“Press Kit” Does NOT Mean Ironing a Uniform!

By David G. Firestone17-sedgwick-presskit1

Hope you all had a great holiday season, whatever you celebrate. I turned 32 on Thursday, and am celebrating the first year of the The Driver Suit Blog. Ok, enough sappy stuff, on to this week’s column.We’ve discussed photo-matching before, but here is something regarding photo matching that many people don’t know about, using press kits to photo match a suit. Press Kits are defined on Wikipedia as “a prepackaged set of promotional materials of a person, company, or organization distributed to the media for promotional use.” In sports, these are usually distributed to the media, prior to the start of the season, and usually contain information about players, statistics on players, history of the teams, photos, and the occasional gift.

NASCAR teams distribute these to the media before and during the season, and they often find their way into the hands of collectors. These kits are fun to collect, and I enjoy looking at the various driver suits that the drivers are wearing. These have a serious side in the collectors market, as they can easily be used for photo-matching.17-sedgwick-presskit2This is an example of a NASCAR press kit, this one from 1996. Bill Sedgwick was the driver of the #17 Die Hard Chevy C-1500. The team was owned by Darrell Waltrip, who also raced for the team in a number of events. In 1996, he started 23 of the 24 races in the Craftsman Truck Series, and had a decent season, with 3 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s, including a 2nd place finish at Milwaukee. He finished the season in 14th place. During the season, this press kit was distributed to the media. It comes in a custom folder,17-sedgwick-presskit1 17-sedgwick-presskit16and contains race statistics17-sedgwick-presskit4 17-sedgwick-presskit5 17-sedgwick-presskit6 17-sedgwick-presskit7 a driver profile17-sedgwick-presskit9,an owner profile17-sedgwick-presskit10 17-sedgwick-presskit11,sponsor information,17-sedgwick-presskit8technical information, 17-sedgwick-presskit12 17-sedgwick-presskit13 17-sedgwick-presskit14a bumper sticker,17-sedgwick-presskit15and a photo of both Darrell and Bill.17-sedgwick-presskit2I own Sedgwick’s suit from that season, it was the first driver suit I ever bought.17-sedgwick 17-sedgwickb

17-sedgwick-presskit2  17-sedgwick17-sedgwick-presskit2I tried to find a picture of any kind of him wearing the suit, but had no luck, until I found the press kit, and the black and white photo of him wearing the suit. So I bought it and photo matched the suit. Photo-matching, though time-consuming, it is a part of this hobby that is a necessary evil. If you buy a driver suit, helmet, or anything else worn by a driver, finding pictures or video of the driver wearing the suit is crucial to authenticating the suit. Sometimes traditional manners come up empty, and a press kit is the only way. Kits typically run between $5 and $30, so they can be pricy, but the upside to this is that when it works, you have indisputable proof that this suit was worn by the driver in question.

This last year, I took exception with a display at the Museum of Science and Industry concerning an obviously fake helmet that is being passed off as real.  I recently went back there after sending my argument that the sign should be changed.  Last time I went the display had been emptied:100_3811Recently, I went back and went back to the display, and saw this:gh1 - CopyThe display has been restored, and it looks really good except…gh2 - CopyTHE SIGN HASN’T BEEN CHANGED!  I want to love this display, I really do, but I can’t ignore the fact that there is a fake item being represented as real.  I have seen items from museum collections go up for sale to the public, and I have to make sure a fake item doesn’t get misrepresented as real.


Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1 Chevy SS  The color scheme is good, but the design is horrid!  The contrast between the black and the white looks awful.  As much as I want to defend this scheme, I can’t.  F

Tony Stewart #14 Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS  Same scheme as last year, same C- grade.  Also, it appears that the last name on the windshield has larger lettering than last year.

Tony Stewart #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevy SS Same Scheme as last year, same A grade

Matt Kenseth #20 Home Depot/Huskey Toyota Camry   I would give this scheme an A grade, but the yellow back bumper ruins it.  The clash between the two just works awkward, and it takes an A scheme down to a C


A Prototype Pit Crew Suit…Say That Three Times Fast Part 1

By David G. Firestone.


Ok, for the next two weeks, I am going to focus on one single suit. This is a “prototype crew suit.” In other words, it is a prototype suit for a pit crew member. In that light, I will do two articles, one focusing on the “prototype” part and the other will focus on the “pit crew” part.

This is a prototype suit. What that means is that this suit was made up to see how various design aspects work. The designers will attach various aspects, stripes, sponsor patches, to a full-size mockup of a suit, usually a single-layer suit, to see how the suit will look like when finished. Since driver and pit crew suits can cost as much as $1500 each to make, this is a simpler and cheaper way to design a suit in full-size. A full size mockup looks very impressive. The designs can be changed as needed.

