Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week 4, The Grand Finale

By David G. Firestone

The Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee meetings have been long, but not too contentious, I can’t stay mad at Alejandro when he shows me his belly, so now we present all 55 NASCAR Sprint Cup teams ranked from first to last on how their paint schemes looked. NR has a different meaning this week. NR now specifically referrs to teams that didn’t exist in 2013. Teams that ran different manufacturers in 2013 will be ranked when it came to last year. So, without further ado,

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 50 -The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Rank Last Year:2nd of 50-Classic, smooth looks with no needless clutter. Jimmie always runs great schemes

3-Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Rank Last Year:3rd of 50-The color schemes are good, and the design schemes work very well.

4-Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Rank Last Year:5th of 50-The zebra stripe Interstate Battery scheme wrecks a perfect score for Kyle this year

5-Stewart Haas Racing #4 Rank Last Year:NR-With the exception of Hunt Brothers Pizza, which uses an awful shade of green, Kevin has consistently run a series of great schemes.

6-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:18th of 50-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

7-Richard Childress Racing #31 Rank Last Year:35th of 50-A lot of great schemes this year, but Wix is overdone, and the Cat/Quicken Loans hybrid looks awful

8-BK Racing #23 Rank Last Year:NR-The Dip Your Car scheme is awful, but the rest of the schemes are very good, and are very attractive.

9-Stewart Haas Racing #41 Rank Last Year: NR-The Slate scheme does not work, but all the other schemes work very well.

10-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

11-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:6th of 50-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

12-Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Rank Last Year:24th of 50-A pink-washing scheme and a terrible shade of green on the WEMO scheme cost this team the 2nd place spot,knocking them down to 5th. They have run a lot of great schemes this season

13-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:45th of 50-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

14-Furniture Row Racing #78 Rank Last Year:4th of 50-The World Vision scheme needs work, as the color does not support a fade, but the Furniture Row, and Colorado Freedom Memorial work very well.

15-BK Racing #26 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-Bully Hill Vinyards is an over-designed joke with an awful color scheme. The yellow numbers on the Burger King scheme are awful, but the rest of the schemes are good, and defendable.

16-RAB Racing #29 Rank Last Year:NR-Good color scheme, mediocre design scheme.

17-Hendrick Motorsports #88 Rank Last Year:22nd of 50-National Guard, Mountain Dew, Kickstart, and Superman look good, and work well with the new number design, but Michael Baker, Kelly Blue Book, and Nationwide don’t at all.

18-Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Rank Last Year:11th of 50-While Cottonelle, the Silver Scheme, and Energizer work very well, but the rest of their schemes are mediocre at best. The white on the back doesn’t work.

19-Beard Oil Racing #75 Rank Last Year:NR-If the sides had a sponsor, and the stripe at the bottom was eliminated, it would work a lot better.

20-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:28th of 50-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

21-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Rank Last Year:15th of 50-While Bush’s, Clorox, Scott’s, Sullivan/Palatek, Kingsford, and Bush’s Grilling Beans work well,Kroger/USO is overdone, Charter Communications uses a horrid shade of green, and Hungry Jack just looks terrible.

22-Hendrick Motorsports #24 Rank Last Year: 36th of 50-Drive to end Hunger is too overdone, and the upside down D on the hood looks terrible. Their orange scheme is even worse. Panasonic is mediocre at best. Pepsi looks good, and all of the Axalta schemes are really good.

23-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

24-Joe Gibbs Racing #11 Rank Last Year:31st of 50-The Autisim Speaks scheme works well. The zipper scheme is decent, but odd. Sport Clips is over-designed, but with a good color scheme. The FedEx schemes have decent color schemes, but are over-designed on the front.

25-BK Racing #83 Rank Last Year:7th of 50-Voo Doo Barbecue is an over-designed mess. Dip your car is terrible, as is Zak. Burger King and Borla work well though.

26-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:9th of 50-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

27-Hillman Racing #40 Rank Last Year: NR-When the car doesn’t have a scheme, it looks very good. When it has a sponsor it looks awful.

28-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:27th of 50-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good

29-HScott Motorsports #52 Rank Last Year: NR-The black scheme is good, but the orange Florida Lottery scheme is a trainwreck. Less is more on a paint scheme.

30-HScott Motorsports #51 Rank Last Year:13th of 50-If the car is running a Brandt scheme it looks good, anything else looks terrible.

31-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 44th of 50-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

32-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:26th of 50-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

33-Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Rank Last Year:23rd of 50-Can all be summed up with medicore color schemes and mediocre design schemes

34-Swan Racing #30 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-The only time the car looked good was when it was unsponsored, but compared to last year’s design it looks amazing!

35-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:16th of 50-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

36-Richard Childress Racing #27 Rank Last Year: 20th of 50-Neon yellow looks terrible, when they use the stripes on the sides it looks even worse. The Pittsburgh Paints scheme looks really good though.

