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+

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Ted Musgrave-My Favorite Driver to Collect Part 1

musgrave2By David G. Firestone

During a conversation over lunch a few weeks ago, I was asked by a co-worker if I have a favorite driver to collect. My response was “Ted Musgrave” but the longer I thought, the deeper it went. I began to think about why he is my favorite driver to collect, as opposed to Dale Earnhardt Sr. who was my favorite driver to watch on track. From there I began to think about sponsors and teams, and for the next 2 weeks, we will examine these three factors, driver, sponsor and team in depth.

We will start with the driver. Theodore “Ted” Musgrave was born in Waukegan Illinois, which is roughly 28 miles from Evanston where I grew up. Having a hometown driver from your area in the Sprint Cup Series is always a plus. He raced for many years in Wisconsin, and began to drive for the ASA in 1987, winning one event before moving to NASCAR in 1989, where he raced a full Busch Series season. In 1990, he raced 4 Winston Cup events, before joining the series full time in 1991. He would lose the Rookie of the Year award to Bobby Hamilton. He raced for the #55 Jasper Engines machine from 1991-1993, for two different owners.

In 1994 he joined Roush Racing driving the #16 Family Channel Ford Thunderbird. Joining Mark Martin boosted his status immediately. The familiar patriotic red white and blue Thunderbird was an attention getter and he had a number of races that he should have won. In a feature for Winston Cup Illustrated, a number of drivers who hadn’t won a race were featured, and each of these drivers had reasons why they haven’t won as part of the article. For Musgrave, this part of the article read “It’s puzzling.” He had a decent career with Roush, but in 1998, Roush let Musgrave go, and replaced him with Kevin Lepage. After leaving Roush, Musgrave joined NASCAR Hall of Fame owner Bud Moore for two races for Rescue Engine Formula, then bounced aground the Sprint Cup until 2003.

In 2001, he had started driving for the Craftsman Truck Series full-time, and here he found his true calling in NASCAR. From 2001-2010 he won 17 races, had 80 top 5’s and 109 top 10’s. He would win the Truck Series title in 2005, while driving the #1 MOPAR Dodge Ram. That season, he had 1 win, 11 top 5’s, 15 top 10’s as well as an average finish of 9.4 in the 25 races held that year. After that, he raced for 3 more years, but only scored one more win. He retired after 2010.

Now I covered this to some extent in January of 2013, but let’s delve further. I have two Ted Musgrave driver suits, this first one is from 1995.16-musgrave 16-musgraveb16-musgrave-legs

It has the familiar Family Channel motif. 16-musgrave-flogo 16-musgrave-blogoIt also has a ROUSH RACING and NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES logos.  16-musgrave-rchestNo television logos exist on the arms or legs.16-musgrave-rsleeve1 16-musgrave-releeve2 16-musgrave-lsleeve1 16-musgrave-lsleeve2 And that classic name on the chest design that bit the dust shortly thereafter.16-musgrave-lchestFrom 1996, I have this helmet.musgrave1

It is clearly from 1996 as Primestar joined the team in 1996, and the design was changed from stars and stripes to red and blue in 1996.musgrave1 musgrave2 musgrave3 musgrave4 musgrave5

Ted has autographed the helmet, though the signature has faded.musgrave6This helmet was also the inspiration for a mini helmet, also released in 1996, which is very accurate.16-musgrave4 16-musgrave7

I also have this suit from 1998, which was designed after Musgrave was released from Roush Racing.15-musgrave 15-musgraveb

It has TV logos, though not in the “proper” configuration for NASCAR,15-musgrave-rsleeve2 15-musgrave-lsleeve2 15-musgrave-legsa NASCAR 50th Anniversary logo,15-musgrave-lsleeve1and Ted’s name on the belt.15-musgrave-beltWhen it comes to die casts, I have 4, two from 1996,16-musgrave4 16-musgrave5 16-musgrave6 16-musgrave7 16-musgrave8 16-musgrave9as well as a 1996 hauler,16-musgrave1 16-musgrave216-musgrave3and a die cast from 1997.16-musgrave10 16-musgrave11 16-musgrave12This is a large piece of sheet metal from his days with Germain Racing, which Ted has autographed on the side.musgrave

