Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Sports Coverup Helmets

A short-lived company called  Sports Coverup made NASCAR replica helmets in the late 1990’s, and here are five examples.

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Tunnel Vision…A Good Thing?

zizzovisor-1By David G. Firestone

lepage94-2This is a helmet worn by Kevin LePage in 1994. This style of open-faced helmet was worn by drivers for many years in NASCAR, and it was allowed because NASCAR did not want to restrict the vision of the drivers. They felt that if this helmet kept drivers from losing situational awareness and help prevent tunnel vision on some level it would keep them from getting into dangerous wrecks. Why would a driver wear a visor to help create tunnel vision? Let me explain the whole story…

So this last Sunday, I had the day off, no motorsports on TV. I had purchased a racing slick from Zizzo Racing. TJ Zizzo is the driver, he’s based in Lincolnshire Illinois, I’m based in Evanston, and my friend Matt and I went down to pick up the slick. TJ was kind enough to show me around the shop, as they prepare the car for The Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. TJ was awesome, and I had a great time.

One of the things that I got was a visor. I’ve been wanting to get an NHRA visor from some time, and I got one that had the modification I’ve been seeing, as seen below.zizzovisor-1 zizzovisor-2 zizzovisor-3 zizzovisor-4 zizzovisor-5I asked TJ why he had this modification, and he said that he wants to focus on the task at hand. He said that drag racing drivers can notice things, birds, scoreboards, women in the crowd, etc in the car in the moments leading up to the race, and this modification helps the driver by giving him tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is seen by the majority of people as a bad thing, but in something like drag racing, where intense focus for a brief period of time is a mandate, tunnel vision is a good thing. Top fuel dragsters have 10,000 horsepower and can go from 0 to 325 mph in less than 3 seconds.When you are behind the wheel of a car with that much power, you need to focus on the race as much as possible.  TJ wears this style of visor because, the less he can see out of the helmet, the more he can focus on the race.TJ even said that this visor is much less covered than his current version, which looks something like this…zizzovisor-1 - CopyThis version is not uncommon in this day in age, both Al-Anabi drivers Khalid alBalooshi  and Shawn Langdon wear visors similar to this design.

I didn’t bring my camera with me, I wish I had, because I got to see the remnants of his engine from his blow up in Indianapolis. As I have a tendency to do, I’ll let the footage speak for itself…

He still has the blower drive seen flying in the video. I was amazed how heavy it was. He has one shelf in his new shop that has the pieces of the engine, and the damage suffered, from a fan’s stand point. The manifold that blew was made of solid magnesium and was heavy duty. The crankshaft in question was not only broken, but was slightly bent near the break. I wound up getting one of the rear tires from that race.zizzortire-1 zizzortire-3

Rear tires from top fuel dragsters are 3 feet tall by 17 inches wide. I’m planning on getting a glass to and making a coffee table at some point. The level of wear on the tires is amazing, with large patches of damage from the explosion.zizzortire-4 zizzortire-5 zizzortire-6 zizzortire-7

zizzortire-10 zizzortire-11TJ also signed it and personalized it to me!zizzortire-2

I also got a front tire, which is 22 inches tall, by 3 inches wide. zizzoftire-1 zizzoftire-2 zizzoftire-3 zizzoftire-4 zizzoftire-5I’m not sure when it was raced, but it does show wear and it has ZIZZO written on the tread. To give an idea the size difference between the two, here are the two of them together in my office…zizzotiresI’ve gotta thank TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing for this chance. They are a great bunch of guys, they were all very nice, GO ZIZZO!

The First Question…Where Do You Buy This Stuff?

By David G. Firestone100_2479 100_3147

I discuss the various aspects of race-worn and race used collectibles on this blog, and in researching something, I had received a suggestion that sounded like a great idea. The idea that was posed was “You may want to mention where people can actually buy these suits as well.” So I think I will.

