NASCAR Napkin Rings…Size Really Does Matter

ring headerBy David G. Firestone

For the beginning of the year, and my 33rd birthday, I thought I would lead off 2015 with something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Every racing season comes to an end, and then there are banquets, both NASCAR and team. These banquets are meant to honor the drivers and the crew members who work hard to put the drivers into cars, and help them try to win.

The tradition of giving special rings to teams that win championships in sports in the United States dates back to 1922. After winning the World Series, the New York Giants issued the first championship ring, and the trend has caught on. In the 1990’s a new form of this trend came in to wide spread use in NASCAR, the championship napkin ring.

These over sized rings were used as napkin rings for team banquets and then the attendees were allowed to keep them. They were awarded for winning a race, and designed in the same style as championship rings. This first one is from the 1995 Coca Cola 600, which was won by Bobby Labonte. During that race, he started 2nd, led 85 laps, and his brother Terry finish second. It was his first Sprint Cup win, and is done in a gold colored metal, with Labonte’s image, car number and signature on one side, and an image of his car on the other side.labontering1 labontering2 labontering4 labontering3 labontering5 labontering65 years later, in 2000, Labonte won the UAW-GM Quality 500, again at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He started 2nd, and led 37 laps. This ring was given at the banquet to the attendees, it is silver, with an enameled Interstate Batteries logo on the top, Labonte’s name and car number on one side, and Interstate Batteries and Joe Gibbs Racing logos on the other side.labontering2-1 labontering2-2 labontering2-3 labontering2-4 labontering2-5 labontering2-6It briefly spread to Roush Racing, where, at the 1997 banquet, these rings were issued to Jeff Burton’s crew for his victory in the 1997 Hanes 500 at Martinsville. During that race, he started 10th and led 92 laps. This silver ring with an enameled 99 logo, a Roush Racing logo, car logo and signature on one side, and an Exide Racing Team logo, and crossed checkered flag logo on the other side.burtonring-1 burtonring-2 burtonring-3 burtonring-4 burtonring-5 burtonring-6The rings are too large for even the largest person to wear, with an inch and a half diameter on the inside. They were never sold to the general public, but like most things, eventually find their way onto eBay. They seemed to disappear after about 2001, and I think they should make a comeback.

Introduction to Sports Memorabilia-Kevin Lepage Helmets

Video

This week, on Introduction to Sports Memorabilia, we examine two Kevin Lepage race worn and Signed driver helmets, the first from his rookie campaign in the Busch Grand National Series in 1994, and the second from his time at Roush Racing in 1999.

Ted Musgrave-My Favorite Driver to Collect Part 2

musgrave2By David G. Firestone

Last week, I discussed my favorite driver to collect, and this week I will examine his most well-known sponsor. From 1994-1997 Musgrave was sponsored by the Family Channel. The distinctive patriotic red white and blue design with that Family Channel logo was eye catching. The Family Channel logo was classic 1990’s design. It was also an idea whose time had come, and is still a great idea.

It was founded by Pat Robertson in 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service, which focused on Christian Broadcast Network programing. By 1981, it had re-branded as the CBN Cable Network, which began to focus more on family-friendly programing. It was a channel where families could watch together without needless violence, and gratuitous sex, something that should be redone today. The major moment was in 1990 when the channel became too profitable for the non-profit Christian Broadcast Network, and was transferred to International Family Entertainment, Inc. The CBN Cable Network became The Family Channel, and began to air recent dramas and sitcoms, as well as cartoons. In 1994, to gain visibility, The Family Channel joined forces with Roush Racing to create the #16 Family Channel Ford Thunderbird. This partnership lasted for 3 years, and Ted raced in 124 races, with 15 top 5’s and 36 top 10’s.

During the 1997 season, The Family Channel was purchased by Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. which was a joint venture between News Corporation, and Saban which re-branded the channel as Fox Family channel. This was out of necessity, as the average age of the viewer under the Family Channel banner was much older, and Fox Family set about trying to win back the younger viewers. The channel was used for everything from movies to cartoons, to Fox programing to Major League baseball. It became clear when the channel went from 10th in ratings to 17th in Nielsen ratings, that something was not working. Many outside observers felt that the push for younger viewers alienated the previous viewers.

In July 2001, almost 4 years to the date, the channel was sold to ABC and re-branded it ABC Family, which still operates to this day. It has come up with a format that amalgamates the two different styles of network. Though it hasn’t regained its previous glory, it has created a network that is family-friendly and appeals to families, not just young kids.