My last two pieces of Ted Musgrave memorabilia are two of the oldest and most cherished pieces in my collection. These two autographed hero cars were given to me from a family friend. She had encountered Ted Musgrave at a party and happened to get these from him directly. I love and treasure these two cards and never get tired of looking at them.musgrave1 musgrave2

Next week, we will look at his most well-known sponsor, The Family Channel, but now on to…

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Ryan Newman #31 Kwikset Chevy SS Looks exactly like Kurt Busch’s scheme, and it earns the same A+ grade

Landon Cassill #40 CRC Brakleen Chevy SS I like the color scheme, and the design is good. My only complaint is that it doesn’t clarify that CRC Brakleen is a brake fluid. Still it earns an A

Brian Vickers #55 Treatmyclot.com Toyota Camry A good scheme, and the 55 lettering looks really good here, and the gold is a nice touch. The treatmyclot.com logo works better than the Aarons logo, A+

Nomex-The Core Of Driver Suits

By David G. Firestonenomex1

I must have said the word Nomex a thousand times on this blog, but what exactly is Nomex? In short, it is a flame-resistant meta-aramid cloth material. It is an aramid material, which is the same thing as Kevlar, but it is not as strong as a bulletproof vest, but it has great thermal, as well as chemical resistance, which makes it great for racing firesuits.Untitled

The development of the Nomex firesuit has been a long road. This road has seen its share of driver deaths and injuries. Before the Coca Cola 600, I discussed the deaths of Fireball Roberts, Eddie Sachs, and Dave McDonald in fire-related crashes over the course of 6 days in 1964. What took place from there would cross the paths of racing and a young drag racer.

Bill Simpson was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1940. He took up drag racing at a young age, and at age 18, broke both arms in a drag racing crash. As he recuperated, he thought of safety in racing for the first time. He developed the idea of an X shaped parachute, and using materials from his uncle’s army surplus shop, developed a functional drag racing parachute. Don Garlits noticed the new parachutes, and took an interest, which helped the Simpson Drag Chute company to form. As time went on, he started making other racing equipment, which caught the attention of drivers, and, oddly enough, NASA. During a project, he met Pete Conrad, who introduced the now 27 year old Simpson to Nomex in 1967.

Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. Far from the uses it has today, 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. Simpson saw what the material could do, and decided it would work well to make driver suits, and other uniform items.nomex1nomex2

Contrary to what most people think, Nomex is not fire PROOF, rather it is fire RETARDENT. It does burn, but burns at a much slower rate, and that protects the driver in the event of a fire. Bill Simpson decided to show how much better this material was by having a “burn off.” He put on one of his Simpson racing suits, doused himself in gasoline, and lit himself on fire. Though he was fully engulfed in flames, he was not hurt. Though he admits that is was a bad idea, it sold drivers on Nomex. Even today, 46 years later, Nomex is still the go-to material for driver suits.nomex3

Nomex is used for many other things. Nomex sheet is used in power cords for insulation. Fire-fighters use Nomex for protection in saving lives. Fighter pilots wear Nomex suits in case of cockpit fires. Nomex was developed for NASA and NASA still uses a lot of Nomex. It is used in what NASA refers to as the “Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit”, or in regular English, the “outer layer of a spacesuit.” The spacesuits that space shuttle astronauts wore on liftoff and touchdown were primarily made of Nomex. Almost every project that NASA has done in the last 40 years involves Nomex in one form or another, so it is a very versatile material.