37-BK Racing #93 Rank Last Year:8th of 50-The Support Millitary scheme is the worst, and although Burger King, Dr. Pepper, and Iowa City Chop House do make up for it, it just isn’t enough.

38-CircleSport/Richard Childress Racing #33 Rank Last Year: 47th of 50-

39-Tommy Baldwin Racing #37 Rank Last Year: NR-Accell Construction has a great color scheme, but the design scheme ruins it.

40-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 Rank Last Year:29th of 50-Another example of a team where when the car is unsponsored, it looks better.

41-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:12th of 50-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

42-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:41st of 50-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

43-Identity Ventures Racing #87 Rank Last Year:NR-300 is a mess, and Morris,Hardick and Schinder/SmartBen looks too dull.

44-Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Rank Last Year:38th of 50-The Peak scheme is defendable, the color scheme is good, but the rest of the schemes are just awful.

45-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:34th of 50-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

46-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:25th of 50-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

47-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Rank Last Year:21st of 50-The over designing of the Bass Pro Shops schemes, as well as the use of orange and camo just look horrible. Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, and Code 3 look decent, but to some extent have issues. Mobil 1 is over designed, Rush uses too dark a yellow, Code 3 uses too bright a yellow.

48-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Rank Last Year:43rd of 50-Allstate Peterbuilt, and Pilot-St Jude Children’s Network work well, as both have good color schemes and design schemes. Anything else just looks awful.

49-Richard Childress Racing #3 Rank Last Year:NR-Cheerios is very good, and has a classic look. Dow schemes have a great color scheme, but have mediocre design. Anything else looks terrible on this car.

50-Germain Racing #13 Rank Last Year:40th of 50-The blue is too bright, as is the yellow. The car is overdesigned, and the whole car looks like a mess. The camo scheme is much worse.

51-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Rank Last Year:46th of 50-The only half decent scheme is Pepsi. Everything else is an over designed mess.

52-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Rank Last Year:37th of 50-The only scheme that doesn’t make my eyes hurt here is Aspen Dental. Terrible shades of orange and green, with ugly design. The pink-washing scheme is terrible.

53-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Rank Last Year: 49th of 50-Every single one of their cars is an ugly, over-designed mess that doesn’t look good at all.

54-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:19th of 50-Every scheme is terrible.

55-Michael Waltrip Racing #66 Rank Last Year:NR-Nothing about any of these schemes is good.

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Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week #2-Ford

Ford

By David G. Firestone

Last Week, Chevy teams were ranked. This week, the Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee, made up of myself, and Alejandro my black cat have determined how Ford’s teams will be ranked. Alejandro was slightly more useful this week, keeping my leg warm while he slept. As with last week, teams that did not exist or did not run Fords last year will be marked with NR for Not Ranked.

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 17-The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:6th of 17-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

3-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

4-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:2nd of 17-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

5-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:16th of 17-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

6-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:11th of 17-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

7-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

8-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:10th of 17-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good.

9-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:3rd of 17-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

10-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 15th of 17-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

11-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:9th of 17-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

12-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:5th of 17-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

13-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:4th of 17-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

14-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:14th of 17-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

15-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:12th of 17-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

16-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:8th of 17-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

17-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:7th of 17-Every scheme is terrible.

Ford is in the rearview mirror, but next week we move on to Toyota!

Why I Hate Politics and Paint Scheme Update

By David G. Firestone

I have a lot of paint schemes to discuss and we will get to that shortly. I wanted to discuss something that took place before the Coke Zero 400 last week. It is a bit murky, but here is what took place.

Charlie Crist is a former governor of Florida, and a former Republican. After a brief hiatus from politics, he has annoucned his intentions to run for the Governor of Florida as a democrat. He had plans to run the #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford driven by Josh Wise. After this was announced however, the Republican Party of Florida filed a lawsuit stating that it was a campaign contribution worth more than $3,000. Remember, this was the same team that was crowd funded by Reddit and Dogecoin at Talladega, and that sponsorship cost about $55,000. It was later reported that the Charlie Crist decals had been removed from the car. Phil Parsons Racing stated the deal was in response to a series of negative ads toward Crist, and that the Crist decals were part of a deal with recording artist Lee Brice. They also stated that they didn’t pull the sponsorship due to the lawsuit, and that the $25,000 sponsorship would be returned.

I frankly don’t buy any of that for a second. I think that it was because of the lawsuit, and that Phil Parsons Racing did not want to get thrown under the bus because of it. They tried to handle it as diplomatic as possible, but it still sounds sketchy. The other reason I have a huge problem with this is because the simple fact that politics and racing don’t mix. Look at what’s happened with F1 and IndyCar. Politics are a constant issue in the sport, and I for one am tired of it. Look at the Ayrton Senna/Alan Prost battle in the 1990’s! Look at The Split! Politics ruins racing!