The #16 race team it spawned has had just as interesting a history. Roush had started in NASCAR in 1988, with Mark Martin as a driver and Stroh’s Light as the sponsor. They had a lot of success as a combo, and a second team was created in 1992. Wally Dallenbach Jr. started driving the Keystone Beer sponsored #16 Ford Thunderbird in 1992. Changes came in 1994, When Ted Musgrave was taken on as a sponsor. Ted was kept on until midway through the 1998 season, when he was let go from the team, and replaced with Kevin Lepage.

In 1999, TV Guide became one of the primary sponsors, and Lepage had a decent start to the season. As 1999 went on, Primestar left, TV Guide stayed and Lepage slipped in the points standings. I own a Kevin Lepage race-worn and signed helmet from 1999. It has the distinctive red and yellow scheme that TV Guide was known for. lepage99-1 lepage99-2 lepage99-3 lepage99-4 lepage99-5 lepage99-6 lepage99-7 lepage99-8 In 2000, Family Click took over as a sponsor, but Lepage slightly improved finishing 26th . At the end of the season, Family Click left the team, Lepage was released, and the #16 team disappeared for the entire 2001 season.

In 2002, the #16 Roush Racing Ford came back to NASCAR with Greg Biffle. They ran a limited schedule with 7 races started of the 10 races Biffle attempted to qualify for. In 2003, Biffle raced in the #16 Ford full-time, winning the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award. Biffle continues to race in the #16 Ford full time and has had a lot of success, having won 19 races between 2003 and 2013. This team has a very bright future ahead of it.

Now on to…

PAINT SCHEME REVIEWS

Greg Biffle #16 Megulars Ford Fusion Best scheme Greg Biffle has run all year…and since that this is a C+ scheme, that is really sad. The color scheme is good, but the car design is awful.

Travis Kvpail #32 SK Handtools Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme A+

David Stremme #33 Mace Chevy SS Great design, great color scheme, and I think that this is the first self-defense spray I have seen sponsor a car, so A+

David Reuitmann #35 MDS Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Justin Allgaier #51 SEM Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Justin Allgaier #51 AccuDoc Chevy SS Decent color scheme, yellow is a bit too bright, otherwise a great scheme, A-

Dave Blaney #77 Humphrey Racing Ford Fusion Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Josh Wise #98 Trench Shoring Chevy SS Great color scheme, great design scheme, works very well, A+

Ted Musgrave-My Favorite Driver to Collect Part 1

musgrave2By David G. Firestone

During a conversation over lunch a few weeks ago, I was asked by a co-worker if I have a favorite driver to collect. My response was “Ted Musgrave” but the longer I thought, the deeper it went. I began to think about why he is my favorite driver to collect, as opposed to Dale Earnhardt Sr. who was my favorite driver to watch on track. From there I began to think about sponsors and teams, and for the next 2 weeks, we will examine these three factors, driver, sponsor and team in depth.

We will start with the driver. Theodore “Ted” Musgrave was born in Waukegan Illinois, which is roughly 28 miles from Evanston where I grew up. Having a hometown driver from your area in the Sprint Cup Series is always a plus. He raced for many years in Wisconsin, and began to drive for the ASA in 1987, winning one event before moving to NASCAR in 1989, where he raced a full Busch Series season. In 1990, he raced 4 Winston Cup events, before joining the series full time in 1991. He would lose the Rookie of the Year award to Bobby Hamilton. He raced for the #55 Jasper Engines machine from 1991-1993, for two different owners.

In 1994 he joined Roush Racing driving the #16 Family Channel Ford Thunderbird. Joining Mark Martin boosted his status immediately. The familiar patriotic red white and blue Thunderbird was an attention getter and he had a number of races that he should have won. In a feature for Winston Cup Illustrated, a number of drivers who hadn’t won a race were featured, and each of these drivers had reasons why they haven’t won as part of the article. For Musgrave, this part of the article read “It’s puzzling.” He had a decent career with Roush, but in 1998, Roush let Musgrave go, and replaced him with Kevin Lepage. After leaving Roush, Musgrave joined NASCAR Hall of Fame owner Bud Moore for two races for Rescue Engine Formula, then bounced aground the Sprint Cup until 2003.

In 2001, he had started driving for the Craftsman Truck Series full-time, and here he found his true calling in NASCAR. From 2001-2010 he won 17 races, had 80 top 5’s and 109 top 10’s. He would win the Truck Series title in 2005, while driving the #1 MOPAR Dodge Ram. That season, he had 1 win, 11 top 5’s, 15 top 10’s as well as an average finish of 9.4 in the 25 races held that year. After that, he raced for 3 more years, but only scored one more win. He retired after 2010.

