Item Spotlight-Alex Barron 1998 Champ Car Driver Suit

By David G. Firestone
While I typically watched NASCAR growing up, I did also watch IndyCar. That was before “the split” which diluted the value the sport so much that to this day it is still suffering, 6 years after the unification of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League. I got tired of politics and wanted to watch racing, I didn’t care who was sanctioning it. I still watch IndyCar racing and I collect race-used stuff.

I mentioned this a few months ago, when I discussed video matching. My first open wheel driver suit is this Alex Barron suit from 1998.36-barron

Not only is this my first open wheel suit, it was also my first suit that featured an FIA safety certification on the back of the neck. Having dealt in NASCAR suits, I didn’t know what to make of it, and through some research, I eventually learned what it was and what it meant.36-barron-neck 36-barron-fia2The chest features a FedEx Championship Series patch, probably my favorite sanctioning body patch ever,
and logos for Toyota and Denso.36-barron-lchest 36-barron-rchest 36-barron-flogoThis being my first Sparco driver suit, The cowl tags, and location of the warranty tags were out of place, as compared to a NASCAR driver suit.36-barron-tag 36-barron-tag2One thing I do find interesting is that there are no television logos on the sleeves and legs, but as the video at the end shows, that was not uncommon, but more on that later.36-barron-rsleeve2 36-barron--lsleeve2 36-barron-legs
The collar has an unusual design. Most collar designs feature either logos on the side, or logos across the front, or sometimes both. This one is unique in that it features a DEGREE logo on the front, as well as a CASTROL logo on the right side, but nothing on the left side…I’ve never seen that before or since, and I can’t understand the need for that particular design…it just looks odd.36-barron-collarAlex’s name is embroidered into the belt, and something I love about open wheel suits is that because it is an international sport, much more so than NASCAR, the driver usually has their home country flag embroidered next to their name on their suit, as this suit shows.36-barron-beltI also have a 1/18 die cast of Barron’s very sharp looking car from 1998. It is the only die cast I have that has a driver in it. I love the fact that he is wearing a very accurate version of his driver suit.36i-barron-2 36i-barron-3 36i-barron-1Now as I mentioned, this was the suit Barron wore during his most infamous moment, his crash at Road America, where he wound up on top of Bryan Herta. Someone recently uploaded the whole race to YouTube, and when watching it, notice that nobody has logos for the in-car camera. I find that rather interesting, since it would be very easy to place logos on the sleeves, and it was commonplace in other forms of racing. But it is an interesting race.

Now we have another piece of news to discuss.  In the realm of NCAA sports, the two major factions in uniforms are Nike and Under Armour.  Nike has a deal with Denny Hamlin for driver suits, and I was wondering when Under Armour would jump on the band wagon, and this week, we got our answer.  Under Armour, who has signed deals with Michael Waltrip Racing and Henrdick Motorsports to outfit teams with apparel.  This deal does not include the drivers themselves but the car numbers are fair play.  I find it a bit unusual that the deal provides apparel for all members of the team, pit crew members, front office personel, and everyone EXCEPT the faces of the franchises.  Now that might change in the near future, but for now that is how the deal works.  You can read more about the deal here.

Now we move to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS!

Jamie McMurray #1 Bell Helicopters Chevy SS Great look, great color scheme, A+

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Powerhouse Solar Chevy SS The side is somewhat over designed, but I like the product placement on the roof. The color scheme is great so I will give it a B

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Office March Of Dimes Toyota Camry Decent color scheme, but the side is a bit overdesigned, and has a messy look to it. C+

Clint Bowyer #15 Willy’s Duck Diner/Buck Commander Toyota Camry Too much camo. Camo doesn’t work they way designers want it to on a car and I give it a D

Greg Biffle #16 Give Kids A Smile Ford Fusion Man! Greg Biffle really wants the Paint Schemie Awards for Most Degraded Paint Schemes, and Worst Paint Scheme Set with another F scheme. Horrible design, and an ugly paint scheme.

Greg Biffle #16 3M Areospace Ford Fusion Take the worst aspects of Greg Biffle 2014 schemes, and add a liberal amount of camo, and you have an F scheme

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Ford EcoBoot Ford Fusion I like the color scheme, I like the overall scheme, and my only complaint is that the orange numbers on the roof should be on the door.  Still it is an A scheme

Cole Whitt #26 Swan Energy Toyota Camry Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Cole Whitt #26 Swan Energy Toyota Camry Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Duracel Chevy SS This is the best Menard scheme I have seen! Duracel works very well on the hood, and I give it an A

Parker Kligerman #30 Swan Energy Toyota Camry Just when I thought Swan had learned the error of their ways, and were improving their paint schemes, along comes this one. Now we are back to square one, and this scheme earns a D+

Parker Kligerman #30 SMS Audio Toyota Camry Well things for Swan are looking up, this is a pretty cool design. It works very well, and has a great color scheme. A+

Ryan Newman #31 Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge Chevy SS I understand what they tried to do, but the scheme as a whole is just bland, boring, and C+.

