Two Birthdays in January…

100_4380By David G. Firestone
On the first anniversary of the founding of The Driver Suit Blog I felt it appropriate to analyze the first two NASCAR driver suits I ever bought. I started in the driver suit hobby in March of 2010, with a Bill Sedgwick Die Hard driver suit from the Craftsman Truck Series in 1996. 17-sedgwickI purchased this specific item for a number of reasons, first, it was well within my price range, and second, I wanted a low-end example that I can look at and get a general feel for aspects that I will see in other driver suits.
Some of the stuff I learned from this particular suit helped me understand the very basics of design aspects on race-worn driver suits. Some of the aspects I discovered from that were completely different and it was through subsequent research that I began to understand driver suits more. I have kept it for as long as I have is because I love the suit, and I even though I have had it for almost 4 years, I still find aspects about it that interest me.
The suit is custom designed for Darrell Waltrip’s Craftsman Truck Series team. Sedgwick drove the #17 Chevy C-1500 for the entire 1996 season, whereas Waltrip drove the #5 truck for a very limited schedule. Sedgwick had 3 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s in the 23 of the 24 races that year, and led a total of 8 laps. Sedgwick was released at the end of the season.17-sedgwick
The triple-layer suit is custom designed for Sedgwick, with the Sears Die Hard logos on the collar and shoulder epaulets,17-sedgwick-collar 17-sedgwick-rshoulder 17-sedgwick-lshoulderSears Die Hard logos across the front and Sedgwick’s name on the right chest,17-sedgwick-rchest17-sedgwick-lchestno arm gussets,17-sedgwick-rsleeve1 17-sedgwick-lsleeve1no adornment on the belt,17-sedgwick-beltTV logos and safety stripes on the legs,17-sedgwick-legsTV logos on the sleeves,17-sedgwick-rsleeve2 17-sedgwick-lsleeve2and a huge logo across the back.17-sedgwickb 17-sedgwickb-logoI purchased a press kit for this suit, which I covered in December, concerning this suit, and I realized that the suit Sedgwick is wearing in the promotional photo is the same suit that is in my collection. I keep the press kit in my authentication binder with the rest of my COA’s and LOA’s17-sedgwick-presskit1 17-sedgwick-presskit3 17-sedgwick-presskit2 17-sedgwick 17-sedgwick-presskit2The other suit I bought, my first Winston Cup suit was a Lake Speed suit from 1997, this one is a bit different. In 1997, Speed was racing for Melling Racing, which in 1997 was a shell of its former self. Melling had 34 victories and the 1988 Winston Cup Championship, but by 1997, they had no real sponsorship, and had not won a race since 1991. During that season Lake Speed didn’t score a top 5, top 10, or victory, and only led 3 laps in the 25 races he raced in that year.9-speedDue to the lack of sponsorship, Speed didn’t have the luxury of having a custom-made suit that season so he wore what appears to be a store bought suit. It looks like the suit was purchased either from a store or a catalog, and customized for Lake’s use. There are no large sponsor logos on the collar,9-speed-collarshoulder epaulets,9-speed-rshoulder 9-speed-lshouldertorso,9-speed-bsleeves,9-speed-rsleeve1 9-speed-rsleeve2 9-speed-lsleeve1 9-speed-lsleeve2or legs.9-speed-legsThe legs have a cuff cut, as opposed to a boot cut like the Bill Sedgwick suit has.
Everyone who has a hobby or an interest started somewhere. With me, it was with these two driver suits. No matter what you do in your hobby, or how high you fly in your hobby, you were a rookie, and you started from somewhere. Never forget where you came from. These two suits are a reminder of what I was, and I love these two.
Before we get to paint schemes, I need to say something to my readers. When I started this project one year ago, I never thought it would take off as much as it did. I have a group of really awesome readers and followers. I also owe a special thanks to Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch, because if I had never written my two articles for Uni-Watch in 2013, I would never have done the research I did for them, and I would never have had the frustration of not finding research from the collector’s perspective, and The Driver Suit would never have been born. To all my readers, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you! Stay Tuned because 2014 will be even better than 2013!

