Die Casts-Celebrating the Machines

100_4177 - CopyBy David G. Firestone

How I have gone as long as I have without delving into the subject of die casts? I really don’t know, but for this week’s column, we are going to discuss it. Racing as a sport is half man, half machine. When it comes to collectibles, they both get virtually equal billing. One of the biggest collectibles in racing is the legendary die cast car.

Die cast cars began as an industry in the early 20th Century, but the early cars were very basic, with a simple body design and rolling wheels. They were of very poor quality, lacked detail, and often broke for no apparent reason. An zinc-based alloy named Zamak solved this problem. In 1953 Jack Odell, co-owner of Lesney Products in England had a moment that revolutionized the industry forever. His daughter went to a school that allowed the students to bring toys, provided they were small enough to fit in a matchbox. He created a small die cast steam roller that could easily fit in a matchbox. For the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, he created a similarly sized model of her Coronation coach. After selling 1 million of these small coaches, he realized he was on to something, and thus the Matchbox line of die cast cars was born. In 1968 Mattel launched the Hot Wheels brand, which, like Matchbox created cars in 1:64 scale, or S-Scale for railroading. In 1997 after being sold numerous times, Mattel bought Matchbox and has been fostering the brand ever since.

Race cars are a popular version of die casts, as most boys who love racing will buy the die cast of their favorite driver, and play with it as if they are driving the car. I’m guilty of this, as I’m willing to bet the majority of racing fans are, if you don’t believe, check this out. In the beginning, die casts were marketed and sold to kids, but as time went on, it became clear that grown up fans liked these as well. So die cast manufacturers began to create larger “adult collectibles,” typically in either 1:18 scale, or 1:24 scale, or one of the accepted G scales. The adult die casts will feature alcohol and tobacco sponsors, and are much more accurate in design, with cloth window nets, and working hoods, decklids, and roof spoilers. As time progressed, these cars gained a very dedicated following, and have become very profitable for NASCAR, IndyCar and F1. Interesting to note that the standard size for NHRA and NASCAR die casts is 1:24 and 1:64 whereas IndyCar uses 1:18 and 1:64 and F1 use 1:18 and 1:43. NASCAR die casts can also be purchased in 1:43, 1:32, and 1:18, here is how they compare to each other:100_4177

An adult collectible die cast as mentioned above, is very accurate, such as this Jamie McMurray example from 2010. The amount of accuracy in this design is stunning! 1-mcmurray-1 1-mcmurray-2 1-mcmurray-3The window net is made of cloth,1-mcmurray-1 - doorthe contingency decals are all accurate1-mcmurray-1 - number

the roof features a place for the in car cameras, as well was a pair of functioning roof spoilers.1-mcmurray-1 - roofThe hood opens to display a very accurately recreated engine.1-mcmurray-1 - hoodWhereas this Dale Earnhardt Jr. die cast, this one a children’s toy has a plastic window net,88-earnhart-1 88-earnhart-2 88-earnhart-3the contingency decals aren’t as accurate,88-earnhart-1-doorthe roof does not feature working roof spoilers, or an in-car camera pod,88-earnhart-3 -roofand the hood doesn’t open.88-earnhart-3 - CopyIf we look at an IndyCar die cast, we see some different things. This example is an Alex Barron example from 1998, purchased because I have the matching driver suit. This particular die cast is a 1:18 scale, and features a working suspension that when you move the wheels move the steering wheel. Everything else about the car, including the helmet and driver suit are perfect as compared to the real car.36i-barron-1 36i-barron-2 36i-barron-3Everything that I just said about the Jamie McMurray die cast can also apply to this Dale Earnhardt IROC model. Again the accuracy in this design is amazing!1-earnhardt1 1-earnhardt2 1-earnhardt3 1-mcmurray-1 - de hoofOne of my personal favorie die casts is this Cruz Pedregon 1:32 die cast from 1998. The body can be removed from the rest of the car to reveal details of the car.pedregon-8 pedregon-9 pedregon-10 pedregon-1 pedregon-2 pedregon-3 pedregon-4 pedregon-5 pedregon-6 pedregon-7pedregon-11Haulers, which are used to transport cars to and from races, but they aren’t made as much today as they used to, sadly. This example is a Ricky Rudd example from the early 1990’s.rudd2 rudd1 rudd3Now we move from replica cars to the real ones as we get to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Brad Keselowski #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion Very solid design, the yellow works very well, and the black numbers and stripes work very well, and I can’t give it anything less than an A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Wurth Ford Fusion Another very solid design with a great color scheme that earns an A+

Dave Blaney #77 Plinker Arms Ford Fusion I would love for the side design to be more simplified. It is a decent scheme, but the door design is too busy, and it is very distracting. I give this scheme a C-, bad design, good color scheme.