Prototype suits are made from a single-layer suit. Single-layer suits are cheaper to use, but provide little protection in case of fire, so they are not often used in race condition. Suit design has, in the last 20+ years gone from not an issue to very critical. Because suits are used for promotion for the primary sponsor, the design aspect is very important. Every aspect, from the colors, to the primary and associate sponsor patches, to the decorative design is taken into consideration.johansen

This particular suit was made for PDM racing, for use in the IndyCar Racing League in 2006. It was made for an individual by the name of Tom Johansen. It appears that Johansen is a crew member, and this suit was designed for his use. The logos are sewn on patches, the patches are placed on pieces of fabric, and then attached to the suit. From there, the suit starts to take shape, and the name is attached to the belt, and the logos are attached to the shoulder epaulets. In this example:

The right chest has a HONDA and a PDM RACING logo.johansen-rchestThe left chest has an INDY RACING LEAGUE logo and a ROYAL SPA logo.johansen-lchestThe belt has TOM JOHANSEN directly embroidered into it.johansen-beltThe legs are cuffed.johansen-legsThe sleeves have small logos on the top, and large SIMPSON logos present the bottom.johansen-rsleeve1 johansen-rsleeve2 johansen-lsleeve1 johansen-lsleeve2The shoulder epaulet have FIRESTONE logos present.johansen-rshoulder johansen-lshoulderThe back cowl has a HONDA logo that covers part of the tag.johansen-blogo johansen-tagThe back Torso has a large ROYAL SPA logo, Royal Spa being the primary sponsor at the time.seThe suit shows no wear to speak of, nor does it have any safety certification.

The question is asked, did this suit see race-use?  While the suit itself shows no wear, it seems likely that it did in some form see race use.  PDM Racing was always a sub-par team, and they were always a low-budget team.  An inside joke was that PDM stood for “Poor Dumb Mechanics.”  So the fact that this suit was made would indicate that it was used by Johansen.  However what part Tom Johansen served on the crew is unknown.   On the other hand, a single-layer suit such as this would not provide much protection for the wearer in the very real threat of a fire.  The suit material feels very light, and the wearer would have been seriously injured if a fire had taken place.  The deciding factor for me is that the suit shows no wear.  I have suits in my collection that have been worn for only a few races, but have a lot of visible wear, and for a pit crew suit, that is pretty telling.

Prototype suits provide little protection in case of fire, unlike pit crew suits which are designed to give the wearer as much protection as possible, which we will examine further next week.

Paint Scheme Time!

Jamie McMurray #1 Advil Chevy SS While I’m not a fan of the grid on the front, the car as a whole has a simple, yet attractive design, as well as a good color scheme. So I’ll overlook the grid and give this an A+

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite/Luke Brian Ford Fusion I gave this basic scheme a C+ at the beginning of the year, and this new design doesn’t add or take away from the scheme, so I will leave it at a C

Alex Kennedy #19 Media Master Toyota Camry Nothing really remarkable here, just a simple white scheme with black numbers and green logos. Very simple, and very plain, C+

David Stremme #30 Genny Light Toyota Camry Too much needless decoration. A good color scheme, but there is way too much going on design wise on the side of the car. It just looks awful, and I give it a D-

David Ragain #34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion I have yet to cover Taco Bell this year, but this scheme has a great color scheme, great side design, and a very pronounced design on the hood, which really makes the car stand out, and gives it a better look. A+

Ryan Newman #39 Haas 30th Anniversary Chevy SS Haas has a great scheme already, and the all-black look really works well here. To give this scheme anything less than an A+ is unfair.

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans/PTA Chevy SS The nicest thing I can say about this is that it looks like a unicorn threw up all over the car. F-

Brian Keselowski #52 Star Coach Race Tours Toyota Camry Are you f***ing kidding me? I have to give them credit, they took the worst scheme in NASCAR this year, and found a way to make it even worse. The color and design are horrific, and bonus points for putting blue lettering in the green camo, thus making it nearly invisible. Giving this scheme an F– does not go far enough! WORST SCHEME THIS YEAR!

Brian Vickers #55 Toyota Cares Toyota Camry Good color scheme, and decent design. It is pretty simple, and it works. A

And speaking of Brian Vickers, we got a look at the design for his 2014 Aarons Dream Machine Toyota Camry. The scheme has a more modern look, both in the overall design and door numbers. It is a great scheme, with a great color scheme. A+

Neck Backs…A Hotbed for Unique Customizations.

