They Pay the Bills, So They Design The Suit

By David G. Firestone96-reeves-flogoFrom a design aspect, no other factor contributes as much as the primary sponsor or sponsors of the car. Everything from the colors to the torso design, to the television logos, to the shoulder epaulet and collar design depends on the primary sponsor. While this has been the case for the most part, how the primary sponsor is displayed can vary quite a bit.

Currently, the standard design for a primary sponsor logo is to have a large logo across the front of the lower torso, and on the back on the upper torso. These Christian Fittipaldi designs from 2002-2003 are great examples of that. The Georgia Pacific design from 2002 has a decent sized logo on the front bottom torso, and the same logo higher up on the back torso.45-fittipaldi-flogo 45-fittipaldi-blogoThe Bugles example from 2003 has identical logo placement for the Bugles logo.44-Fittipaldi-flogo 44-Fittipaldi-blogoMany driver suits feature this same logo placement.96-reeves-flogo 96-reeves-blogo 90-stricklin-flogo 90-stricklin-blogo 31-skinner-flogo 31-skinner-blogo 17-sedgwick-flogo 17-sedgwickb-logo 16-musgrave-flogo 16-musgrave-blogo 15-sprague-flogo 15-sprague-blogo 1-lajoie-flogo 1-lajoie-blogo 12-miller-flogo 12-miller-blogo

Taking a look at this Ricky Craven example from 1996, it features a design aspect that was very heavily used. The torso features a plan color, with a stripe across it with the sponsor name on that stripe. Dale Earnhardt Sr. used this design for many years, as did Rusty Wallace, Dick Trickle, and Steve Grissom among others. It is a fairly straightforward design, but it works very well.41-craven-flogo 41-craven-blogoOther suits have the primary sponsor logo present, but the logo is underwhelming. This design is exampled by this Bobby Hillin Jr. Moroso driver suit from 1991,20-hillinThis Lake Speed example from 1997,9-speed

and this Ted Musgrave example from 1998.15-musgrave-lchest 15-musgrave-blogo

In very rare instances, a primary sponsor is excluded from the suit altogether. One example is this Terry Labonte suit I covered earlier this year. That example was made for Terry to wear in a very last minute driver change. Another example is this David Stremme suit from 2009. I covered this issue earlier in the year, but to sum it up, because of a conflict between Verizon, the sponsor of Stremme’s car, and Sprint, the title sponsor of the Sprint Cup race, Verizon was not allowed to have their logos on Stremme’s car and driver suit. As such, Stremme raced a Dodge sponsorship, and wore this suit.12-stremme-flogo 12-stremme-blogoOne of the newer designs that is frequently seen is what I call the leg stripe design. This Kasey Kahne example shows a leg design that has a large white stripe running up the red background, with the DODGE television logo running up the leg. Sponsors can make their logos stand out more with this design, so it is becoming more popular every year.9-kahne-legsThis Scott Wimmer example is from 2002, and is rather unique in this category.23-wimmer-legsIt needs an explanation…The suit was worn for the entire 2002 season, which had a Siemens sponsorship for the first 25 races. After Siemens left the team, Scott Wimmer went on to win 4 of the next 9 races in an unsponsored black car with red and yellow flames…while wearing this suit.

While I get that the team not buying another suit for Wimmer to wear…it just looks weird.

Now this is another suit that needs an explanation. Nort Northam is a Porsche dealer based in Florida. He was a race car driver from 1979-1992, and his career was not great, with no wins, and two podiums. In 1988, he raced in the Sunbank 24 at Daytona, now called the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Porsche owned by fellow driver Karl Durkheimer.56-Northam 56-Northamb

During that race, he wore this driver suit. It appears on this suit that a sponsor patch has been removed or fallen off. Now to understand the basic design, you need to understand that Nort raced in two races a year, and having a suit custom designed would be a needless expense. As such, his name, and two sponsor patches did the trick. Not fancy, but effective. This late 1980’s SCCA example is also a minimalist design, but it sticks to the “80’s stripe” design as the Ricky Craven example.

