Grading the 2014 All-Star Race & How Far We Have Come In the Last 50 Years…

headerBy David G. Firestone.

The 2014 Sprint All Star race is behind us, and as usual, there were a myriad of different paint schemes.  Some were good, others not so much, but I have to say there were a lot of great schemes in this year’s race.  Let’s start with the Sprint Showdown.  Unlike in previous years, The Showdown took place on Friday, and the All-Star Race was on Saturday.  The Showdown was a great event, which saw Clint Bowyer winning, AJ Allmendinger finishing second, and in the upset of the year, Josh Wise winning the Sprint Fan vote, and advancing to the All Star Race.  Let’s get to the grades:

#1 Josh Wise #98 DogeCoin Ford Fusion Such colors! Much design! So good! A+

#2 Dave Blaney #77 Amy R. Fochler Ford Fusion I think that this is the first time a lawyer has sponsored a Cup car, and it is a great design. A+

#3 Ryan Truex #83 Burger King Toyota Camry Great simple design, and I love the Borla Exhaust design adds a unique look. A+

#4 David Stremme #33 Little Joe’s Autos Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme A+

#5 Landon Cassill #40 Hillman Racing Chevy SS Silver is a very attractive color on race cars, and this is a perfect example. A+

#6 Aric Almirola #43 Farmland Ford Fusion Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

#7 AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

#8 Reed Sorenson #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme A+

#9 Alex Bowman #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry Like the silver, and the design scheme is very good. A

#10 Cole Whitt #26 Speed Stick Gear Toyota Camry This is one of the few schemes that has both a classic and modern look at the same time, and paired with a great color scheme, it earns an A

#11 Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion Though a tad over designed, the car has a clean look, and a great color scheme, so I will give it an A-

#12 David Gilliland #38 Loves Truck Stops Ford Fusion Good color scheme, decent design, A-

#13 Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SS While I like the color scheme and number and logo designs, the white stripe up the side kills the look. It takes an A scheme to a B+ scheme.

#14 Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS The scheme looks decent, I like the red on the back, though I do not like the Target logos at the bottom. That takes a scheme that was an A grade to a B-

#15 Paul Menard #27 Menards/Serta Chevy SS Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

#16 Michael Annett #7 Pilot/Flying J Chevy SS Good color scheme, but the awful template is back for Tommy Baldwin. It is really sad, because this could be a great scheme, but the template takes it from an A to a C-

#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Building For America’s Bravest Ford Fusion Much too overdesigned, and another example of why camoflage on race cars NEVER WORKS! The only thing keeping this design above water is a great color scheme. C-

#18 Joe Nemechek #66 Land Castle Title Toyota Camry If the bottom was a single color stripe, I would give it very high marks, but the over design makes it look awful. C-

#19 JJ Yeley #44 Phoenix Warehouse Chevy SS My first thought when I saw this scheme was it looked like the color scheme from the 1994-1995 NBA All-Star Game jerseys which is a decent color scheme. But to say the car is overdesigned is an understatement. This scheme is awful. Not even a great color scheme can help this car pass. F

#20 Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy Cares Chevy SS Same scheme but with a bunch of logos on the hood, instead of just one. F

#21 Casey Mears #13 Geico Chevy SS Once again, it needs to be said…CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! I’l give this an F!

#22 Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

#23 Blake Koch #32 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever. F-

Now we move on to the All-Star Race, which saw Jamie McMurray pull an upset and take the win, thus guaranteeing him entry into the event for the next 10 years.  Overall there were a lot of great schemes, though I wish more teams would run special schemes.

#1 Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion Best Throwback scheme of the last 5 years  A+

#2 Josh Wise #98 DogeCoin Ford Fusion Such colors! Much design! So good! A+

#3 Marin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Chevy SS Nothing wrong with this scheme at all.  A+

#4 Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Great color and design schemes. A+

#5 David Ragan #34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion Overall design and color schemes are good, and the only complaint is that the Taco Bell logo should be in color as opposed to black and white.  A+

#6 Kurt Busch #41 Haas Chevy SS Great design and color scheme, A+

#7 AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

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

#9 Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion The stripes work well here, and the color scheme is good. A

