Paint Scheme Leaderboard-Week 4, The Grand Finale

By David G. Firestone

The Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee meetings have been long, but not too contentious, I can’t stay mad at Alejandro when he shows me his belly, so now we present all 55 NASCAR Sprint Cup teams ranked from first to last on how their paint schemes looked. NR has a different meaning this week. NR now specifically referrs to teams that didn’t exist in 2013. Teams that ran different manufacturers in 2013 will be ranked when it came to last year. So, without further ado,

1-Wood Brothers #21 Rank Last Year:1st of 50 -The Wood Brothers always design great cars, and the Quick Lane scheme uses the blue very well. It all looks good!

2-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Rank Last Year:2nd of 50-Classic, smooth looks with no needless clutter. Jimmie always runs great schemes

3-Michael Waltrip Racing #55 Rank Last Year:3rd of 50-The color schemes are good, and the design schemes work very well.

4-Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Rank Last Year:5th of 50-The zebra stripe Interstate Battery scheme wrecks a perfect score for Kyle this year

5-Stewart Haas Racing #4 Rank Last Year:NR-With the exception of Hunt Brothers Pizza, which uses an awful shade of green, Kevin has consistently run a series of great schemes.

6-Team Penske #2 Rank Last Year:18th of 50-The Wurth and Redd’s Apple Ale schemes are a bit over designed, but the white Miller Lite schemes, Alliance Truck Parts, and Detroit Genuine Parts schemes make up for it.

7-Richard Childress Racing #31 Rank Last Year:35th of 50-A lot of great schemes this year, but Wix is overdone, and the Cat/Quicken Loans hybrid looks awful

8-BK Racing #23 Rank Last Year:NR-The Dip Your Car scheme is awful, but the rest of the schemes are very good, and are very attractive.

9-Stewart Haas Racing #41 Rank Last Year: NR-The Slate scheme does not work, but all the other schemes work very well.

10-Roush Fenway Racing #6 Rank Last Year:NR-This would be ranked higher, as it has a somewhat vintage look, but the candy cane on the nose looks odd. It’s still a good scheme.

11-Richard Petty Motorsports #43 Rank Last Year:6th of 50-The Ekcrich camouflage scheme doesn’t work, camouflage schemes rarely do. The Charter green is horrible, but the rest of the schemes look really good.

12-Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Rank Last Year:24th of 50-A pink-washing scheme and a terrible shade of green on the WEMO scheme cost this team the 2nd place spot,knocking them down to 5th. They have run a lot of great schemes this season

13-Levine Family Racing #95 Rank Last Year:45th of 50-The TWD schemes look medicore, but could be worse. The template Levine Family Racing switched too this year looks great and the cars look very good too.

14-Furniture Row Racing #78 Rank Last Year:4th of 50-The World Vision scheme needs work, as the color does not support a fade, but the Furniture Row, and Colorado Freedom Memorial work very well.

15-BK Racing #26 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-Bully Hill Vinyards is an over-designed joke with an awful color scheme. The yellow numbers on the Burger King scheme are awful, but the rest of the schemes are good, and defendable.

16-RAB Racing #29 Rank Last Year:NR-Good color scheme, mediocre design scheme.

17-Hendrick Motorsports #88 Rank Last Year:22nd of 50-National Guard, Mountain Dew, Kickstart, and Superman look good, and work well with the new number design, but Michael Baker, Kelly Blue Book, and Nationwide don’t at all.

18-Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Rank Last Year:11th of 50-While Cottonelle, the Silver Scheme, and Energizer work very well, but the rest of their schemes are mediocre at best. The white on the back doesn’t work.

19-Beard Oil Racing #75 Rank Last Year:NR-If the sides had a sponsor, and the stripe at the bottom was eliminated, it would work a lot better.

20-Front Row Motorsports #34 Rank Last Year:28th of 50-The majority of the schemes look great, but the upside down lettering on the hood of the CSX scheme looks odd. The Wendell Scott scheme is amazing!

21-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Rank Last Year:15th of 50-While Bush’s, Clorox, Scott’s, Sullivan/Palatek, Kingsford, and Bush’s Grilling Beans work well,Kroger/USO is overdone, Charter Communications uses a horrid shade of green, and Hungry Jack just looks terrible.