Paint Scheme Reveiws

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Chevy SS Black with silver numbers and white trim looks simple and really good. I can’t say anything bad about this scheme, and bonus points for improving the door number design. A+

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Chevy SS Same great design as last year, same A grade.

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SS Take the white stripe down the side off, and it will be a solid A scheme. The white does not look good at all. The red/white/black color scheme works very well, and it is decently designed, so I will give it a B+

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Chevy SS Not only does Go Daddy continue to use the worst shade of yellow in NASCAR, they also have given the worst shade of orange a more prominent role in the car. Givng this car an F is a very fair grade.

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Casey Mears #13 Geico Ford Fusion The yellow they use is awful, and the side design is just too loud,  I’ll give it a D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 NOS Ford Fusion I love this color scheme, however, I don’t love the side design. It has too many different different designs, all of which would work on their own but combined they look like a jumbled mess. I really want to like this scheme, but I just can’t, so I’ll give it a C-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fifth-Third Bank Ford Fusion Everything I just said about NOS applies here. C-

Clint Bowyer #15 5 Hour Energy Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same B+ grade.

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same A+ grade.

Ryan Newman #31 Cat Chevy SS New season, new driver, new scheme that looks great and earns an A

Kurt Busch #41 Haas CNC Chevy SS Great color scheme and a very simple desgin look very good here. I also like the matte black used, and the door numbers look really solid. Can’t give this scheme anything less than an A

Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS The scheme looks decent, I like the white 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-

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

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Chevy SS Simple, and perfect. A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevy SS Same scheme as last year, but I never gave it a grade. So here is my analysis Not a great scheme, too much needless design on the side of the car, and the silver background is just brutal. The red lettering on a green background is unattractive at best, and all in all, this is a D- grade.

Michael McDowell #95 Levine Family Racing Ford Fusion This scheme is so much better than last year’s scheme, and just for that I’ll give it a B

Carl Edwards #99 Aflac Ford Fusion This has a terrible color scheme, with lime green, neon blue, black and white. The wing design is not only ugly but would work better starting at the door and working behind.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Paint Schemie Awards!

CIMG1130By David G. Firestone

For the end of the 2013 Season, I will reveal the best  and worst paint schemes and driver suits of 2013. This was done using a focus group of one, namely myself, and uses the following standards:

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

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

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

Originality: How original is the scheme. Note that originality can work both for and against a scheme in award voting.CIMG1130 - Copy

Let’s get the bad paint scheme awards out of the way.

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Single Paint Scheme.

The nominees are:

Dave Blaney #7 Sany Ford Fusion

Clint Bowyer #15 Duck Dynasty Toyota Camry

Greg Biffle #16 Red Cross Give Blood Ford Fusion

Landon Cassil #33 Chevy SS

Austin Dillon #33 Honey Nut Cheerios Chevy SS

Brian Keselowski #52 Star Coach Motor Tours Toyota Camry

And the Paint Schemie Award for worst single paint scheme goes to…

BRIAN KESELOWSKI #52 STAR COACH TOYOTA CAMRY

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Exhibition Race Paint Schemes. This category is a little different, as the Schemies will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

The Paint Schemie Award for Worst Exhibition Race Paint Scheme Goes To:

BRIAN KESELOWSKI’S SPRINT SHOWDOWN SCHEME

The Paint Schemie Worst Dressed Driver Award goes to Joey Logano

Our next category is the Award For Worst Scheme Set of 2013, which is given to the team that consistently runs bad paint schemes throughout the season.

