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?

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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.

All-Star Race Weekend Events and Fun

100_3196 By David G. Firestone

With the sad passing of Dick Trickle, as well as the All-Star Race, and the Memorial Day trifecta next week, I decided today I needed a change of pace, and I wouldn’t think about racing or driver suits today. So with my uncle in town, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It’s an amazing museum with a lot of fun things to see and do, and we had a great time.

They have an exhibit that I saw concerning vintage cars, and a number of race cars. They have the winning car from the 1993 Sunrace USA100_3197

A 1924 Marmon race car 100_3194 100_3195

Wally Dallenbach’s car from the 1972 Indy 500 100_3193 100_3192

and Al Unser’s 1978 Lola race car that won the triple crown 100_3190 100_3191

The Spirit Of America, which held the land speed record from August 1963 to October 1964, and still holds the record for world’s longest skid mark is also on display as well.100_3185

There is a new exhibit as well, Science Storms, an impressive state of the art exhibit detailing the science of natural phenomena, and how modern society has to interact with it. It is on two floors in the main gallery. On the second floor, there are displays for physics, magnetism, electricity, and fire among other things. At the end of the balcony, there is a large Tesla coil mounted in the ceiling. Nearby, I was shocked to see this display:IMAG0047That is a Jeff Gordon driver suit, with a similar helmet. 100_3176 100_3175 100_3177 100_3171

A helmet that has been bi-sected to display the fire protection that the helmet100_3180

A helmet used for fire testing, and a Nomex hood.100_3181

A racing helmet and matching goggles from the 1950,s and a 1975 drag racing helmet worn by Dennis Baca100_3182

and some Nomex undergarments and a Sparco bag. 100_3178 100_3179

Now first off, why is the picture of Jeff Gordon from 2011 when the suit is from 2002? I think that it would be better if the picture of Gordon featured him wearing the suit on display. But that’s a minor complaint compared to some of the other issues the display has. The bag in the display clearly states “Jeff Gordon 2003.” So that might lead one to believe that the suit was from 2003. However after doing some research, the suit is from 2002. Looking at a 2003 suit, The Quaker State logo is different, the Lowes logo is gone, and the GMAC and Goodyear logos are in different places. So kudos to the museum for catching that.

The biggest issue is with the helmet cut in half. The sign clearly states “Jeff Gordon’s Helmet, Circa 2002.” Just taking a look at it, and I can clearly tell it’s not race-worn. I can tell for a number of reasons. Let’s start with the obvious fact that the color schemes on the helmet and driver suit are completely different. Second off, there are no ventilation ports or microphone equipment present. Since Gordon was wearing the vent on the left side of his helmet, the fact it is not there is very telling. Considering that DuPont Automotive Finishes paid nearly $12 million total to sponsor Gordon in 2002, his sponsor logos are conspicuously absent, and for a helmet that was supposedly worn for an entire racing season, it seems to be in very VERY good condition, almost new. It should also be noted that there are no HANS anchors present. At first I thought it was because the helmet was not meant to have them, but it turns out they were either supposed to be there, or have been removed. Why this occurred is not clear, but it clearly was NOT worn by Jeff Gordon. In fact, I would be shocked if he ever held this helmet. 100_3180 100_3180 - Copy100_3180 - Copy - Copy

But there is one other issue with this display. The whole display is geared around fire protection, but there is no mention of safety certification. This is not a minor complaint, as the suit has a FIA certification on the back of the neck, but in the display is almost invisible.100_3184

That picture, as bad as it is, is the best I can do, because the side of the display is inaccessible to viewers. If a display discussing fire safety, at least mention that the suit is certified to do just that!

Outside of that display, I had a great time at the Museum of Science and Industry, and I can look past those complaints to say that it is a really nice display that tells viewers a lot about racing safety. So if you are ever in Chicago, stop on over. I promise it is worth the time!

Now on to NASCAR All-Star Showdown Special Schemes…

First the All-Star Showdown Schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops/NWTF Chevy SS-Great Color Scheme, Awful design, C+

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Cares Chevy SS-The racing stripe makes the scheme look better, and the hood logo is good as well  A

Mike Bliss #19 Gentry Plastics Inc. Toyota Camry-Good color scheme and simple design work well here, A

Landon Cassill #33 Bicycle NASCAR Playing Cards Chevy SS-Decent color scheme, but the design is all over the place, way too chaotic, C-

JJ Yeley #36 World TradeX Chevy SS– Not much to say here…other than make the logo bigger.  D-

Brian Keselowski #52 Supportmillitary.org Toyoa Camry-Eww…Too much going on, with the oversized camo in too many different colors, and the door design which is awful.  F-

Now On to All-Star Race Schemes.

Brad Keselwoski #2 Miller Lite Fan Mosiac Ford Fusion.  It looks really good, and the pictures of the fans give it a condensation on the can effect that is really cool.  A+

Greg Biffle #16 3M Filtrete Ford Fusion-Could you please pick a color scheme and stick with it?  Two different color schemes on the same car is just awful. But they are two good color schemes. C-

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser/Rheem Chevy SS-Good color scheme, and I like the two different designs on the side.  A-

Ryan Newman #39 Aspen Dental Chevy SS-Good colors, but awful design…what does this have to do with teeth?  C-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS-Not the best scheme he has run all year, but I would love to see the car in that shade of red on the bottom C-

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.