22-Hendrick Motorsports #24 Rank Last Year: 36th of 50-Drive to end Hunger is too overdone, and the upside down D on the hood looks terrible. Their orange scheme is even worse. Panasonic is mediocre at best. Pepsi looks good, and all of the Axalta schemes are really good.

23-Humphery Racing #77 Rank Last Year:NR-Plinker Arms doesn’t look great but it could be worse. That applies to Essex Homes as well. The rest of the schemes look good.

24-Joe Gibbs Racing #11 Rank Last Year:31st of 50-The Autisim Speaks scheme works well. The zipper scheme is decent, but odd. Sport Clips is over-designed, but with a good color scheme. The FedEx schemes have decent color schemes, but are over-designed on the front.

25-BK Racing #83 Rank Last Year:7th of 50-Voo Doo Barbecue is an over-designed mess. Dip your car is terrible, as is Zak. Burger King and Borla work well though.

26-Team Penske #12 Rank Last Year:9th of 50-The SKF scheme works very well. The Penske Truck Rental scheme uses a horrible shade of orange, and just looks hideous.

27-Hillman Racing #40 Rank Last Year: NR-When the car doesn’t have a scheme, it looks very good. When it has a sponsor it looks awful.

28-Front Row Motorsports #35 Rank Last Year:27th of 50-The Hefty scheme is a little unorthodox, silver and orange isn’t a great combo, but the design looks good. MDS looks good

29-HScott Motorsports #52 Rank Last Year: NR-The black scheme is good, but the orange Florida Lottery scheme is a trainwreck. Less is more on a paint scheme.

30-HScott Motorsports #51 Rank Last Year:13th of 50-If the car is running a Brandt scheme it looks good, anything else looks terrible.

31-Phil Parsons Racing #98 Rank Last Year: 44th of 50-While I like the Dogecoin,Trench Shoring,iRacing, black Curb Records, and unsponsored black schemes, anything else looks horrendous.

32-Front Row Motorsports #38 Rank Last Year:26th of 50-Most of the schemes are good, but the Love’s Truck Stops, and Love’s Truck Stops Camo schemes are horrific.

33-Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Rank Last Year:23rd of 50-Can all be summed up with medicore color schemes and mediocre design schemes

34-Swan Racing #30 Rank Last Year:50th of 50-The only time the car looked good was when it was unsponsored, but compared to last year’s design it looks amazing!

35-Roush Fenway Racing #17 Rank Last Year:16th of 50-Eco-Power has awful shades of green. Pit for a pair is awful even for a pink-washing scheme. Zest has a good color scheme, but awful design scheme,as does Fifth-Third Bank. Their all-star scheme was terrible. Ford Eco-Boost, NOS, and Nationwide work very well.

36-Richard Childress Racing #27 Rank Last Year: 20th of 50-Neon yellow looks terrible, when they use the stripes on the sides it looks even worse. The Pittsburgh Paints scheme looks really good though.

37-BK Racing #93 Rank Last Year:8th of 50-The Support Millitary scheme is the worst, and although Burger King, Dr. Pepper, and Iowa City Chop House do make up for it, it just isn’t enough.

38-CircleSport/Richard Childress Racing #33 Rank Last Year: 47th of 50-

39-Tommy Baldwin Racing #37 Rank Last Year: NR-Accell Construction has a great color scheme, but the design scheme ruins it.

40-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 Rank Last Year:29th of 50-Another example of a team where when the car is unsponsored, it looks better.

41-Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Rank Last Year:12th of 50-Can all be summed up with Great color schemes but mediocre design schemes. The camo scheme looks bad, but the upside is that the camo is subtle.

42-Team Penske #22 Rank Last Year:41st of 50-The Shell/Pennzoil scheme has a decent color scheme but a bad design scheme. Anything Pennzoil Platnum is awful, as is Auto Trader. The Auto Club scheme has a great color scheme but a bad design scheme.

43-Identity Ventures Racing #87 Rank Last Year:NR-300 is a mess, and Morris,Hardick and Schinder/SmartBen looks too dull.

44-Michael Waltrip Racing #15 Rank Last Year:38th of 50-The Peak scheme is defendable, the color scheme is good, but the rest of the schemes are just awful.

45-Roush Fenway Racing #99 Rank Last Year:34th of 50-Fastenal looks good, but anything else looks terrible.