36-saidThe driver suit is almost always customized for the driver, and as such, the driver has the option of adding customizations to the suit. This may come in the form of size,

and belt design,36-barron-belt


but the back of the neck is a unique place for customizations. The designs that are placed on the back of the neck are as unique as the driver themselves.36-barron-neck

I’ve gone at length to discuss the FIA certification which is frequently sewn into the back of the neck. This is a prominent feature in Formula 1 and IndyCar. That is standard issue, so no real need to comment on it any more.barber-neck

n NASCAR, the back of the neck can be used for a myriad of different customizations. One of the most common is a car number, such as this Christian Fittipaldi suit, 45-fittipaldi-bneck

and another common feature can be sponsor logos, such as this Randy LaJoie Bob Evans suit from 1999-2000,1-lajoie-neck

and this Joey Miller Craftsman Truck Series suit from 2005.12-miller-blogo

This Kasey Kahne suit has the Evernham Motorsports logo sewn into the back of the neck.9-kahne-neck

And Roger Penske likes to have the American Flag on the back of the neck of his suits, as evidenced by this David Stremme suit from 2009.12-stremme-neck

Older Simpson driver suits have been known to have an inventory number sewn here, as exampled by this Mike Skinner suit from 1997,31-skinner-future

and this Stevie Reeves example, again from 1997.96-reeves-neck

But for my money, the personal customizations are more fun when they are as unique as the driver is. In this Terry Labonte suit, Terry has added a Texas logo.10-labonte-neck

My favorite customization is from a Boris Said suit from 2005. Said has added a Boris Badenov design to the back of his neck.36-said-neck

It’s the little things that make a suit personal, and these are some of those little things. Who says a driver suit can’t be fun.

And of course, it goes without saying that the neck is frequently left blank, as exampled by this Nort Northam suit from 1988.56-Northam-neck

Jamie McMurray #1 Cessna Patriotic Chevy SS Pretty good scheme here, red white and blue is always a solid scheme, but the one gripe I have is the pointless circle around the door number. While it gives the car a vintage look, it is just out of place here. Even still, this scheme is a solid A-

Brad Keselowski #2 Miller Lite Patriotic Ford Fusion Solid scheme, nothing to complain about, A+

Kasey Kahne #5 Hendrick Cars Chevy SS Red white and black is a very solid color scheme, and the design, while a bit convoluted looks really good. It has a hurricane-esquire design that looks really good. A-

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy .US Chevy SS The simple design of this scheme looks really good…but what is going on with the colors? Why is the car painted in Russian dressing green? Russian dressing is good, but not as a color scheme. The red white and blue designs clash, and it just looks awful. D-

Clint Bowyer #15 Peak Blue DEF Toyota Camry I gave this scheme a B grade, and the logo change on the hood does nothing to either add or subtract for this grade. B

Greg Biffle #16 3M Statue Of Liberty Ford Fusion Amazing how a better color scheme, as well as the Statue of Liberty design take a C grade and bring it up to a B

Kyle Busch #18 Interstate Batteries All Battery Center Toyota Camry Now THIS is what an Interstate Batteries scheme should be! The classic dark green, gold and white color scheme is amazing, and the design is simple yet very attractive. Giving this scheme an A+ is not saying enough about how great this scheme is!

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta Standox Chevy SS White flames on a blue background? Seriously? I could forgive it if it was blue flames on a white background, blue flames look really good. But white flames? This design ruins a great color scheme AND a great design scheme TOGETHER! Now that is impressive! F-

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevy SS The Patriotic schemes worked quite well this year, and this is another example of that. A-

Jeff Burton #31 Quikset Chevy SS Decent color scheme but the design needs a little work. If the red was on the hood, roof and deck-lid and the black was on the sides, I would give it an A, but the shark-fin design is brutal on the eyes, and serves no real purpose. As such, I can only give it a C-

JJ Yeley #36 Golden Coral Patriotic Chevy SS Another A grade Patriotic scheme.

AJ Allmendinger #51 Neil Bonnett Throwback Chevy SS While I like most throwback schemes, this one, while accurate, has the worst color scheme I have ever seen. It just screams 1980’s. Hot pink and neon yellow really stands out, and not in a good way. Still, I do miss Neil, and they were pretty accurate, so I will give this scheme a B

Carl Edwards #99 Subway Ahhvocado Ford Fusion Good color scheme and a simple design. I’m not a fan of avocados on sandwiches, but this is a good solid A scheme.

My Day at the NHRA in Joliet

100_3559I had a post ready to go concerning collar designs, but I’ve decided to save that for next week. I’m still on vacation, and last Saturday I went to see the 16th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, in Joliet. I had the chance to get VIP tickets, so I went with Argie, a friend from work, and some of her friends, and took the chance to mix business with pleasure.