The Nominees Are:

David Stremme #30 Toyota Camry

Scott Riggs #44 Ford Fusion

Carl Edwards #99 Ford Fusion

The Winner for Worst Scheme Set of 2013 goes to:

DAVID STREMME #30 TOYOTA CAMRY

The Paint Schemie Award for Most Degraded Paint Scheme goes to Kasey Kahne, who’s scheme from 2013 is much worse than that of 2012.CIMG1130

Now the nominees for Best Single Paint Scheme are:

Kyle Busch #18 Doublemint Gum Toyota Camry

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion

David Ragan #34 CSX Play it Safe Ford Fusion

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Target Chevy SS

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS

David Reutimann #83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry

The Paint Schemie Award for Best Single Paint Scheme Goes to

KYLE BUSCH #18 DOUBLEMINT GUM TOYOTA CAMRY

The next two Paint Schemie Awards are for Best Exhibition Race Paint Scheme, and Worst Exhibition . These are a little different, as they will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

And taking these schemes into consideration, the Paint Scheme Goes To:

JIMMIE JOHNSON’S SPRINT UNLIMTED SCHEME!

The Paint Schemie Award for Most Improved Paint Scheme goes to:

Kevin Harvick

who improved his schemes from 2012 to 2013

The Paint Schemie Best Dressed Award goes to:

Jimmie Johnson

Now, our final Paint Schemie Award, The Best Scheme Set of 2013:

Now for this, I will take a look at the best Chevy Schemes, followed by Ford, and then Toyota, and then finally I will reveal the winners of the Paint Schemie Awards.

And now, the 5 best Chevy teams that have consistently run great schemes:

#1 Jimmie Johnson The classic design that is paired with different color schemes every once in a while works very well. The design gives the car a very clean look, and is a very timeless look.

#2 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing’s “less is more” approach works very well here, with a matte black, white lettering and red letters. They always look good, thought I wish their results on the track were as good as they look.

#3 Kevin Harvick Kevin has had, for the most part, done quite well. All of the schemes have great color schemes, and most have great sponsor logos, and are decently original. Originality works well here, but some of the overall designs, namely the Bad Boy Buggies and Rheem/Budweiser combination schemes need a lot of work, but otherwise Kevin Harvick has had a great season paint scheme wise.

#4 Juan Pablo Montoya The Target scheme is very solid, with great colors, great overall design, and great sponsor logos. Not original, but solid. The most original scheme is the Axe Apollo scheme, but that was just brutal. It had a decent color scheme, and a decent sponsor logo, but the whole outer-space motif just did not work. If Axe Apollo was not on the car this year, Juan would be at the top of the standings.

#5 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott Motorsports A team that has a very consistent track record when it comes to good color schemes, originality, as well as primary sponsor logos, the team can sometimes have serious issues with overall design. The Hendrick Cars scheme, and the Guy Roofing scheme are just brutal in that category.

Moving on to Ford.

#1 Trevor Bayne The Wood Brothers haven’t run a full schedule this year, but when they have shown up, they have always looked good. The schemes are original, since the Wood Brothers used these schemes for many years, and the colors, overall design, and sponsor schemes are always great.

#2 Aric Almirola The Transportation Impact scheme is keeping Almirola from the top spot, because it does not fit the team at all, and it just looks brutal. Other than that scheme, which while original, has awful colors, and overall design, every scheme they ran is solid, with the STP/Farmland scheme almost making up for Transportation Impact.

#3 Sam Hornish Jr. His one and only appearance in the Sprint Cup came at Kansas this year, and this one scheme, with great colors, great overall design, and great sponsor logos worked very well. I gave him 3rd, since everyone else on the list ran full schedules, and he only ran one race.

#4 Marcos Ambrose The Mac Tools scheme looks odd, with a great color scheme, but iffy overall design. The Stanley logo redesign could have worked well, but the black covering the front and headlights does not enhance the look at all. I was not a fan of this scheme at the beginning of the year, but some slight adjustments to the color scheme worked well.