46-Go FAS Racing #32 Rank Last Year:25th of 50-The Terry Labonte throwback scheme was amazing, but most of their other schemes are over-designed messes.

47-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Rank Last Year:21st of 50-The over designing of the Bass Pro Shops schemes, as well as the use of orange and camo just look horrible. Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, and Code 3 look decent, but to some extent have issues. Mobil 1 is over designed, Rush uses too dark a yellow, Code 3 uses too bright a yellow.

48-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Rank Last Year:43rd of 50-Allstate Peterbuilt, and Pilot-St Jude Children’s Network work well, as both have good color schemes and design schemes. Anything else just looks awful.

49-Richard Childress Racing #3 Rank Last Year:NR-Cheerios is very good, and has a classic look. Dow schemes have a great color scheme, but have mediocre design. Anything else looks terrible on this car.

50-Germain Racing #13 Rank Last Year:40th of 50-The blue is too bright, as is the yellow. The car is overdesigned, and the whole car looks like a mess. The camo scheme is much worse.

51-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Rank Last Year:46th of 50-The only half decent scheme is Pepsi. Everything else is an over designed mess.

52-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Rank Last Year:37th of 50-The only scheme that doesn’t make my eyes hurt here is Aspen Dental. Terrible shades of orange and green, with ugly design. The pink-washing scheme is terrible.

53-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Rank Last Year: 49th of 50-Every single one of their cars is an ugly, over-designed mess that doesn’t look good at all.

54-Roush Fenway Racing #16 Rank Last Year:19th of 50-Every scheme is terrible.

55-Michael Waltrip Racing #66 Rank Last Year:NR-Nothing about any of these schemes is good.

Paint Scheme Leaderboard, Week #1-Chevy

By David G. Firestone

Starting this week, and for the next four Fridays, we will rank the paint schemes of all 55 race teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. I will not grade any paint schemes until these rankings are done, but I will still update the Paint Scheme Tracker on Wednesday. The rankings were determined by the Paint Scheme Ranking Executive Committee, made up of myself, and Alejandro my black cat, though all he did was sleep through the proceedings. First up will be Chevy. I will also add the rank each scheme held last year. Teams that did not exist or run Chevy cars will be marked as NR for Not Ranked..

1-Hendrick Motorsports #48 Rank Last Year: 1st of 19-Classic, smooth looks with no needless clutter. Jimmie always runs great schemes

2-Stewart Haas Racing #4 Rank Last Year: NR-With the exception of Hunt Brothers Pizza, which uses an awful shade of green, Kevin has consistently run a series of great schemes.

3-Stewart Haas Racing #41 Rank Last Year: NR-The Slate scheme does not work, but all the other schemes work very well.

4-Richard Childress Racing #31 Rank Last Year: 13th of 19-A lot of great schemes this year, but Wix is overdone, and the Cat/Quicken Loans hybrid looks awful

5-Chip Ganassi Racing #1 Rank Last Year: 9th of 19- A pink-washing scheme and a terrible shade of green on the WEMO scheme cost this team the 2nd place spot,knocking them down to 5th. They have run a lot of great schemes this season

6-Furniture Row Racing #78 Rank Last Year: 2nd of 19-The World Vision scheme needs work, as the color does not support a fade, but the Furniture Row, and Colorado Freedom Memorial work very well.

7-Hendrick Motorsports #88 Rank Last Year: 8th of 19-National Guard, Mountain Dew, Kickstart, and Superman look good, and work well with the new number design, but Michael Baker, Kelly Blue Book, and Nationwide don’t at all.

8-Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Rank Last Year: 4th of 19-While Cottonelle, the Silver Scheme, and Energizer work very well, but the rest of their schemes are mediocre at best. The white on the back doesn’t work.

9-Beard Oil Racing #75 Rank Last Year: NR-If the sides had a sponsor, and the stripe at the bottom was eliminated, it would work a lot better.

10-JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Rank Last Year: NR-While Bush’s, Clorox, Scott’s, Sullivan/Palatek, Kingsford, and Bush’s Grilling Beans work well,Kroger/USO is overdone, Charter Communications uses a horrid shade of green, and Hungry Jack just looks terrible.

