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 2- Chevy

By David G. Firestone

Last week, I ranked the Ford teams based on their paint schemes, and this week I will do the Chevy teams and next week I’ll rank the Toyota teams, so without further ado all the Chevy teams ranked from best to worst:

#1 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.

#2 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.

#3 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

#4 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing #42 Get rid of the Axe Apollo scheme and the Camouflage scheme, and Juan Pablo Montoya would have the top spot.

#5 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.

#6 Richard Childress Racing #27 The yellow is too bright, but other than that, the schemes are really good.

#7 Stewart Haas Racing #14 Some of these schemes are good, others not so much.

#8 Hendrick 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.

#9 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.

#10 Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 This team looks better without a primary sponsor than they do with one.

#11 Max Q Motorsports #37 Simple, yet attractive. Would be higher if they ran more races.

#12 Circle Team Sport #40 Interstate Moving is really good. Moon Shine Attitude Attire is really awful, and their pinkwashing scheme is even worse.

#13 Richard Childress Racing #31 A few good schemes but most of them are mediocre at best.

#14-Hendrick Motorsports #24 See Above

#14 Stewart Haas Racing #10 Worst shades of yellow in NASCAR, and the pinkwashing scheme is so much worse.

#15 Stewart Haas Racing #39 I have to give them credit, their schemes are mostly awful, but at least they are creative.

#16 Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Worst. Door. Number. Ever. The rest of the car isn’t good either, and a pinkwashing scheme doesn’t help.

#17 Hendrick Motorsports #5 Innovation can be a bad thing. This, for example is what happens when you let Karl Benjamin design your cars.

#19 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.

Some Thoughts on the Sprint Unlimited and An Introduction to Photo matching

Here are my thoughts on the Generation 6 car after the Sprint Unlimited

Here is a video showing the new cars in action…

Why did the roof logos come to NASCAR? I stated during Winter Testing that I thought that the logos would show up on roof cameras…but they can’t. The logos on the roof are all but invisible to the in-cars, and are next to impossible to see at speed on the regular cameras circling the track. The whole point of sponsorship is for the logos to be seen, but the roof logos defy that, so really, they are useless

Fox debuted several new cameras, including a revamped zipline camera called the CAMCAT that flies over the track, and a gyroscopic camera that stays level even when the car is on a banking. The new zip line camera is really good, and the gyroscopic camera gives the fan a really good idea of how banked the track really is.

The new cars in general look really good, and I was wrong about the names on the windshields. They do look good, and they are easy to see with the in-cars. I don’t approve of the manufacturer logos on windshield on either side of the name though. In addition to the larger roof flaps, the cowl flaps are visibly bigger, and have been moved to the hood.

The orange Home Depot back bumper on the Dollar General Toyota driven by Matt Kenseth looks really weird. As does the door design on the Target Chevy.

Man! Kevin Harvick’s car looks really good, as does Dale Jr’s! Martin Truex in the Napa Toyota is the most improved paint scheme of the whole field.

The cars seem to be sparking more than they did last year. They also look “cleaner” than they did last year. They have cleaner lines and cleaner windshields.

Speaking of windshields and windows the side windows need to be attached better. During the wreck, one car lost a side window, and Carl Edwards lost a side window in the final laps of the race. NASCAR needs to look into that.

The fan picks format worked really well, and I hope this shows up again during the All-Star Race

Now on to photo matching.