Now I covered this to some extent in January of 2013, but let’s delve further. I have two Ted Musgrave driver suits, this first one is from 1995.16-musgrave 16-musgraveb16-musgrave-legs

It has the familiar Family Channel motif. 16-musgrave-flogo 16-musgrave-blogoIt also has a ROUSH RACING and NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES logos.  16-musgrave-rchestNo television logos exist on the arms or legs.16-musgrave-rsleeve1 16-musgrave-releeve2 16-musgrave-lsleeve1 16-musgrave-lsleeve2 And that classic name on the chest design that bit the dust shortly thereafter.16-musgrave-lchestFrom 1996, I have this helmet.musgrave1

It is clearly from 1996 as Primestar joined the team in 1996, and the design was changed from stars and stripes to red and blue in 1996.musgrave1 musgrave2 musgrave3 musgrave4 musgrave5

Ted has autographed the helmet, though the signature has faded.musgrave6This helmet was also the inspiration for a mini helmet, also released in 1996, which is very accurate.16-musgrave4 16-musgrave7

I also have this suit from 1998, which was designed after Musgrave was released from Roush Racing.15-musgrave 15-musgraveb

It has TV logos, though not in the “proper” configuration for NASCAR,15-musgrave-rsleeve2 15-musgrave-lsleeve2 15-musgrave-legsa NASCAR 50th Anniversary logo,15-musgrave-lsleeve1and Ted’s name on the belt.15-musgrave-beltWhen it comes to die casts, I have 4, two from 1996,16-musgrave4 16-musgrave5 16-musgrave6 16-musgrave7 16-musgrave8 16-musgrave9as well as a 1996 hauler,16-musgrave1 16-musgrave216-musgrave3and a die cast from 1997.16-musgrave10 16-musgrave11 16-musgrave12This is a large piece of sheet metal from his days with Germain Racing, which Ted has autographed on the side.musgrave

My last two pieces of Ted Musgrave memorabilia are two of the oldest and most cherished pieces in my collection. These two autographed hero cars were given to me from a family friend. She had encountered Ted Musgrave at a party and happened to get these from him directly. I love and treasure these two cards and never get tired of looking at them.musgrave1 musgrave2

Next week, we will look at his most well-known sponsor, The Family Channel, but now on to…

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Ryan Newman #31 Kwikset Chevy SS Looks exactly like Kurt Busch’s scheme, and it earns the same A+ grade

Landon Cassill #40 CRC Brakleen Chevy SS I like the color scheme, and the design is good. My only complaint is that it doesn’t clarify that CRC Brakleen is a brake fluid. Still it earns an A

Brian Vickers #55 Treatmyclot.com Toyota Camry A good scheme, and the 55 lettering looks really good here, and the gold is a nice touch. The treatmyclot.com logo works better than the Aarons logo, A+

The Goal of All Drivers in Racing…

trophiesBy David G. Firestone

I’m going to do things a little bit differently this week.  This week’s article will be done in conjunction with another article I am writing for my other blog. DGF2099.com, both are about the same subject, trophies, but this article will be on racing trophies, whereas the other article will be on other trophies.  Let’s get started.

For this week, we will focus on collecting trophies. Drivers race for two things, the love of the sport, and to win. Climbing out of the car in victory lane feels good, and being presented a trophy for winning feels even better. Interestingly, trophies and awards from NASCAR and other racing series are frequently finding their way into private collections, such as mine. It might seem odd that trophies make their way into private collections, but there are a myriad of reasons for this.

One reason for this is that after their racing career ends, drivers will sometimes need to make some money, and will sell them. Other times, they are sold to raise money for charity. Sometimes it is because they need more space. After a driver passes away, the family will sell off the trophies, because they don’t have the same meaning to the rest of the family. In any event, these artifacts are unique items to collect, and are as unique as the drivers who won them.

Drivers have been awarded everything from surfboards, wine bottles, and guitars, to grandfather clocks, and gas pumps. The grandfather clock is given out to winners at Martinsville was started in 1964. The story goes that track founder Henry Clay Earles was talking with Curtis Turner, and in the course of conversation, Turner mentioned he did not have the room for trophies, and had to give some away, so he decided to award a trophy with a legitimate function, and as luck would have it, Ridgeway Clocks had a factory 3 miles away from the track. Earles gave the first grandfather clock to Fred Lorenzen when he won the 1964 Old Dominion 500, and the rest is history.

Interestingly, giving trophies that had everyday functions is a lot more common than most people realize. This example is a silver footed tray.onteroa-trophy1 It is 21 inches long, and 17.5 inches wide. It looks as though it could have been used for a tea service or as a serving tray for food at a party.onteroa-trophy2 onteroa-trophy3 It was awarded to the winner of the Oilzum Motor Oil Trophy Race at Onteora Speedway in Olive New York. onteroa-trophy4The name of the winner, and when the race was run has been lost to history. onteroa-trophy5It has some scratches across the front, but for a trophy as old as it is, it is still in very good condition.