11-Hendrick Motorsports #24 Rank Last Year: 14th of 19-Drive to end Hunger is too overdone, and the upside down D on the hood looks terrible. Their orange scheme is even worse. Panasonic is mediocre at best. Pepsi looks good, and all of the Axalta schemes are really good.

12-Hillman Racing #40 Rank Last Year: NR-When the car doesn’t have a scheme, it looks very good. When it has a sponsor it looks awful.

13-HScott Motorsports #52 Rank Last Year: NR-The black scheme is good, but the orange Florida Lottery scheme is a trainwreck. Less is more on a paint scheme.

14-HScott Motorsports #51 Rank Last Year: 5th of 19-If the car is running a Brandt scheme it looks good, anything else looks terrible.

15-Richard Childress Racing #27 Rank Last Year: 6th of 19-Neon yellow looks terrible, when they use the stripes on the sides it looks even worse. The Pittsburgh Paints scheme looks really good though.

16-CircleSport/Richard Childress Racing #33 Rank Last Year: 19th of 19-

17-Tommy Baldwin Racing #37 Rank Last Year: NR-Accell Construction has a great color scheme, but the design scheme ruins it.

18-Tommy Baldwin Racing #36 Rank Last Year:10th of 19-Another example of a team where when the car is unsponsored, it looks better.

19-Stewart Haas Racing #14 Rank Last Year: 7th of 19-The over designing of the Bass Pro Shops schemes, as well as the use of orange and camo just look horrible. Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, and Code 3 look decent, but to some extent have issues. Mobil 1 is over designed, Rush uses too dark a yellow, Code 3 uses too bright a yellow.

20-Tommy Baldwin Racing #7 Rank Last Year:16th of 19-Allstate Peterbuilt, and Pilot-St Jude Children’s Network work well, as both have good color schemes and design schemes. Anything else just looks awful.

21-Richard Childress Racing #3 Rank Last Year:NR-Cheerios is very good, and has a classic look. Dow schemes have a great color scheme, but have mediocre design. Anything else looks terrible on this car.

22-Germain Racing #13 Rank Last Year:NR-The blue is too bright, as is the yellow. The car is overdesigned, and the whole car looks like a mess. The camo scheme is much worse.

23-Hendrick Motorsports #5 Rank Last Year:17th of 19-The only half decent scheme is Pepsi. Everything else is an over designed mess.

24-Stewart Haas Racing #10 Rank Last Year:14th of 19-The only scheme that doesn’t make my eyes hurt here is Aspen Dental. Terrible shades of orange and green, with ugly design. The pink-washing scheme is terrible.

25-Xxxtreme Motorsports #44 Rank Last Year:NR-Every single one of their cars is an ugly, over-designed mess that doesn’t look good at all.

Next week, we move on to Ford…See you soon!

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+

Paint Scheme Grades, Some F1 News and Clarification of a Term

By David G. Firestone

I have been neglecting the Paint Scheme grades for the last few weeks, so after this brief post, we will focus on those this week.  I want to clarify a term that I use regularly.  I use the word “overdesigned” and what it basically means is that the paint scheme has design for design sake.  The scheme has design that serves no real purpose, and was just added needlessly.  Most things we own are, to a certain extent, over designed, mainly to prevent damage from regular use.  But when a car uses needless design in a paint scheme, more often than not, it looks awful.

The other news items I wanted to get to are from Formula 1.  I’m not an F1 fan per se, but I felt that these deserved some time on the DSB.  First there was a major shift in how cars are numbered in F1.  It used to be that were ever the driver finished in the previous season is what his car number was.  Now the change has been made and instead it is that the drivers pick a number and then use that for their entire careers.  Sky Sports covered the driver’s number choices in full, and I’m now a Daniel Ricardo fan!  The 2014 F1 helmet designs have been released and the designs speak for themselves.  This last item is about the man who is in charge of painting Lewis Hamilton’s Silver Arrow for the German-based Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team, my favorite team appearance wise in F1.  Now we move on to…

Paint Scheme Reviews

Austin Dillon #3 American Ethanol Chevy SS For many years, green was considered an unlucky color in auto racing. That said, this is a decent scheme. The green used is very good, and the overall design is good. The green around the vent on the side is needless, but this scheme still works. A-

Austin Dillon #3 Bad Boy Buggies/Realtree Chevy SS I’m seriously considering giving any camo paint scheme an automatic F because not one that I have seen in the last 5 years looks good at all. This scheme is just awful. The white/camo scheme is hideous and I’m embarrassed to have to grade it. F

Greg Biffle #16 Red Cross Give Blood/3M Ford Fusion One of Greg’s best schemes he has ever run. I can’t say anything bad. It has a simple yet attractive design, and a great color scheme. A+

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 Zest Ford Fusion Same scheme as last year, same F grade.