One of the best ways to authenticate a driver suit as having been worn by the driver is to find a photo of the driver wearing the suit. In many instances, this is not possible. In other instances the driver wears several different suits throughout the season, and finding the exact suit can be difficult. Let’s take a look at a Ricky Craven suit from 1996.41-craven

This suit was difficult to photo match but I thought I had in this photo from Fuller Motorsports and Collectibles.41-craven-4

Upon closer inspection, this suit in the photo and the suit in my collection are not the same.41-craven-1

 

The location of the yellow RACING embroidery is in a different location, the leg stripes in the photo are white whereas the suit I own has green leg stripes…but modifications are not uncommon, and the name and GOODYEAR logos are in different places as well.41-craven-3 41-craven-2

 

This card is from 1996, and shows Craven clearly wearing the suit in my collection.41-craven-5

 

The RACING, GOODYEAR, and name are all in the correct place. The only difference is that the ALARM SOUTH and MANHEIM AUCTIONS logos are not seen in the card, but on the suit they were clearly added later. They are patches on the suit whereas everything else is embroidered on the suit.41-craven-7 41-craven-6

Now on to paint schemes…a lot of ground to cover

We start with the Truck Series

Dusty Davis #1 Accell Chevy Silverado Good Color scheme, simple yet attracive design, final grade: A

Jeb Burton #4 Arrowhead Chevy Silverado Color scheme is great, but the door design is a little overdone. The Arrowhead sponsorship could be used better with an arrowhead design on the door. Still it is a decent design that earns a B-

Justin Lofton #6 MADVAPES Chevy Silverado The early 1990’s called, they want their design back. All joking aside, this is actually a good scheme. The color scheme is great, and the design, while loud, is attractive. Final Grade A

John Wes Townley #7 Zaxby’s Toyota Tundra There is nothing right with this design. Everything here is just awful, and earns the F grade it deserves.

Max Gresham #8 AMWINS Chevy Silverado The side stripes are good, the color scheme is good, and it gets an A grade

Ron Horniday #9 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevy Silverado First off, I thought snuff was banned as a sponsor from NASCAR…oh well…anyway, the design is good, and the color scheme is good, thought the gold could be a little bolder. Final Grade A-

Jennifer Jo Cobb #10 Driven2Honor.org Chevy Silverado No redeeming factors at all…F-

Brad Keselowski #19 DrawTite/National Watermelon Association/Reese Racing Ford F-Series The Reese and DrawTite schemes are A grades, but the National Watermelon Association scheme gets an A+ for the graphics on the bed of the truck that make it look filled with watermelons..that is just awesome!

Ryan Blaney #29 Cooper Standard Ford F-Series Another great color and design scheme, and I love the yellow wheels…A+

James Buescher #31 Rheem Chevy Silverado The Same as Kevin Harvick, and it is a good scheme…A

Devin Jones #35 Veristor Chevy Silverado Good colors bad design…C

Ryan Sieg #39 Pull-A-Part Chevy Silverado Good color scheme, but mediocre side design…C-

Kyle Busch #51 Toyota Care Toyota Tundra. Normally I would give this a bad grade, but give the fact that it is Kyle’s truck, the design and color schemes just scream Kyle Busch, so it is rather appropriate. I also love the Days of Thunder numbers and ROWDY above the door…A-

Darrell Wallace Jr. #54 Toyota Care Toyota Tundra I’ll forgive this one as well…A-

Dakoda Armstrong #60 Winfield Chevy Silverado This I will not forgive for one simple reason…THE SPONSOR LETTING IS NEXT TO INVISIBLE ON THE WHITE BACKGROUND! The point of sponsorship is to make your logo and lettering as visible as possible! As such, this scheme gets an F

David Starr #81 BYF/Chasco Toyota Tundra Good color scheme and simple yet attractive design work well here. I like the Lone Star logo on David Starr’s truck as well…A+

Moving on to Nationwide Schemes

Brad Sweet #5/Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Great Clips Chevy Camaro This looks like a paint scheme that was thrown together at the last minute by an art student. The color scheme is odd, and the design is just weird. What does this has to do with a barber shop? Final Grade D+

Paul Menard #33 Menards Chevy Camaro Pretty much the same scheme as his Sprint Cup Scheme…Same grade too C-

Parker Kligerman #77 Toyota Toyota Camry You can never go wrong with a plain black car with white lettering…A+

Now on to the Sprint Cup

Jamie McMurray #1 Race With Insulin Chevy SS A good design based on Charlie Kimball’s IndyCar race car that has a simple yet good design, and a great color scheme. My only complaint here is that the stripe doesn’t go far enough back. Final Grade: B+

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips Chevy SS Huh? What does this design have to do with a barber shop? This design looks like the team didn’t have enough of one single color and went with a patchwork design to make it work…but it doesn’t work, and it gets a D+ grade

Dave Blaney #7 Sany Chevy SS Great color scheme ruined by bad door design and generic racing number design. The design is just disgusting to look at, and it gets a D- The paint scheme saved it.