Interestingly, as safety concerns increased, and safety equipment changes for the better, you begin to see that Nomex is beginning to have competition in the driver suit market in terms of fire protection. While I’m typically a traditionalist when it comes to sports uniforms, for driver suits that is a great thing. Developing a new material that serves the same purpose as Nomex, but can do it better and longer is a great thing. Eventually, Nomex will go the way of typewriters, film cameras, the printing press, and the floppy disk as an invention that is obsolete but changed the world.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Some new 2014 schemes released this week:

Danica Patrick #10 Apsen Dental Chevy SS  Even though this scheme is better than the *ahem* current Aspen Dental scheme, it still does not look good.  But it is still an improvement, and I’ll give it a C

Ryan Newman #31 Quicken Loans Chevy SS  Great color scheme-Check, Awesome use of Northwestern stripes-Check, classic design-Check, A+ Grade, Double-Check!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS  The numbers kill what is otherwise a great scheme.  I like everything else, but the color of the numbers looks really odd, and I can’t really say it adds to the car at all.  Still it is a decent scheme, so I’ll give it a B

Now we move on to 2013

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx One Rate Toyota Camry  Very clean look, with a very good color scheme, can’t say anything bad about this, A+

Greg Biffle #16 Pink 3M Ford Fusion  Pinkwashing is an automatic F.  I hate it when companies use causes like this to move products, so I show no mercy in this sence.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Pink 3M Ford Fusion  See Above, F

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 My Best Buy Ford Fusion The blue used on this scheme is a tad too light, but it is still a decent scheme, though the lighter blue takes it from the A grade Best Buy had to an A-

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil/Hertz Ford Fusion I’ll be honest, I want to give this scheme a better grade, but the Hertz logo just looks out of place here, and it is awkward on an already iffy scheme.  Best I can give it is a D-

Cole Whitt #30 Black Clover Toyota Camry  Swan Racing seems to go out of its way to design bad paint schemes this year, and this scheme is no exception.  It has no redeeming features at all, and earns an F-

Jeff Burton #31 Sleep Innovations Chevy SS  Great color scheme, though the design on the front is a bit overdone, still a good looking scheme that earns a solid B+

Aric Almirola #41 Maurice Petty Tribute Ford Fusion  Tribute schemes have worked very well across the board, and this is no exception.  Simple, timeless, yet attractive, a great tribute to a great engine builder.  Extra points for using Maurice’s #41 for the weekend.  Interestingly, Maurice raced in a total of 26 Sprint Cup races, and had 7 top 5’s and 16 top 10’s during the 1960’s.

Travis Kvapli #93 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry  An A+ scheme all around.

The Helmet Stripe-An Unusual Place For Sponsorship

By David G. Firestone14A

Last week, I had a column run on Uni-Watch, and I delayed this article until this week.  Two weeks ago, we discussed visors, this week, we will discuss what has become known as the “helmet stripe.” Helmet stripes came from IndyCar and Formula 1 cars, which are open cockpit cars. Helmets are clearly visible to television cameras and fans. As a direct result, helmet design in Formula 1 has become its own unique art form. Helmet designs become a part of the driver identity. The other thing that these open cockpits allow is for sponsorship opportunity. As such, a small opaque stripe is used on helmet visors.lepage-3

In NASCAR, the visor was slow to arrive. This is due to two reasons, first, many drivers up until the mid 1990’s chose to wear open-faced helmets. While these helmets had a shade to help keep the sun out of a driver’s eyes. While sponsor logos do show up, they were used for the driver’s name. This Brad Noffsinger example from 1988 is an example of that.Noffsinger-4

The second reason that helmet stripes were slow to come to NASCAR is that in-car cameras, while used, were for many years positioned in such a way that the visor would not be seen. Even if helmets were painted, the visor had no stripe. When the in-car cameras were positioned to film the driver from the side and even from the front, the helmet stripe became the standard. The stripe is designed to fit over the part of the visor that overlaps the opaque part of the helmet, as this example shows.musgrave2 musgrave3

Helmet stripes have become standard. To show how it affects the overall look of the helmet, I took this Kevin Lepage helmet from 1999, and edited the pictures to show how it looks. lepage-2  lepage-4  lepage-6

Not bad, but let’s compare it side by side to the original helmet…lepage-7 lepage-8 lepage-9