This is not the first time a politician with deep pockets has sponsored a race car, but I hope that this is the last time. I’m not against politics, I’m against forcing it into something it has no place being in! If tobacco, cel phone carriers, and hard liqour have or had been banned from sponsoring cars, then so should politicians.

Ok enough serious stuff, on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS!

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Hawker Chevy SS Nothing bad to say here…A+

Jamie McMurray #1 Lexar Chevy SS Great Color Scheme, great design, A+

Austin Dillon #3 Great Stuff Chevy SS Color scheme is good, the design looks very odd. The gold numbers and chain design does not suit the car at all, and if they were left off, I would give it an A, but this scheme earns a B-

Austin Dillon #3 NRA Museum Chevy SS Good color scheme, decent design, B+

Austin Dillon #3 Cheerios Protien Chevy SS Much too overdeisgned, decent color scheme, C-

Kasey Kahne #5 Team Stream Chevy SS Good color scheme, but Kasey loves to drive overdesigned cars, and this is no exception. I’m giving it a C which is a very fair grade here.

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Chevy SS Good color scheme, decent design, B+

Marcos Ambrose #9 Black and Decker Ford Fusion Good color scheme, Good design, A

Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy/Florida Lottery Chevy SS It looks like two people designed this car, and they didn’t talk to each other while designing it. Both sets of color schemes are awful, and both design schemes are awful. F-

Greg Biffle #16 3M/DAV Ford Fusion Green usually doesn’t look good, camo never looks good, so this scheme earns an F

Greg Biffle #16 3M Aerospace Ford Fusion See Above F

Greg Biffle #16 NESN 30th Anniversary Ford Fusion A bit less overdesigned, at least by Greg Biffle’s standards, and I do like the Red Sox and Bruins logos as well, so I will give it a C

Greg Biffle #16 3M Ford Fusion Good color scheme, decent design, B+. Nice change for Greg Biffle.

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Battery Center Toyota Camry No. Redeeming. Features. Whatsoever. F-

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Cargil Ford Fusion Much MUCH TOO OVER DESIGNED! F

Jeff Gordon Panasonic Toughbook Chevy SS Blue and white work very well, and while it is a bit over designed, it works, and I’ll give it an A

Jeff Gordon #24 Pepsi Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, A+

Cole Whitt #26 Rinnai Toyota Camry The color scheme is good, and the design is great, so it gets an A+

Cole Whitt #26 Tapout Muscle Recovery Toyota Camry Simple design, great color scheme, A+

Boris Said #32 7-Eleven Ford Fusion I normally hate green on race cars, but this works well. I like the design scheme too, and I give it an A

Bobby Labonte #33 Thunder Coal Chevy SS Great simple design and a great color scheme, A+

Alex Kennedy #33 MediaCast Chevy SS The color scheme is awful, and the design is worse. F

Reed Sorenson #36 Theme Park Connection Chevy SS Ugly design, good color scheme, C-

David Gilliland #38 Long John Silvers Free Fish and Fries Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme, great look, A+

David Gilliland #38 Love’s Truck Stops Ford Fusions CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! F

Landon Cassill #40 Snap Fitness Chevy SS So So design, good color scheme C+

Kyle Larson #42 Target Chevy SS Whadaya Know? An A+ Patriotic scheme!

Aric Almirola #43 Waffle House/Smithfield Ford Fusion The understated patriotic design scheme works well, and the color scheme works well too. B-

Justin Algaier #51 CSSUSA Chevy SS Looks good, overall design is good, color scheme is good, and I’ll give it an A

Brian Vickers #55 Aarons/Florida State Toyota Camry Good design with a good design color scheme, A

Brett Moffit #66 Toyota Toyota Camry Good color scheme, simple design, looks very good, A

Tommy Drissi #66 Hercules Toyota Camry I don’t even know where to begin…it just looks awful. F

Martin Truex Jr. #78 World Vision Chevy SS Good color scheme decent design, B-

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Kelly Blue Book Chevy SS A decent scheme, but a bit overdeisgned. Color scheme looks good. B

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS See David Gilliland Love’s above. F

Michael McDowell #95 K-Love Ford Fusion I like the color scheme, and the overall design is another good Levine Family Racing scheme that earns an A

Josh Wise #98 Dogecoin Ford Fusion Good simple design with a good color scheme equals an A grade

Josh Wise #98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford Fusion Since this design is what was raced, I will grade it as such. The color scheme is decent, but it is a tad too overdesigned. It is a D+ look.

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.

The Sprint Unlimited Preview

By David G. Firestone

The 36th Sprint Unlimited starts tonight at 8:15 ET on Fox. This marks the beginning of the Daytona 500 and the beginning of the NASCAR season. I will be looking forward to it, and I will enjoy it as always.

