Derek Jeter has had his number retired. Several teams this year have various anniversaries they are celebrating. All of them are wearing commemorative patches on their uniforms. Why is this important to The Driver Suit Blog? Because too much salt will ruin the soup. What does that mean, well, I saw that Jeter was wearing a patch to commemorate his upcoming retirement, and, well it got me thinking, and I’d like to talk about this issue, which has been getting on my nerves for a while. Sports uniforms in 2014 are designed to move merchandise, and this is the case in racing. I can’t begin to put the blame for this on NASCAR, so I won’t. But I do think that what happened in 1998 is a perfect example of why it doesn’t really work.
In 1998, NASCAR turned 50. In 1948, Bill France Sr. saw the potential for a unified stock car racing series, so at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, a series of meetings took place. France was in charge of the National Championship Stock Car Circuit or NCSSC, which was founded in 1947, but when the AAA refused to fund the series, France had to make do. Fonty Flock would win the 1947 NCSSC Championship. In December, the meetings took place at the Streamline, and the Series was supposed to be renamed the National Stock Car Racing Association, or NSCRA, but that name was used by a rival organization, so on December 14, 1947, the name NASCAR or National Association of Stock Car Racing Association. NASCAR itself was founded on February 21, 1948.
On February 15, 1998, almost 50 years to that day, the 1998 racing season began in great style with Dale Earnhardt Sr. winning the Daytona 500. NASCAR as a whole celebrated the anniversary in grand style, with NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers being named, and the sports history was celebrated. For an event like this, you need a good logo for it, so this design was utilized to commemorate the 1998 season.I vividly remember seeing this patch in Winston Cup Illustrated before the season start, and I can remember thinking “I am going to get so sick of seeing this patch by season’s end.” Well I was sick of it, and that was long before the end of the season. NASCAR smeared this patch on everything. Every NASCAR telecast had this logo. Anything and everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, sold by NASCAR in 1998 had this logo. Not even the iconic Barbie doll was immune from this plague. You couldn’t turn around in 1998 without seeing this logo. NASCAR wanted it that way. They used this logo to sell merchandise. That was the whole line of reasoning. This logo will sell merchandise, yes we are thrilled to be 50, but really they just want to move merch.
Every driver suit had this patch somewhere, as this Ted Musgrave example from that season shows. Decals would up on helmets as well. NASCAR used this to move merchandise, but it was so overused in telecasts and car designs, that I intentionally didn’t buy that much NASCAR stuff during that time. I could not wait for the season to end, and I didn’t have to look at that logo again. Sports uniforms as a whole are using more of these patches to sell merchandise, and frankly it’s now completely out of control. Sports jerseys retail about $100 on the low end, and these patches are used to sell more of them. Is a logo like that really worth shelling out $100 for a new jersey, or shirt, or jacket? I’m gonna say no.
After the 1998 season, the logo did go away, but not before another major issue with these types of logos come up. When these logos are being used, merchandise sells. When the season ends, and a new season begins, the logos aren’t selling as much, and the retailers who sell merchandise have a lot of this stuff that they have to put on sale to move it. This is not a small issue for retailers, as many of them are mom and pop stores whose profit margins are razor thin enough. In many instances, these items will be sold at a loss to make room for new merchandise. People will say that these are “collector’s items” but prices on eBay would lead me to believe that this is not the case. They make money for a short time, and lose money in the long term. This has become the case in general with commemorative logos on merchandise.
If this logo had been used on merchandise, but hadn’t been used in the telecasts as much as it was, I would be willing to work with it a bit more, but even in 2014, 16 years after the fact, my hatred for this logo is still with me. Words can’t say how much I hate seeing this logo again. What I’m about to say next might seem odd, but it is the truth…I don’t think it’s a bad logo. In fact, I think it’s a good logo, but I was so sick of seeing it, that I hate it. When you as a fan would watch a 3 hour long race, and had to see this logo in the corner while the race was on, and at every commercial break, it got really old, really fast.
It’s a problem with sports uniforms that’s endemic. It started with anniversaries, and moved on to number retirements, old stadiums closing, new stadiums opening, announcers retiring, players about to retire, and even anniversaries of tragic events. It has gotten out of hand. It moves merchandise in the short term, which is good, but too much salt will ruin the soup every time. Commemorative patches need to be toned down…way down.
Editor’s Note, we are now in October, and now starts the Pinktober, Pinkwashing, call it whatever you want, but for the next month, sports teams across the country will be using pink on uniforms and equipment to raise money for in support of breast cancer. Much of this does not go to serious research, but to more “feel good” charities that don’t really help. Toward that end, all pinkwashing schemes will earn an automatic F. If someone is bold enough to try pinkwashing and camo, it will earn them a one rank loss on the Paint Scheme Leaderboard, and automatic disqualification for the best paint scheme set in the Schemies.
First, we have some 2015 Schemes…
Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SS It has a good color scheme, and while it’s overdesigned, it still looks better than the current scheme. I’ll give it a C+
Ty Dillon #33 Yuengling Brewery Chevy SS I love the faded glory design, I think it works well, and I’ll give it an A+
Now onto the 2014 schemes…
Jamie McMurray #1 McDonald’s Monopoly Chevy SS Overall design is good, I like the color scheme, and it is a great looking car, A+
Michael Annett #7 Cypress Chevy SS Overdesigned and has a goofy color scheme earns an F every time.
Clint Bowyer #15 Five Hour Energy Pink Lemonade Toyota Camry Pinkwashing earns an automatic F.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Cargill Beef Ford Fusion I like the black flames on the blue background, but the orange and white stripes take away from it. It kills a great look with a great color scheme, and takes it from an A to a B-
Timmy Hill #32 US Chrome Ford Fusion Great simple design with a great color scheme earns an A+
Josh Wise #98 Vapor Station Ford Fusion Good design, good color scheme, A+