Two Birthdays in January…

100_4380By David G. Firestone
On the first anniversary of the founding of The Driver Suit Blog I felt it appropriate to analyze the first two NASCAR driver suits I ever bought. I started in the driver suit hobby in March of 2010, with a Bill Sedgwick Die Hard driver suit from the Craftsman Truck Series in 1996. 17-sedgwickI purchased this specific item for a number of reasons, first, it was well within my price range, and second, I wanted a low-end example that I can look at and get a general feel for aspects that I will see in other driver suits.
Some of the stuff I learned from this particular suit helped me understand the very basics of design aspects on race-worn driver suits. Some of the aspects I discovered from that were completely different and it was through subsequent research that I began to understand driver suits more. I have kept it for as long as I have is because I love the suit, and I even though I have had it for almost 4 years, I still find aspects about it that interest me.
The suit is custom designed for Darrell Waltrip’s Craftsman Truck Series team. Sedgwick drove the #17 Chevy C-1500 for the entire 1996 season, whereas Waltrip drove the #5 truck for a very limited schedule. Sedgwick had 3 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s in the 23 of the 24 races that year, and led a total of 8 laps. Sedgwick was released at the end of the season.17-sedgwick
The triple-layer suit is custom designed for Sedgwick, with the Sears Die Hard logos on the collar and shoulder epaulets,17-sedgwick-collar 17-sedgwick-rshoulder 17-sedgwick-lshoulderSears Die Hard logos across the front and Sedgwick’s name on the right chest,17-sedgwick-rchest17-sedgwick-lchestno arm gussets,17-sedgwick-rsleeve1 17-sedgwick-lsleeve1no adornment on the belt,17-sedgwick-beltTV logos and safety stripes on the legs,17-sedgwick-legsTV logos on the sleeves,17-sedgwick-rsleeve2 17-sedgwick-lsleeve2and a huge logo across the back.17-sedgwickb 17-sedgwickb-logoI purchased a press kit for this suit, which I covered in December, concerning this suit, and I realized that the suit Sedgwick is wearing in the promotional photo is the same suit that is in my collection. I keep the press kit in my authentication binder with the rest of my COA’s and LOA’s17-sedgwick-presskit1 17-sedgwick-presskit3 17-sedgwick-presskit2 17-sedgwick 17-sedgwick-presskit2The other suit I bought, my first Winston Cup suit was a Lake Speed suit from 1997, this one is a bit different. In 1997, Speed was racing for Melling Racing, which in 1997 was a shell of its former self. Melling had 34 victories and the 1988 Winston Cup Championship, but by 1997, they had no real sponsorship, and had not won a race since 1991. During that season Lake Speed didn’t score a top 5, top 10, or victory, and only led 3 laps in the 25 races he raced in that year.9-speedDue to the lack of sponsorship, Speed didn’t have the luxury of having a custom-made suit that season so he wore what appears to be a store bought suit. It looks like the suit was purchased either from a store or a catalog, and customized for Lake’s use. There are no large sponsor logos on the collar,9-speed-collarshoulder epaulets,9-speed-rshoulder 9-speed-lshouldertorso,9-speed-bsleeves,9-speed-rsleeve1 9-speed-rsleeve2 9-speed-lsleeve1 9-speed-lsleeve2or legs.9-speed-legsThe legs have a cuff cut, as opposed to a boot cut like the Bill Sedgwick suit has.
Everyone who has a hobby or an interest started somewhere. With me, it was with these two driver suits. No matter what you do in your hobby, or how high you fly in your hobby, you were a rookie, and you started from somewhere. Never forget where you came from. These two suits are a reminder of what I was, and I love these two.
Before we get to paint schemes, I need to say something to my readers. When I started this project one year ago, I never thought it would take off as much as it did. I have a group of really awesome readers and followers. I also owe a special thanks to Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch, because if I had never written my two articles for Uni-Watch in 2013, I would never have done the research I did for them, and I would never have had the frustration of not finding research from the collector’s perspective, and The Driver Suit would never have been born. To all my readers, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you! Stay Tuned because 2014 will be even better than 2013!

Paint Scheme Reveiws

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Chevy SS Black with silver numbers and white trim looks simple and really good. I can’t say anything bad about this scheme, and bonus points for improving the door number design. A+

Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Chevy SS Same great design as last year, same A grade.