Award and function combine again in this 4 inch tall silver mug given to the winner of something called the SCCA Rallye on December 1, 1957. It has not fared as well as the tray, showing rust spots and discoloration.ralleyecup1 ralleyecup2 ralleyecup3 ralleyecup4 ralleyecup5 ralleyecup6

Then again, there is something to be said for the traditional trophy. One driver who had a lot of them is Ernie Derr. Derr raced in IMCA or the International Motor Contest Association, which was founded in 1915, and is the oldest active auto racing sanctioning body in the United States. Derr has more victories and championships in IMCA than anyone else, having won a total of 328 wins and a staggering 12 IMCA championships. STP sponsored him for a number of years, and awarded him this STP Handicap trophy. Derr-1It is 11 inches tall, with a winged wheel design, and a vintage STP logo decal, which is peeling off. Though the mirrored background around the STP decal is discolored, it is still in decent condition, though I have not been able to figure out what the STP Handicap is.Derr-2 Derr-3 Derr-4Races are won and lost on pit road, and having a great crew chief is key to winning. Pit crews are given trophies for helping their team win. Buddy Parrot was a NASCAR crew chief for 34 years, and helped Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Rusty Wallace. In 1996, he joined Roush Racing, as crew chief for Jeff Burton. Burton did not win a race in 1996, but Parrott was awarded this 1996 RCA Pit Strategy award.parrott1 It is a Plexiglass hexagon, over a foot tall, and 3 inches wide, some of the lettering is engraved into the Plexiglass, other lettering is added with decals, which are slightly peeling off.parrott2 parrott3 parrott4 parrott5 parrott6

The reasons why collectors like these trophies in their collections is that a trophy represents a drivers true success. It is the same reason collectors collect championship rings in their favorite sport. The trophies themselves have stories behind them, they are uniquely designed, and are treasured by the drivers, though sometimes circumstances lead them to being sold or auctioned off.  They are unique and interesting to collect. and are great conversation pieces.

We will continue this discussion next week…

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Paint Schemie Awards!

CIMG1130By David G. Firestone

For the end of the 2013 Season, I will reveal the best  and worst paint schemes and driver suits of 2013. This was done using a focus group of one, namely myself, and uses the following standards:

Color Scheme:How the colors look, and how they work with each other.

Overall Design:How good the design itself looks, is there too much, or not enough.

Primary Sponsor Logos: How the primary sponsor logos look on the car

Originality: How original is the scheme. Note that originality can work both for and against a scheme in award voting.CIMG1130 - Copy

Let’s get the bad paint scheme awards out of the way.

First, the Paint Schemie Award for Worst Single Paint Scheme.

The nominees are:

Dave Blaney #7 Sany Ford Fusion

Clint Bowyer #15 Duck Dynasty Toyota Camry

Greg Biffle #16 Red Cross Give Blood Ford Fusion

Landon Cassil #33 Chevy SS

Austin Dillon #33 Honey Nut Cheerios Chevy SS

Brian Keselowski #52 Star Coach Motor Tours Toyota Camry

And the Paint Schemie Award for worst single paint scheme goes to…

BRIAN KESELOWSKI #52 STAR COACH TOYOTA CAMRY

The next Paint Schemie Award is for Exhibition Race Paint Schemes. This category is a little different, as the Schemies will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

The Paint Schemie Award for Worst Exhibition Race Paint Scheme Goes To:

BRIAN KESELOWSKI’S SPRINT SHOWDOWN SCHEME

The Paint Schemie Worst Dressed Driver Award goes to Joey Logano

Our next category is the Award For Worst Scheme Set of 2013, which is given to the team that consistently runs bad paint schemes throughout the season.

The Nominees Are:

David Stremme #30 Toyota Camry

Scott Riggs #44 Ford Fusion

Carl Edwards #99 Ford Fusion

The Winner for Worst Scheme Set of 2013 goes to:

DAVID STREMME #30 TOYOTA CAMRY

The Paint Schemie Award for Most Degraded Paint Scheme goes to Kasey Kahne, who’s scheme from 2013 is much worse than that of 2012.CIMG1130

Now the nominees for Best Single Paint Scheme are:

Kyle Busch #18 Doublemint Gum Toyota Camry

Trevor Bayne #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion

David Ragan #34 CSX Play it Safe Ford Fusion

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Target Chevy SS

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS

David Reutimann #83 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry

The Paint Schemie Award for Best Single Paint Scheme Goes to

KYLE BUSCH #18 DOUBLEMINT GUM TOYOTA CAMRY

The next two Paint Schemie Awards are for Best Exhibition Race Paint Scheme, and Worst Exhibition . These are a little different, as they will go to the best and worst special scheme that was run in either the Sprint Unlimited, the Sprint Showdown or the Sprint All-Star Race.