#10 Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops/National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS As Bass Pro Shops schemes go this year, this one is really good. Good color scheme, good design scheme, no camo, A

#11 Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS Great overall design, great color scheme, though the D on the hood reversed to miror the curves of the hood looks odd.  Still it’s a good scheme and Ill give it an A

#12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS The new metallic numbers work, and the overall design is decent, since it incorporates the design used on the numbers.  I’ll give it an B+

#13 Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry 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+

#14 Kevin Harvick #4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy SS  It’s a bit overdesigned, but the green looks good(I hate most shades of green used in NASCAR) and it earns a C

#15 Kasey Kahne #5 Time Warner Cable Chevy SS It is a good color scheme, but the design on the side needs a little tweaking. Get rid of the needless zig-zag pattern and it works a whole lot better. It is still a decent scheme, so I will give it a C

#16 Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS This is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

#17 Matt Kenseth #20 Home Depot/Huskey Toyota Camry I would give this scheme an A grade, but the yellow back bumper ruins it.  The clash between the two just works awkward, and it takes an A scheme down to a C

#18 Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Red and yellow is a really great color scheme, but the design is all wrong. It just looks awful. D

#19 Ryan Newman #31 Cat/Quicken Loans Chevy SS What in the blue hell is going on here? I’ve liked Ryan’s schemes this year but this is an F scheme, even though I like the color scheme.

#20 Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS Only one word can sum up this scheme…overdesigned. F

#21 Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

#22 Greg Biffle#16 3M Ford Fusion-The sides and roof have gotten worse from last year.  I have to give it an F in that respect.

Also, check this video out concerning how different pit stops in open wheel racing were between 1950 and today:

The video shows how far we have come in pit stops, but we also have come a long way in driver uniforms.

By David G. Firestone

50 years ago this week, events over the course of 6 days in May of 1964 changed the culture, cars, and uniforms of auto racing forever. Three deaths in two races over those six days demonstrated that current safety methods were ineffective at best, and 3 talented drivers lost their lives. The 1964 World 600 and the 1964 Indianapolis 500 helped introduce reenforced fuel tanks and Nomex driver suits, among other things. 50 years later, those events are still being felt

The World 600 began in the early afternoon on May 24, 1964. For the first six laps, it was business as usual, but on lap 7, on the backstretch, Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett wrecked, and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts swerved to avoid them, and wrecked. He was trapped in the car by the pedals, and his car caught fire. Ned Jarrett ran and pulled Roberts from the car, and paramedics took him to the hospital. 39 days after the wreck, while still in the hospital from his injuries, he died from pneumonia.

NASCAR had rules concerning “fire retardant” uniforms but these were inadequate at best. These uniforms were cotton coveralls traditionally used by workmen that had been dipped in a number of fire retardant materials including Borax. These were not only ineffective, but were extremely uncomfortable to wear. They were known for inflaming the skin, and aggravating asthma. Fireball was not wearing these coveralls during that race, because he had a doctor’s note stating he should not wear them. There is some debate over what the doctor’s note was for, either for asthma or skin hives. It llustrates why these uniforms were not popular, they were so uncomfortable to wear that drivers did not want to wear them.

6 days later, on May 30, the 48th Indianapolis 500 was held. Dave MacDonald started 14th, and Eddie Sachs started 17th when the green flag dropped. MacDonald was racing a car built by racing innovator Mickey Thompson, which by all accounts was badly built and difficult to drive. The first lap led into the second, which saw Dave MacDonald lose control of his car and smash into the inside wall. The fuel tank instantly ignited and the car went across the track, and collected a number of other cars, including Eddie Sachs car, which also exploded on impact. Sachs was killed by the impact, but MacDonald was seriously burned, and his lungs were scorched, the lung damage proved to be fatal.

Inspired by these events, the Nomex firesuit was introduced in 1967 as a replacement for the cotton coveralls dipped in chemicals. It was a lot more comfortable and safer than chemical-dipped cotton, so drivers were more willing to wear them. Like most new safety equipment in sports, it took a while to catch on. Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. 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.