Austin Dillon #3 Dow Chevy SS Take the white stripe down the side off, and it will be a solid A scheme. The white does not look good at all. The red/white/black color scheme works very well, and it is decently designed, so I will give it a B+

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Chevy SS Not only does Go Daddy continue to use the worst shade of yellow in NASCAR, they also have given the worst shade of orange a more prominent role in the car. Givng this car an F is a very fair grade.

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same C+ grade

Casey Mears #13 Geico Ford Fusion The yellow they use is awful, and the side design is just too loud,  I’ll give it a D

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 NOS Ford Fusion I love this color scheme, however, I don’t love the side design. It has too many different different designs, all of which would work on their own but combined they look like a jumbled mess. I really want to like this scheme, but I just can’t, so I’ll give it a C-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Fifth-Third Bank Ford Fusion Everything I just said about NOS applies here. C-

Clint Bowyer #15 5 Hour Energy Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same B+ grade.

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same A+ grade.

Ryan Newman #31 Cat Chevy SS New season, new driver, new scheme that looks great and earns an A

Kurt Busch #41 Haas CNC Chevy SS Great color scheme and a very simple desgin look very good here. I also like the matte black used, and the door numbers look really solid. Can’t give this scheme anything less than an A

Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS The scheme looks decent, I like the white 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-

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

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row Chevy SS Simple, and perfect. A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevy SS Same scheme as last year, but I never gave it a grade. So here is my analysis Not a great scheme, too much needless design on the side of the car, and the silver background is just brutal. The red lettering on a green background is unattractive at best, and all in all, this is a D- grade.

Michael McDowell #95 Levine Family Racing Ford Fusion This scheme is so much better than last year’s scheme, and just for that I’ll give it a B

Carl Edwards #99 Aflac Ford Fusion This has a terrible color scheme, with lime green, neon blue, black and white. The wing design is not only ugly but would work better starting at the door and working behind.

Advertisements

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.

Figure This Out!

By David G. Firestone

In my last column, I mentioned that Starting Lineup and Winner’s Circle figures made in the 1980’s and 1990’s censored alcohol and tobacco logos. But when it comes to these figures, how do the uniforms the figures portray stack up to their real-life counterparts?

First, lets discuss the figures themselves. Created by Kenner starting in 1988, Starting Lineup was a line of action figures based on baseball starts. As time went on, the line expanded from just baseball to football, basketball, hockey, and racing. The figures are 4 inches tall. For racing, Starting Lineup figures were packaged under the Winner’s Circle brand. The drivers features were championship-level or rookie of the year drivers. One of those was Mike Skinner released in 1998, which is in perfect condition, though has been removed from the package.31-skinner2 31-skinner

The driver suit it is based on is Mike Skinner’s 1997 race-used driver suit from his rookie of the year campaign. It was purchased from the Jeff Hamilton collection, and came with a letter stating as such. It shows nice use, and Jeff has signed the right chest. It also features something I have seen on a few other suits from that era, but from nowhere else, the Future Suit inscription. I have been waiting a while to discuss this. Custom suits from 1997 have something written on the back of the neck. On the Skinner suit it reads “Future-Suit-2-2252.31-skinner-future

This Stevie Reeves suit from 1997 has a similar inscription96-reeves-neck

This Lake Speed suit from 1997 was purchased off the rack, and does not bear the inscription,9-speed-b

Interestingly, suits from 1996 and before,41-craven-neck

and suits from 1998 and after,15-musgrave-blogo

do not have this inscription. From what I have been able to gather, this was an inventory number for customized suits. But I do not understand why it seems to only be used on suits from 1997. Ok, getting off track here, getting back to Finish Line figures….

Taking a look at this figure as compared to the real-life driver suit this figure is based on, it is very accurate. The bottom torso logos, and television logos on the sleeves are identical. The chest is missing the Chevy and Winston Cup logos, and has the name, whereas on the real suit the name is on the belt. They still did a very good job though.31-skinner4 31-skinnerb

The logos on the upper right sleeves are identical on both the figure and the real suit.31-skinner-rsleeve1 31-skinner7

The scale and position of the LOWES logo on the back of the figure as compared to the back of the real suit is identical as well.31-skinner6 31-skinner-rsleeve2 - Copy1

The position, location, and size of the television logos on the legs are perfect as well. They really did a great job with this figure.31-skinner11 31-skinner-legs

The detail in this figure is amazing, because Finish Line’s Starting Lineup counterparts lacked some details. Baseball figures from the same set in the same year, such as this Albert Belle figure often lacked pinstripes.8-belle4 8-belle1 8-belle2 8-belle3

Other examples include recycling of bodies. Every Finish Line figure is basically 4 different body parts, head, upper body, legs, and arms. These were taken, painted appropriately and then attached to each other. That is why all the figures look alike, but with minor differences.88-jarrett2 31-skinner2 17-waltrip2 force2

I can vividly remember buying these as a kid. When I got my first, a Dan Pasqua 1989 White Sox figure for my birthday, I was excited. Now, 23 years later, I have the ability to take a toy from my childhood, and compare it side by side to the uniform it is based on. I can honestly say I never thought it would happen, but I am thrilled to take the opportunity.