The field will feature pole award winners and past winners of the event. These include:
· Denny Hamlin (4 poles)
· Kyle Busch (3 poles)
· Joey Logano (2 poles)
· Jimmie Johnson (2 poles)
· Matt Kenseth (2 poles)
· Ryan Newman (2 poles)
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2 poles)
· Jeff Gordon (2 poles)
· Carl Edwards (2 poles)
· Marcos Ambrose (1 pole)
· Kurt Busch (1 pole)
· Kevin Harvick (1 pole)
· Brad Keselowski (1 pole)
· Mark Martin (1 pole)
· Jamie McMurray (1 pole)
· Danica Patrick (1 pole)
· Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (1 pole)
· Terry Labonte (past winner: 1985)
· Tony Stewart (past winner: 2001, 2002 and 2007)

The event will feature a number of segments which were voted on by NASCAR fans including myself, and many of you. The first segment will feature laps followed by a second segment of laps, and then a third segment of laps. Many special paint schemes will be run for this race, as is traditional. My personal favorite is the Miller Lite Throwback scheme being run by Brad Keselowski.

Now some factoids about the race.

*There are, in total, Chevy drivers, Ford drivers and Toyota drivers.

*Chevy has 20 wins, Ford has 7 wins, and Toyota has 1 win.

*Mark Martin has competed in 20 consecutive events from 1989-2008.

*Dale Earnhardt Sr. has won 6 events, more than anyone else in 1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 and went on to win the Sprint Cup Championship 4 times in 1980, 1986, 1991, and 1993, he is one of 7 drives to do so.

*From 1979-2011 the event was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, first called the Busch Clash which was the brainchild of Monty Roberts, brand manager of Busch Beer, who sponsored the Pole Award. It remained the Busch Clash until 1998, when Budweiser took over the Pole Award, and it was renamed the Budweiser Shootout. In 2012, Sprint, the series sponsor took over the sponsorship after Budweiser announced they would drop the sponsorship in favor of sponsoring the Duel Races that determine the starting order of the Daytona 500.

*Petty Enterprises was not eligible to run the Shootout because of a rule stating that only drivers that ran the Busch/Budweiser pole award decal were eligible to enter the shootout. Richard Petty and his family did not support alcohol sponsorship or decals on race cars. So John Andretti, Bobby Hamilton, Jeff Green, and Aric Almirola who all had a number of poles with Petty Enterprises were not eligible to participate. I find it interesting that Petty has reversed course on the alcohol sponsorship rule, since Kasey Kahne was sponsored by Budweiser, and Marcos Ambrose will run at least one race sponsored by Twisted Tea.

*Buddy Baker won the inaugural Sprint Unlimited in 1979, which was a 20 lap sprint.

*Since many top drivers were excluded from the race due to not winning a pole award, they moved to the TV booth as color commentators. These included Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1981, Richard Petty and AJ Foyt in 1982 and 1983, Neil Bonnett in 1993, Darrell Waltrip in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999, and Kenny Wallace in 1998.

*There has never been a driver who has won the Sprint Unlimited, Budweiser Duel and Daytona 500 in the same year. Drivers have won 2 of 3 in a season, but never scored the hat trick.

*One of the first instances of a special paint scheme being used specifically for the Sprint Unlimited was the Chroma Premier scheme run by Jeff Gordon in 1997. He followed it up the next year with the legendary Chroma-lusion scheme, which feature a paint that changed color. Since then, special schemes have become commonplace.

*Richard Childress Racing has 8 Sprint Unlimited wins, most of any team. Hendrick Motorsports has 6 wins, and Joe Gibbs Racing has 5 wins.

The Unlimited starts tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox Sports 1, and I look forward to watching the event as I hope the rest of you do too.

Though I have had a VERY busy week, I still have time for…

Paint Scheme Reviews!

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

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-

Michael Annett #7 Accell Construction Chevy SS See Above

Marcos Ambrose #9 Mac Tools Ford Fusion Good color scheme here, and decent design, worth a B

Clint Bowyer #15 AAA Insurance Toyota Camry Great color scheme, good design, worth a B+

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Peanut Toyota Camry I like this, it has a great shade of yellow, hard to find in NASCAR these days, and the peanut motif works very well. It is an original design, and I’ll give it an A

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion  This is why The Wood Brothers won the Paint Schemies and took the top spot in the Paint Scheme Leaderboard.  A++

Joey Logano #22 Autotrader.com Ford Fusion  Sometimes orange works, sometimes it doesn’t.  This is an example of an orange scheme that just doesn’t work.  If the white was taken out completely it might work, but this is just horrid, and I give it an F

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

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Peak Chevy SS Good design, awful color scheme, D+

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion I’ll give it a C+ until I can see a picture WITHOUT an Instagram filter!