Bill Simpson is credited with introducing Nomex to driver suits. The story goes that Simpson started making Nomex suits after learning about the material from astronaut Pete Conrad while Simpson was working as a consultant for NASA. One of the pivital moments in the history of the suit was when Simpson had heard that a competitor had been badmouthing his products, and so, in something he said later was “the dumbest thing I have ever done,” challenged the competitor to a “burn off.” Simpson put on his suit and lit himself on fire. He later recreated this for a Mazda commercial.

Why did it take so long to make critical changes to driver uniforms? The events that took place in 1964 were tragic, and it clearly illustrated why the old system didn’t work. The only change made immediately after the events was the rule that fire retardant suits were now mandatory, regardless of how it made the driver feel. In today’s sports safety culture, there would be focus groups, meetings within the sanctioning body, and changes within a few months after the event. But by 1964 standards, just rigidly enforcing the rule was the best course of action. Remember that in 1964 race car drivers were seen as somewhat expendable. Driver deaths in racing were stunningly common back then. As such, while there was a need for improvement, it was not a priority for sanctioning bodies. The sad fact is that back then, driver deaths were part of the allure of racing. People would go to these events and hope to see a fatal crash, as crass as that sounds. As for the suits themselves, the only other options besides chemical dipped cotton was aluminized cotton or aluminized kevlar, which was not more comfortable, as it was like wearing aluminum foil.

So what did these pre-Nomex driver suits look like? They looked like this. This is a driver suit made by Hinchman in Indianapolis. It is basically a polyester suit that is customized to the driver’s preference. It is not all that different than a jumpsuit that one would wear to work. It is a very flimsy material, has no cuffs on the arms or legs, and, most amazingly, the tag states that the suit is “Untreated, will burn, must be dipped.” This suit was worn circa 1972, which is indicated by the “Archie Bunker for President” patch sewn into the chest. Like any new safety technology in sports, it takes time for it to become the standard, and for Nomex, this is no exception.

This race, along with the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2001 Daytona 500 have their legacies written in death, but unlike other similar events, the lessons they had to teach were learned, and the racing world as a whole is better for them. The deaths in these events were not in vain, and others are alive because of them. 50 years later, those 6 days in May 1964 are still having an impact on racing.

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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!

Grading the 2013 All-Star Race

Last week was the All-Star Showdown and the All-Star Race.  These two events are magnets for special paint schemes.  The top two finishers from the Showdown move to the All-Star Race.  I have graded both events, starting with the Showdown.  It is ranked from best to worst.

The Good:

1 David Reutimann #83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry. Great classic design with a great color scheme that gets an A+

2 Travis Kvapil #93 Burger King/ Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry See Above, A+

3 David Gilliland #38 Long John Silvers Ford Fusion Good color scheme, and the basic design used with that scheme on this car just makes it stand out. I’m not a fan of yellow on race cars in most cases, but I’ll overlook it this time because it is just so good. A+

4 Jeff Burton #31 Cat Chevy SS The scheme is solid, has good colors, great number designs and a good pattern used. Final Grade: A

5 Martin Truex Jr. #56 NAPA Toyota Camry Simple, elegant with a great color scheme, great logos and great number design.  Final Grade: A

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Ford Fusion Lose the design on the doors and it would be perfect. Other than that this scheme is perfect and earns a solid A

7 Mike Bliss #19 Gentry Plastics Inc. Toyota Camry-Good color scheme and simple design work well here, A

8 Terry Labonte #32 Oxy Water Ford Fusion I don’t know why, but I like this scheme. Normally I wouldn’t like the color scheme and basic design but for whatever reason, I like this. A-

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Target Chevy SS Great color, great number design, and the pattern used is a lot more subtle than last year’s scheme. The quarter-panels have too many associate sponsors and looks too cluttered, keeping the Final Grade at a B.

10 Bobby Labonte #47 House Autry House Foods Toyota Camry The design is simple, but good. The color scheme need some work. The red used is too bright, as is the blue. The logo group on the quarter-panel is awful. B-. If the color wasn’t so bright, I could grade it higher.