Ryan Truex #83 Borla Exhaust Toyota Camry This is actually a great scheme, with the oversized exhaust design that starts on the area where the real exhaust starts, and extends to just under the numbers. The number has been redesigned since last year and they work very well. I give this scheme an A.

In Memorandum 2013 Continued.

Andy Granatelli-Former CEO of STP, partially responsible for STP’s sponsorship of Richard Petty.

Bruce Pepper-Brother of ThorSport Racing GM David Pepper.

Dennis Wood-Former owner of Phoenix International Speedway

Now comes the best news of the new year so far…THE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA STARTS LATER TODAY!  The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship starts off the racing season later today.  Fox will carry the first part of the race starting at 2PM/1PM CST, and Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 will carry the race as well.  You had better believe I will be watching and enjoying it.

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Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Kasey Kahne 2005 Event Worn Driver Suit

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For the season finale of the 10th season of Introduction to Sports Memorabilia, I present this Kasey Kahne driver suit which he wore at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show.

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.

Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Christian Fittipaldi 2003 Race-Worn Driver Suit

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One of the more unusual driver suits that I have come across, this Christian Fittipaldi Bugles suit from 2003.

Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Jody Miller 2005 Race Worn Driver Suit

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A uniquly designed Jody Miller Toyota Tundra race worn driver suit from 2005 will be examined this week.

Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Kenny Wallace 1999-2000 Race-Worn Driver Suit

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Kenny Wallace is in the spotlight this week, as we look at a race-worn driver suit circa 1999-2000, which he has boldly autographed across the front.

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-

 

Nomex-The Core Of Driver Suits

By David G. Firestonenomex1

I must have said the word Nomex a thousand times on this blog, but what exactly is Nomex? In short, it is a flame-resistant meta-aramid cloth material. It is an aramid material, which is the same thing as Kevlar, but it is not as strong as a bulletproof vest, but it has great thermal, as well as chemical resistance, which makes it great for racing firesuits.Untitled

The development of the Nomex firesuit has been a long road. This road has seen its share of driver deaths and injuries. Before the Coca Cola 600, I discussed the deaths of Fireball Roberts, Eddie Sachs, and Dave McDonald in fire-related crashes over the course of 6 days in 1964. What took place from there would cross the paths of racing and a young drag racer.

Bill Simpson was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1940. He took up drag racing at a young age, and at age 18, broke both arms in a drag racing crash. As he recuperated, he thought of safety in racing for the first time. He developed the idea of an X shaped parachute, and using materials from his uncle’s army surplus shop, developed a functional drag racing parachute. Don Garlits noticed the new parachutes, and took an interest, which helped the Simpson Drag Chute company to form. As time went on, he started making other racing equipment, which caught the attention of drivers, and, oddly enough, NASA. During a project, he met Pete Conrad, who introduced the now 27 year old Simpson to Nomex in 1967.

Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. Far from the uses it has today, 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. Simpson saw what the material could do, and decided it would work well to make driver suits, and other uniform items.nomex1nomex2

Contrary to what most people think, Nomex is not fire PROOF, rather it is fire RETARDENT. It does burn, but burns at a much slower rate, and that protects the driver in the event of a fire. Bill Simpson decided to show how much better this material was by having a “burn off.” He put on one of his Simpson racing suits, doused himself in gasoline, and lit himself on fire. Though he was fully engulfed in flames, he was not hurt. Though he admits that is was a bad idea, it sold drivers on Nomex. Even today, 46 years later, Nomex is still the go-to material for driver suits.nomex3

Nomex is used for many other things. Nomex sheet is used in power cords for insulation. Fire-fighters use Nomex for protection in saving lives. Fighter pilots wear Nomex suits in case of cockpit fires. Nomex was developed for NASA and NASA still uses a lot of Nomex. It is used in what NASA refers to as the “Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit”, or in regular English, the “outer layer of a spacesuit.” The spacesuits that space shuttle astronauts wore on liftoff and touchdown were primarily made of Nomex. Almost every project that NASA has done in the last 40 years involves Nomex in one form or another, so it is a very versatile material.

Interestingly, as safety concerns increased, and safety equipment changes for the better, you begin to see that Nomex is beginning to have competition in the driver suit market in terms of fire protection. While I’m typically a traditionalist when it comes to sports uniforms, for driver suits that is a great thing. Developing a new material that serves the same purpose as Nomex, but can do it better and longer is a great thing. Eventually, Nomex will go the way of typewriters, film cameras, the printing press, and the floppy disk as an invention that is obsolete but changed the world.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Some new 2014 schemes released this week:

Danica Patrick #10 Apsen Dental Chevy SS  Even though this scheme is better than the *ahem* current Aspen Dental scheme, it still does not look good.  But it is still an improvement, and I’ll give it a C

Ryan Newman #31 Quicken Loans Chevy SS  Great color scheme-Check, Awesome use of Northwestern stripes-Check, classic design-Check, A+ Grade, Double-Check!