Helmet stripes have become a unique way for a driver to customize a helmet, as this video shows: Facebook pages and Twitter helmets are becoming standard on these. All visors that a driver would wear on a helmet have these stripes, which is standard, as visors are changed on a regular basis, and sponsors want the advertising space that they pay for.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Because of the Uni-Watch article last week, I didn’t get to review paint schemes.  Within the last couple of weeks there were a large number of 2014 paint schemes released. Now I know that many of these will change before the start of the 2014 season, but I will grade them anyways.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion  Same scheme as this year, same grade, C

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy SS Same Scheme as last year, same grade, A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy John’s Chevy SS  They improved one of the best schemes in NASCAR and went from an A to A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevy SS The color scheme remains the same but red takes over from beige as the primary color, which gives the car a great look, and an A grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips Chevy SS Same scheme as this year, same D+ grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Pepsi Max Cheyv SS Same scheme as last year, same F grade

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Ford Fusion Great color scheme, though the nose, and quarter panel design are over done. Even still, I give it a B-

Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion See Above

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS I get that two companies with different desgin schemes are sharing the car, but this is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS The white and black contrast just looks awful! I really hope this changes before the season starts, because this is a scheme that is painful to look at. I have to give it an F

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy SS As bad of a color scheme as this is, it is certainly better than the other two Tony Stewart schemes are. That said, the color scheme warrants an F while the design warrants an A, so I’ll split the difference and give it a C

Greg Biffle #16 3M Ford Fusion This scheme is a MAJOR improvement over this year’s design! All of the pointless noise on the door is gone, and the car has a very smooth look because of it, and I have to give this design an A

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Nationwide Insurance Ford Fusion Great color and design schemes, though the white on light blue lettering and logos are hard to see. Even still, I have to give it an A-

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same grade, D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion  See Above

Jeff Gordon #24 Pepsi Max Chevy SS I gave this scheme a C-, but given the *ahem* other Pepsi Max scheme, I’ve reconsidered, and I will give this scheme a B

Ryan Newman #31 Caterpillar Chevy SS  An improvement on an already good scheme, A+

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion If the hood and front were done in the stars design, and the rest of the car was red and white striped, it would look better, and I would be able to give it more than a C+

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS Supposidly, this will be the main scheme for the whole season, and I have to say it looks amazing, and is an A+ grade

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes/Kobalt Chevy SS This will be run for a few races, and it is an A+ scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same A grade

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever, F-`

Now on to new 2013 paint schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Auburn University Chevy SS The white hood and roof just look aukward, compared to the black covering the rest of the car.  That said, it is still a decent scheme, and I’ll give it a B

Dave Blaney #7 Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Marcos Ambrose #9 Bostitch Ford Fusion The 2014 scheme is previewed here, and I’ll give it the same B- grade I gave the 2014 scheme.

Landon Cassill #33 T-Mone Chevy SS This is a perfect example as to why only one person should design a car.  It looks like it took at least 3 people to design the car, each with a different idea as to what the car should look like.  And in the end it is just a mess, and not even a good color scheme can give this scheme a passing grade.  F

David Ragan #34 Safercar.gov Ford Fusion  See Above. F

JJ Yeley #36 United Mining Equipment Chevy SS Even if I didn’t give pinkwashing schemes an automatic F, this scheme would get an F anyway, it just looks awful

Kyle Larson #51 Target Chevy SS Simple, yet attractive, and it earns an A

Kurt Busch #78 Wonder Bread Chevy SS  To celebrate the return of Wonder Bread, Kurt is going to channel Ricky Bobby, except for one difference…this scheme is a lot better than the Ricky Bobby Scheme.    No flames and the baloons coming from the brake duct are a great look for this car, and it earns an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Mountain Dew/Xbox 1 Chevy SS  It has a great color scheme, and that is the nicest thing I can say about it.  The design is just awful, and it looks like it will give people seizures as it drives around the track.  I give it an F

Blake Koch #95 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion Eww…Too much going on, with the over-sized camo in too many different colors, and the door design which is awful. F-

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.