The So-So

11 Joe Nemechek #87 Royal Teak Toyota Camry Good color scheme, simplistic design, not much to say here, C

12 Landon Cassill #33 Bicycle NASCAR Playing Cards Chevy SS-Decent color scheme, but the design is all over the place, way too chaotic, C-

13 Paul Menard #27 Serta Chevy SS Basically the same scheme as his regular scheme, but different hood logo…nothing really to say here…C-

14 JJ Yeley #36 World TradeX Chevy SS– Not much to say here…other than make the logo bigger. D-

15 Dave Blaney #7 Sany Chevy SS Great color scheme ruined by bad door design and generic racing number design. The design is just disgusting to look at, and it gets a D-

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

17 David Stremme #30 Lean 1 Toyota Camry The best way I can describe this scheme is that there is nothing good about it. Anything they could have messed up with this scheme, they did. It gets an F

18 Scott Riggs #44 No Label Watches Ford Fusion An awful scheme made much worse by a horrible color scheme that earns an F- grade.

19 Michael McDowell #95 Levine Family Racing Ford Fusion There is nothing right about this scheme. F-

20 Brian Keselowski #52 Supportmillitary.org Toyoa Camry-Eww…Too much going on, with the oversized camo in too many different colors, and the door design which is awful. F-

Now on to the All-Star Race.  Jamie McMurray, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. transferred in from their performances in the Showdown, and Danica Patrick was voted in.  As such, their grades will be mentioned here.

The Good

1 Brad Keselwoski #2 Miller Lite Fan Mosiac Ford Fusion.  It looks really good, and the pictures of the fans give it a condensation on the can effect that is really cool.  A+

2 David Ragan #34 CSX Play It Safe Ford Fusion This is a very solid scheme, with great colors, great design and an overall great look. CSX did this scheme very well and it gets an A+

3 Kyle Bush #18 Snickers Bites Toyota Camry A paint scheme that has a great color scheme, and illustrates the theory that less is more. Nothing bad about this Scheme-A+

4 Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion Pennzoil has an amazing shade of yellow, and they really put it on display in this A+ scheme

5 Jeff Gordon Cromax Pro Chevy SS Another good DuPont inspired scheme with a great color scheme and great design-A+

6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS Great scheme, nothing wrong, A+

7 Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Cares Chevy SS-The racing stripe makes the scheme look better, and the hood logo is good as well  A

8 Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion The stripes work well here, and the color scheme is good. A

9 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Best Buy Ford Fusion  The number design, color scheme, and simplistic design give the car a good look. A

10 Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser/Rheem Chevy SS-Good color scheme, and I like the two different designs on the side.  A-

11 Clint Bowyer #15 5 Hour Energy Toyota Camry Good color scheme, decent design, could use some work on the front. B+

12 Tony Stewart #14 National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS Good color scheme and overall design, but the major issue I have is with the NATIONAL WILD TURKEY being on a curve and not as visible It gets a B-

The So-So

13 Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops/NWTF Chevy SS-Great Color Scheme, Awful design, C+

14 Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry The front nose design and stripes are awful. The color scheme is great, but the stripes kill it. The best grade I can give is a C+

15 Greg Biffle #16 3M Filtrete Ford Fusion-Could you please pick a color scheme and stick with it?  Two different color schemes on the same car is just awful. But they are two good color schemes. C-

16 Ryan Newman #39 Aspen Dental Chevy SS-Good colors, but awful design…what does this have to do with teeth?  C-

17 Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS-Not the best scheme he has run all year, but I would love to see the car in that shade of red on the bottom C-

18 Matt Kenseth #20 Husky Toyota Camry Not much really to say, mediocre color scheme, no real design to comment on, the logos are plain Jane enough, it’s a bland scheme that earns a C grade. A mediocre grade for a mediocre scheme.

The Awful

19 Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Ford Fusion  Is it normal to get seasick while looking at a paint scheme?  The Petty Blue just does not work here, and the oval around the letters is pointless.  The car looks awful even though it has a great color scheme and great sponsor logos. D

20 Kurt Busch #78 Furniture Row Military Appreciation Night Chevy SS I love the matte black that Furniture Row usually uses, so this is kind of disappointing. That said, the color are good, but the hood design needs work. The MILITARY APPRECIATION banner is much to small and it is hard to see at speed. A good scheme that has been ruined and earns a D-

Before I leave, I have two more pieces of business.  First off, I would also like to extend congratulations to Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty, and Glen “Fireball” Roberts for being elected to the 2014 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Second off, RIP Dick Trickle.  You will be missed.

