Some time ago, I did two posts focusing on one item, and for the next two weeks, I’ll do something similar. A part of the driver uniform that is seen by virtually everyone but not really discussed is the visor in the helmet. We see them on in-car cameras and on television, but we don’t think about them by itself that much. It seems like a minor part, but it has an interesting history.
These helmets are very simple in design, they just cover the whole head, except for the face. The downside to this is that when the sun shines in the driver’s eyes, or if the car is an open-cockpit the wind can and will force the drivers eyes closed, or fumes from the car can get in a driver’s eyes. As such, these helmets were worn with goggles.
As full-faced helmets took over, the visor came attached to the helmet. The early ones were basically plexi-glass but as safety certification got more advanced, the visors were and still are fire tested. They also have to stand impact testing as well. As the helmets became more advanced over the years, so did the visors. Let’s take a look at one:
This visor is from the McDonald’s helmet I covered earlier in the year. It is made of a very tough, but very light clear plastic. The visor is attached to the helmet by 3 screws, two that hold the visor to the helmet and a third that guides the visor and keep it in the proper place. There was a 4th one, but it was removed at the driver’s request. The visor has some unique features. At the bottom-left side there is a small flap, which is used by the driver to open the visor. Next to the small flap is a hole for a small peg. The peg goes in the hole, and holds the visors shut, but is small enough so that if a driver wants to open the helmet, they can do so with no trouble. Drivers frequently leave the visor open slightly, so two small knobs, one on each side so the driver can open or close the visor.
Notice that it has a yellow-ish tint. This is one of 3 options for drivers, dark tint, light tint, and clear. The visor is designed to be easily changed at the drivers request. Clear visors are used for night races, and tinted ones are used for sunny races. In the event a race goes from day to night, a driver can use a tinted tear off, so that when it gets dark, they can remove the tint and have a clear visor.
Like eyeglasses, visors get scratched over time. As such, they are changed often. Like most other items racing teams and drivers use, when they are no longed needed, they are sold to the general public. They are frequently autographed by drivers, and are a popular item to get signed by drivers. They are interesting to look at, and interesting to examine up-close. All helmet visors in this day in age have a sponsor stripe across the top, and we’ll cover that next week.
Paint Scheme Reviews
Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F
and we have a new 2014 scheme
Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SS It’s amazing what a different shade of paint can do to a paint scheme. This years Farmer’s scheme earned a D+ because of the primary color, this scheme earns a B+ because of the color. The design needs some work, but the whole scheme is a major improvement.
I had a post ready to go concerning collar designs, but I’ve decided to save that for next week. I’m still on vacation, and last Saturday I went to see the 16th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, in Joliet. I had the chance to get VIP tickets, so I went with Argie, a friend from work, and some of her friends, and took the chance to mix business with pleasure.
It was a mixture of Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regulars, and some minor league drivers, but it was fun. The first thing I learned was how loud these cars really are. I’ve been to NASCAR races, and I’ve heard the engines running, but NHRA engines are so much louder than I had thought. For a while, I was standing in the spectator area on track level, and as they warmed up, you felt the vibrations of the engine. I’m standing about 75 feet away from the starting line, and when they went by, you felt it in every part of your body, a split second after they passed you. Needless to say, it was AWESOME!
One thing I did enjoy was checking out the different kinds of cars, from top fuel dragsters, to super stocks,to funny cars, The scoreboard tells the fans who won, and what their times and speeds were, each side having its own scoreboard with lights around the sponsor logo to tell you who won.I also checked out the tires on these cars, and man, they are huge! They look like they are twice the size of NASCAR tires.Speaking of which, I got a chance to check out the new Gen 6 Sprint Cup car, as Clint Bowyer’s Toyota Camry show car made an appearance…it looks amazing! They even had a jet dragster, but I didn’t get to see it on the track…oh well.One of the fun things about these events is that you can check out the pit area, so I did, checked out all sorts of cars, and the various equipment and stages of preparation and equipment used in them. Impact Racing had a booth there, and they had the various designs of helmets sold for race use. Aside from NASCAR, IndyCar and motocross designs, they had drag racing helmets. Drag racing helmets feature a visor design similar to wrap-around sunglasses. Top fuel and funny cars have their own designs, with funny car having an air filer, since the nitro-methane engine sits in front of the driver, instead of behind, like in a top fuel dragster. Many of the teams sell off equipment from the cars after the various events are done, and I took full advantage, acquiring a timing belt from Bob Tasca’s Motorcraft Funny car, this one used in his first qualifying session at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Tennessee. This run he had a 4.15 second, 306 MPH run. This thing is HUGE, measuring over 64 inches in circumference and 3 inches across.