The most obvious place to purchase race-worn and race-used items is eBay. Now this is not as simple as it might sound. In the Sports Memorabilia, Cards and Fan Shop section, entering the term “Suit”is a good place to start. Entering the term “driver” can be a mixed bag, and the term “firesuit” as well as “driver suit” work well. If that is not to your liking, search “driver suitfiresuit” “driver firesuit” “NASCAR uniform” “racing uniform” or “driver uniform” in the Any Categories setting.

Another, less likely place on eBay is the Safety Equipment section on eBay motors. Reason being that not all race-worn driver suits end up in collections, many of them are recycled and sold to racers who need a quality firesuit but do not have the resources to spend the thousands needed for a customized one. In fact, many auctions that are geared towards collectors also mention the size in case the suit is bought by a racer.

I have a couple of sellers that I buy from on a regular basis. One of my favorites is Just For Fun Collectibles. They have an amazing selection, and some of the best prices for stuff I have ever seen. I have bought a lot from them, and I always enjoy buying from them. The other seller I buy from regularly is Race Image. Both are based in North Carolina, and Race Image buys regularly from race teams, and resells the items both on their site and on eBay. Like Just For Fun, I have bought a lot from them, and I always enjoy buying from them.  Raceusedrescued is another great seller, who has a whole lot of NASCAR stuff.

Using legitimate auction sites can be iffy, not as many people are into race-worn and race-used memorabilia, as are into baseball, or football. But one place that regularly sells race-worn material is Paragon Auctions. They have had a lot of race-worn driver suits for sale in their auctions. Other groups, such as Heritage Auctions and American Memorabilia both have had a lot of suits sell through their auctions.

But with all the places to buy items, doing the research before you buy is critical. That is why I started The Driver Suit Blog, to give collectors the resources and information that they need to do the hobby, and do it right. I’m not someone who just buys these because they look nice, throw them in a closet, and never think about them. I look at them, admire them, and I understand how much work went into designing them. I love this hobby, and I fully support it, and I want to help collectors advance in this hobby in any way I can. That is why I put the time and effort I do into this blog.

Next week, I will announce the 2013 Driver Suit Blog Paint Schemie Awards. The Schemies are a series of awards given out for paint schemes in the Sprint Cup series. For every category, there are two awards given, First and Worst. First awards are given to the best schemes of the year, and worst…well that is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?

Tailgating Time!

I took my chili recipe I previously mentioned, and  changed the recipe slightly.

You will need:
2 pounds beef chorizo sausage
1 onions, chopped
1 (7 ounce) can diced tomatoes-drained
1 (7 ounce) cans smoked chipotle salsa
1 (12 ounce) can kidney beans-drained
1 cup water
Chili powder and garlic powder to taste
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chorizo and onion and saute until meat is browned and onion is tender. Add the diced tomatoes, smoked chipotle salsa,beans and water.
Season with the chili powder, and garlic powder to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Paint Scheme Reviews

First we start with 2014 schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Retro Ford Fusion This scheme is perfect. There is nothing that can be done to improve it. A+

Marcos Ambrose #9 Twisted Tea Ford Fusion A good color scheme is in play here. I like the shades of yellow, green and blue used here. The overall design works well with the color scheme, and I will give it an A.

Now on to 2013 schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Lexar Chevy SS  Decent color scheme, and if you get rid of the flash drives at the bottom, it would be an A scheme.  This scheme is good, and earns a B+

Dave Blaney #7 Ultra Wheels Chevy SS This is the first time that this car actually looks good…provided you get rid of that door number. B+

Clint Bowyer #15 5-Hour Energy Sour Apple Toyota Camry Another example of why camouflage does NOT work on race cars. What does camouflage have to do with sour apples? This scheme does not work, and it gets an F

Greg Biffle #16 Scotch Ford Fusion  Eww…the green design clashes with the red, and the plaid design is atrocious.  F

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 RFR Driven Chevy SS  Ricky has run a lot of great schemes this year, and this scheme is not an exception.  Great color and simple design earns this scheme an A.

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans-Salute to Veterans Day Chevy SS This scheme is a bit more complex in the grade that I gave it, and requires some explanation.  This scheme features pictures of United States Military Veterans on the side as a tribute to them.  They have earned a place on the car, and have earned the respect as a nation, and an A+++ grade.

