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 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.

Every Great Outfit Needs Gloves and Shoes to Match!

10-riggsshoes - CopyBy David G. Firestone

Since the fire risk in racing is as high as it is, it makes sense that driver uniform includes fire retardant shoes and gloves to go along with it. Although they are frequently overlooked by many fans, they are just as critical to driver safety and comfort as the suit and helmet. Gloves and shoes have, like the suit and helmet, become fashion forward in recent years.

Let’s look at the gloves first. Gloves in racing are typically made of multiple layers of Nomex, and feature a textured layer on the palm, which is designed to help the driver grip the steering wheel. Gloves may be waterproofed for open cockpit racing, where rain and other inclement weather may not impede the race. The gloves give the same amount of protection that the suit does, roughly 30 seconds, and are certified by FIA and SFI. This example, worn by Hut Stricklin in 2000 shows the basics..90-stricklingloves


The textured palm…90-stricklingloves-rglovb 90-stricklingloves-gloveb


The thickness…90-stricklingloves-rsize 90-stricklingloves-lsize


as well as the liability tag and the safety certification…90-stricklingloves-ltag 90-stricklingloves-rtag

As I mentioned above, gloves have evolved to be more visible on in-car cameras. These examples, worn by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson show how these new customizations can take a simple safety equipment item, and add some visual appeal to it. A search on eBay reveals that these items do wind up for sale after they are used.

Next, let’s discuss the shoes.

Shoes are as important as gloves in terms of fire protection. Those 30 seconds of fire protection are critical for the driver to get out of a burning car. The basic design of the shoes are meant to help the driver, well, drive. Some drivers in years past have opted for nontraditional racing shoes, such as Dave Marcus who was well-known for wearing wingtips while racing.

Typical racing shoes consist of a rubber, fire retardant sole, with triple-layer Nomex material covering the foot. The tongue, and shoe laces are fire retardant as well. Velcro straps are frequently employed to secure the shoe as extra protection. Let’s look at a race-worn pair, this pair worn by Scott Riggs in the early 2000’s.10-riggsshoes

These shoes show the sole design,10-riggsshoes-bottom

Main design, with the reflective layer adding some extra protection…10-riggsshoes-rshoe2 10-riggsshoes-rshoe1 10-riggsshoes-lshoe2 10-riggsshoes-lsig

and thickness…10-riggsshoes-ltop


While the design of the gloves are fashion forward, the shoes are more utilitarian than anything else. But they do wind up on eBay sometimes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Bell Helicopters Chevy SS Love the simplicity in the design and color scheme, as well as Bell’s great logo! It is simple, yet elegant, and earns an A grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmer’s Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevy SS It’s amazing how a color change can affect a scheme. I graded the standard scheme at a D+ earlier this year, and with the black red and tan color change it takes it from a D+ to an A-. Notice that there is no real difference between the two schemes except the colors and the new one is so much better!

Kevin Harvick #29 Bad Boy Buggies Chevy SS I like this scheme for the same reasons as the Jamie McMurray Bell scheme, and it gets the same A grade!

David Stremme #30 Window Wax 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-

David Stremme #30 Lean 1 Toyota Camry See Above

Landon Cassill #33 Justin Workboots Chevy SS I like the design scheme except for the primary sponsor logo is a completly different color than the rest of the car.  The thing is that the two color schemes work very well by themselves, but the combo of the two just makes no sense.  It takes an A scheme and brings it down to a C…PICK A COLOR SCHEME!