Tailgating Time!

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

In honor of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship starting at Chicago, I will do a couple of Tailgating Time recipes featuring Chicago food products. The first is Chicago-style Hot Dogs. This classic has been enjoyed in Chicago since the Great Depression. It has been enjoyed by those in the Chicago-land area for some time.

You Will Need:

2 packages Vienna Beef hot dogs

2 packages S. Rosen’s Mary Ann Buns-Both come in packages of 8

1 Chopped white onion

1 Sliced Tomato

1 Jar Yellow Mustard

1 Jar Sweet pickle relish with mint,

2 Jars of pickled sport peppers

Celery salt

Chicago-Style dogs are traditionally boiled or steamed. If it is grilled, it is referred to as a “char-dog.” Once the hot dogs are done cooking, place the hot dogs in the bun, and then put the condiments in this order: mustard, relish, onion, tomato, sport peppers, pickle spear, celery salt. Ketchup on these dogs is UNACCEPTABLE! The final product will look like this:5

Classic Maxwell Street Polish Sausages

Anyone from Chicago will recognize this dish, and those from all over the country will enjoy this dish as well. This recipe needs both a hot plate as well as a grill. For a group of 6 people, you will need:

12 kielbasa links

12 sausage buns

1 large jar yellow mustard

6 large sweet onions

1 jar Olive Oil

First, on the pan, saute the sweet onions in a bit of olive oil on low for an hour and a half with a touch of thyme and salt. This might seem like a while, but the results are worth it.

While the onions are cooking, fire up the grill, wait until it is hot, and cook the kielbasa links until they show some char on the outside.

A few minutes before the kielbasa and onions are done cooking, pour the mustard into a bowl, this will help in the serving process.

Take the buns and smear the insides of the bun with mustard using a rubber spatula. Take the sausage and place one piece in each bun, and cover the top of the sausage with the now caramelized onions. The final product will look like this:29

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWALT/ACE/CMN Ford Fusion Good overall design however my main issue with the scheme is the very small writing on the side of the car. Designing a car with lettering too small to show up on the track that can be seen on the track or on television makes no sense at all. That said, this is still a good scheme, and I will give it a B

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Scotchguard Ford Fusion Everything I just said about the Marcos Ambrose scheme above applies here, as the Scotchguard logo is much too small. But the scheme is good and I will give it a B

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Ford Ecoboost Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design, works very well, and it gets an A

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s American Heritage Toyota Camry Kyle has great schemes, and this is no exception. The American Heritage chocolate line features chocolate made as it was back in 1750. The scheme has some light changes, including the American Heritage logo, and a stereotypical colonial hat on the quarter panel. It works very well, and it earns an A

Jeff Gordon #24 Drive to End Hunger/Fan Names on Hood Chevy SS Taking a terrible paint scheme to begin with, and adding tiny lettering to the hood is a great way to earn an F

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Quaker State Chevy SS Green and gold is always a great scheme, but the spike design just does not work at all. I can give it a C at best, but the spikes are just awful.

Jeff Burton #31 Utility Trailers Chevy SS Great color scheme and great design. This scheme earns an A

Ken Schrader #32 Safe Skies Locks Ford Fusion It is a very basic paint scheme however basic can be very good, as this scheme shows. Looks very smooth and very good, and has a great color scheme. It earns an A

David Ragan #34 Farm Rich Ford Fusion Mediocre color scheme, but what they did is that they took that color scheme and designed the car to look like the rolling hills of a farm, with the Farm Rich logo acting as the sun, which works very well, and I have to give this scheme an A

Josh Wise #35 The Pete Store Ford Fusion The template this team uses works well when they have a logo with the matching colors. This example works very well, and earns an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Time Warner Cable Chevy SS The blue is too bright, but the overall scheme is good, though I do wish Time Warner could pick a better logo. A

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.

Arm Gussets…Comfortable AND Safe!