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry Same scheme as last year, same B Grade

Jeff Gordon #24 Texas A&M Engineering Chevy SS Decent color scheme, but the side design is odd. It has a little too much design. The crooked Texas A&M logo looks odd here too. Still it is a decent design and earns a C+

Paul Menard #27 Menards/Quaker State Chevy SS Quaker State has a great shade of green, and it should be the dominant color of the car. The yellow base with green accents looks awkward. I’ll give it a C

Parker Kligerman #30 Swan Racing Toyota Camry Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Parker Kligerman #30 Swan Racing Toyota Camry Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

Travis Kvapil #32 Ask More Get More Ford Fusion Yellow, white and black is a great color scheme. Overall design is great and the car has a great look to it. A+

Travis Kvapil #32 Ask More Get More Ford Fusion Two different schemes in two weeks is unusual and for whatever reason, the new car was a bit over designed. It still has a decent look and earns a B+

Timmy Hill #33 Circle Sport Chevy SS Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

David Ragan #34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion Overall design and color schemes are good, and the only complaint is that the Taco Bell logo should be in color as opposed to black and white.  A+

David Ragan #34 Dockside Logistics Ford Fusion  The car looks great, with a great color scheme and great design scheme…A+

David Ragan #34 Farm Rich Ford Fusion  Good color scheme and I love the rolling hills effect…A+

Reed Sorenson #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevy SS Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

David Gilliland #38 Long John Silvers Ford Fusion Great design, great color scheme, great look, A+

Landon Cassill #40 Nabi Tablet Chevy SS Good color scheme, but the the car, like the Nabi Tablet is overdesigned, and earns a C

Landon Cassill #40 CRC Industries / K&W FiberLock Chevy SS A very simple design, though the yellowish-green is unattractive. If the green was darker it would work better. C+

Kyle Larson #42 Clorox Chevy SS AJ Allemdinger has a good Clorox scheme, this is an awful scheme . Why did they choose that shade of yellow instead of white? I can’t give this a passing grade. F

Aric Almirola #43 Farmland Ford Fusion Simple design and a great color scheme earns an A+

JJ Yeley #44 Phoenix Warehouse Chevy SS My first thought when I saw this scheme was it looked like the color scheme from the 1994-1995 NBA All-Star Game jerseys which is a decent color scheme. But to say the car is overdesigned is an understatement. This scheme is awful. Not even a great color scheme can help this car pass. F

AJ Allmendinger #47 Bush’s Grilling Beans Chevy SS  Great color scheme and a simple design earns an A+

Justin Allgaier #51 SEM Chevy SS Simple design, great color scheme, looks great, A+

Brian Vickers #55 Xarelto Toytoa Camry Good simple design with a great color scheme earns an A.

Jeff Burton #66 Toyota Toyota Camry The stripe down the side is much too big, and the hood design looks odd. The color scheme is good, but the overall design is a D+

Joe Nemechek #87 SmartBen Toyota Camry Simple design, great color scheme, looks great, A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevy SS The black and green color scheme is good, and the side is a bit overdeisgned. If the green stripes were scaled back, it would work better. It is work a B- grade.

Michael McDowell #95 WRL Contractors Ford Fusion Levine Family Racing continues to get back into my good graces with another A scheme with great design and a great color scheme.

Carl Edwards #99 Kelloggs/Cheez Its Ford Fusion Too many colors, and the car is overdesigned. F

Open or Closed…Which Helmet Would You Have Chosen?