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?

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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…

Richard Lasater and His Helmet

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By David G. Firestone

Spent the last week just being insanely busy, with Passover and the Chicago Sun Times Collectables Convention, but now back to work. I’ve discussed the safety aspects of race gear, but today, I’m going in a bit of a different direction. Even in today’s safety-conscious racing environment, injuries are always a possibility. Denny Hamlin suffered a fractured vertebrae, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has suffered a concussion in the last few years. Wrecks can be hell on drivers, but what about the uniform protecting them? What would a helmet from a wreck like this look like?

Well the helmet looks like this:lasater-1 lasater-2 lasater-3 lasater-4 lasater-5 lasater-6 lasater-7

For a helmet that went through a scary-looking wreck, it is in good shape…and that is not by accident. It was worn by Richard Lasater throughout the 1993 season. At the 1993 Fram Filter 500K, Lasater was involved in that scary wreck, and wasn’t seriously hurt. As for overall damage, it is mainly scratches, scrapes and dings, no cracks or serious damage.

The helmet kept Lasater safe and suffered minor damage because that is what it was designed to do. After the race, he autographed the helmet and it wound up in my collection. This helmet shows better than any other helmet I have the reasons why proper equipment is needed in racing.

On to Paint Schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy SS White? Seriously? Did the designers not realize that the white looks awful? The black and orange color scheme works, but white? I don’t get this scheme at all, and it gets an F grade

Marcos Ambrose #9 MAC Tools Ford Fusion Good color choices here. The basic design is solid. I can do without the quarter panel design, but it is still a good scheme with a B grade-

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy St. Patrick’s Day Chevy SS I would like to thank the 1978 Cincinnati Reds for being one of the first teams to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day for encouraging this awful F grade scheme.-

Denny Hamlin #11 Fedex March of Dimes Toyota Camry There are two schemes that fans voted for. With Hamlin on the shelf for a while, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers will share the 11 ride. That said, scheme #1 I don’t hate, but it has something odd going on with the hood and nose design…I swear it looks like the two parts were designed by different people who never interacted with each other, and that earns it a C grade Scheme #2, the better of the two schemes, not only looks more like a FedEx scheme, it is simpler and much cleaner as well, and earns an A grade.

Tony Stewart #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevy SS Good color and design schemes here. A Grade

Kyle Bush #18 Snickers Bites Toyota Camry A paint scheme that has a great color scheme, and illustrates the theory that less is more. Nothing bad about this Scheme-A+

Jeff Gordon #24 Imron Elite Real Truck Paint Chevy SS Based off the classic Jeff Gordon Scheme, it looks really good, and it works as a paint scheme. Great color scheme used here…A+

Jeff Gordon Cromax Pro Chevy SS Another good DuPont inspired scheme with a great color scheme and great design-A+

Ken Schrader #32 Federated Auto Parts Ford Fusion Federated Auto Parts always has great looking cars, and they do not disappoint here. Great color scheme and great design earn a great grade of A+

Timmy Hill #32 U.S. Chrome Ford Fusion NASCAR rules prevent using chrome in most NASCAR paint scheme aspects, which is kind of disappointing since this scheme should have a bit of chrome in it. Even so, it is still a solid A scheme, with great colors and simple, yet elegant design

Josh Wise #35 MDS Ford Fusion The color scheme of the car, and the color scheme of the logos match! As a direct result, the car looks so much better! This scheme earns a B grade because the deisgn on the quarter panel needs some work.

Ryan Newman #39 HAAS Automation Chevy SS Great color scheme, good basic design, I love the diagonal hood logo, A+ Scheme

Brian Vickers #55 RK Motors Toyota Camry Basic design with an uninspired color scheme. The car is just blah. I can’t give this scheme anything except a C-

Brian Vickers #55 Jet Edge Toyota Camry A better color scheme takes the grade from C to B

Joe Nemecheck #87 Maddies Place Rocks Toyota Camry Simple design, decent color scheme, good hood logo, Final grade B

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Amp Energy Chevy SS Orange? Amp’s main can color is green. It’s not a bad design, but using a color that isn’t really used on the packaging earns this scheme a C-