#5 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. A “pinkwashing” scheme makes an appearance, which takes away from the overall grade. That said, this team has great color schemes all year, but some of the overall designs have a bit too much noise. Sponsor logos work well, and Ricky has had a great year.

Last, but certainly not least is Toyota.

#1 Michael Waltrip/Mark Martin/Brian Vickers Every scheme they have run has been a hit, with great color scheme, great overall design, great sponsor logos, and decent originality. No bad schemes here!

#2 Kyle Busch Overall great design, color schemes, and primary sponsor logos, Kyle also has the most original schemes of the top contenders for the Paint Schemie awards. That said, the Mprove America needs a different shade of blue, while the white Interstate Batteries scheme could use a different color besides white.

#3BK Racing Great color schemes, sponsor logos, and overall design. These designs work well, except for the Old Dominion scheme, which is just awful. Everything that the other schemes are, Old Dominion is not, and it is keeping BK Racing out of the top spot.

#4 Martin Truex Jr. Overall, this team works well when it comes to colors, overall design, originality, and primary sponsor logos, except for the camouflage scheme. The camouflage scheme was awful, and it knocked Martin out of the top spot.

#5 JTG Daugherty Racing 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. If these schemes were fixed, there is no reason why JTG Daugherty could be in the top spot.

Now I will take these top contenders, and rank them in order from worst to best. These top contenders should feel very proud that they have earned a spot on the countdown.

#15 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

#14 JTG Daugherty Racing

#13 Martin Truex Jr.

#12 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott Motorsports

#11 Marcos Ambrose

#10 Juan Pablo Montoya

#9 Kevin Harvick

#8 Sam Hornish Jr.

#7 BK Racing

#6 Aric Almirola

#5 Kyle Busch

#4 Kurt Busch

#3 Michael Waltrip/Mark Martin/Brian Vickers

#2 Jimmie Johnson

And Finally The Paint Scheme Award for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2013 goes to:

#1 Trevor Bayne

Congratulations to everyone who won a First award, and to everyone who won a Worst award…paint your cars better!

To conclude the Paint Schemie Awards, I will finish with a top 10 list I have been wanting to do for quite a while.  These are the

TOP 10 SPONSORS I MISS IN NASCAR

10 Skoal Bandit The shade of green they used was one of the best, and the car has a classic look that always looks good.

9 Kodiak  A simple look, with my all-time favorite shade of green ever used on a race car.  I have a lot of Kodiak race-used items, and they all look good.

8 Miller Genuine Draft  Rusty’s MGD scheme had a much simpler design than the Miller Lite scheme, and it had a much better color scheme.  I really hope they throwback to this scheme at some point.

7 Tide  Are there any orange schemes that could ever live up to Tide?  No, this is the best orange scheme in the history of auto racing.

6 Smokin’ Joe’s  It had a great color scheme, and it had a very 1990’s design, that oddly enough still looks attractive.

5 Western Auto/Parts America   The chrome numbers, the layered fading, the color scheme, it just comes together very well.

4 The Family Channel  The logo is awesome, the colors can’t be any better, the lettering is great, and it just comes together very well.