And taking these schemes into consideration, the Paint Scheme Goes To:

JIMMIE JOHNSON’S SPRINT UNLIMTED SCHEME!

The Paint Schemie Award for Most Improved Paint Scheme goes to:

Kevin Harvick

who improved his schemes from 2012 to 2013

The Paint Schemie Best Dressed Award goes to:

Jimmie Johnson

Now, our final Paint Schemie Award, The Best Scheme Set of 2013:

Now for this, I will take a look at the best Chevy Schemes, followed by Ford, and then Toyota, and then finally I will reveal the winners of the Paint Schemie Awards.

And now, the 5 best Chevy teams that have consistently run great schemes:

#1 Jimmie Johnson The classic design that is paired with different color schemes every once in a while works very well. The design gives the car a very clean look, and is a very timeless look.

#2 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing’s “less is more” approach works very well here, with a matte black, white lettering and red letters. They always look good, thought I wish their results on the track were as good as they look.

#3 Kevin Harvick Kevin has had, for the most part, done quite well. All of the schemes have great color schemes, and most have great sponsor logos, and are decently original. Originality works well here, but some of the overall designs, namely the Bad Boy Buggies and Rheem/Budweiser combination schemes need a lot of work, but otherwise Kevin Harvick has had a great season paint scheme wise.

#4 Juan Pablo Montoya The Target scheme is very solid, with great colors, great overall design, and great sponsor logos. Not original, but solid. The most original scheme is the Axe Apollo scheme, but that was just brutal. It had a decent color scheme, and a decent sponsor logo, but the whole outer-space motif just did not work. If Axe Apollo was not on the car this year, Juan would be at the top of the standings.

#5 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott Motorsports A team that has a very consistent track record when it comes to good color schemes, originality, as well as primary sponsor logos, the team can sometimes have serious issues with overall design. The Hendrick Cars scheme, and the Guy Roofing scheme are just brutal in that category.

Moving on to Ford.

#1 Trevor Bayne The Wood Brothers haven’t run a full schedule this year, but when they have shown up, they have always looked good. The schemes are original, since the Wood Brothers used these schemes for many years, and the colors, overall design, and sponsor schemes are always great.

#2 Aric Almirola The Transportation Impact scheme is keeping Almirola from the top spot, because it does not fit the team at all, and it just looks brutal. Other than that scheme, which while original, has awful colors, and overall design, every scheme they ran is solid, with the STP/Farmland scheme almost making up for Transportation Impact.

#3 Sam Hornish Jr. His one and only appearance in the Sprint Cup came at Kansas this year, and this one scheme, with great colors, great overall design, and great sponsor logos worked very well. I gave him 3rd, since everyone else on the list ran full schedules, and he only ran one race.

#4 Marcos Ambrose The Mac Tools scheme looks odd, with a great color scheme, but iffy overall design. The Stanley logo redesign could have worked well, but the black covering the front and headlights does not enhance the look at all. I was not a fan of this scheme at the beginning of the year, but some slight adjustments to the color scheme worked well.

#5 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. A “pinkwashing” scheme makes an appearance, which takes away from the overall grade. That said, this team has great color schemes all year, but some of the overall designs have a bit too much noise. Sponsor logos work well, and Ricky has had a great year.

Last, but certainly not least is Toyota.

#1 Michael Waltrip/Mark Martin/Brian Vickers Every scheme they have run has been a hit, with great color scheme, great overall design, great sponsor logos, and decent originality. No bad schemes here!

#2 Kyle Busch Overall great design, color schemes, and primary sponsor logos, Kyle also has the most original schemes of the top contenders for the Paint Schemie awards. That said, the Mprove America needs a different shade of blue, while the white Interstate Batteries scheme could use a different color besides white.

#3BK Racing Great color schemes, sponsor logos, and overall design. These designs work well, except for the Old Dominion scheme, which is just awful. Everything that the other schemes are, Old Dominion is not, and it is keeping BK Racing out of the top spot.

#4 Martin Truex Jr. Overall, this team works well when it comes to colors, overall design, originality, and primary sponsor logos, except for the camouflage scheme. The camouflage scheme was awful, and it knocked Martin out of the top spot.

#5 JTG Daugherty Racing 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. If these schemes were fixed, there is no reason why JTG Daugherty could be in the top spot.

Now I will take these top contenders, and rank them in order from worst to best. These top contenders should feel very proud that they have earned a spot on the countdown.

#15 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

#14 JTG Daugherty Racing

#13 Martin Truex Jr.