It was a mixture of Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regulars, and some minor league drivers, but it was fun. The first thing I learned was how loud these cars really are. I’ve been to NASCAR races, and I’ve heard the engines running, but NHRA engines are so much louder than I had thought. For a while, I was standing in the spectator area on track level, and as they warmed up, you felt the vibrations of the engine. I’m standing about 75 feet away from the starting line, and when they went by, you felt it in every part of your body, a split second after they passed you. Needless to say, it was AWESOME!

One thing I did enjoy was checking out the different kinds of cars, from top fuel dragsters, 100_3531 100_3532to super stocks,100_3543to funny cars, 100_3545 100_3546 100_3547 100_3552The scoreboard tells the fans who won, and what their times and speeds were, each side having its own scoreboard with lights around the sponsor logo to tell you who won.100_3544I also checked out the tires on these cars, and man, they are huge! They look like they are twice the size of NASCAR tires.100_3550Speaking of which, I got a chance to check out the new Gen 6 Sprint Cup car, as Clint Bowyer’s Toyota Camry show car made an appearance…it looks amazing!100_3535 100_3534 100_3533 100_3537 100_3536 100_3538 100_3539They even had a jet dragster, but I didn’t get to see it on the track…oh well.100_3560One of the fun things about these events is that you can check out the pit area, so I did, checked out all sorts of cars, and the various equipment and stages of preparation and equipment used in them.   100_3540 100_3541 100_3553 100_3554 100_3555 100_3557Impact Racing had a booth there, and they had the various designs of helmets sold for race use. Aside from NASCAR, IndyCar and motocross designs, they had drag racing helmets. Drag racing helmets feature a visor design similar to wrap-around sunglasses. Top fuel and funny cars have their own designs, with funny car having an air filer, since the nitro-methane engine sits in front of the driver, instead of behind, like in a top fuel dragster. 100_3548 100_3549Many of the teams sell off equipment from the cars after the various events are done, and I took full advantage, acquiring a timing belt from Bob Tasca’s Motorcraft Funny car, this one used in his first qualifying session at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol Tennessee. This run he had a 4.15 second, 306 MPH run. This thing is HUGE, measuring over 64 inches in circumference and 3 inches across. tasca-belt1 tasca-belt2

As well as an ignition coil and a spark plug from Morgan Lucas Racing. Ignition coils are used to turn on cars in general, but this MSD 8142 is designed to fire up these 8000 horsepower engines, which need a lot of electricity to start and operate. I was fortunate enough to have Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps autograph it in person. mlr-coil1 mlr-coil2 mlr-coil3 mlr-coil4 mlr-coil5 mlr-coil6 mlr-coil7

My VIP ticket got me into the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area. That was a lot of fun. We got to watch his car get prepared. Since the U.S. Army is his primary sponsor, DSR had some Army recruiters and soldiers speak. Though speaking to a crowd is not always easy when you have 2 8000 horsepower cars racing nearby. Then Tony Schumacher got up and gave a speech, and discussed his helmet, which prompted this question from me:

Afterwards, I was able to get a photo with him,100_3556and got to watch the engine test. This video looks tame, but unless you see it in person, you don’t have any idea how loud it really is, and I was 15 feet away when I shot that video!

Then I had dinner,100_3558and called it a day. I had a great time, and I will go back any chance I get!

In other news, I went back to the Museum of Science and Industry, and I went to the Jeff Gordon suit exhibit, and was shocked to see this:100_3811THE ENTIRE DISPLAY had been emptied out of the display case.  At first I didn’t know what had happened, so I asked at the information desk.  They, in turn, told me that pipes located above the display had been leaking, and that the items had been removed.  I hope that when the display is fixed, the issues I discussed in a previous blog will have been fixed, I will keep you posted.

And since I’m here, Let’s talk paint schemes…shall we?

Jamie McMurray #1 Hellmann’s 100th Anniversary Chevy SS The yellow or green on the contingency decals is pointless, and it takes away from what is a very solid scheme, with simple design and great color. I give it a B+, almost an A, just not enough.