3 Kodak  If there is or was a better shade of yellow in NASCAR, I haven’t seen it yet!

2 Texaco/Havoline  Great simple design, with an amazing hood logo, and great color scheme.

1 GM Goodwrench  This scheme is, in a word, perfect.  It doesn’t evolve, it doesn’t have to.  It is simply perfect.

There is one last piece of business that I need to address.  I like to keep it light on the Driver Suit Blog, but sometimes I have to address a news story that is heavy, like this story that was released on Thursday.  Dario Franchiti, who has won 3 Indy 500’s, 4 Indycar Championships, and 21 races announced on Thursday, that due to injuries sustained at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on October 6.  During that race, he was involved in a scary wreck, and suffered spinal and knee injuries that doctors have told him are too serious to resume his career.  13 fans, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were injured in the wreck as well. I’m saddened that a talented driver had his career end like that, and I really wish it didn’t have to.  But what I really hope is that IndyCar learns what lessons need to be learned, and make changes to safety so that the chances of this scenario repeating are lowered.  I know that there will always be the risk of injury or death in auto racing, that adds to the mystique of the race car driver, but every wreck has a story to tell.  These stories should be looked over, and changes made so that another talented in the prime of his career does not have to go through what Dario had to this week.  Fans should also be able to go to a race, and not have to worry about getting hurt during a wreck.  If the investigation in this  incident results in changes that keep fans and drivers from serious injury in the future, than the lessons have been learned. My thoughts and prayers are with Dario and his Family right now.

They Pay the Bills, So They Design The Suit

By David G. Firestone96-reeves-flogoFrom a design aspect, no other factor contributes as much as the primary sponsor or sponsors of the car. Everything from the colors to the torso design, to the television logos, to the shoulder epaulet and collar design depends on the primary sponsor. While this has been the case for the most part, how the primary sponsor is displayed can vary quite a bit.

Currently, the standard design for a primary sponsor logo is to have a large logo across the front of the lower torso, and on the back on the upper torso. These Christian Fittipaldi designs from 2002-2003 are great examples of that. The Georgia Pacific design from 2002 has a decent sized logo on the front bottom torso, and the same logo higher up on the back torso.45-fittipaldi-flogo 45-fittipaldi-blogoThe Bugles example from 2003 has identical logo placement for the Bugles logo.44-Fittipaldi-flogo 44-Fittipaldi-blogoMany driver suits feature this same logo placement.96-reeves-flogo 96-reeves-blogo 90-stricklin-flogo 90-stricklin-blogo 31-skinner-flogo 31-skinner-blogo 17-sedgwick-flogo 17-sedgwickb-logo 16-musgrave-flogo 16-musgrave-blogo 15-sprague-flogo 15-sprague-blogo 1-lajoie-flogo 1-lajoie-blogo 12-miller-flogo 12-miller-blogo

Taking a look at this Ricky Craven example from 1996, it features a design aspect that was very heavily used. The torso features a plan color, with a stripe across it with the sponsor name on that stripe. Dale Earnhardt Sr. used this design for many years, as did Rusty Wallace, Dick Trickle, and Steve Grissom among others. It is a fairly straightforward design, but it works very well.41-craven-flogo 41-craven-blogoOther suits have the primary sponsor logo present, but the logo is underwhelming. This design is exampled by this Bobby Hillin Jr. Moroso driver suit from 1991,20-hillinThis Lake Speed example from 1997,9-speed

and this Ted Musgrave example from 1998.15-musgrave-lchest 15-musgrave-blogo

In very rare instances, a primary sponsor is excluded from the suit altogether. One example is this Terry Labonte suit I covered earlier this year. That example was made for Terry to wear in a very last minute driver change. Another example is this David Stremme suit from 2009. I covered this issue earlier in the year, but to sum it up, because of a conflict between Verizon, the sponsor of Stremme’s car, and Sprint, the title sponsor of the Sprint Cup race, Verizon was not allowed to have their logos on Stremme’s car and driver suit. As such, Stremme raced a Dodge sponsorship, and wore this suit.12-stremme-flogo 12-stremme-blogoOne of the newer designs that is frequently seen is what I call the leg stripe design. This Kasey Kahne example shows a leg design that has a large white stripe running up the red background, with the DODGE television logo running up the leg. Sponsors can make their logos stand out more with this design, so it is becoming more popular every year.9-kahne-legsThis Scott Wimmer example is from 2002, and is rather unique in this category.23-wimmer-legsIt needs an explanation…The suit was worn for the entire 2002 season, which had a Siemens sponsorship for the first 25 races. After Siemens left the team, Scott Wimmer went on to win 4 of the next 9 races in an unsponsored black car with red and yellow flames…while wearing this suit.