As well as an ignition coil and a spark plug from Morgan Lucas Racing. Ignition coils are used to turn on cars in general, but this MSD 8142 is designed to fire up these 8000 horsepower engines, which need a lot of electricity to start and operate. I was fortunate enough to have Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps autograph it in person.
My VIP ticket got me into the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area. That was a lot of fun. We got to watch his car get prepared. Since the U.S. Army is his primary sponsor, DSR had some Army recruiters and soldiers speak. Though speaking to a crowd is not always easy when you have 2 8000 horsepower cars racing nearby. Then Tony Schumacher got up and gave a speech, and discussed his helmet, which prompted this question from me:
Afterwards, I was able to get a photo with him,and got to watch the engine test. This video looks tame, but unless you see it in person, you don’t have any idea how loud it really is, and I was 15 feet away when I shot that video!
In other news, I went back to the Museum of Science and Industry, and I went to the Jeff Gordon suit exhibit, and was shocked to see this:THE ENTIRE DISPLAY had been emptied out of the display case. At first I didn’t know what had happened, so I asked at the information desk. They, in turn, told me that pipes located above the display had been leaking, and that the items had been removed. I hope that when the display is fixed, the issues I discussed in a previous blog will have been fixed, I will keep you posted.
And since I’m here, Let’s talk paint schemes…shall we?
Jamie McMurray #1 Hellmann’s 100th Anniversary Chevy SS The yellow or green on the contingency decals is pointless, and it takes away from what is a very solid scheme, with simple design and great color. I give it a B+, almost an A, just not enough.
Casey Mears #13 Valvoline Next Gen Ford Fusion Not bad, not bad at all. I like the color scheme, which has both earth and motor oil tones in it, and the overall design is great. A+
Tony Stewart #14 Ducks Unlimited Chevy SS Although it is just his normal scheme with DUCKS UNLIMITED instead of MOBIL 1 on the quarter panel, I hate his new look. The black scheme from before Kansas was really good, but this is just horrible. Too much orange, not enough black or camo. F
Clint Bowyer #15 Toyota Camry 30th Anniversary Toyota Camry Ok, so is this a red car, a black car, or a silver car…I’m really lost here. The nose and front panels look red, but the hood and back quarter panels look black, and the roof is silver. They took one of the best color schemes in racing, and made it horrible! The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme, but even that can’t keep it above a D-
Aric Almirola #43 Go Bowling Ford Fusion I love what they did here. The bowling ball nose and pin design give a great impression, and the color scheme works very well here. A+
AJ Allmendinger #47 Scotts Toyota Camry Simple and attractive, with a very nice simple color scheme…But could someone explain to me why in this rendering the windshield decal reads AJ ALLMENDINGER instead of just ALLMENDINGER? The only time a first name is on the windshield is in the case of Kurt and Kyle Busch. There is no other Allmendinger racing in the Sprint Cup. That said, this scheme earns an A
Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s/Louisville Cardinals Toyota Camry The color scheme is amazing, and the basic simple design of the car works well. The hood has some needless design, which does affect the grade, but even so, it still earns an A-
Martin Truex Jr. #56 NAPA Batteries/Get Back and Give Back Toyota Camry Another example of why most teams only USE ONE COLOR AND DESIGN SCHEME! The nose features BDU digital camouflage in light and dark green, which works well. The doors feature Truex’s normal scheme, again good color and design, and the back features a blue/black digital camouflage, again which would work well by itself. The problem is that the combination of the three make for an awful look. This scheme is one of the worst so far this year, and it earns the F- grade it deserves. I fully support our Armed Forces, but this scheme is horrible!
Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion I know I covered this scheme in a previous post, but this photo illustrates why I hate UPS as a car sponsor. No matter what, UPS cars have one thing in common, and that is that the driver suit can look really good, whereas the car will look awful. In this case, the car has pointless designs and needlessly added colors, whereas the driver suit is simple and attractive. So my previous grade of D- still applies.
And finally, while I don’t normally do Nationwide paint schemes anymore, I had to do this one. Kurt Busch has had a throwback at Talladega reminiscent of Neil Bonnett’s Country Time scheme from the 1980’s, and last night, he had had an amazing scheme taken from Days of Thunder…I love that scheme because I love the movie. The boxy design of the Camaro works well with the scheme, as it is much similar to the design of the Lumina. Keep it up Kurt!