#12 Phoenix Racing/Turner Scott Motorsports

#11 Marcos Ambrose

#10 Juan Pablo Montoya

#9 Kevin Harvick

#8 Sam Hornish Jr.

#7 BK Racing

#6 Aric Almirola

#5 Kyle Busch

#4 Kurt Busch

#3 Michael Waltrip/Mark Martin/Brian Vickers

#2 Jimmie Johnson

And Finally The Paint Scheme Award for Best Paint Scheme Set of 2013 goes to:

#1 Trevor Bayne

Congratulations to everyone who won a First award, and to everyone who won a Worst award…paint your cars better!

To conclude the Paint Schemie Awards, I will finish with a top 10 list I have been wanting to do for quite a while.  These are the

TOP 10 SPONSORS I MISS IN NASCAR

10 Skoal Bandit The shade of green they used was one of the best, and the car has a classic look that always looks good.

9 Kodiak  A simple look, with my all-time favorite shade of green ever used on a race car.  I have a lot of Kodiak race-used items, and they all look good.

8 Miller Genuine Draft  Rusty’s MGD scheme had a much simpler design than the Miller Lite scheme, and it had a much better color scheme.  I really hope they throwback to this scheme at some point.

7 Tide  Are there any orange schemes that could ever live up to Tide?  No, this is the best orange scheme in the history of auto racing.

6 Smokin’ Joe’s  It had a great color scheme, and it had a very 1990’s design, that oddly enough still looks attractive.

5 Western Auto/Parts America   The chrome numbers, the layered fading, the color scheme, it just comes together very well.

4 The Family Channel  The logo is awesome, the colors can’t be any better, the lettering is great, and it just comes together very well.

3 Kodak  If there is or was a better shade of yellow in NASCAR, I haven’t seen it yet!

2 Texaco/Havoline  Great simple design, with an amazing hood logo, and great color scheme.

1 GM Goodwrench  This scheme is, in a word, perfect.  It doesn’t evolve, it doesn’t have to.  It is simply perfect.

There is one last piece of business that I need to address.  I like to keep it light on the Driver Suit Blog, but sometimes I have to address a news story that is heavy, like this story that was released on Thursday.  Dario Franchiti, who has won 3 Indy 500’s, 4 Indycar Championships, and 21 races announced on Thursday, that due to injuries sustained at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on October 6.  During that race, he was involved in a scary wreck, and suffered spinal and knee injuries that doctors have told him are too serious to resume his career.  13 fans, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were injured in the wreck as well. I’m saddened that a talented driver had his career end like that, and I really wish it didn’t have to.  But what I really hope is that IndyCar learns what lessons need to be learned, and make changes to safety so that the chances of this scenario repeating are lowered.  I know that there will always be the risk of injury or death in auto racing, that adds to the mystique of the race car driver, but every wreck has a story to tell.  These stories should be looked over, and changes made so that another talented in the prime of his career does not have to go through what Dario had to this week.  Fans should also be able to go to a race, and not have to worry about getting hurt during a wreck.  If the investigation in this  incident results in changes that keep fans and drivers from serious injury in the future, than the lessons have been learned. My thoughts and prayers are with Dario and his Family right now.

Nomex-The Core Of Driver Suits

By David G. Firestonenomex1

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

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

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

Nomex was created in 1967, for NASA. Far from the uses it has today, its main use at the time was for the Apollo Command Module parachutes. NASA needed a material that could stand up to the heat of reentering the earth’s atmosphere, and still remain fully functional. Simpson saw what the material could do, and decided it would work well to make driver suits, and other uniform items.nomex1nomex2

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

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

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

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Some new 2014 schemes released this week:

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

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

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

Now we move on to 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Helmet Stripe-An Unusual Place For Sponsorship

By David G. Firestone14A

Last week, I had a column run on Uni-Watch, and I delayed this article until this week.  Two weeks ago, we discussed visors, this week, we will discuss what has become known as the “helmet stripe.” Helmet stripes came from IndyCar and Formula 1 cars, which are open cockpit cars. Helmets are clearly visible to television cameras and fans. As a direct result, helmet design in Formula 1 has become its own unique art form. Helmet designs become a part of the driver identity. The other thing that these open cockpits allow is for sponsorship opportunity. As such, a small opaque stripe is used on helmet visors.lepage-3

In NASCAR, the visor was slow to arrive. This is due to two reasons, first, many drivers up until the mid 1990’s chose to wear open-faced helmets. While these helmets had a shade to help keep the sun out of a driver’s eyes. While sponsor logos do show up, they were used for the driver’s name. This Brad Noffsinger example from 1988 is an example of that.Noffsinger-4