David Ragan #34 CSX Ford Fusion  What in the hell is going on here?  Why is the hood decal upside down?  Why in the world would they do that?  Were they drunk when they decaled the car?  The only thing that I can guess is that it is designed for an in-car camera…but that makes no sense either!  F-

David Gilliland #38 Loves Truck Stops Ford Fusion  Good color scheme, decent design, plus unlike David Ragan, the hood decal is in the correct position, A-

Bobby Labonte #52 Phoenix Racing/HScott Motorsports Chevy SS Great color scheme, very simple yet attractive design, can’t say anything bad about it, A+

Michael Waltrip #66 Blue Def Toyota Camry While I like the field motif, it looks too much like the Windows XP Bliss background for me to take it seriously. I’ll give it a B-

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Kelley Blue Book Chevy SS  During my Daytona Preseason Thunder article, I said I wanted to see the #88 they used on a real car.   I got my wish, and I like this design overall.  The metallic gold is a bold choice, it doesn’t always work well.  I give it an A+

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

As many of you know, I don’t just research and collect driver suits and racing items, I collect and research many other things.  I recently had a column run in Uni-Watch concerning some lettering from the 1958 Washington Senators, and you can read my column here.

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 1-Ford

By David G. Firestone

I started ranking all the teams last week, with the Paint Schemie Awards, and I figured I would continue this week with the Paint Scheme Leaderboard. The concept is that over the next 4 weeks, I will rank all the drivers by team. The rules are the same as the Paint Schemies, and I will rank the teams, first by Manufacturer, and then by all the teams running the Sprint Cup Series. A random drawing has Ford going first, followed by Chevy next week, and then Toyota the following week. The last week, will be all 50 teams that ran in the Sprint Cup Series this year.

So, without further ado, let’s look at how Ford’s NASCAR teams fared in the paint scheme world this year:

#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-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.

#3 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.

#4 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.

#5 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.

#6 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, pinkwashing, and Patriotic schemes need some work.

#7 Roush Fenway Racing #16 Greg Biffle had a lot of great schemes, but he had a number of awful ones as well. Get rid of the pinkwashing scheme, the Scotchguard, give blood, and Megulars schemes, and he would be in the top 5.

#8 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.

#9 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.

#10 Front Row Motorsports #35, See above

#11 Front Row Motorsports #34, See above, aside from the CSX scheme, which looks great, and the Peanut Patch scheme which looks awful.

#12 Roush Fenway Racing #99 Geek Squad and Fastenal work well, the rest…not so much.

#13 Germain Racing #13 Nothing really wrong, but nothing really right with these schemes.

#14 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.

#15 Phil Parsons Racing# 98 The schemes come in one of two food groups, bland or awful. Great colors, but the designs are horrid.

#16 Levine Family Racing #95 Worst template in NASCAR.

#17 Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Yuck.

Next Week, the Chevy Leaderboard!

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Paint Schemie Awards!

CIMG1130By David G. Firestone

For the end of the 2013 Season, I will reveal the best  and worst paint schemes and driver suits of 2013. This was done using a focus group of one, namely myself, and uses the following standards:

Color Scheme:How the colors look, and how they work with each other.

Overall Design:How good the design itself looks, is there too much, or not enough.

Primary Sponsor Logos: How the primary sponsor logos look on the car

Originality: How original is the scheme. Note that originality can work both for and against a scheme in award voting.CIMG1130 - Copy

Let’s get the bad paint scheme awards out of the way.

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Single Paint Scheme.

The nominees are:

Dave Blaney #7 Sany Ford Fusion

Clint Bowyer #15 Duck Dynasty Toyota Camry

Greg Biffle #16 Red Cross Give Blood Ford Fusion

Landon Cassil #33 Chevy SS

Austin Dillon #33 Honey Nut Cheerios Chevy SS

Brian Keselowski #52 Star Coach Motor Tours Toyota Camry

And the Paint Schemie Award for worst single paint scheme goes to…

BRIAN KESELOWSKI #52 STAR COACH TOYOTA CAMRY

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Exhibition Race Paint Schemes. This category is a little different, as the Schemies will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

The Paint Schemie Award for Worst Exhibition Race Paint Scheme Goes To:

BRIAN KESELOWSKI’S SPRINT SHOWDOWN SCHEME

The Paint Schemie Worst Dressed Driver Award goes to Joey Logano

Our next category is the Award For Worst Scheme Set of 2013, which is given to the team that consistently runs bad paint schemes throughout the season.