Travis Kvapil #32 Keen Parts Ford Fusion  Decent design, good color scheme, but the logo on the hood is very difficult to see.  That is a major issue.  When a sponsor pays for a car, the hood design should be easy to see, but this isn’t easy, and I give it a C-

Aric Almirola #43 Ekrich Ford Fusion The red on the roof is pointless, and it takes away from a great scheme. If the roof were Petty Blue, and the red was just a stripe on the bottom, I would give this scheme an A+ but with the red roof, it goes down to a B-

Michael McDowell #95 Triangle Office Equipment Levine Family Racing keeps up the fight with Swan Racing to win the Most Improved Paint Schemie Award with another beautiful A+ scheme!

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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 3- Toyota

By David G. Firestone

The Paint Scheme Leaderboard continues with Toyota today. This has been a stressful series, and it will be even more so next week, when I rank all 50 teams in order from best to worst. Enough complaining, on to the schemes.

#1 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.

#2 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.

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

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

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

#6 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.

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

#8 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.

#9 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

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

#11 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.

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

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

#14 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?

Next Week, The big finale, all 49 teams ranked from best to worst!

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.

Getting the Belt…Not Always a Bad Thing!

By David G. Firestone

One aspect of driver suits that has become a target for new customizations in the last 15-17 years is the belt. For many years, the belt was unadorned, or had a very small logo. Belts are a comfort feature, and typically made of the same material that the suit itself is made out of, with the same amount of layers and has a Velcro closure on it. Belts may incorporate a border made with an alternate color, to help it stand out.

Belts had no design or decoration on them for many years, as examined by this Ted Musgrave example from 1995,16-musgrave-beltthis Ricky Craven example from 1996,41-craven-beltand many more.barber-belt nunn-belt petty-belt 17-sedgwick-belt 9-speed-belt But it was around that time, that something began to happen. Looking at the Ted Musgrave suit from 1995, his name is embroidered into the left-chest area.16-musgrave-lshoulderIn 1998, this had changed so that his name is embroidered into the belt.15-musgrave-beltThis was popular in F1 and IndyCar for many years, and is still the way that names are presented on the driver suit.25-wallace-belt 23-wimmer-belt 12-stremme-belt 10-labonte-belt 15-sprague-belt 31-skinner-belt 36-said-belt1 90-stricklin-belt 96-reeves-belt Other examples, such as this Randy Lajoie example circa 1999-2000 will have a sponsor logo embroidered into the belt.1-lajoie-BELTKasey Kahne wore this suit in 2005 at an event, and it has a GOODYEAR logo on the front, and when the belt is opened, on the inside, the FIA certification is present here. 9-kahne-belt 9-kahne-fiaFormula 1 and IndyCar have a unique quirk to the design. Since the drivers come from all over the world, the flag from the driver’s home country is sewn into the belt, such as this Alex Barron example from 1998:36-barron-beltNot all belts are created equal. Christian Fittipaldi didn’t wear belts on two of his NASCAR suits. The first one, comes from 2002, while he was sponsored by Georgia Pacific, and instead of the belt, he just has his name sewn into the suit.45-fittipaldi-beltThis Christian Fittipaldi example from 2003 features no belt, and no name.44-fittipaldi-beltThis Nate Northam example from the 1988 Sunbank 24 at Daytona, now the Rolex 24 at Daytona, features a belt that is specifically designed to be removed.56-Northam-beltMany NASCAR action figures will feature the belt designs on them, and many of these figures are pretty accurate, but I think I’ll save that for another blog.

Tailgating Time!

Just for fun, I’ve decided to add a recipe that can easily be made while tailgating at the track. This is my recipe for beer-broiled brats. This works well in the fall, during the Chase, on a cooler day.

You will need:

1 6-pack of beer

1 16oz jar of sauerkraut

½ sliced onion

garlic salt and butter to taste

12 plain, uncooked bratwurst

Take the 6 pack, and pour it into a large pan. Place the pan on the grill or stove, and add 1/4 the jar of sauerkraut, the onions, salt and butter, and finally the brats. Bring to a boil and boil for 8 minutes.

Tip-Do NOT cut or puncture the brats in any way, the casing keeps the juice, and taste in the brats. For more flavor, let soak after cooking. DO NOT OVERBOIL THE BRATS, that is the best way to ruin them.

While the brats are boiling, prepare a grill. Gas or charcoal works either way. After boiling is done, remove from the liquid, and place on the hot grill, and cook 5 minutes per side. Brats are made from pork, and under-cooking them can be hazardous, You want to watch the race from the stands, not a hospital room.  Here is a video visualizing the process…

After grilling the brats, toast the buns on the grill for 20 seconds, place the brats in the buns, and serve. For sides, I would recommend some mustard potato salad, some potato or tortilla chips, and, of course, plenty of ice-cold beer!

This recipe will rock your tailgating party at the next race, and I will post more simple recipes for tailgating in the near future.

