A uniquly designed Jody Miller Toyota Tundra race worn driver suit from 2005 will be examined this week.
A uniquly designed Jody Miller Toyota Tundra race worn driver suit from 2005 will be examined this week.
Kenny Wallace is in the spotlight this week, as we look at a race-worn driver suit circa 1999-2000, which he has boldly autographed across the front.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+
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-
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
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
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-
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:
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:
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…
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.
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.
This week, we take a look at a suit feature that is unseen by most race fans. Every suit has one, the so called “Liability Tag. ”-Every piece of racing equipment has some form of “liability tag” which basically states that anything that happens to the wearer of the item is the wearer’s fault and not the company’s fault. The Simpson tag, which has remained virtually unchanged since the 1980’s reads as follows:
“Warning-Auto Racing is Hazardous-this Article is sold without warranty expressed or implied. No warranty or representation is made as to this product’s ability to protect the user from any injury or death. This garment is made of Nomex and other flame retardant materials. Even with the high quality of this garment there could be fires or circumstances where this garment will give only minimal protection. Nomex underwear should be worn under this garment. This garment is manufactured to comply with the rules as set forth by S.C.C.A., N.A.S.C.A.R. , S.F.I., F.I.A., and other regulatory bodies.”Cleaning Instructions” Dry clean only. Dry clean alone. Specify using perchloroethylene only.”
Sparco’s tags are located behind the zipper andhave two different statements. Older suits have this tag:
“Although this product is manufactured from special materials that satisfy certain safety standards and may carry the approval of various authorities for its use in specific circumstances the manufacturer or supplier can not be held liable for its protective qualities under all activities, circumstances, and conditions.”
Newer Sparco tags have this warning in both English and Italian:
“It is important to carefully read the user’s handbook concerning the care of the garment. This suit will offer protection from fire and the transmission of heat for a limited time, but it does not offer total protection against any kind of hear or fire. The fabric used to make this suit is subject to aging. It is recommended that the suit is inspected frequently for any signs of wear or damage that may result in a loss of protection to the wearer. If the suit has been worn extensively and shows signs of war or damage it is recommended to wear another suit. Sparco is not responsible for any damages the suit incurs from improper use of the suit bu the user, or any third party. Through improper care of the suit, misuse of the suit, or discoloration of the suit from perspiration, or any use of the product after the expiration date, as described in the instruction manual. Do not leave this garment under sunlight, or any artificial light. This suit is not intended for use in go-karts.”
Impact! Suits use this simple warning:
“Motorsports are dangerous. the user of this product assumes the risk of injury or death. No warranty or representation is made that this product will protect the user from injury or death”
On to Paint Schemes…from here on out, I will only review Sprint Cup paint schemes.
Kevin Harvick #29 Jimmy Johns Chevy SS Great color and design, but I still don’t understand why Jimmy Johns sponsors Harvick instead of Jimmie Johnson…still a solid A scheme
Jeff Burton #31 Qwik-Set Chevy SS Grey…so much grey…so bland…so boring…C-
Josh Wise #35 Blockbuster Ford Fusion Didn’t Blockbuster go bankrupt? Apparently they have enough money for a one race deal…though the color scheme of the logos, and the car are different…C-
Scott Riggs No Label Watches Ford Fusion A great color scheme ruined by awful number design and medicore car design. C-
Michael Waltrip Aarons/Alabama Crimsion Tide Toyota Camry Decent color scheme and a simple, yet elegant design that works for both the car, and Alabama. It earns a solid B+