While I get that the team not buying another suit for Wimmer to wear…it just looks weird.

Now this is another suit that needs an explanation. Nort Northam is a Porsche dealer based in Florida. He was a race car driver from 1979-1992, and his career was not great, with no wins, and two podiums. In 1988, he raced in the Sunbank 24 at Daytona, now called the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Porsche owned by fellow driver Karl Durkheimer.56-Northam 56-Northamb

During that race, he wore this driver suit. It appears on this suit that a sponsor patch has been removed or fallen off. Now to understand the basic design, you need to understand that Nort raced in two races a year, and having a suit custom designed would be a needless expense. As such, his name, and two sponsor patches did the trick. Not fancy, but effective. This late 1980’s SCCA example is also a minimalist design, but it sticks to the “80’s stripe” design as the Ricky Craven example.

The last thing about primary sponsors is that sometimes, primary sponsor designs follow other sports uniform trends. This example from 1998 was worn by Jeremy Mayfield. At that time, gigantic logos across the fronts of uniforms were the big thing, and that was not good. This fad did not last long, thank heavens!

Driver Suit Blog “Wheel Reviews”

Last night, I went to see the movie “Rush” and I have to say, it was really good.  It has been said “you love your rivals, because you need someone to beat.” Nowhere is this more evident than Rush. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda and Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt, Rush is the story of the rivalry between the two, from their days in Formula 3 in 1970, to Formula 1 in the 1970’s. For fans of racing movies, it is a true masterpiece.

The film takes the perspectives of the two drivers. Lauda is represented in the film as a talented driver who is great with setting up a race car. He is a driver who takes what he does very seriously. Hunt on the other hand is more of a playboy. He is a great driver, but his fast and furious lifestyle is a distraction from his true talent. Both are talented, but when Hesketh Racing, Hunt’s team can’t find sponsorship for the upcoming 1976 season, Hunt loses his ride. After his wife leaves for a ski trip, Hunt gets a ride with McLaren after Emerson Fittipaldi leaves to race for his cousin.

In 1976, Hunt struggles for the first part of the year, while Lauda, fresh off his 1975 World Championship is always a factor in the points standings. Hunt’s luck changes at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he beats Lauda, though he is disqualified for his car being less than an inch over regulation. Hunt’s wife divorces him, and driven by this, his season turns around. Though Lauda struggles at this point, the points standings are close coming into the German Grand Prix

The 1976 German Grand Prix was a critical point in this story, as the points battle was heating up. This race was at the the “Old Nürburgring” one of the most difficult tracks in the world. The weather was stormy, which kicks up the danger. Knowing the track as well as he did, Lauda called a meeting of the drivers and stated that the race should be canceled because of the conditions. Hunt thinks it is just a trick to take a race out of the schedule, and the cancellation is voted down. Lauda is seriously hurt in a wreck, and he is hospitalized. Hunt blames himself for the wreck. The story from there is the story of the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship.

The cars in the movie were very accurate, in some cases, vintage equipment was used. The tires used were made by Goodyear, and had the lettering in white as opposed to the yellow lettering that they currently use. The crew uniforms were very accurate as well. The driver uniforms were very well done, as were the helmets. Something that I noticed about them was that I couldn’t see any safety certification visible.

All in all, this is a great movie, and racing fans will enjoy this movie, so I give it an A!

Paint Scheme Reviews

Jamie McMurray #1 Liftmaster Chevy SS Good color scheme and decent desisn add up to an A- grade

Clint Bowyer #15 Raspberry 5-Hour Energy/Living Beyond Breast Cancer Toyota Camry I hate pinkwashing and I hate raspberries, so this gets an automatic F

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry The leaf designs on the bottom of the doors just look odd, and it takes a solid A scheme, to an A-. It does have great overall design and great colors, but the leaves just kill it.