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS  The numbers kill what is otherwise a great scheme.  I like everything else, but the color of the numbers looks really odd, and I can’t really say it adds to the car at all.  Still it is a decent scheme, so I’ll give it a B

Now we move on to 2013

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx One Rate Toyota Camry  Very clean look, with a very good color scheme, can’t say anything bad about this, A+

Greg Biffle #16 Pink 3M Ford Fusion  Pinkwashing is an automatic F.  I hate it when companies use causes like this to move products, so I show no mercy in this sence.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Pink 3M Ford Fusion  See Above, F

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 My Best Buy Ford Fusion The blue used on this scheme is a tad too light, but it is still a decent scheme, though the lighter blue takes it from the A grade Best Buy had to an A-

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil/Hertz Ford Fusion I’ll be honest, I want to give this scheme a better grade, but the Hertz logo just looks out of place here, and it is awkward on an already iffy scheme.  Best I can give it is a D-

Cole Whitt #30 Black Clover Toyota Camry  Swan Racing seems to go out of its way to design bad paint schemes this year, and this scheme is no exception.  It has no redeeming features at all, and earns an F-

Jeff Burton #31 Sleep Innovations Chevy SS  Great color scheme, though the design on the front is a bit overdone, still a good looking scheme that earns a solid B+

Aric Almirola #41 Maurice Petty Tribute Ford Fusion  Tribute schemes have worked very well across the board, and this is no exception.  Simple, timeless, yet attractive, a great tribute to a great engine builder.  Extra points for using Maurice’s #41 for the weekend.  Interestingly, Maurice raced in a total of 26 Sprint Cup races, and had 7 top 5’s and 16 top 10’s during the 1960’s.

Travis Kvapli #93 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry  An A+ scheme all around.

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-

The ONLY Time A Visor Looks Good!

By David G. Firestone100_4068

Some time ago, I did two posts focusing on one item, and for the next two weeks, I’ll do something similar. A part of the driver uniform that is seen by virtually everyone but not really discussed is the visor in the helmet. We see them on in-car cameras and on television, but we don’t think about them by itself that much. It seems like a minor part, but it has an interesting history.

From the 1920’s through the late 1980’s, helmets were primarily open-faced. This example is from the 1960’s, and was worn by Maine short track driver Jim McConnell.mcconnell-5 mcconnell-3 mcconnell-1 mcconnell-7 mcconnell-8

These helmets are very simple in design, they just cover the whole head, except for the face. The downside to this is that when the sun shines in the driver’s eyes, or if the car is an open-cockpit the wind can and will force the drivers eyes closed, or fumes from the car can get in a driver’s eyes. As such, these helmets were worn with goggles.100_3182

As full-faced helmets took over, the visor came attached to the helmet. The early ones were basically plexi-glass but as safety certification got more advanced, the visors were and still are fire tested. They also have to stand impact testing as well. As the helmets became more advanced over the years, so did the visors. Let’s take a look at one:100_4068

This visor is from the McDonald’s helmet I covered earlier in the year. It is made of a very tough, but very light clear plastic. The visor is attached to the helmet by 3 screws, two that hold the visor to the helmet and a third that guides the visor and keep it in the proper place. There was a 4th one, but it was removed at the driver’s request. The visor has some unique features. At the bottom-left side there is a small flap, which is used by the driver to open the visor. Next to the small flap is a hole for a small peg. The peg goes in the hole, and holds the visors shut, but is small enough so that if a driver wants to open the helmet, they can do so with no trouble. Drivers frequently leave the visor open slightly, so two small knobs, one on each side so the driver can open or close the visor.100_4069

Notice that it has a yellow-ish tint. This is one of 3 options for drivers, dark tint, light tint, and clear. The visor is designed to be easily changed at the drivers request. Clear visors are used for night races, and tinted ones are used for sunny races. In the event a race goes from day to night, a driver can use a tinted tear off, so that when it gets dark, they can remove the tint and have a clear visor.100_4070 100_4071

Like eyeglasses, visors get scratched over time. As such, they are changed often. Like most other items racing teams and drivers use, when they are no longed needed, they are sold to the general public. They are frequently autographed by drivers, and are a popular item to get signed by drivers. They are interesting to look at, and interesting to examine up-close. All helmet visors in this day in age have a sponsor stripe across the top, and we’ll cover that next week.

Paint Scheme Reviews

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Greg Biffle #16 Sherwin Williams Ford Fusion See Above

Tony Raines #40 Moon Shine Attitude Attire Chevy SS See Above

and we have a new 2014 scheme

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SS It’s amazing what a different shade of paint can do to a paint scheme. This years Farmer’s scheme earned a D+ because of the primary color, this scheme earns a B+ because of the color. The design needs some work, but the whole scheme is a major improvement.