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.

Collar Guard…Not a Product, but a Safety Feature.

1-lajoie-collarBy David G. Firestone

Like shoulder epaulets, the collar of a driver suit has made a transition. It has gone from safety accessory to fashion piece, but unlike the epaulet, it is not only ornamental. Because the collar is still a piece of safety equipment. It goes without saying that fire is an ever present danger in auto racing. The collar protects the neck from burns. This may seem minor, but many people who die from burns die from infection. When the skin is compromised, it can’t stop germs from getting inside the body, and as such makes infection a serious risk during burn injuries.

But the fashion aspect of collars is interesting as well. With the standard alignment of sponsors on the top of the suit, the Series logo, tire manufacturer logo, car manufacturer logo, and other sponsor logos are on the top, and the primary sponsor logos are present on the collar and epaulets. This Randy Lajoie example shows how the suit appears during an televised interview:1-lajoie-f

Note a couple of things: First, the fabric on the collar overlaps just a bit here, but when the driver wears it, it meets perfectly at the center of the neck. Second, it allows the driver to breathe easily. Comfort Vs. Safety is a constant debate. This is one kind of collar, the other kind of collar is what I call the Velcro collar, as shown in this Alex Barron suit from 1998:36-barron-collar

The Velcro collar is exactly what it sounds like, a collar with a strap which Velcros shut. This provides a little more protection in case of fire. It also has another use, as sponsor ads are popular to put on the front of the Velcro strap. This has been used quite often over the years…41-craven-collarbarber-collar

This is due to the fact that for quite some time the open face helmet was used, and the collar provided extra fire protection where the helmet failed. In this day in age, helmets come standard with Nomex socks on the bottom, so the collar, while still a key safety feature, is not as critical. But for sponsor logo placement, it really can’t be beat.

If the collar does not have a Velcro closure, then the primary sponsor logo is sewn into either side of the collar. Like the Lajoie example above, or this Mike Skinner example below, this can be used very effectively as a place for sponsor logos.31-skinner-collar

Like most other aspects of the driver suit, the choice of Velcro or not comes down to driver preference. Kyle Bush, as well as older brother Kurt favor the Velcro style, whereas Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards prefer the non-Velcro variety. Many pit crew shirts have a similar design to the driver design as well.

Editor’s note: For the next two weeks I will be on a very badly needed vacation. I will still have articles ready to go, but I won’t be commenting on up do date issues until I get back. I will still check in from time to time.

Moving on to paint schemes…

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express 2005 Toyota Camry Done as a memorial to Jason Leffler, this is a replica of the scheme that Leffler ran in 2005 during FedEx’s first season as a full-time NASCAR sponsor. It is very faithfull to the original scheme. It also has a great design and color scheme, and earns an A

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Give Kids a Smile Ford Fusion The same bland paint scheme that I described as “There’s nothing really wrong here, but nothing really right here either.  The side design looks forced, the black roof is idiotic, the color scheme is good, but the number design looks too cliche.  It makes no sense, but 3M schemes never do.” It has a small Give Kids a Smile logo on the hood, that is all but invisible. I gave it a C and it will stay at a C.

David Stremme #30 Window Wax Toyota Camry Ugh! This is bad, I can live with the color scheme, but the design is bad. It gets a D

Austin Dillon #33 American Ethanol Chevy SS While I hate the shade of green used here, this scheme looks pretty decent. The designs around the front brake vent are unnessicary, but I still like them. If the green were a bit darker, I could give it a better grade than a C+.

AJ Allmendinger #47 Charter Toytoa Camry The hood design is interesting here. It is designed in the same light as television logos on driver suits. It is a unique idea that works and I hope will catch on. The color scheme is great, and I love the overall design. A

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s/Louisville Cardinals Toyota Camry The color scheme is good, but the Fruit Stripe Gum design seen on the Louisville Cardinals shorts is ugly. The whole Zubaz design scheme is horrible on sports uniforms, and even worse on this car. I have nothing against the Louisville Cardinals, but this is horrible. F

Dale Earnhardt Jr #88 National Guard Solider of Steel Chevy SS Solid simple scheme with good colors, but the Superman Logo on the hood is next to invisible.