Matt Kenseth #20 Home Depot/Let’s Do This Toyota Camry The overall scheme is great, and has a great color scheme. The problem is that the back end is yellow, which just looks odd when compared to the rest of the car. If the back was black, it would match quite well, but this is just bad. I want to give this scheme a higher grade, but the best I can do is a B-

JJ Yeley #36 Drive Sober Arrive Alive Chevy SS Great color scheme, great colors, and a cause that is easy to support add up to an A+ scheme.

Ryan Newman #39 Slate Water Heaters Chevy SS While I don’t get the silver design at the bottom of the car, this is a great scheme, and gets an A+

Ryan Truex #51 Shooters Sporting Center Chevy SS The yellow outline on the numbers is brutal, and the Shooters Sporting Center logo is just awful. C- is the best I can do.

Figure This Out!

By David G. Firestone

In my last column, I mentioned that Starting Lineup and Winner’s Circle figures made in the 1980’s and 1990’s censored alcohol and tobacco logos. But when it comes to these figures, how do the uniforms the figures portray stack up to their real-life counterparts?

First, lets discuss the figures themselves. Created by Kenner starting in 1988, Starting Lineup was a line of action figures based on baseball starts. As time went on, the line expanded from just baseball to football, basketball, hockey, and racing. The figures are 4 inches tall. For racing, Starting Lineup figures were packaged under the Winner’s Circle brand. The drivers features were championship-level or rookie of the year drivers. One of those was Mike Skinner released in 1998, which is in perfect condition, though has been removed from the package.31-skinner2 31-skinner

The driver suit it is based on is Mike Skinner’s 1997 race-used driver suit from his rookie of the year campaign. It was purchased from the Jeff Hamilton collection, and came with a letter stating as such. It shows nice use, and Jeff has signed the right chest. It also features something I have seen on a few other suits from that era, but from nowhere else, the Future Suit inscription. I have been waiting a while to discuss this. Custom suits from 1997 have something written on the back of the neck. On the Skinner suit it reads “Future-Suit-2-2252.31-skinner-future

This Stevie Reeves suit from 1997 has a similar inscription96-reeves-neck

This Lake Speed suit from 1997 was purchased off the rack, and does not bear the inscription,9-speed-b

Interestingly, suits from 1996 and before,41-craven-neck

and suits from 1998 and after,15-musgrave-blogo

do not have this inscription. From what I have been able to gather, this was an inventory number for customized suits. But I do not understand why it seems to only be used on suits from 1997. Ok, getting off track here, getting back to Finish Line figures….

Taking a look at this figure as compared to the real-life driver suit this figure is based on, it is very accurate. The bottom torso logos, and television logos on the sleeves are identical. The chest is missing the Chevy and Winston Cup logos, and has the name, whereas on the real suit the name is on the belt. They still did a very good job though.31-skinner4 31-skinnerb

The logos on the upper right sleeves are identical on both the figure and the real suit.31-skinner-rsleeve1 31-skinner7

The scale and position of the LOWES logo on the back of the figure as compared to the back of the real suit is identical as well.31-skinner6 31-skinner-rsleeve2 - Copy1

The position, location, and size of the television logos on the legs are perfect as well. They really did a great job with this figure.31-skinner11 31-skinner-legs

The detail in this figure is amazing, because Finish Line’s Starting Lineup counterparts lacked some details. Baseball figures from the same set in the same year, such as this Albert Belle figure often lacked pinstripes.8-belle4 8-belle1 8-belle2 8-belle3

Other examples include recycling of bodies. Every Finish Line figure is basically 4 different body parts, head, upper body, legs, and arms. These were taken, painted appropriately and then attached to each other. That is why all the figures look alike, but with minor differences.88-jarrett2 31-skinner2 17-waltrip2 force2

I can vividly remember buying these as a kid. When I got my first, a Dan Pasqua 1989 White Sox figure for my birthday, I was excited. Now, 23 years later, I have the ability to take a toy from my childhood, and compare it side by side to the uniform it is based on. I can honestly say I never thought it would happen, but I am thrilled to take the opportunity.

