Showing Some Love for the NHRA!

100_3556By David G. Firestone

While the bulk of The Driver Suit Blog is devoted to NASCAR, which, admittedly is my favorite form of auto racing, I do follow other forms of racing, and collect items from many different forms of racing. I am a fan of NHRA drag racing, and I attend races when I can. I have a decent collection of NHRA memorabilia, so this week, I’m gonna show some love for drag racing.

First, let’s get some factual history out of the way. Founded in 1951 by Wally Parks, the National Hot Rod Association or NHRA was created to act as a governing body for the sport of drag racing. Parks had previously founded Motor Trend and Hot Rod magazines, and was a racing enthusiast . The NHRA has 80,000 members, 95% of which are non-professional drivers. While there are hundreds of drag racing classes, The three most popular and well-known are top fuel, funny cars and pro stocks.

Top fuel dragsters are 25 feet long, have the engine mounted behind the driver to provide weight to the rear tires, which are 36 inches high by 17 inches wide. They run on a 90/10 fuel mix, 90% nitromethane and 10% methanol.100_3531Funny cars are designed with a frame, engine, suspension and cockpit with a fiberglass body that raises up to allow access to the car. The name “funny car” came to be because the early models in the 1960’s had the rear wheel base moved forward, and huge rear tires. They didn’t look “stock” so they were called “funny.”100_3545Pro stocks are an interesting design. Whereas top fuel and funny cars use nitro burning supercharged V8’s, by rule, pro stocks can’t use superchargers, turbochargers, or nitrous oxide. They also run on 118 octane racing fuel. Little consideration is given aerodynamically, and the cars can be hard to handle.alderman1

In regards to race-used equipment, I have this timing belt from Bob Tasca’s Motorcraft Funny car, this one used in his first qualifying session at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Tennessee. This run he had a 4.15 second, 306 MPH run. This thing is HUGE, measuring over 64 inches in circumference and 3 inches across.tasca-belt2 tasca-belt1As well as an ignition coil and a spark plug from Morgan Lucas Racing. Ignition coils are used to turn on cars in general, but this MSD 8142 is designed to fire up these 8000 horsepower engines, which need a lot of electricity to start and operate. I was fortunate enough to have Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps autograph it in person.mlr-coil3 mlr-coil6 mlr-coil5 mlr-coil4 mlr-coil1 mlr-coil7 mlr-plug

One thing I wanted was a race-used piston. I recently got one, but it is in two different pieces. The piston rod itself was used and autographed by top fuel driver Bob Vandergriff, and the piston head was used and autographed by Brandon Bernstein, son of drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein. The piston head is 3 inches in diameter, and the piston rod is almost a foot long!vandergriff1 vandergriff2 bernstein-piston1 bernstein-piston2

One of the more oddball items I have is this 1987 Budweiser/NHRA driver suit. Here is what I can say definitively about this suit: It was made in 1987, shows a lot of use, is not safety certified, and shows the Simpson open-wheel tag. Other than that, I don’t know much about this suit and I’m still working on it.budweiser budweiser-lchest budweiser-rchest budweiserb budweiser-blogoNow we move on to die-casts. In my die cast article, I mentioned that I have a 1:32 Cruz Pedregon 1998 die cast from his days with Joe Gibbs Racing.pedregon-1 pedregon-2 pedregon-3 pedregon-4 pedregon-5 pedregon-6 pedregon-7 pedregon-8 pedregon-9 pedregon-11 pedregon-10

During my recent vacation, I found myself at a baseball card store. I bought a bunch of NASCAR die casts, as well as a Darrell Alderman 1:24 pro stock from 1997, where the doors open, and the hood comes off.alderman1 alderman2 alderman3 alderman4 alderman5 alderman6 alderman7 alderman8 alderman9 alderman10 alderman11 alderman12Also from 1997, this Tony Pedregon 1:24 funny car die cast, with a body that is removabletpedregon-1 tpedregon-2 tpedregon-3 tpedregon-4 tpedregon-5 tpedregon-6 tpedregon-7 tpedregon-8 tpedregon-9 tpedregon-10 tpedregon-11My personal favorite die cast is this Bob Vandergriff 1:24 top fuel die cast.vandergriff-1 vandergriff-2 vandergriff-3

Now we move from NHRA to NASCAR with…


Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Chevy SS  Not the worst patriotic scheme I have seen, but it it a bit overdone.  Giving it a C+

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

Danica Patrick # 10 GoDaddy Chevy SS  I didn’t think this was possible, but they took one of the ugliest schemes in racing and found a way to make it worse…the hood speaks for itself, and it says “I’m getting an F-!”