Casey Mears #13 Valvoline Next Gen Ford Fusion Not bad, not bad at all. I like the color scheme, which has both earth and motor oil tones in it, and the overall design is great. A+

Tony Stewart #14 Ducks Unlimited Chevy SS Although it is just his normal scheme with DUCKS UNLIMITED instead of MOBIL 1 on the quarter panel, I hate his new look. The black scheme from before Kansas was really good, but this is just horrible. Too much orange, not enough black or camo. F

Clint Bowyer #15 Toyota Camry 30th Anniversary Toyota Camry Ok, so is this a red car, a black car, or a silver car…I’m really lost here. The nose and front panels look red, but the hood and back quarter panels look black, and the roof is silver. They took one of the best color schemes in racing, and made it horrible! The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme, but even that can’t keep it above a D-

Aric Almirola #43 Go Bowling Ford Fusion I love what they did here. The bowling ball nose and pin design give a great impression, and the color scheme works very well here. A+

AJ Allmendinger #47 Scotts Toyota Camry Simple and attractive, with a very nice simple color scheme…But could someone explain to me why in this rendering the windshield decal reads AJ ALLMENDINGER instead of just ALLMENDINGER? The only time a first name is on the windshield is in the case of Kurt and Kyle Busch. There is no other Allmendinger racing in the Sprint Cup. That said, this scheme earns an A

Brian Vickers #55 Aaron’s/Louisville Cardinals Toyota Camry The color scheme is amazing, and the basic simple design of the car works well. The hood has some needless design, which does affect the grade, but even so, it still earns an A-

Martin Truex Jr. #56 NAPA Batteries/Get Back and Give Back Toyota Camry  Another example of why most teams only USE ONE COLOR AND DESIGN SCHEME!  The nose features BDU digital camouflage in light and dark green, which works well.  The doors feature Truex’s normal scheme, again good color and design, and the back features a blue/black digital camouflage, again which would work well by itself.  The problem is that the combination of the three make for an awful look.   This scheme is one of the worst so far this year, and it earns the F- grade it deserves.  I fully support our Armed Forces, but this scheme is horrible!

Carl Edwards #99 UPS Ford Fusion I know I covered this scheme in a previous post, but this photo illustrates why I hate UPS as a car sponsor. No matter what, UPS cars have one thing in common, and that is that the driver suit can look really good, whereas the car will look awful. In this case, the car has pointless designs and needlessly added colors, whereas the driver suit is simple and attractive. So my previous grade of D- still applies.

And finally, while I don’t normally do Nationwide paint schemes anymore, I had to do this one. Kurt Busch has had a throwback at Talladega reminiscent of Neil Bonnett’s Country Time scheme from the 1980’s, and last night, he had had an amazing scheme taken from Days of Thunder…I love that scheme because I love the movie. The boxy design of the Camaro works well with the scheme, as it is much similar to the design of the Lumina. Keep it up Kurt!

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.

All-Star Race Weekend Events and Fun

100_3196 By David G. Firestone

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

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

A 1924 Marmon race car 100_3194 100_3195

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to NASCAR All-Star Showdown Special Schemes…

First the All-Star Showdown Schemes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now On to All-Star Race Schemes.

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

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

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

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

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

Pit Boards…Unique and Under-Appreciated.

By David Firestone

Today, I thought we should discuss an item that everyone sees, but not everyone understands…the mighty pit board. Pit Boards are an item that most average collector wouldn’t think that would come up for sale, but they do. I am a proud owner of one myself:mccumbee-pit-1

This beauty of an item is from MRD Motorsports, and was used between 2007 and 2009 for Chad McCumbee and Blake Bjorklund, amongst others. Made from a thick plastic inside, with the color design made with a plastic similar to many campaign signs, it shows very nice use, with scratches and scuff marks. There are two types of pit boards. One type hangs above the pit lane, to help indicate to the driver where his pit is. This board almost always has the car number and holes cut into it to cut down on wind resistance. This is an example of one used by MRD.

The other type, like the one shown above, is to indicate to the car where to stop in the pit. In years past, a crew member would stand behind the board and the car would drive up to him, as shown at 6:49 at the video here…

Since this was as dangerous as one thinks it is, in the 1990’s, pit crews switched to the “lollipop” form still used today.  The board is held on a long pole and held where the driver can see and hit it to stop at their stall, as seen below:

Boards are often customized to driver preference.  Kevin Harvick is known for his “Happy Face” pit board.  Some drivers use sponsor names, other use car numbers.  It all looks confusing on pit road sometimes.  In this example, the MRD Motorsports board has the car number design on it.  This board shows where the pole was attached to the board.mccumbee-pit-2 mccumbee-pit-3

And it also shows numerous scratches and scuff marks from race use.mccumbee-pit-3 mccumbee-pit-4


The back of this board is plain black.  That is due to MRD being a low budget team, with limited resources.mccumbee-pit-5


A quick search on ebay and other sites shows that these items frequently sold as collectors items after a race.  These are unique items, and for NASCAR fans are conversation pieces.