The second reason that helmet stripes were slow to come to NASCAR is that in-car cameras, while used, were for many years positioned in such a way that the visor would not be seen. Even if helmets were painted, the visor had no stripe. When the in-car cameras were positioned to film the driver from the side and even from the front, the helmet stripe became the standard. The stripe is designed to fit over the part of the visor that overlaps the opaque part of the helmet, as this example shows.musgrave2 musgrave3

Helmet stripes have become standard. To show how it affects the overall look of the helmet, I took this Kevin Lepage helmet from 1999, and edited the pictures to show how it looks. lepage-2  lepage-4  lepage-6

Not bad, but let’s compare it side by side to the original helmet…lepage-7 lepage-8 lepage-9

Helmet stripes have become a unique way for a driver to customize a helmet, as this video shows: Facebook pages and Twitter helmets are becoming standard on these. All visors that a driver would wear on a helmet have these stripes, which is standard, as visors are changed on a regular basis, and sponsors want the advertising space that they pay for.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Because of the Uni-Watch article last week, I didn’t get to review paint schemes.  Within the last couple of weeks there were a large number of 2014 paint schemes released. Now I know that many of these will change before the start of the 2014 season, but I will grade them anyways.

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion  Same scheme as this year, same grade, C

Kevin Harvick #4 Budweiser Chevy SS Same Scheme as last year, same grade, A

Kevin Harvick #4 Jimmy John’s Chevy SS  They improved one of the best schemes in NASCAR and went from an A to A+

Kevin Harvick #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevy SS The color scheme remains the same but red takes over from beige as the primary color, which gives the car a great look, and an A grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Great Clips Chevy SS Same scheme as this year, same D+ grade

Kasey Kahne #5 Pepsi Max Cheyv SS Same scheme as last year, same F grade

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Ford Fusion Great color scheme, though the nose, and quarter panel design are over done. Even still, I give it a B-

Marcos Ambrose #9 DeWalt/Stanley Ford Fusion See Above

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy SS I get that two companies with different desgin schemes are sharing the car, but this is just brutal to look at. The orange and camo contrast is hideous, and the overall design is overdone. C-

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS The white and black contrast just looks awful! I really hope this changes before the season starts, because this is a scheme that is painful to look at. I have to give it an F

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy SS As bad of a color scheme as this is, it is certainly better than the other two Tony Stewart schemes are. That said, the color scheme warrants an F while the design warrants an A, so I’ll split the difference and give it a C

Greg Biffle #16 3M Ford Fusion This scheme is a MAJOR improvement over this year’s design! All of the pointless noise on the door is gone, and the car has a very smooth look because of it, and I have to give this design an A

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Nationwide Insurance Ford Fusion Great color and design schemes, though the white on light blue lettering and logos are hard to see. Even still, I have to give it an A-

Joey Logano #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same grade, D

Joey Logano #22 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion  See Above

Jeff Gordon #24 Pepsi Max Chevy SS I gave this scheme a C-, but given the *ahem* other Pepsi Max scheme, I’ve reconsidered, and I will give this scheme a B

Ryan Newman #31 Caterpillar Chevy SS  An improvement on an already good scheme, A+

Aric Almirola #43 Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion If the hood and front were done in the stars design, and the rest of the car was red and white striped, it would look better, and I would be able to give it more than a C+

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Chevy SS Supposidly, this will be the main scheme for the whole season, and I have to say it looks amazing, and is an A+ grade

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes/Kobalt Chevy SS This will be run for a few races, and it is an A+ scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same A grade

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion No redeeming features whatsoever, F-`

Now on to new 2013 paint schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna/Auburn University Chevy SS The white hood and roof just look aukward, compared to the black covering the rest of the car.  That said, it is still a decent scheme, and I’ll give it a B

Dave Blaney #7 Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Marcos Ambrose #9 Bostitch Ford Fusion The 2014 scheme is previewed here, and I’ll give it the same B- grade I gave the 2014 scheme.

Landon Cassill #33 T-Mone Chevy SS This is a perfect example as to why only one person should design a car.  It looks like it took at least 3 people to design the car, each with a different idea as to what the car should look like.  And in the end it is just a mess, and not even a good color scheme can give this scheme a passing grade.  F

David Ragan #34 Safercar.gov Ford Fusion  See Above. F

JJ Yeley #36 United Mining Equipment Chevy SS Even if I didn’t give pinkwashing schemes an automatic F, this scheme would get an F anyway, it just looks awful

Kyle Larson #51 Target Chevy SS Simple, yet attractive, and it earns an A

Kurt Busch #78 Wonder Bread Chevy SS  To celebrate the return of Wonder Bread, Kurt is going to channel Ricky Bobby, except for one difference…this scheme is a lot better than the Ricky Bobby Scheme.    No flames and the baloons coming from the brake duct are a great look for this car, and it earns an A

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Mountain Dew/Xbox 1 Chevy SS  It has a great color scheme, and that is the nicest thing I can say about it.  The design is just awful, and it looks like it will give people seizures as it drives around the track.  I give it an F

Blake Koch #95 Supportmillitary.org Ford Fusion Eww…Too much going on, with the over-sized camo in too many different colors, and the door design which is awful. F-

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.