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota Camry This is a design that has elemets from the Dale Jarret and Bobby Labonte eras. I love this design! Great color scheme, simple nostalgic design, and it gets an A!

Mike Bliss #19 G Oil Toyota Camry This is a very weird design…the weed design doesn’t do the car any favors, and the doors and quarter panels are worse. Green, black and white is usually a good scheme, but here is just falls flat. I love how the nose makes it look like the car has a piece of cilantro stuck in its teeth and that boost the grade to a C-

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Fusion This is based on the 1963 Daytona 500 winning car Tiny Lund drove and it looks really good! I can’t give this scheme any lower than an A so I won’t.

Michael Waltrip #26 Sandy Hook Support Fund Toyota Camry Are you serious? I think it is really disgusting that a support fund for a school shooting is sponsoring a car for the Daytona 500! I don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but it is just awful. I’m so sickened by the sponsor, I will just give the scheme an F-

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Services Ford Fusion Is Terry trying to pull a Grey Ghost? If it wasn’t for the yellow decals, I would be convinced that this photo is in black and white. If the flames were red, or yellow, or even blue I could give it a higher grade, but I can’t give this scheme anything but a D

David Ragan #34 Peanut Patch Ford Fusion Good Color scheme, good overall general design, good scheme, Final Grade: A

Regan Smith #51 Guy Roofing Chevy SS Decent color scheme, the number change is not good from last year, and the basic design is decent, so I give it a C

Brian Keselowski #52 Wreaths Across America Toyota Camry Not bad, not bad at all. Great color scheme and decent design. The hood design needs a little work, the left side looks odd with a white box, while the right side has no box at all, but that is a minor complaint for an A grade

Mark Martin Aarons Toyota Camry Great design, great colors and simple designs that look good, it gets an A

David Reutimann #83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry. Great classic design with a great color scheme that gets an A+

Travis Kvapil #93 Burger King/ Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry See Above, A+

Aspects of the Current Helmet Design

By David Firestone

As I mentioned in the last post, the SFI/FIA Certifications on current helmets are located on the HANS anchors. I also discussed the advancements in helmets over the last 12 years in my post on the evolution of helmets. But what makes the current helmet design so effective? Let’s take a look at one.mcdonalds-1

This example is an Impact! Air Vapor helmet worn by either Regan Smith in 2005 or Jason Keller in 2006. It was used in the Nationwide Series for Team Rensi Motorsports, founded by former McDonald’s Executive Sam Rensi. It carried a McDonald’s sponsorship.mcdonalds-4

It was made by Impact! Race Products in Brownsburg, Indiana. Impact has a unique history. After Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s death in 2001, Bill Simpson, who had founded Simpson Race Products resigned after NASCAR had blamed Earnhardt’s death partially on a seat belt failure. He had a one year non-compete contract with Simpson, and after that expired, he went to found Impact. Because Bill Simpson was a race driver, he understood the needs of drivers, and both Simpson and Impact followed that philosophy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the features of this helmet.

This is an Air Vapor helmet, used by a number of drivers on the NASCAR circuit. It is made out of a carbon composite material, which is both lightweight and very durable. It has been custom painted with McDonald’s colors and some very cool “ghost skulls.” The helmet has a number of unique curves, and grooves designed to help air flow around the helmet and keep the visor fog-free.mcdonalds-6

The visor is much narrower than older Simpson models, and the gold tint is shading for the visor. The Impact strip across the top does not obstruct the driver’s vision at all, as it covers the area of the visor over the opaque section of the helmet.mcdonalds-10 mcdonalds-12 mcdonalds-8

The Microphone equipment is still present and in good condition. The microphone is one of the most critical safety features, as spotters are mandatory at every race, and they tell the driver everything going on around them. The driver can also tell the crew chief what, if anything, needs to be done to the car during pit stops. The telephone cord-style cable plugs into the seat, and the seat is connected to the electrical system in the car.