The Nominees Are:

David Stremme #30 Toyota Camry

Scott Riggs #44 Ford Fusion

Carl Edwards #99 Ford Fusion

The Winner for Worst Scheme Set of 2013 goes to:

DAVID STREMME #30 TOYOTA CAMRY

The Paint Schemie Award for Most Degraded Paint Scheme goes to Kasey Kahne, who’s scheme from 2013 is much worse than that of 2012.CIMG1130

Now the nominees for Best Single Paint Scheme are:

Kyle Busch #18 Doublemint Gum Toyota Camry

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion

David Ragan #34 CSX Play it Safe Ford Fusion

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Target Chevy SS

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS

David Reutimann #83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry

The Paint Schemie Award for Best Single Paint Scheme Goes to

KYLE BUSCH #18 DOUBLEMINT GUM TOYOTA CAMRY

The next two Paint Schemie Awards are for Best Exhibition Race Paint Scheme, and Worst Exhibition . These are a little different, as they will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

And taking these schemes into consideration, the Paint Scheme Goes To:

JIMMIE JOHNSON’S SPRINT UNLIMTED SCHEME!

The Paint Schemie Award for Most Improved Paint Scheme goes to:

Kevin Harvick

who improved his schemes from 2012 to 2013

The Paint Schemie Best Dressed Award goes to:

Jimmie Johnson

Now, our final Paint Schemie Award, The Best Scheme Set of 2013:

Now for this, I will take a look at the best Chevy Schemes, followed by Ford, and then Toyota, and then finally I will reveal the winners of the Paint Schemie Awards.

And now, the 5 best Chevy teams that have consistently run great schemes:

#1 Jimmie Johnson The classic design that is paired with different color schemes every once in a while works very well. The design gives the car a very clean look, and is a very timeless look.

#2 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing’s “less is more” approach works very well here, with a matte black, white lettering and red letters. They always look good, thought I wish their results on the track were as good as they look.

#3 Kevin Harvick Kevin has had, for the most part, done quite well. All of the schemes have great color schemes, and most have great sponsor logos, and are decently original. Originality works well here, but some of the overall designs, namely the Bad Boy Buggies and Rheem/Budweiser combination schemes need a lot of work, but otherwise Kevin Harvick has had a great season paint scheme wise.

#4 Juan Pablo Montoya The Target scheme is very solid, with great colors, great overall design, and great sponsor logos. Not original, but solid. The most original scheme is the Axe Apollo scheme, but that was just brutal. It had a decent color scheme, and a decent sponsor logo, but the whole outer-space motif just did not work. If Axe Apollo was not on the car this year, Juan would be at the top of the standings.

#5 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott Motorsports A team that has a very consistent track record when it comes to good color schemes, originality, as well as primary sponsor logos, the team can sometimes have serious issues with overall design. The Hendrick Cars scheme, and the Guy Roofing scheme are just brutal in that category.

Moving on to Ford.

#1 Trevor Bayne The Wood Brothers haven’t run a full schedule this year, but when they have shown up, they have always looked good. The schemes are original, since the Wood Brothers used these schemes for many years, and the colors, overall design, and sponsor schemes are always great.

#2 Aric Almirola The Transportation Impact scheme is keeping Almirola from the top spot, because it does not fit the team at all, and it just looks brutal. Other than that scheme, which while original, has awful colors, and overall design, every scheme they ran is solid, with the STP/Farmland scheme almost making up for Transportation Impact.

#3 Sam Hornish Jr. His one and only appearance in the Sprint Cup came at Kansas this year, and this one scheme, with great colors, great overall design, and great sponsor logos worked very well. I gave him 3rd, since everyone else on the list ran full schedules, and he only ran one race.

#4 Marcos Ambrose The Mac Tools scheme looks odd, with a great color scheme, but iffy overall design. The Stanley logo redesign could have worked well, but the black covering the front and headlights does not enhance the look at all. I was not a fan of this scheme at the beginning of the year, but some slight adjustments to the color scheme worked well.

#5 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. A “pinkwashing” scheme makes an appearance, which takes away from the overall grade. That said, this team has great color schemes all year, but some of the overall designs have a bit too much noise. Sponsor logos work well, and Ricky has had a great year.

Last, but certainly not least is Toyota.

#1 Michael Waltrip/Mark Martin/Brian Vickers Every scheme they have run has been a hit, with great color scheme, great overall design, great sponsor logos, and decent originality. No bad schemes here!

#2 Kyle Busch Overall great design, color schemes, and primary sponsor logos, Kyle also has the most original schemes of the top contenders for the Paint Schemie awards. That said, the Mprove America needs a different shade of blue, while the white Interstate Batteries scheme could use a different color besides white.

#3BK Racing Great color schemes, sponsor logos, and overall design. These designs work well, except for the Old Dominion scheme, which is just awful. Everything that the other schemes are, Old Dominion is not, and it is keeping BK Racing out of the top spot.