The last thing about primary sponsors is that sometimes, primary sponsor designs follow other sports uniform trends. This example from 1998 was worn by Jeremy Mayfield. At that time, gigantic logos across the fronts of uniforms were the big thing, and that was not good. This fad did not last long, thank heavens!

Driver Suit Blog “Wheel Reviews”

Last night, I went to see the movie “Rush” and I have to say, it was really good.  It has been said “you love your rivals, because you need someone to beat.” Nowhere is this more evident than Rush. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda and Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt, Rush is the story of the rivalry between the two, from their days in Formula 3 in 1970, to Formula 1 in the 1970’s. For fans of racing movies, it is a true masterpiece.

The film takes the perspectives of the two drivers. Lauda is represented in the film as a talented driver who is great with setting up a race car. He is a driver who takes what he does very seriously. Hunt on the other hand is more of a playboy. He is a great driver, but his fast and furious lifestyle is a distraction from his true talent. Both are talented, but when Hesketh Racing, Hunt’s team can’t find sponsorship for the upcoming 1976 season, Hunt loses his ride. After his wife leaves for a ski trip, Hunt gets a ride with McLaren after Emerson Fittipaldi leaves to race for his cousin.

In 1976, Hunt struggles for the first part of the year, while Lauda, fresh off his 1975 World Championship is always a factor in the points standings. Hunt’s luck changes at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he beats Lauda, though he is disqualified for his car being less than an inch over regulation. Hunt’s wife divorces him, and driven by this, his season turns around. Though Lauda struggles at this point, the points standings are close coming into the German Grand Prix

The 1976 German Grand Prix was a critical point in this story, as the points battle was heating up. This race was at the the “Old Nürburgring” one of the most difficult tracks in the world. The weather was stormy, which kicks up the danger. Knowing the track as well as he did, Lauda called a meeting of the drivers and stated that the race should be canceled because of the conditions. Hunt thinks it is just a trick to take a race out of the schedule, and the cancellation is voted down. Lauda is seriously hurt in a wreck, and he is hospitalized. Hunt blames himself for the wreck. The story from there is the story of the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship.

The cars in the movie were very accurate, in some cases, vintage equipment was used. The tires used were made by Goodyear, and had the lettering in white as opposed to the yellow lettering that they currently use. The crew uniforms were very accurate as well. The driver uniforms were very well done, as were the helmets. Something that I noticed about them was that I couldn’t see any safety certification visible.

All in all, this is a great movie, and racing fans will enjoy this movie, so I give it an A!

Paint Scheme Reviews

Jamie McMurray #1 Liftmaster Chevy SS Good color scheme and decent desisn add up to an A- grade

Clint Bowyer #15 Raspberry 5-Hour Energy/Living Beyond Breast Cancer Toyota Camry I hate pinkwashing and I hate raspberries, so this gets an automatic F

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry The leaf designs on the bottom of the doors just look odd, and it takes a solid A scheme, to an A-. It does have great overall design and great colors, but the leaves just kill it.

Matt Kenseth #20 Home Depot/Let’s Do This Toyota Camry The overall scheme is great, and has a great color scheme. The problem is that the back end is yellow, which just looks odd when compared to the rest of the car. If the back was black, it would match quite well, but this is just bad. I want to give this scheme a higher grade, but the best I can do is a B-

JJ Yeley #36 Drive Sober Arrive Alive Chevy SS Great color scheme, great colors, and a cause that is easy to support add up to an A+ scheme.

Ryan Newman #39 Slate Water Heaters Chevy SS While I don’t get the silver design at the bottom of the car, this is a great scheme, and gets an A+

Ryan Truex #51 Shooters Sporting Center Chevy SS The yellow outline on the numbers is brutal, and the Shooters Sporting Center logo is just awful. C- is the best I can do.

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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.