Paint Scheme Reviews

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s/Monopoly Chevy SS The simple design is good, but the color scheme needs a lot of work. Beige does NOT work on race cars, and this is a perfect example. The Rich Uncle Pennybags(or Mr Monopoly) wearing sunglasses is not very attractive either, so I can give this scheme a C at best.

Kasey Kahne #5 Pepsi Max Chevy SS Are you kidding me? Is it too much to ask to pick a design scheme? You can have a cutting edge purple design which works, OR a matte black design that works, BUT YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH! The purple, red and black design is good, but the design scheme is just horrible. Even with a good color scheme, this earns an F

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil1 Chevy SS Ok, now THIS is a great scheme! Simple design, great color scheme, great design all over, A+

Tony Stewart #14 Go Daddy Chevy SS This is, without a doubt, the best Go Daddy scheme EVER! Great simple design, amazing color scheme, and black works much better than yellow or green. A+

Clint Boyer #15 Peak/Duck Dynasty Toyota Camry Oh man, where do I start here? The color scheme would work without the baby blue stripe, the hunting camo roof is just awful, and the overall design just looks forced. This car looks like a bad photoshop job…F

Greg Biffle #16 3MSafety Ford Fusion The contrast between the white and black parts of the car would normally not work, but because it is a safety themed car, and safety coveralls are typically white or black with an orange and silver stripe on them to increase visibility, this scheme makes sense. The colors are good, and I give this scheme an A

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota Camry I ranked Kyles regular M&M’s scheme as an A+, and this scheme somehow improves on it. The orange background works even better than the regular scheme. I have to give this scheme an A+

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft/Henry Ford Ford Fusion This is a solid scheme, I like the Henry Ford design. The black, white and gold scheme works very well, and it is an A scheme

Austin Dillon #33 Mycogen Seeds Chevy SS Meh. I like the color scheme, but the front to back arch is overdone, and the is unoriginal at best. I will give it a C

Ron Fellows #33 Canadian Tire Chevy SS Grey red and black can be tough to work with sometimes, but this scheme works very well. The red flames work well, and the otherwise basic design is very attractive. A

Victor Gonzalez Jr. #36 Mobil 1/IMCA Chevy SS This was a late entry into the race in Sonoma, Gonzalez is a “road course ringer” so there was not much time to design and decal a car, but that said, this is a great simple scheme, no pointless design, and a great color scheme. A+

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans/Smurfs 2 Chevy SS Again, as with Kasey Kahne above, PICK A DESIGN SCHEME! You can either have a red and black scheme, or a red and white scheme, BUT NOT BOTH! It looks like someone designed a Smurf scheme, quickly realized that it needed to carry a Quicken Loans design as well, and tried to make a hybrid of the two, which is just awful, and earns an F

Landon Cassill #40 Interstate Moving Company Chevy SS Good color scheme, kinda reminds me of United Airlines back in the day, and a really simple smooth design. Good scheme and earns an A

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Depends Chevy SS Is this a good look? Depends! Joking aside, this is not a very good scheme, the green logo works, but the black and grey scheme is awful.

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Axe Apollo Chevy SS The Apollo Astronaut design is unique. It works very well, and although the design is convulted, it is very attractive. The color scheme works well and this scheme earns an A

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Energizer Chevy SS From the wheel well forward it is a great scheme. From the driver door backward it is awful. Whatever look they were going for, they missed. It just looks horrible. Great colors, but awful design, D

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes Ford Fusion A patriotic scheme, mixed with Petty Blue, that is not overdesigned. Giving this scheme an A is not going far enough to describe how good it is.

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes/Disney’s Planes Chevy SS While I like the color scheme and basic design, the hood logo is awful. The door number has a black outline, and it is very visible, but the hood logo which does not have a black outline is next to invisible, which defeats the purpose of having a logo on the car in the first place. That said, it is still a good design, and I will be generous and give it a B.

Paulie Harraka #52 HASA Pool Products Ford Fusion I like matte black, and the hood logo and basic color scheme are good. The smaller logos on the quarter panel are hard to see, but it gives the car a smaller, short track look. A

David Reutimann #83 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry Dr Pepper has a great color scheme and great designs on their packaging, and this is reflected in this paint scheme. It works very well, and is a great complement to a bottle of Dr. Pepper. A

Tomi Drissi #87 The Wolverine Toyota Camry Many movie paint schemes don’t work, but this is not most movie paint schemes. It is simple, has a great color scheme, and has a great design, and earns an A

Travis Kvapil #93 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry A design based on Diet Dr. Pepper, again a design faithful to the packaging, that works very well. Everything that I said about the Reutimann scheme above applies here, and this scheme earns an A

Travis Kvapil #83 Burger King Rib Sandwich Toyota Camry BK Racing has a lot of great schemes this year, and this is another one. Great color scheme, great overall design, and I like what they did with the rib sandwich. I’m not a “Rib-wich”guy, but I like this, and give it an A.