Replica Helmets…and Why We Need Them in Racing

replica helmetsBy David Firestone

When I started this blog, I wanted to appeal to two different groups, racing enthusiasts and collectors. I think that this post should appeal to both groups. The MLB, NFL, and NHL have a product that is very useful, for autographs, and for fans alike…the replica helmet. Replica helmets have been made for the NFL for over 15 years now, and baseball replica helmets date back further than that. NHL minis, although more recent, are becoming a fan favorite…so why not racing replica helmets?

16-musgrave-replica4 16-musgrave-replica2 16-musgrave-replica3 16-musgrave-replica1 16-musgrave-replica5 16-musgrave-replica6 16-musgrave-replica7

This has been tried before. In the late 1990’s Simpson released a series of ¼ scale mini-helmets. These helmets were reasonably accurate replicas of the real thing, but only 3 inches long. Although the design was good, the product was costly for the time, and very small, which made it very impractical for autographs.replica helmets - Copy

The autograph issue is important because something that mini-helmets in baseball, and football are frequently used for autographs from players. These helmets are half-scale, and are very accurate to the helmets worn by the players. Similar to the football mini-helmet, this half-scale mini-helmet would fit the bill very well.38-sadler-small1 38-sadler-small-2 38-sadler-small-3 38-sadler-small-4 38-sadler-small5 38-sadler-small6 38-sadler-small7

It is a replica of Elliot Sadler’s M&M’s Bell helmet from 2003-2006. It measures 5 inches in length and is very easy for drivers to sign. A search on ebay reveals that there are minis, but not on a cohesive levels. I think that fans would love to own a mini-helmet of their favorite driver, and buy new ones each season.

To answer the next question, yes there are full-size helmets, but they come in two different food groups. The first are helmets that are clearly replicas, such as this Derrike Cope Friendly’s replica from 2003. This example is clearly a motorcycle helmet, that has Friendly’s decals attached to the. Derrike has autographed the helmet on the right side. It looks good, but it is still clearly a replica.cope-helmet-1 cope-helmet-2 cope-helmet-3 cope-helmet-4 cope-helmet-5 cope-helmet-6 cope-helmet-7 cope-helmet-8

The other food group in full-size replica helmet is the helmet designed to be as accurate as possible. This example, again an Elliot Sadler M&M’s replica is clearly marked as being a replica and for display. It is actually very accurate, including a ventilation hose attachment on the right side. This type of helmet was common for a while, until the HANS restrictions forced the ventilation attachment to the top. This not only works very well for autographs, but looks really nice on itself. 38-sadler-large4 38-sadler-large2 38-sadler-large3 38-sadler-large1 38-sadler-large5 38-sadler-large6 38-sadler-large7 38-sadler-large8 I think that the helmet companies that make driver helmets would be willing to make these helmets for the racing fan base, and I think that the racing fan base would love them as collectables!100_2501

Paint Scheme Time!

Clint Boywer #15 Gander Mtn. Toyota Camry Color scheme…good. Car design…ugh. But the thing that really irritates me is that with the gun debate in this country the hood reads “With rights comes responsibility.” Seriously? I thought Michael Waltrip’s Newton scheme at the Daytona 500 was bad, but this is just beyond bad. KEEP POLITICS AND RACING SEPARATE! F– grade!

Jeff Burton #31 Childress Institute Chevy SS The only bad thing I can say about this scheme is that the door numbers are orange. If they were white with orange borders, I would love this scheme. Even so, it earns a C grade.

Joe Nemechek #87 Maddie’s Place Rocks! Toyota Camry  They took a good scheme, with good colors and just made it look so much worse!  The design is just awful, and the color scheme doesn’t help.  It went from a B to a D in one week.

