Neck Backs…A Hotbed for Unique Customizations.

36-saidThe driver suit is almost always customized for the driver, and as such, the driver has the option of adding customizations to the suit. This may come in the form of size,

and belt design,36-barron-belt

 

but the back of the neck is a unique place for customizations. The designs that are placed on the back of the neck are as unique as the driver themselves.36-barron-neck

I’ve gone at length to discuss the FIA certification which is frequently sewn into the back of the neck. This is a prominent feature in Formula 1 and IndyCar. That is standard issue, so no real need to comment on it any more.barber-neck

n NASCAR, the back of the neck can be used for a myriad of different customizations. One of the most common is a car number, such as this Christian Fittipaldi suit, 45-fittipaldi-bneck

and another common feature can be sponsor logos, such as this Randy LaJoie Bob Evans suit from 1999-2000,1-lajoie-neck

and this Joey Miller Craftsman Truck Series suit from 2005.12-miller-blogo

This Kasey Kahne suit has the Evernham Motorsports logo sewn into the back of the neck.9-kahne-neck

And Roger Penske likes to have the American Flag on the back of the neck of his suits, as evidenced by this David Stremme suit from 2009.12-stremme-neck

Older Simpson driver suits have been known to have an inventory number sewn here, as exampled by this Mike Skinner suit from 1997,31-skinner-future

and this Stevie Reeves example, again from 1997.96-reeves-neck

But for my money, the personal customizations are more fun when they are as unique as the driver is. In this Terry Labonte suit, Terry has added a Texas logo.10-labonte-neck

My favorite customization is from a Boris Said suit from 2005. Said has added a Boris Badenov design to the back of his neck.36-said-neck

It’s the little things that make a suit personal, and these are some of those little things. Who says a driver suit can’t be fun.

And of course, it goes without saying that the neck is frequently left blank, as exampled by this Nort Northam suit from 1988.56-Northam-neck

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Patriotic Chevy SS Pretty good scheme here, red white and blue is always a solid scheme, but the one gripe I have is the pointless circle around the door number. While it gives the car a vintage look, it is just out of place here. Even still, this scheme is a solid A-

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Patriotic Ford Fusion Solid scheme, nothing to complain about, A+

Kasey Kahne #5 Hendrick Cars Chevy SS Red white and black is a very solid color scheme, and the design, while a bit convoluted looks really good. It has a hurricane-esquire design that looks really good. A-

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy .US Chevy SS The simple design of this scheme looks really good…but what is going on with the colors? Why is the car painted in Russian dressing green? Russian dressing is good, but not as a color scheme. The red white and blue designs clash, and it just looks awful. D-

Clint Bowyer #15 Peak Blue DEF Toyota Camry I gave this scheme a B grade, and the logo change on the hood does nothing to either add or subtract for this grade. B

Greg Biffle #16 3M Statue Of Liberty Ford Fusion Amazing how a better color scheme, as well as the Statue of Liberty design take a C grade and bring it up to a B

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries All Battery Center Toyota Camry Now THIS is what an Interstate Batteries scheme should be! The classic dark green, gold and white color scheme is amazing, and the design is simple yet very attractive. Giving this scheme an A+ is not saying enough about how great this scheme is!

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta Standox Chevy SS White flames on a blue background? Seriously? I could forgive it if it was blue flames on a white background, blue flames look really good. But white flames? This design ruins a great color scheme AND a great design scheme TOGETHER! Now that is impressive! F-

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevy SS The Patriotic schemes worked quite well this year, and this is another example of that. A-

Jeff Burton #31 Quikset Chevy SS Decent color scheme but the design needs a little work. If the red was on the hood, roof and deck-lid and the black was on the sides, I would give it an A, but the shark-fin design is brutal on the eyes, and serves no real purpose. As such, I can only give it a C-

JJ Yeley #36 Golden Coral Patriotic Chevy SS Another A grade Patriotic scheme.

AJ Allmendinger #51 Neil Bonnett Throwback Chevy SS While I like most throwback schemes, this one, while accurate, has the worst color scheme I have ever seen. It just screams 1980’s. Hot pink and neon yellow really stands out, and not in a good way. Still, I do miss Neil, and they were pretty accurate, so I will give this scheme a B

Carl Edwards #99 Subway Ahhvocado Ford Fusion Good color scheme and a simple design. I’m not a fan of avocados on sandwiches, but this is a good solid A scheme.