#4 Martin Truex Jr. Overall, this team works well when it comes to colors, overall design, originality, and primary sponsor logos, except for the camouflage scheme. The camouflage scheme was awful, and it knocked Martin out of the top spot.

#5 JTG Daugherty Racing 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. If these schemes were fixed, there is no reason why JTG Daugherty could be in the top spot.

Now I will take these top contenders, and rank them in order from worst to best. These top contenders should feel very proud that they have earned a spot on the countdown.

#15 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

#14 JTG Daugherty Racing

#13 Martin Truex Jr.

#12 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott Motorsports

#11 Marcos Ambrose

#10 Juan Pablo Montoya

#9 Kevin Harvick

#8 Sam Hornish Jr.

#7 BK Racing

#6 Aric Almirola

#5 Kyle Busch

#4 Kurt Busch

#3 Michael Waltrip/Mark Martin/Brian Vickers

#2 Jimmie Johnson

And Finally The Paint Scheme Award for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2013 goes to:

#1 Trevor Bayne

Congratulations to everyone who won a First award, and to everyone who won a Worst award…paint your cars better!

To conclude the Paint Schemie Awards, I will finish with a top 10 list I have been wanting to do for quite a while.  These are the

TOP 10 SPONSORS I MISS IN NASCAR

10 Skoal Bandit The shade of green they used was one of the best, and the car has a classic look that always looks good.

9 Kodiak  A simple look, with my all-time favorite shade of green ever used on a race car.  I have a lot of Kodiak race-used items, and they all look good.

8 Miller Genuine Draft  Rusty’s MGD scheme had a much simpler design than the Miller Lite scheme, and it had a much better color scheme.  I really hope they throwback to this scheme at some point.

7 Tide  Are there any orange schemes that could ever live up to Tide?  No, this is the best orange scheme in the history of auto racing.

6 Smokin’ Joe’s  It had a great color scheme, and it had a very 1990’s design, that oddly enough still looks attractive.

5 Western Auto/Parts America   The chrome numbers, the layered fading, the color scheme, it just comes together very well.

4 The Family Channel  The logo is awesome, the colors can’t be any better, the lettering is great, and it just comes together very well.

3 Kodak  If there is or was a better shade of yellow in NASCAR, I haven’t seen it yet!

2 Texaco/Havoline  Great simple design, with an amazing hood logo, and great color scheme.

1 GM Goodwrench  This scheme is, in a word, perfect.  It doesn’t evolve, it doesn’t have to.  It is simply perfect.

There is one last piece of business that I need to address.  I like to keep it light on the Driver Suit Blog, but sometimes I have to address a news story that is heavy, like this story that was released on Thursday.  Dario Franchiti, who has won 3 Indy 500’s, 4 Indycar Championships, and 21 races announced on Thursday, that due to injuries sustained at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on October 6.  During that race, he was involved in a scary wreck, and suffered spinal and knee injuries that doctors have told him are too serious to resume his career.  13 fans, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were injured in the wreck as well. I’m saddened that a talented driver had his career end like that, and I really wish it didn’t have to.  But what I really hope is that IndyCar learns what lessons need to be learned, and make changes to safety so that the chances of this scenario repeating are lowered.  I know that there will always be the risk of injury or death in auto racing, that adds to the mystique of the race car driver, but every wreck has a story to tell.  These stories should be looked over, and changes made so that another talented in the prime of his career does not have to go through what Dario had to this week.  Fans should also be able to go to a race, and not have to worry about getting hurt during a wreck.  If the investigation in this  incident results in changes that keep fans and drivers from serious injury in the future, than the lessons have been learned. My thoughts and prayers are with Dario and his Family right now.

The First Question…Where Do You Buy This Stuff?

By David G. Firestone100_2479 100_3147

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tailgating Time!

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

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

Paint Scheme Reviews

First we start with 2014 schemes…

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

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

Now on to 2013 schemes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Helmet Stripe-An Unusual Place For Sponsorship

By David G. Firestone14A

Last week, I had a column run on Uni-Watch, and I delayed this article until this week.  Two weeks ago, we discussed visors, this week, we will discuss what has become known as the “helmet stripe.” Helmet stripes came from IndyCar and Formula 1 cars, which are open cockpit cars. Helmets are clearly visible to television cameras and fans. As a direct result, helmet design in Formula 1 has become its own unique art form. Helmet designs become a part of the driver identity. The other thing that these open cockpits allow is for sponsorship opportunity. As such, a small opaque stripe is used on helmet visors.lepage-3

In NASCAR, the visor was slow to arrive. This is due to two reasons, first, many drivers up until the mid 1990’s chose to wear open-faced helmets. While these helmets had a shade to help keep the sun out of a driver’s eyes. While sponsor logos do show up, they were used for the driver’s name. This Brad Noffsinger example from 1988 is an example of that.Noffsinger-4