Finally, the ventilation intake is located on the top of the helmet. This is connected to a hose, which in turn is connected to a “hot box” mounted in a window behind the driver. The hot box has a gas scrubber on it, which cleans up the air, and cools it before blowing it on the driver. Considering that the driver compartment can reach temperatures of over 160 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a critical piece of equipment. Older models, like this Ted Musgrave model from 1996, have the intake located on the side. However, since the HANS device became mandatory, the intake has moved to the top to accommodate the device.musgrave4

mcdonalds-4

Now on to paint schemes…

Nationwide Series schemes first…

Ryan Reed #16 Drive to Stop Diabetes Ford Mustang Good color scheme, red white and black is always a good choice, but the design on the side is confusing to look at. If the design next to the front wheels is removed, I could give it a better grade, but with that design it gets a C.

Kyle Busch #54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry I like matte black, and simple designs in race cars, so this design is one of my favorites. I can’t give this scheme anything less than an A

Steven Wallace #66 Richard Tocado Ford Mustang Great scheme…only way this could be any better is if the lettering, numbers and stripes were in gold, like Rusty’s 1990’s MGD scheme…A grade.

Johanna Long #70 Foretravel Motor coaches Chevy Camaro A very solid scheme with a great color scheme, great design, and an A grade…very solid!

Now on to the Sprint Cup Schemes

Dave Blaney #7 Florida Lottery Chevy SS The color scheme is mediocre, with too many light colors and not enough dark. The lettering is just awful, and the car number looks like something that a small town driver would use, not a Sprint Cup driver would. I’ll be generous and give this scheme a D+

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 NOS Energy/Valvoline NextGen Ford Fusion I love this scheme. Orange and blue is a great scheme to work with, there is not a lot of needless design on the sides, the lettering and numbers look good. So this scheme gets an A. Ricky’s Valvoline NextGen scheme is the same as the Nationwide Series car Trevor Bayne drives, and it gets the same A grade.

Kevin Harvick #29 Rheem Chevy SS Yet more proof that red white and black is a great color scheme. I’m not a fan of the curvy design on the nose that leads to the stripes, but as good as this scheme is, it is a flaw I will overlook. Though I’m not a fan of the ads on the roof, again I’ll overlook that. The black on white numbers are a unique twist, that gives the car a cleaner look. Final Grade: A

Terry Labonte #32 C&J Energy Sources Ford Fusion If there were no contingency decals present, I would think this is just a black and white picture. Silver is a great color for cars, and the black white and silver scheme works well in most applications, but this scheme just falls flat. Final Grade C-…just too meh to be good.

JJ Yeley #36 Accell Construction/Golden Corral/United Mining Equipment Chevy SS Three schemes here, first the Accell Construction scheme, which uses a great color scheme, but the side design is just brutal to look at. The Golden Corral scheme is great, with a great color and simple design schemes, and is amazing to look at. The United Mining Equipment scheme has a good color scheme. The stripes are bad, but I like the coal design on the doors and roof. Accell Construction gets an F, Golden Corral gets an A, and United Mining Equipment gets a B

David Ragan #38 Love’s Truck Stops Ford Fusion The only bad thing I can say about this scheme is I don’t like the back bumper design. Other than that, great color scheme and reasonably simple design. Final Grade: B+

Carl Edwards #99 Subway/Kelloggs Ford Fusion The green stripes look more like seaweed, and ruin what could have been a great scheme. The Kellogg’s/Cheez It’s scheme is way too cartoonish to be taken seriously, so both schemes get an F grade.