That’s it for this week, except for some April Fools Fun…

NASCAR Helmets Over The Years

By David G. Firestonemcconnell-5

The evolution of the racing helmet in NASCAR for the most part was slow, in the beginning. NASCAR was officially founded in 1947, two years after World War II ended. Many of the helmets worn during the 1940’s and 1950’s were little more than repainted army and air force helmets. These helmets were basic at best, and as protection for the dangers of racing, these helmets were inadequate at best. During the 1950’s, many drivers switched from military headgear to motorcycle helmets. In the 1960’s, motorcycle-style helmets became the norm.mcconnell-5

The above helmet was worn by Jim McConnell, who raced and promoted races in Maine, and went on to found Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. This is a racing helmet, but it looks more like Wyatt’s Captain America helmet from Easy Rider, in its basic design. It has an open face, no microphone equipment, and is rather thin. Although there would be advancements in helmet technology, the open-face design would remain popular until the 1980’s.Noffsinger-1

This helmet was worn by Brad Noffsinger in 1988, it is the same general design, though it is much thicker, has some advancements in visor technology, and had some microphone technology in it as well. Although these helmets have since been banned, they remained legal for as long as they did for one simple reason: Advanced visibility. NASCAR did not want to have a crash caused by decreased visibility due to a rule mandating full-face helmets.musgrave1

The Ted Musgrave helmet mentioned in a previous post is a perfect example. The bottom part covering the chin does to a certain extent reduce visibility for a driver. The logic makes sense, in that if there was a crash caused by reduced visibility, so for the 1990’s and 2000, the open-face was legal…then came the 2001 Daytona 500. That race saw the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. from a Basilar skull fracture, which as tragic as it was, wasn’t the first death due to sub-par safety equipment. John Nemechek, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr., and Tony Roper had all been killed in similar accidents. Only after Earnhardt’s death, did the HANS device come to light, and eventually became mandatory in NASCAR, and eventually, across the board in racing. Now the helmets used in NASCAR look like this:mcdonalds-1This is a helmet worn between 2004 and 2005 by either Regan Smith or Jason Keller. As you can see, it has a number of advancements, including the visor, and air intakes, but the biggest advancement is these small bolts towards the back.mcdonalds-2 - Copy

These are where the HANS device connects to the helmet. The HANS device was mandated after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. to prevent Basilar skull fracture deaths. This device has worked very well. The HANS device works by attaching the device to the helmet, and then being secured by the shoulder straps, as seen below:

As advanced as this helmet is, there is always room for improvement. What new form will the racing helmet of tomorrow take? Only time will tell.

On to Paint Schemes, we have a lot of ground to cover today…

First in the Camping World Truck Series

Chris Cockrum #07 Accu-Tech/Homesmart Toyota Tundra Decent color scheme, good stripe pattern, logos are easy to see. Solid A grade.

Sean Coor #82 Warriors in the Workplace Ford F-Series Simple yet bold. Great use of matte black, great number design and color scheme. The logo is easy to see and stands out. No distracting stripes or patterns. Solid A grade.

Next up, the Nationwide Series

Sam Hornish Jr. #12 Wurth Tools Ford Mustang The doors look like they have race damage on them already, which is not a good sign. The color scheme is decent, but the Pennzoil stripes just kill it. The logos are easy to see, but the stripes are just awful. Final grade C+

Matt Kenseth #18 Reser’s Foods Toyota Camry. Numbers are great, color scheme is good, logos are easy to see, and the background design is visible, but not overpowering. The only thing keeping this scheme from a higher grade is the picture of the package on the side of the car. That drags the grade down to a B+ from an A

Now moving on to the Sprint Cup Series

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Toyota Camry There are a total of 4 variations of the FedEx scheme, Express, Freight, Ground and Office. Right off the bat, 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+ across the board.

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s Chevy SS Not the worst I have ever seen, but the yellow is way too bright, and the massive collection of sponsor stickers on the quarter panel is just ugly. Final Grade C-