go Penske Ford Fusion Great simple design, decent color scheme earns an A-

Greg Biffle #16 3M 1942 Throwback Ford Fusion An perfect example of why throwback schemes fail. A classic logo which I have to admit looks really good, on a modern car, with modern design, modern numbers, and modern logos. It just looks out of place. F

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta/Maaco Chevy SS The red, yellow and black color scheme works, except the blue and white Maaco logo scheme contrasts with it. The Pepsi globe looks odd there too, so I can’t give it any higher than a C-

Cole Whitt #26 Toyota of Scranton Racing Toyota Camry Great color scheme, great simple design, A+

David Ragan #34 MDS Ford Fusion Great simple design, decent color scheme earns an A-

David Ragan #34 A&W Root Beer Float Day Ford Fusion The color is good, the basic design scheme is good, but the Root Beer Float Day logos are too small. Even in this picture they look too small and are hard to see. If I am looking at a picture and I think it is too small, how do you think it will look on the track? C-

Reed Sorenson #36 Red Rocks Cafe Chevy SS The red black and white scheme works very well, and it has a really good design that works well and earns an A

Reed Sorenson #36 Zing Zang Chevy SS The overall design looks like a Richard Petty Motorsports car, the color schemes are all over the place, and the logo looks too much like a Mountain Dew logo. I give it a D-

Bobby Labonte #37 Accell Construction 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-

Landon Cassill #40 Cars For Sale Chevy SS The yellow is too bright, and the gray and black numbers look too dark on the side. The design is mediocre and I’ll give it a C-

Kurt Busch #41 Haas Automotion Chevy SS This is a perfect example of why gray-scale color schemes don’t work. By itself it is a good look, but the Monster Energy logo, the Goodyear logo, and the contigency logos ruin the look. If it were all gray-scale, I would give it an A, but because of those flaws, it earns a B-

Aric Almirola #43 Go Bowling Ford Fusion I love what they did here. The bowling ball nose and pin design give a great impression, and the color scheme works very well here. A+

Justin Allgaier #51 Collision Cure Chevy SS Yellow black and blue is a bold color scheme choice, but this works. The design is simple, and it has a really good unique look, and I’ll give it an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Michael Baker International Chevy SS Basically this is the National Guard scheme with a different color scheme, and let me tell you, it just doesn’t work. I love the new number design, but blue and black just doesn’t work. The overall color scheme is not great either, and it shows. It takes an A+ scheme and takes it down to a C+

Michael McDowell #95 Thrivent Financial Ford Fusion Levine Family Racing has improved leaps and bounds over last year and it shows. Great color scheme, great design, A+