Landon Cassill #40 Pirate Oilfield Chevy SS Looks good, great color scheme, simple design, A+

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Target Camouflage Chevy SS Camo just doesn’t work for race cars, an this is no exception. While they did try to keep the red, it just looks awful, and I’ll give it an F

Bobby Labonte #47 Wounded Warrior Project Toyota Camry Camo doesn’t ever look good on a race car, and this is another example. It looks better than this though…

Kyle Larson #51 Visit Dallas Chevy SS I love color scheme, and I love the skyline on the hood. I’m disappointed that the skyline isn’t on the side of the car, it would look good on the door, but it is still a solid A scheme.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F grade.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Amp Gold Chevy SS Not a bad color scheme, though the dot design does not look good at all. I’ll be generous and give it a B-

 

The SFI and FIA patches…Why they are as critical as they are.

fia 1By David Firestone

Many race fans have seen these small patches on driver suits, and may have wondered what they are. What many do not realize is that these small patches have a very critical role in driver safety. These small patches are the safety certification patches. These small patches state that this uniform part has been examined by one of the two groups, and determined to meet the standards set by the group. For North American made equipment that group is SFI.

sfi

According to their website, SFI was founded in 1963 as part of Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association or SEMA, as a safety group. Back then, the safety culture wasn’t as rigorous as it is today, and there were not many standards in place. SEMA started the safety certification with SFI or SEMA Foundation, Inc certification. If the equipment didn’t meet SFI standards, the participant could be denied entrance to the event. Eventually, SFI left SEMA and became its own independent group.

Since then, SFI has certified safety equipment, and their certification is the standard in North America. This small patch is usually sewn into the inside wrist area on the left sleeve. This example, from a Terry Labonte suit from 2008, indicates that the suit meets “3.2A/5” standards. According to their site, this certification is standard for driver suits, and this suit would need re-certification in the next 5 years, or 2013. This certification is standard for many NASCAR suits, as shown below.12-stremme-sfi36-said-sfi

10-labonte-sfi 12-miller-sfi

For suits made internationally, the certification comes from a different group, the FIA Institute. Like SFI, the FIA Institute has the exact same goal, to make sure auto racing is safe, and that the equipment that drivers wear is as safe as possible. Unlike SFI however, FIA certification ends up in one of two places, either on the back of the neck,36-barron-neck

or inside the belt,

9-kahne-fia

Both certifications serve the same purpose and both are mandated in racing today. These certifications also appear on driver gloves,90-stricklingloves-ltag

and even helmets, usually on the HANS anchormcdonalds-2 - Copy

Moving on to more 2013 paint schemes…

Trevor Bayne #6 Valvoline Ford Mustang Love this scheme! This brings back some fond memories of Mark Martin behind the wheel back in the 1990’s. The color and design scheme are amazing, so it gets an A

Regan Smith #7 Tax Slayer/Hellman’s Chevy Camaro Same as the 5 and 88, so nothing really to say here…

Brad Keselowski #22 Hertz Ford Mustang Only Penske can ruin one of the best color schemes with an awful design. Seriously what is the design on the front? It kills this scheme. Final Grade: D

Travis Pastrana #60 Ford Mustang What the Hell? Did Lisa Frank design this car? I’d love to comment on the color scheme, but just looking at the picture is enough! I didn’t think it was possible to make a scheme worse than the Kyle Bush Sponsafier car, but here we are! Final Grade: F’

By the way, I never thought I would reference Lisa Frank in this blog…

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Chevy SS Cessna has figured out the way to a good paint scheme, simple colors and simple design. It works very well and earns an A grade.

Casey Mears #13 Geico Ford Fusion Eww…just eww. The color scheme is dreadfull, and the designs on the side are painful to look at. It passed because of the logo and number design. Final Grade: D-

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry Great color scheme, and good basic design, but there is something with this car I find annoying. The driver’s name is on the windshield and above the door, so why is it on the top of the hood? Not just on the top of the hood, but UPSIDE DOWN as well? Seriously? It makes no sense, and takes the final grade down to a B