And now on to Paint Schemes…

Brian Vickers #11 FedEx Delivery Manager Toyota Camry  Good simple scheme with great colors and design, gets an A

Sam Hornish Jr. #12 SKF Ford Fusion  Good color scheme, but it looks like a cross between Joey Logano’s scheme and Aric Almirola’s schemes.  I give it a B+

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shop Chevy SS The color scheme is good, but the overall design isn’t as good as the regular scheme. Too much going on. The best grade it can earn is a C

Clint Bowyer #15 Toyota Toyota Camry Not much to complain about here, good color scheme and simple design and an A grade

Clint Bowyer #15 KFC I Ate The Bones Toyota Camry KFC has great lettering and a great shade of red, and both are not represented here very well.  That said, I don’t hate this scheme, colors are good, but what is with the hood design?  The KFC logo is too small, and the hood has some creepy guy with a bowl cut as the most promising feature.  All things considered, it earns a C-

Kyle Busch #18 M&M’s M’ Prove America Toyota Camry Good scheme with a great color scheme and good design. Nothing wrong with this solid A scheme.

Kyle Busch #18 Doublemint Gum Toyota Camry Just like Kyle’s scheme on the 18, I love the color scheme, love the simple design, love the fact that the 81 is the 18 backwards, love this scheme, A+

David Ragan #34 Detail Doctor Ford Fusion  Decent color scheme and decent design.  C-

Juan Pablo Montoya #42 Clorox 100th Anniversary Chevy SS  Surprise!  Happy Birthday!  The blue and white is good but the rest looks too goofy to be good.  It looks like a birthday party for a 4 year old.  Lose the confetti and streamers and I would like it much more, this scheme earns a D+

Aric Almirola #43 Enrich/Smithfield/Farmland Ford Fusion Lose the design on the doors and it would be perfect. Other than that these three schemes, different only by the hood and quarter panel sponsors are perfect and earn solid A schemes

Aric Almirola #43 Transportation Impact Ford Fusion Black white and lime green? Seriously? And the black front makes it look like the car was in a wreck and had the nose replaced. Not a good look at all. The door design is awful and the quarter panel is even worse! I can’t give this scheme a passing grade and it gets an F!

Aric Almirola #43 Jani-King/STP Gas Booster Ford Fusion This scheme makes up for the Transportation Impact scheme with simple perfection, and an A grade

Aric Almirola #43 STP/Farmland Ford Fusion OK, last Almirola scheme…I promise! A good throwback scheme is ruined with the door number design. Get rid of the oval design and it would get an A, whereas this scheme earns a B-

Scott Riggs #44 No Label Watches Ford Fusion An awful scheme made much worse by a horrible color scheme that earns an F- grade.

Scott Riggs #44 JPO Absorbents Ford Fusion Why do many racing teams have wave designs?  It is not a good design, and in this case it takes a good color scheme and ruins it earning a D grade.

Bobby Labonte #47 Clorox 100th Anniversary Toyota Camry Did anyone look at the main color of the car before it was painted?  This looks awful!  Montoya’s version looks better, but not by much.  D-

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes “Reverse” Chevy SS  Looks really good, and really stands out in nighttime racing.  Color scheme is good, as Lowe’s often is.  A+

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe’s “Emerald” Chevy SS  Decent color scheme, though if if were reversed it would look even better.  Even still it is good enough to earn an A-

Martin Truex Jr. #56 NAPA Brakes Toyota Camry Simple design, good color scheme, but the Twitter handle on the back of the roof is distracting and it looks awful.  It takes an A scheme to a B-

Kurt Busch #78 Furniture Row Military Appreciation Night Chevy SS I love the matte black that Furniture Row usually uses, so this is kind of disappointing. That said, the color are good, but the hood design needs work. The MILITARY APPRECIATION banner is much to small and it is hard to see at speed. A good scheme that has been ruined and earns a D-

Elliot Sadler #81 Double-Mint Gum Toyota Camry Just like Kyle’s scheme on the 18, I love the color scheme, love the simple design, love the fact that the 81 is the 18 backwards, love this scheme, A+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 National Guard Chevy SS What the hell?  The blue and white scheme works well with this design, but camo and black?  It just looks awful.  I love Dale Jr. but I can’t defend this scheme at all. F-

Scott Speed #95 Tracking Point/JTS Truck Sales Ford Fusion Good color scheme, but awful design. The diamond plate decals does nothing to help, and it earns a D-

Michael McDowell #98 Curb Record/ The Bobby Bones Show Ford Fusion Love the color schemes and design. Bonus points for the diagonal hood logo. Not many people can make the diagonal logo work, but it works here, A+

Carl Edwards #99 Geek Squad Ford Fusion.  Not much to say here, really simple design and it looks alright…C+

Carl Edwards #99 Cheez Its/Frosted Flakes Ford Fusion.  These two schemes are awful.  Too much going on, too many colors, no consistency, not a good pair of schemes at all, F

Some Issues with the New Gen 6 Car

By David G. Firestone

I would like to discuss some issues that have come up in recent weeks with the new Gen 6 car. These issues seem minor, but with this new car, they need to be addressed. And because these issues are issues, it leads to a conclusion that is kind of stunning in my mind.