Advertisements

Warranty Labels…Unseen by Many

90-stricklin-tagBy David G. Firestone

This week, we take a look at a suit feature that is unseen by most race fans. Every suit has one, the so called “Liability Tag. ”-Every piece of racing equipment has some form of “liability tag” which basically states that anything that happens to the wearer of the item is the wearer’s fault and not the company’s fault. The Simpson tag, which has remained virtually unchanged since the 1980’s reads as follows:

“Warning-Auto Racing is Hazardous-this Article is sold without warranty expressed or implied. No warranty or representation is made as to this product’s ability to protect the user from any injury or death. This garment is made of Nomex and other flame retardant materials. Even with the high quality of this garment there could be fires or circumstances where this garment will give only minimal protection. Nomex underwear should be worn under this garment. This garment is manufactured to comply with the rules as set forth by S.C.C.A., N.A.S.C.A.R. , S.F.I., F.I.A., and other regulatory bodies.”Cleaning Instructions” Dry clean only. Dry clean alone. Specify using perchloroethylene only.”36-barron-tag2

Sparco’s tags are located behind the zipper andhave two different statements. Older suits have this tag:

“Although this product is manufactured from special materials that satisfy certain safety standards and may carry the approval of various authorities for its use in specific circumstances the manufacturer or supplier can not be held liable for its protective qualities under all activities, circumstances, and conditions.”barber-tag1

Newer Sparco tags have this warning in both English and Italian:

“It is important to carefully read the user’s handbook concerning the care of the garment. This suit will offer protection from fire and the transmission of heat for a limited time, but it does not offer total protection against any kind of hear or fire. The fabric used to make this suit is subject to aging. It is recommended that the suit is inspected frequently for any signs of wear or damage that may result in a loss of protection to the wearer. If the suit has been worn extensively and shows signs of war or damage it is recommended to wear another suit. Sparco is not responsible for any damages the suit incurs from improper use of the suit bu the user, or any third party. Through improper care of the suit, misuse of the suit, or discoloration of the suit from perspiration, or any use of the product after the expiration date, as described in the instruction manual. Do not leave this garment under sunlight, or any artificial light. This suit is not intended for use in go-karts.”12-stremme-tag

 

Impact! Suits use this simple warning:

“Motorsports are dangerous. the user of this product assumes the risk of injury or death. No warranty or representation is made that this product will protect the user from injury or death”

This is by no means unique.  Almost all sports equipment to a certain extent has this type of warning.  This example is from an XFL helmet. outlaws-helmet9 outlaws-helmet10 outlaws-helmet7

On to Paint Schemes…from here on out, I will only review Sprint Cup paint schemes.

Paul Menard #27 Rheem Chevy SS/Serta Chevy SS Basically the same scheme as his regular scheme, but with two different hood logos…nothing really to say here…C-

Kevin Harvick #29 Jimmy Johns Chevy SS Great color and design, but I still don’t understand why Jimmy Johns sponsors Harvick instead of Jimmie Johnson…still a solid A scheme

Jeff Burton #31 Qwik-Set Chevy SS Grey…so much grey…so bland…so boring…C-

Josh Wise #35 Blockbuster Ford Fusion Didn’t Blockbuster go bankrupt? Apparently they have enough money for a one race deal…though the color scheme of the logos, and the car are different…C-

Scott Riggs No Label Watches Ford Fusion A great color scheme ruined by awful number design and medicore car design. C-

Michael Waltrip Aarons/Alabama Crimsion Tide Toyota Camry Decent color scheme and a simple, yet elegant design that works for both the car, and Alabama. It earns a solid B+

The Epaulet…What It Was, and What It Is

Aside

12-miller-rshoulder - CopyThe mighty epaulet, every racing fan has seen them, but few understand what they are for. They are now mostly for fashion and sponsor exposure, but epaulets have a more interesting history than one might think.12-miller-lshoulder

Back in the 1950′s and 60′s, racing suits were supposed to provide fire protection, but early versions of the suit were very unreliable. Many drivers perished in fires, and sometimes, drivers were trapped within the car, unable to escape the raging inferno within their car. The solution? The epaulet. Mounted on both shoulders, epaulets were reinforced strips of fabric specifically designed to help pull an injured or unconscious driver from a burning car. Epaulets quickly became an integral part of the driver suit.10-labonte-rshoulder

As racing technology became more advanced, the need for epaulets for safety began to decrease, but this was happening at a time when coverage was increasing and sponsorship was rising. It did not take that long for sponsors to realize that they could slap a logo on the epaulet and get the company name more visible on pictures and TV interviews. As such the epaulet made the successful transition from safety feature to fashion accessory.