NASCAR Helmets Over The Years

By David G. Firestonemcconnell-5

The evolution of the racing helmet in NASCAR for the most part was slow, in the beginning. NASCAR was officially founded in 1947, two years after World War II ended. Many of the helmets worn during the 1940’s and 1950’s were little more than repainted army and air force helmets. These helmets were basic at best, and as protection for the dangers of racing, these helmets were inadequate at best. During the 1950’s, many drivers switched from military headgear to motorcycle helmets. In the 1960’s, motorcycle-style helmets became the norm.mcconnell-5

The above helmet was worn by Jim McConnell, who raced and promoted races in Maine, and went on to found Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. This is a racing helmet, but it looks more like Wyatt’s Captain America helmet from Easy Rider, in its basic design. It has an open face, no microphone equipment, and is rather thin. Although there would be advancements in helmet technology, the open-face design would remain popular until the 1980’s.Noffsinger-1

This helmet was worn by Brad Noffsinger in 1988, it is the same general design, though it is much thicker, has some advancements in visor technology, and had some microphone technology in it as well. Although these helmets have since been banned, they remained legal for as long as they did for one simple reason: Advanced visibility. NASCAR did not want to have a crash caused by decreased visibility due to a rule mandating full-face helmets.musgrave1

The Ted Musgrave helmet mentioned in a previous post is a perfect example. The bottom part covering the chin does to a certain extent reduce visibility for a driver. The logic makes sense, in that if there was a crash caused by reduced visibility, so for the 1990’s and 2000, the open-face was legal…then came the 2001 Daytona 500. That race saw the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. from a Basilar skull fracture, which as tragic as it was, wasn’t the first death due to sub-par safety equipment. John Nemechek, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr., and Tony Roper had all been killed in similar accidents. Only after Earnhardt’s death, did the HANS device come to light, and eventually became mandatory in NASCAR, and eventually, across the board in racing. Now the helmets used in NASCAR look like this:mcdonalds-1This is a helmet worn between 2004 and 2005 by either Regan Smith or Jason Keller. As you can see, it has a number of advancements, including the visor, and air intakes, but the biggest advancement is these small bolts towards the back.mcdonalds-2 - Copy

These are where the HANS device connects to the helmet. The HANS device was mandated after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. to prevent Basilar skull fracture deaths. This device has worked very well. The HANS device works by attaching the device to the helmet, and then being secured by the shoulder straps, as seen below:

As advanced as this helmet is, there is always room for improvement. What new form will the racing helmet of tomorrow take? Only time will tell.

On to Paint Schemes, we have a lot of ground to cover today…

First in the Camping World Truck Series

Chris Cockrum #07 Accu-Tech/Homesmart Toyota Tundra Decent color scheme, good stripe pattern, logos are easy to see. Solid A grade.

Sean Coor #82 Warriors in the Workplace Ford F-Series Simple yet bold. Great use of matte black, great number design and color scheme. The logo is easy to see and stands out. No distracting stripes or patterns. Solid A grade.

Next up, the Nationwide Series

Sam Hornish Jr. #12 Wurth Tools Ford Mustang The doors look like they have race damage on them already, which is not a good sign. The color scheme is decent, but the Pennzoil stripes just kill it. The logos are easy to see, but the stripes are just awful. Final grade C+

Matt Kenseth #18 Reser’s Foods Toyota Camry. Numbers are great, color scheme is good, logos are easy to see, and the background design is visible, but not overpowering. The only thing keeping this scheme from a higher grade is the picture of the package on the side of the car. That drags the grade down to a B+ from an A

Now moving on to the Sprint Cup Series

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Toyota Camry There are a total of 4 variations of the FedEx scheme, Express, Freight, Ground and Office. Right off the bat, 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+ across the board.

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s Chevy SS Not the worst I have ever seen, but the yellow is way too bright, and the massive collection of sponsor stickers on the quarter panel is just ugly. Final Grade C-