Greg Biffle 3M Window Film Ford Fusion What in the blue Hell is going on here?  This is the worst Greg Biffle scheme I have seen this year and considering how bad his schemes have been that is saying a lot.  F-

Travis Kvapil #32 Keen Parts Ford Fusion  Awful color scheme, and the goofy pyscadelic side design just looks awful.  I’m also laughing at painted on the side of a FORD!  F-

David Ragan #34 KFC Ford Fusion  Great color choice, smooth look, great all around design, I will give them an A+

Landon Cassill #40 Atlantic Plumbing and Utilities Chevy SS  Good color scheme, and the simple yet attractive design works well.  A

Kurt Busch #41 Haas Made in America Chevy SS  When it comes to patriotic schemes, it is hit or miss, and this is a hit.  The stars and stripes look good, and the overall design is solid enough to earn an A.

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

Before I go I need to cover an update to a story I discussed last week.  I had discussed Swan Racing going under due to lack of sponsorship.  I did not get a chance to discuss that Swan Racing has gone under, but the two cars, #26 and #30 have found new homes.  BK Racing is now the new home for the #26, and XXXtreme Motorsports is home for the #30, though it will change to #44, and keep the current owner points.  It is always sad when a team has to close, but at least the equipment did not go to waste.  Sadly, Parker Kligerman is now out of a ride for the foreseeable future.

Parts and Recreation

By David G. Firestonepettyrotor1

You know me for driver suits, but i also collect other things besides suits. Aside from helmets and other uniform items, i also collect other race-used items from the cars. Racing is half man half machine, and items from the machine make unique collectibles as well.

One of the most obvious things is sheet metal. Stock cars consist of a roll cage which contains the engine, suspension, and driver compartment. Covering that is what is called “sheet metal” which is a thin metal that has the shape of the car and where the paint scheme is added. The cars are “skinned” after each race. The sheet metal from cars has become a huge collectors market. Pieces can be as small as 1 inch squared, such as this Carl Edwards pieceedwards6, or huge, such as this Sterling Marlin door.marlin

Tires are also popular to collect as well. Tires can be purchased whole, but since they can weigh as much as 90 pounds, they are often cut up and the pieces are sold, like sheet metal. This example, used by Kevin Harvick in the 2002 Daytona 500 is an example. it gives a good example of the thickness of the tire, and the cords are visible as well.harvick-tire1 harvick-tire2  100_4233   This Kyle Petty/John Andretti card has two small pieces of tire, each used by the respective driver in the card. These are popular, and everything from suits to caps, to sheet metal wind up in cards.petty-card1 petty-card2

Race-used lug nuts go hand in hand with tires. Lug nuts are used once, and then sold after the race, such as these Tony Stewart examples. Lug nuts are Super glued to the rim, and one of these still has superglue residue on it.stewartlugnut-1 stewartlugnut-2 stewartlugnut-9

Mechanical components, especially engine components are interesting to collect, as there is no better representation of man and machine than a part of the heart of the machine. For example, I have a brake rotor used by John Andretti in the 1998 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte, which has been signed by Richard Petty. pettyrotor1 pettyrotor2 pettyrotor3 pettyrotor4This is a set released after Jimmie Johnson won his first sprint cup title back in 2006. johnsongroupIt contains a series of pieces used by Johnson, including a piece of sheet metal from his door,johnsonsheet

a spark plug,johnsonplug

a valve spring,johnsonspring

a piece of the track bar,johnsonrod

and a lifter.johnsonlifter

i also have a spark plug from Morgan Lucas Racing in the NHRAmlr-plug

an ignition coil from Morgan Lucas Racing, which has been signed by Tony Schumacher and Ron Cappsmlr-coil3 mlr-coil2 mlr-coil4 mlr-coil5 mlr-coil6 mlr-coil1 mlr-coil7

and a timing belt from Bob Tasca,tasca-belt1 tasca-belt2

I discussed this pit board from Chad McCumbee earlier in the yearmccumbee-pit-1 mccumbee-pit-2 mccumbee-pit-3 mccumbee-pit-4 mccumbee-pit-5

one last item from the equipment collection is this piece of Daytona International Speedwaydaytona1 daytona2 daytona3 daytona4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casey Mears #13 Geico Ford Fusion The yellow they use is awful, and the side design is just too lowd, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. NOS Ford Fusion I love this color scheme, however, I don’t love the side design. It has too many different different designs, all of which would work on their own but combined they look like a jumbled mess. I really want to like this scheme, but I just can’t, so I’ll give it a C-

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

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

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

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

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