10-labonte-lshoulder

As in-car cameras began to become commonplace across racing, epaulets evolved with them. I mentioned in a previous post that Christian Fittipaldi favored epaulet styles used in F1 and IndyCar. When Sparco first came to NASCAR in the early 2000′s, they brought their epaulet style with them, and it quickly became the standard for NASCAR epaulet style. Most driver suits worn in NASCAR today involve some variation of the Sparco epaulet. They have evolved very well over the years, and are a familiar part of the driver suit

Moving on to paint schemes…

First the NASCAR Camping Word Truck Series

Ty Dillon #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy Silverado Bass Pro Shops has a great scheme this year, both in the Cup series, and this scheme is just good. Nothing wrong, everything right, Final grade: A+

Brendan Gaughn #62 South Point Hotel and Casino Chevy Silverardo This scheme is very simple, and looks really good. The color scheme is solid, and brings back memories of Rusty Wallace driving for Miller Genuine Draft. The lettering is easy to read, and stands out. Final Grade: A

Now on to the Sprint cup Series…

Trevor Bayne #21 Ford Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion I think this is a prototype, but that said, this is still a classic scheme. It has a great color scheme, number design, and is just a solid scheme all around. Final Grade A+

Jeff Burton #31 Cheerios Chevy SS This scheme is rather under designed for my taste. The color scheme is decent, but the gray Cheerio design is hard to see, and looks more like soda carbonation rather than breakfast cereal. Final Grade C+   On a related note some more pics from the Caterpillar scheme have been released, and they are still using the same scheme from last year.  It is pretty good, so my final grade will not change.

Austin Dillon #33 Honey Honey Nut Cheerios Chevy SS Now this is just awful. The color scheme is bad, and the HONEY NUT CHEERIOS lettering is nearly invisible. The bright blue Kroger logo looks out of place, and the tailpipe decals with rookie stripe just takes more away from an already bad scheme. Final Grade F-

Phantom Sponsorships.

By David Firestone

12-stremme

At first glace, this driver suit looks like it has no primary sponsorship at all, but dig deeper and you find the real story behind it.

From 2000 to 2008, car #12 in the Sprint Cup was driven by Ryan Newman and sponsored by Alltel Wireless. In 2002, Ryan Newman’s first full season the series was sponsored by Winston cigarettes and called the Winston Cup Series. In 2004, Winston left the series and Nextell took over as the series sponsor. At that time, there were a number of wireless companies sponsoring cars in the Cup series, including Cingular and Alltel. As they were under contract with teams before the Nextell sponsorship took effect, they were allowed to stay as car sponsors in the Cup series under a grandfather clause.

The first phantom sponsorship happened in 2007, when Cingular merged with AT&T. That set into motion a chain of events that began early in the season, when AT&T tried to re-brand the 31 car driven by Jeff Burton, and Sprint said that it was a violation of the grandfather clause. After a number of injunctions and legal wrangling, came the 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol in August, when NASCAR, under pressure from Sprint told the 31 team that they could not have any AT&T logos on the car, hauler, pit shirts, driver or crew uniforms, or helmets. The result was this unique scheme.

800px-JeffBurton2007BristolAugustRacehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/98572459@N00

Eventually a settlement was reached where the Cup team could keep AT&T decals on the car for the rest of the season, but would have to find a new sponsorship for the next season. This deal was met, and the next year, Jeff Burton drove a Caterpillar sponsored car.

In 2009, the Alltel sponsorship changed because Verizon purchased most of Alltell’s assets. Instead of a long court battle, Verizon, who was also sponsoring Roger Penske’s IndyCar teams basically sponsored the team but focused on their Nationwide Series with car logos, as the restrictions on Verizon were not in effect in the Nationwide Series, and allowed car #12 driven by David Stremme to run a Penske Racing scheme for the car they were paying for. That resulted in this very stylish David Stremme driver suit, currently in my personal collection.

12-stremme

The thing I find interesting is the fact that even though the car was running Penske decals, no mention of Penske is visible on the collars or shoulders, and no television logos are present.

12-stremme-collar

I also think it is interesting that the red stripes across the chest look like Verizon logos, but are just different enough to throw Sprint off the scent.

12-stremme-flogo

Unless the primary sponsor of the series changes again, with seems unlikely in the foreseeable future, I can’t imagine this happening again. It also should be noted that both AT&T and Sprint took flak for their actions during the controversy. I really hope this doesn’t happen again in racing, ever.