Two issues revolve around Denny Hamilin. The first is his $25,000 fine for “criticizing the product.” and I’ll get to that in just a minute. The other one is his massive L1 Compression fracture that he suffered at Fontana. This injury should never have happened, but it did. The Gen 5 cars, as unattractive as they were design-wise, were safety-focused. The discussion on how safe they were ended with Michael McDowell’s scary wreck during qualifying at Texas in 2008. The car suffered serious damage, but McDowell was unhurt. This wreck was just as bad, but Hamlin is out of the car until he is fully healed.

NASCAR needs to be safety-focused, putting driver and fan safety before anything else. The fact that Denny has an L1 compression fracture because of a wreck is proof that there is a lot of room for improvement in the Gen 6 car. That isn’t the only issue with the car that needs to be addressed. The car seems to change with each race. At a super speedway, the spoiler is lower than it is at other tracks. At intermediate tracks the roof cameras are not used for reasons that have yet to be explained to the general public. It almost seems as though NASCAR is making the rules up as they go along. Please pick a design and setup and stick with it.

The other issue that needs to be discussed is penalties surrounding the new car. Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for saying that the car has room for improvement. Why was he fined for that? I understand that the car was designed by many different people, who put a lot of time and effort into it, but here is the thing…the people who designed the car are not the ones who are the focal point of racing, the driver is. If the drivers are complaining about the car not being competitive, and not driving the way it is supposed to, it should be addressed. The Gen 4 and Gen 5 cars went through a lot of refining, and so should the Gen 6 car.

One penalty that was issued was to Penske Racing for having suspension parts unapproved by NASCAR. Although all of Ford’s engines come from Roush Yates, many teams use their own designs for equipment used in the car. As such, these parts have to be approved by NASCAR. Obviously these parts weren’t approved. Yet Penske, Brad Keselwoski, and Joey Logano are swearing up and down that they were legal, and working in a gray area. If the parts are unapproved, they are unapproved.

The other major penalty was to Matt Kenseth for having a connector rod that was 3 grams under the minimum weight required by NASCAR. My concern with this issue is that the engine in question came from Toyota Racing Development. TRD knows what the rules and regulations are, and they knew what the parts should have been. I do not believe for a second that of the people involved with making the engine, not one of them knew didn’t realize that the parts were illegal. They knew what it was, and they sent it out anyway. That brings up an important question. 8 teams in the Sprint Cup work with TRD. In total that accounts for 10 different teams. Each team has a primary and backup car. There is also an additional engine at the teams disposal. So for each Toyota team there are 3 engines for use. If Matt Kenseth is running illegal equipment, who else is?

On to paint schemes…

Brad Keselowski #2 Redd’s Apple Ale Ford Fusion Black and Red is always a good scheme, and the overall design is good. The sticking point for me with this scheme is that APPLE ALE is almost invisible on the quarter panel. So for a final grade, it gets a B-

Tony Stewart #14 National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS Good color scheme and overall design, but the major issue I have is with the NATIONAL WILD TURKEY being on a curve and not as visible It gets a B-

Jeff Gordon #24 AARP Chase Card Chevy SS The color and designs are all over the place, and the giant credit card on the hood is pretty ugly. Not good at all, F

Kevin Harvick Bell Helicopters Chevy SS A simple design with a good color scheme. Not much else to say other than good job, and it gets an A grade.

Jeff Burton #31 Airgas-Bulwark Chevy SS Meh. That sums it up. Uninspired color scheme, and bland design give it a mediocre look and a C- grade.

Jeff Burton #31 American Ethanol Chevy SS Good color scheme and design. A-

David Ragan #34 CSX Play It Safe Ford Fusion This is a very solid scheme, with great colors, great design and an overall great look. CSX did this scheme very well and it gets an A+

JJ Yeley #36 NASCAR Day Chevy SS Another simple yet attractive scheme that works very well. Nothing more to say than great job, and enjoy your A grade.

David Gilliland #38 EZ Pawn Ford Fusion Good color scheme though the design is a bit over complex. As such it gets a B+.

Ryan Newman #39 Code 3 Associates Chevy SS Ok, you can have either flames OR a racing stripe, but not both. Because the combo takes a good design and makes it into a horrible design. The only thing giving this scheme a passing grade is the color scheme being as good as it is, but it earns a D-

Bobby Labonte #47 Pine Sol Toyota Camry Yet another simple yet amazing good scheme that earns an A grade!