Collar Guard…Not a Product, but a Safety Feature.

1-lajoie-collarBy David G. Firestone

Like shoulder epaulets, the collar of a driver suit has made a transition. It has gone from safety accessory to fashion piece, but unlike the epaulet, it is not only ornamental. Because the collar is still a piece of safety equipment. It goes without saying that fire is an ever present danger in auto racing. The collar protects the neck from burns. This may seem minor, but many people who die from burns die from infection. When the skin is compromised, it can’t stop germs from getting inside the body, and as such makes infection a serious risk during burn injuries.

But the fashion aspect of collars is interesting as well. With the standard alignment of sponsors on the top of the suit, the Series logo, tire manufacturer logo, car manufacturer logo, and other sponsor logos are on the top, and the primary sponsor logos are present on the collar and epaulets. This Randy Lajoie example shows how the suit appears during an televised interview:1-lajoie-f

Note a couple of things: First, the fabric on the collar overlaps just a bit here, but when the driver wears it, it meets perfectly at the center of the neck. Second, it allows the driver to breathe easily. Comfort Vs. Safety is a constant debate. This is one kind of collar, the other kind of collar is what I call the Velcro collar, as shown in this Alex Barron suit from 1998:36-barron-collar

The Velcro collar is exactly what it sounds like, a collar with a strap which Velcros shut. This provides a little more protection in case of fire. It also has another use, as sponsor ads are popular to put on the front of the Velcro strap. This has been used quite often over the years…41-craven-collarbarber-collar

This is due to the fact that for quite some time the open face helmet was used, and the collar provided extra fire protection where the helmet failed. In this day in age, helmets come standard with Nomex socks on the bottom, so the collar, while still a key safety feature, is not as critical. But for sponsor logo placement, it really can’t be beat.

If the collar does not have a Velcro closure, then the primary sponsor logo is sewn into either side of the collar. Like the Lajoie example above, or this Mike Skinner example below, this can be used very effectively as a place for sponsor logos.31-skinner-collar

Like most other aspects of the driver suit, the choice of Velcro or not comes down to driver preference. Kyle Bush, as well as older brother Kurt favor the Velcro style, whereas Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards prefer the non-Velcro variety. Many pit crew shirts have a similar design to the driver design as well.

Editor’s note: For the next two weeks I will be on a very badly needed vacation. I will still have articles ready to go, but I won’t be commenting on up do date issues until I get back. I will still check in from time to time.

Moving on to paint schemes…

Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Express 2005 Toyota Camry Done as a memorial to Jason Leffler, this is a replica of the scheme that Leffler ran in 2005 during FedEx’s first season as a full-time NASCAR sponsor. It is very faithfull to the original scheme. It also has a great design and color scheme, and earns an A

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Give Kids a Smile Ford Fusion The same bland paint scheme that I described as “There’s nothing really wrong here, but nothing really right here either.  The side design looks forced, the black roof is idiotic, the color scheme is good, but the number design looks too cliche.  It makes no sense, but 3M schemes never do.” It has a small Give Kids a Smile logo on the hood, that is all but invisible. I gave it a C and it will stay at a C.

David Stremme #30 Window Wax Toyota Camry Ugh! This is bad, I can live with the color scheme, but the design is bad. It gets a D

Austin Dillon #33 American Ethanol Chevy SS While I hate the shade of green used here, this scheme looks pretty decent. The designs around the front brake vent are unnessicary, but I still like them. If the green were a bit darker, I could give it a better grade than a C+.

AJ Allmendinger #47 Charter Toytoa Camry The hood design is interesting here. It is designed in the same light as television logos on driver suits. It is a unique idea that works and I hope will catch on. The color scheme is great, and I love the overall design. A

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s/Louisville Cardinals Toyota Camry The color scheme is good, but the Fruit Stripe Gum design seen on the Louisville Cardinals shorts is ugly. The whole Zubaz design scheme is horrible on sports uniforms, and even worse on this car. I have nothing against the Louisville Cardinals, but this is horrible. F

Dale Earnhardt Jr #88 National Guard Solider of Steel Chevy SS Solid simple scheme with good colors, but the Superman Logo on the hood is next to invisible.