By David G. Firestone

We’ve all seen them in telecasts and photos, but what many of us do not realize is what they are and what they do. I am talking about the arm gusset. Arm gussets are seen at the top of the sleeve on a driver suit, under the shoulder. They are a flexible piece of Nomex specifically designed to do two things. One is protect the driver, the other is give the driver some freedom of movement.10-labonte-rshoulder 10-labonte-lshoulder

Arm Gussets are almost always present on race-worn driver suits. Anyone who has worn a one-piece full body jumpsuit can attest to the fact that it restricts freedom of body movement. The gusset takes some of that restriction away. This is important when it comes to driving, because it gives the driver one less thing to concentrate on, and in the worst case scenario, can help a driver escape a burning vehicle much quicker.36-said-rshoulder 36-said-lshoulder

Gussets have very little variation, though I have seen one unusual one. In this Ricky Craven suit from 1996, the front of the sleeves look like they are attached to the body, whereas the back has a gusset in it. This would be done for driver preference of course, bur I have never seen a half gusset before or since.100_3458 100_3457 100_3456

This Lake Speed suit from 1997 is store bought, as opposed to custom designed, and it has no gussets. This suit would have some restriction of movement. Again this can come down to driver choice.9-speed-rshoulder 9-speed-lshoulder

The need for protection vs. the need for driver comfort is a major conflict in the world of racing safety. The gusset is a major meeting point between the two sides involved, and the drivers love them.

RIP Jason Leffler…you will be missed.

Now on to paint schemes.

Jame McMurray #1 Parade Magazine Chevy SS-Great color scheme, great design, nothing wrong at all, A+

Jame McMurray #1 Banana Boat Chevy SS-A scheme that could be a B+ is ruined by an awful color scheme. That orange is the worst I have ever seen on a race car. It takes this scheme and takes to a D-

Jamie McMurray #1 Bad Boy Buggies Chevy SS-An attempt to be innovative with design fails horribly here. The color scheme is decent, but the design is awful.

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Racing for a Miracle Ford Fusion-This is a major improvement over what they currently run. This just works! A+

Denny Hamlin #11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry-Seriously? Why does it look like a sperm is painted in red on the side of the car? The red/white/black color scheme works, but the door design is just awful! D-

Denny Hamlin #11 Fedex/Autism Speaks Toyota Camry-Much better! The puzzle design, and solid color scheme look really good here. The red 11 is amazing too! Can’t give this anything but an A+

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Chevy SS-Love the scheme, love the simple design and great color scheme.  Works very well and earns an A+

Clint Bowyer #15 5-Hour Energy Patriotic Toyota Camry-How is this patriotic? Oh….I get it…the stars….just one problem…THE COLOR SCHEME IS WRONG! If it was red white and blue I would like this, but this is just awful! You want to honor America, but can’t get the color scheme right? F-

Greg Biffle #16 Fastenal Ford Fusion-Since minor variations of this scheme were run by Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse, and Carl Edwards with minor variations between them, I will grade them all here. Solid scheme, good color scheme, A+ for all 3.

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Ace/Rite Aid Ford Fusion-The color scheme is good, but the door design is too busy. If it was one single color, it would work quite well, but being a mix of black, blue, red, and white it just looks confusing. It works, but not as well as it could, and earns a C+

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta Chevy SS-Another DuPont scheme with different logos that works very well. Good color scheme and design. A+

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Libman Chevy SS-The Libman green hood design just looks horrible on the yellow background of the car. The green is too light, and if it were darker it might work, but this scheme earns a D

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Patriotic Chevy SS-This is another patriotic scheme that works very well with a good design. A+

J.J. Yeley #36 Click it or Ticket Chevy SS-Good design, but awful color scheme. The green and blue is just horrible. If one or the other was used it might work, but this is horrific. F

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans Patriotic Chevy SS-Meh.  The design needs work.  Too much going on with the front of the car to earn anything above a C

Aric Almirola #43 Air Force Ford Fusion-Great design, simple design with a great color scheme. A+

Bobby Labonte #47 Bush’s Grilling Beans Toyota Camry-The overall design and color scheme is good, but the major flaw here is that the quarter panel has 5 different logos, most of which clash with the Bush’s scheme. It takes an A scheme and drags it down to a C

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS-The only bad thing I can say about this is that the red should be a little darker. Other than that, this scheme earns an A

Jimmie Johnson #48 Monsters University Chevy SS-If the blue was darker, I would like it more, but the blue is too light. Other than that, this is a solid scheme. B+

Martin Truex Jr. #56 Napa Patriotic Toyota Camry-Perfect…that is all I can say. A+