Elliot Sadler #81 Alert Energy Gum Toyota Camry A good scheme with a consistent design and a decent color scheme that earns a B+ grade.

Travis Kvapil #93 Dominion Raceway Toyota Camry Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that a speedway that doesn’t exist yet is sponsoring a car for one race? That aside, the door design needs work, but the color scheme is solid, and I give it a B-

Richard Lasater and His Helmet


By David G. Firestone

Spent the last week just being insanely busy, with Passover and the Chicago Sun Times Collectables Convention, but now back to work. I’ve discussed the safety aspects of race gear, but today, I’m going in a bit of a different direction. Even in today’s safety-conscious racing environment, injuries are always a possibility. Denny Hamlin suffered a fractured vertebrae, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has suffered a concussion in the last few years. Wrecks can be hell on drivers, but what about the uniform protecting them? What would a helmet from a wreck like this look like?

Well the helmet looks like this:lasater-1 lasater-2 lasater-3 lasater-4 lasater-5 lasater-6 lasater-7

For a helmet that went through a scary-looking wreck, it is in good shape…and that is not by accident. It was worn by Richard Lasater throughout the 1993 season. At the 1993 Fram Filter 500K, Lasater was involved in that scary wreck, and wasn’t seriously hurt. As for overall damage, it is mainly scratches, scrapes and dings, no cracks or serious damage.

The helmet kept Lasater safe and suffered minor damage because that is what it was designed to do. After the race, he autographed the helmet and it wound up in my collection. This helmet shows better than any other helmet I have the reasons why proper equipment is needed in racing.

On to Paint Schemes…

Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy SS White? Seriously? Did the designers not realize that the white looks awful? The black and orange color scheme works, but white? I don’t get this scheme at all, and it gets an F grade

Marcos Ambrose #9 MAC Tools Ford Fusion Good color choices here. The basic design is solid. I can do without the quarter panel design, but it is still a good scheme with a B grade-

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy St. Patrick’s Day Chevy SS I would like to thank the 1978 Cincinnati Reds for being one of the first teams to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day for encouraging this awful F grade scheme.-

Denny Hamlin #11 Fedex March of Dimes Toyota Camry There are two schemes that fans voted for. With Hamlin on the shelf for a while, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers will share the 11 ride. That said, scheme #1 I don’t hate, but it has something odd going on with the hood and nose design…I swear it looks like the two parts were designed by different people who never interacted with each other, and that earns it a C grade Scheme #2, the better of the two schemes, not only looks more like a FedEx scheme, it is simpler and much cleaner as well, and earns an A grade.

Tony Stewart #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevy SS Good color and design schemes here. A Grade

Kyle Bush #18 Snickers Bites Toyota Camry A paint scheme that has a great color scheme, and illustrates the theory that less is more. Nothing bad about this Scheme-A+

Jeff Gordon #24 Imron Elite Real Truck Paint Chevy SS Based off the classic Jeff Gordon Scheme, it looks really good, and it works as a paint scheme. Great color scheme used here…A+

Jeff Gordon Cromax Pro Chevy SS Another good DuPont inspired scheme with a great color scheme and great design-A+

Ken Schrader #32 Federated Auto Parts Ford Fusion Federated Auto Parts always has great looking cars, and they do not disappoint here. Great color scheme and great design earn a great grade of A+

Timmy Hill #32 U.S. Chrome Ford Fusion NASCAR rules prevent using chrome in most NASCAR paint scheme aspects, which is kind of disappointing since this scheme should have a bit of chrome in it. Even so, it is still a solid A scheme, with great colors and simple, yet elegant design

Josh Wise #35 MDS Ford Fusion The color scheme of the car, and the color scheme of the logos match! As a direct result, the car looks so much better! This scheme earns a B grade because the deisgn on the quarter panel needs some work.

Ryan Newman #39 HAAS Automation Chevy SS Great color scheme, good basic design, I love the diagonal hood logo, A+ Scheme

Brian Vickers #55 RK Motors Toyota Camry Basic design with an uninspired color scheme. The car is just blah. I can’t give this scheme anything except a C-

Brian Vickers #55 Jet Edge Toyota Camry A better color scheme takes the grade from C to B

Joe Nemecheck #87 Maddies Place Rocks Toyota Camry Simple design, decent color scheme, good hood logo, Final grade B

Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Amp Energy Chevy SS Orange? Amp’s main can color is green. It’s not a bad design, but using a color that isn’t really used on the packaging earns this scheme a C-