The Curious Case of The Bugle of Christian Fittipaldi

By David Firestone

Christian Fittipaldi is a Brazilian race driver who raced in F1, Champ Car and eventually NASCAR. Although he had two wins in Champ Car, his F1 and NASCAR careers were fruitless. His NASCAR career lasted from 2002-2003, and during that time he raced in a total of 16 races, with 2 DNQ’s. With the exception of the 2003 Daytona 500, all of his races were for Petty Enterprises, and he raced in all 3 of their teams at the time, cars #43, 44, and 45. His final two races were for car #44, which at the time was sponsored by Bugles.

44-fittipaldib

In 2011, I bought the Bugles driver suit Fittipaldi wore for those final two races. When I got the suit, I saw it had some…irregularities to it. The most prominent feature are the television logos on the sleeves.

44-Fittipaldi-llogo 44-Fittipaldi-rlogo

Notice anything odd? The TV logos on the sleeves are incorrectly positioned…for NASCAR. I found this to be a bit odd, as there seems to be no logical reason for the logos to be set the way that they are. These logos, introduced in the 1990′s as a way for the primary sponsor of the car to advertise to the in-car cameras, should be positioned so that the logo appears clearly. These logos are designed for a camera mounted in the area where the passenger seat would be, as seen at 0:48 in the video below:

The logos are upside down. I was trying to understand why this was done, and then I watched the Indianapolis 500, and watching the in-car views, and suddenly, it all made sense, as seem below:

It became clear rather quickly that the TV logos are correct for F1 and IndyCar in-car cameras, but not correct for NASCAR ones. It seems that this car was designed for an open-wheel car, but not a stock car. The evidence on the shoulders is further proof…

44-Fittipaldi-rshoulder 44-Fittipaldi-lshoulder

I’ve never seen any shoulder design like that of this suit before. The V pattern with the Goodyear logos on both sides. This is not unique to this suit, the shoulder designs of an earlier Christian Fittipaldi suit are the same as this one, though the logos are not visible on the back.

45-fittipaldi-rshoulder 45-fittipaldi-lshoulder

So we have two anomalies to this suit, but why did this happen? This suit was worn in 2003, and these logos were developed an implemented in the mid 1990′s. My theory to the answer can be found in two things, who wore the suit, and who made the suit. Fittipaldi was an open-wheel driver, and frequently wore suits made by an Italian company named Momo. Although Momo makes NASCAR equipment now, back in 2003, they were new to the NASCAR game, and as such were not as used to designing for NASCAR in-car cameras. As such, they designed the suit for an open-wheel car.

Granted Momo wasn’t as familiar with the design of stock cars, and their in car camera placement, but even so, wasn’t there somebody examining the suit? Wasn’t a team representative present at any point in the process? How does a mistake like that happen? The thing that really gets me is this…that was from the same season, and was made by the same company, but clearly the logos are correct in this shot…if they get it right once, why can’t they get it right again? How did that mistake happen? Well it did, and although there was no harm done, it does look pretty goofy…

Moving on to new paint schemes, let’s look at some…

First in the Nationwide Series

Regan Smith #5 Hellman’s Chevy Camaro The yellow is ok, a bit too bright for my taste, but I have seen much worse. The stripes look good, great colors and they are easy to figure out unlike some others. Final Grade: B+ Tone down the yellow a bit and it would be an ANow onto the Sprint Cup:

Matt Kenseth #20 Husky Toyota Camry Not much really to say, mediocre color scheme, no real design to comment on, the logos are plain Jane enough, it’s a bland scheme that earns a C grade. A mediocre grade for a mediocre scheme.

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion Basically the scheme is unchanged from last year, and that is a good thing. I love this scheme, great color, great design, looks good, the logos are easy to see, and I give it an A. Extra credit was given for the use of Petty Blue.

Bobby Labonte #47 House Autry House Foods Toyota Camry The design is simple, but good. The color scheme need some work. The red used is too bright, as is the blue. The logo group on the quarter-panel is awful. The really odd thing is that this is the first scheme of Labonte’s that has been released, and it is the scheme slated for the All-Star Race. Why in the world would the All-Star Race scheme be released before any of the regular season races? I just don’t understand the logic here. But that being said, the final grade is a B-. If the color wasn’t so bright, I could grade it higher.