By David G. Firestone

[Editor’s Note: Originally, this week was a post dedicated to primary sponsor logos. However, I had this column on the shelf for a while, but given recent events in the NFL, which fellow uniform blogger Paul Lukas has covered in depth, I felt that this article concerning helmet safety in NASCAR would be appropriate to run this week, with the primary sponsor logo column running next week. DF]

lepagePrior to the tragic events of the 2001 Daytona 500, drivers had to make a choice that in this day in age seems absolutely absurd. From the beginning of NASCAR to that tragic day drivers had their choice of helmets, and they were open-faced,lepage94-2or full-face.lepage99-2

To examine the merits and demerits of both helmets let’s take a look at one example of each, both worn by the same driver, Kevin Lepage. First, the open-faced helmetlepage94-1 lepage94-2 lepage94-4 lepage94-3 lepage94-6 lepage94-5

Worn in the Nationwide Series in 1994 and 1995 during his rookie and sophomore seasons, this helmet bears a decal from high-end plush toy company Vermont Teddy Bears. It shows very heavy use, with scratches and scuff marks, has had the microphone equipment removed, and Lepage has signed the back of the helmet in black Sharpie.

Now let’s look at the full-face helmet,lepage99-1 lepage99-2 lepage99-3 lepage99-5 lepage99-6 lepage99-7 lepage99-8

Worn by Lepage in the 1999 Winston Cup season, this helmet was painted for the combination Primestar/TV Guide #16 Ford. Like the open-faced helmet, it shows scratches and scuff marks, and Lepage has signed the top of the helmet above the visor. Unlike the open-faced helmet, this helmet still has the microphone equipment.

Now on to the comparison…

Looking at the helmets from the inside, there was no real difference between the two. Both are the same basic design, with the same inner liner and filler.lepage7

The left sides of the helmets differ greatly. Notice that there is a hose attachment near the Ford logo on the full-faced helmet. This is to accommodate the “hotbox” attachment. Hotboxes are designed to force air into the driver’s face to help keep them cool. This is not a luxury, as driver compartments can reach as high as 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and drivers typically wear 3-4 layers of Nomex during a race. Keep in mind that in-car drinking systems are not standard as of 2000, and the hotbox is a great tool for driver comfort.lepage5

Microphone equipment is added to the helmet on the right side. The only difference between these two helmets is that the microphone has been removed on the open-faced helmet.lepage1

The back of the helmets are virtually identical except for the paint schemes and the liability tag present.lepage6

The front of the helmet is the key to making the decision. Everything else thus far is a minor issue. The question was asked then, and is asked now, why were these helmets legal for as long as they were? These pictures should answer that question:lepage3 lepage4

The bottom of the helmet underneath the visor gives an extra bit of safety in case of fire, BUT takes away about 2-3 inches of visibility. That 3 inches might not seem like that much, but in a race car, trying to keep situational awareness of what the car is doing, those 3 inches are as critical as you can imagine. NASCAR at the time had the opinion that if they had the restriction in place, that the obstruction could cause a driver to lose that situational awareness, and lead to a wreck. NASCAR felt that any rule that could cause a wreck is a bad idea, and rightfully so. How often in the wake and investigation of accidents does it reveal that a rule, regulation, or guideline cause an accident? It happens quite often. NASCAR at the time felt that imposing a rule that all helmets should be full-faced that is could very easily lead to an accident, and as such, allowed open-faced helmets to avoid that from happening.

It was a rule that was easy to understand, but would lead to tragedy. It led to this design, which itself is now becoming obsolete:mcdonalds-1 mcdonalds-6 mcdonalds-7 mcdonalds-4 mcdonalds-3 mcdonalds-9 mcdonalds-10 mcdonalds-12Now, even the best full-faced helmet designs from the 1990’s are now a distant memory and the current helmet design has taken over. It might seem like unfair, but if these rules were in place at the 2001 Daytona 500, we would have never lost a true legend.

Paint Scheme Reviews!

Jamie McMurray #1 Linksys Chevy SS Clean lines and a great color scheme make for an A+ scheme!

Matt Kenseth #20 Husky/500th Start Toyota Camry The gray-scale design does not work here at all. The rest of the car looks very good, but the black and dark gray color scheme needs work. If the Husky red is where the gray is, it would work better, but the best grade I can give is a C-

Michael McDowell #51 SEM Chevy SS Classic design with a great color scheme, A+

And we have a 2014 leak…

Austin Dillon #3 Cheerios Chevy SS This is the best Cheerios scheme I have ever seen! The goofy bagel design is gone, and has been replaced with a couple of racing stripes. I also love the black around the #3. If this is the final design, it will be a great car, and I give it an A+!