Tailgating Time!

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

In honor of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship starting at Chicago, I will do a couple of Tailgating Time recipes featuring Chicago food products. The first is Chicago-style Hot Dogs. This classic has been enjoyed in Chicago since the Great Depression. It has been enjoyed by those in the Chicago-land area for some time.

You Will Need:

2 packages Vienna Beef hot dogs

2 packages S. Rosen’s Mary Ann Buns-Both come in packages of 8

1 Chopped white onion

1 Sliced Tomato

1 Jar Yellow Mustard

1 Jar Sweet pickle relish with mint,

2 Jars of pickled sport peppers

Celery salt

Chicago-Style dogs are traditionally boiled or steamed. If it is grilled, it is referred to as a “char-dog.” Once the hot dogs are done cooking, place the hot dogs in the bun, and then put the condiments in this order: mustard, relish, onion, tomato, sport peppers, pickle spear, celery salt. Ketchup on these dogs is UNACCEPTABLE! The final product will look like this:5

Classic Maxwell Street Polish Sausages

Anyone from Chicago will recognize this dish, and those from all over the country will enjoy this dish as well. This recipe needs both a hot plate as well as a grill. For a group of 6 people, you will need:

12 kielbasa links

12 sausage buns

1 large jar yellow mustard

6 large sweet onions

1 jar Olive Oil

First, on the pan, saute the sweet onions in a bit of olive oil on low for an hour and a half with a touch of thyme and salt. This might seem like a while, but the results are worth it.

While the onions are cooking, fire up the grill, wait until it is hot, and cook the kielbasa links until they show some char on the outside.

A few minutes before the kielbasa and onions are done cooking, pour the mustard into a bowl, this will help in the serving process.

Take the buns and smear the insides of the bun with mustard using a rubber spatula. Take the sausage and place one piece in each bun, and cover the top of the sausage with the now caramelized onions. The final product will look like this:29

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWALT/ACE/CMN Ford Fusion Good overall design however my main issue with the scheme is the very small writing on the side of the car. Designing a car with lettering too small to show up on the track that can be seen on the track or on television makes no sense at all. That said, this is still a good scheme, and I will give it a B

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Scotchguard Ford Fusion Everything I just said about the Marcos Ambrose scheme above applies here, as the Scotchguard logo is much too small. But the scheme is good and I will give it a B

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Ford Ecoboost Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design, works very well, and it gets an A

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s American Heritage Toyota Camry Kyle has great schemes, and this is no exception. The American Heritage chocolate line features chocolate made as it was back in 1750. The scheme has some light changes, including the American Heritage logo, and a stereotypical colonial hat on the quarter panel. It works very well, and it earns an A

Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger/Fan Names on Hood Chevy SS Taking a terrible paint scheme to begin with, and adding tiny lettering to the hood is a great way to earn an F

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Quaker State Chevy SS Green and gold is always a great scheme, but the spike design just does not work at all. I can give it a C at best, but the spikes are just awful.

Jeff Burton #31 Utility Trailers Chevy SS Great color scheme and great design. This scheme earns an A

Ken Schrader #32 Safe Skies Locks Ford Fusion It is a very basic paint scheme however basic can be very good, as this scheme shows. Looks very smooth and very good, and has a great color scheme. It earns an A

David Ragan #34 Farm Rich Ford Fusion Mediocre color scheme, but what they did is that they took that color scheme and designed the car to look like the rolling hills of a farm, with the Farm Rich logo acting as the sun, which works very well, and I have to give this scheme an A

Josh Wise #35 The Pete Store Ford Fusion The template this team uses works well when they have a logo with the matching colors. This example works very well, and earns an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Time Warner Cable Chevy SS The blue is too bright, but the overall scheme is good, though I do wish Time Warner could pick a better logo. A