The second reason that helmet stripes were slow to come to NASCAR is that in-car cameras, while used, were for many years positioned in such a way that the visor would not be seen. Even if helmets were painted, the visor had no stripe. When the in-car cameras were positioned to film the driver from the side and even from the front, the helmet stripe became the standard. The stripe is designed to fit over the part of the visor that overlaps the opaque part of the helmet, as this example shows.musgrave2 musgrave3

Helmet stripes have become standard. To show how it affects the overall look of the helmet, I took this Kevin Lepage helmet from 1999, and edited the pictures to show how it looks. lepage-2  lepage-4  lepage-6

Not bad, but let’s compare it side by side to the original helmet…lepage-7 lepage-8 lepage-9

Helmet stripes have become a unique way for a driver to customize a helmet, as this video shows: Facebook pages and Twitter helmets are becoming standard on these. All visors that a driver would wear on a helmet have these stripes, which is standard, as visors are changed on a regular basis, and sponsors want the advertising space that they pay for.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Because of the Uni-Watch article last week, I didn’t get to review paint schemes.  Within the last couple of weeks there were a large number of 2014 paint schemes released. Now I know that many of these will change before the start of the 2014 season, but I will grade them anyways.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion  Same scheme as this year, same grade, C

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy SS Same Scheme as last year, same grade, A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy John’s Chevy SS  They improved one of the best schemes in NASCAR and went from an A to A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevy SS The color scheme remains the same but red takes over from beige as the primary color, which gives the car a great look, and an A grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips Chevy SS Same scheme as this year, same D+ grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Pepsi Max Cheyv SS Same scheme as last year, same F grade

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Ford Fusion Great color scheme, though the nose, and quarter panel design are over done. Even still, I give it a B-

Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion See Above

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS I get that two companies with different desgin schemes are sharing the car, but this is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS The white and black contrast just looks awful! I really hope this changes before the season starts, because this is a scheme that is painful to look at. I have to give it an F

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy SS As bad of a color scheme as this is, it is certainly better than the other two Tony Stewart schemes are. That said, the color scheme warrants an F while the design warrants an A, so I’ll split the difference and give it a C

Greg Biffle #16 3M Ford Fusion This scheme is a MAJOR improvement over this year’s design! All of the pointless noise on the door is gone, and the car has a very smooth look because of it, and I have to give this design an A

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Nationwide Insurance Ford Fusion Great color and design schemes, though the white on light blue lettering and logos are hard to see. Even still, I have to give it an A-

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same grade, D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion  See Above

Jeff Gordon #24 Pepsi Max Chevy SS I gave this scheme a C-, but given the *ahem* other Pepsi Max scheme, I’ve reconsidered, and I will give this scheme a B

Ryan Newman #31 Caterpillar Chevy SS  An improvement on an already good scheme, A+

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion If the hood and front were done in the stars design, and the rest of the car was red and white striped, it would look better, and I would be able to give it more than a C+

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS Supposidly, this will be the main scheme for the whole season, and I have to say it looks amazing, and is an A+ grade

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes/Kobalt Chevy SS This will be run for a few races, and it is an A+ scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same A grade

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever, F-`

Now on to new 2013 paint schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Auburn University Chevy SS The white hood and roof just look aukward, compared to the black covering the rest of the car.  That said, it is still a decent scheme, and I’ll give it a B

Dave Blaney #7 Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Marcos Ambrose #9 Bostitch Ford Fusion The 2014 scheme is previewed here, and I’ll give it the same B- grade I gave the 2014 scheme.

Landon Cassill #33 T-Mone Chevy SS This is a perfect example as to why only one person should design a car.  It looks like it took at least 3 people to design the car, each with a different idea as to what the car should look like.  And in the end it is just a mess, and not even a good color scheme can give this scheme a passing grade.  F

David Ragan #34 Safercar.gov Ford Fusion  See Above. F

JJ Yeley #36 United Mining Equipment Chevy SS Even if I didn’t give pinkwashing schemes an automatic F, this scheme would get an F anyway, it just looks awful

Kyle Larson #51 Target Chevy SS Simple, yet attractive, and it earns an A

Kurt Busch #78 Wonder Bread Chevy SS  To celebrate the return of Wonder Bread, Kurt is going to channel Ricky Bobby, except for one difference…this scheme is a lot better than the Ricky Bobby Scheme.    No flames and the baloons coming from the brake duct are a great look for this car, and it earns an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Mountain Dew/Xbox 1 Chevy SS  It has a great color scheme, and that is the nicest thing I can say about it.  The design is just awful, and it looks like it will give people seizures as it drives around the track.  I give it an F

Blake Koch #95 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion Eww…Too much going on, with the over-sized camo in too many different colors, and the door design which is awful. F-