Thoughts On A Bad Situation

By David G. Firestone

I was ready to present a behind the scenes video this week, but I’m gonna put that on the back burner until next week. Last Saturday was the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, an IndyCar race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race as a whole was fun, but it did have some issues. There was a huge wreck on the standing start, fortunately all were Ok. The same cannot be said for James Hinchcliffe.

The 2011 Rookie of The Year suffered a concussion when he was hit by a piece of flying debris. Watching it live, it looked like after he had gotten hit, he pulled off the track and he was stunned by what had happened. The report was, at the time, that he had hurt his hand. The race went on, no caution flag flew because the safety crew was able to get the car out of harms way quickly. It looked like everything was normal, then suddenly the camera shows Hinchcliffe on a stretcher being led away seemingly in distress. He was loaded onto an ambulance, and was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a concussion and his future status for the season is yet to be determined.

This incident reminded me of something Tony Schumacher said last year. I was in his hospitality tent listening to him make a speech, and he took a number of questions. One of them concerned the canopy he has over his cockpit. He stated that it took some time to convince the NHRA to allow a cockpit canopy. He stated that he is really scared of hitting a bird with his helmet, stating that “I’ve taken a few out with my tail, and if you catch one of those with your helmet, you’re getting coloring books for Christmas for the rest of your life.”

I’m wondering if in the near future canopies will come to IndyCar. With the current safety culture in racing, I’m kind of shocked it hasn’t yet. Racing fans will complain that it breaks tradition, but at the same time, nobody wants another Dan Wheldon. Fans do not want to watch a driver to die. I think that canopies will come to IndyCar, I want them to come to IndyCar, and I think that safety should take precedence over tradition.

The other factor that needs to be discussed is that there is a parallel to the recent concussion lawsuit filed with the NFL. The information that was gained from that suit was that no helmet can definitely prevent all head injuries. As such, a canopy could very well prevent a fatality in that respect. Give the driver an extra layer of protection so that he could walk away. These canopies are not plexiglass, they are the same exact material used to make F-16 bulletproof canopies. It is a very durable material that could have prevented what happened to Hinchcliffe.

Shifting gears now, I want to discuss something else. Starting in a couple of weeks, I will be restarting Wheel Reviews. I started with Rush, an amazing F1 movie by Ron Howard about James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1976 F1 season. So what I am going to do is to alternate the paint scheme reviews and Wheel Reviews. I’ve got 13 movies in total to review so far, and I hope to find some more. With that, we move on to…


Jamie McMurray #1 Bass Pro Shops/National Wild Turkey Federation Chevy SS As Bass Pro Shops schemes go this year, this one is really good. Good color scheme, good design scheme, no camo, A

Danica Patrick #10 GoDaddy Cares Chevy SS Same scheme but with a bunch of logos on the hood, instead of just one. F

Casey Mears #13 Geico Chevy SS Once again, it needs to be said…CAMO DOES NOT WORK ON RACE CARS! I’l give this an F!

Tony Stewart #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy SS Some patriotic schemes go too far, but this works. The stripe across the front and door takes an A grade down to a B-

Clint Bowyer #15 Charter Toyota Camry Clint’s already bad paint scheme with an even worse color scheme…F

Joey Logano #22 Pennzoil Platnum Ford Fusion much too overdesigned, the blue stripes look awful, and the yellow door number is hideous…F

Ryan Newman #31 Cat/Quicken Loans Chevy SS What in the blue hell is going on here? I’ve liked Ryan’s schemes this year but this is an F scheme, even though I like the color scheme.

Landon Cassill #40 Cars For Sale Chevy SS I like the design, but to be honest, I don’t know where I stand on the color scheme. The red is good, but the when it comes to yellow/green I’m not sure if I like it or hate it. I’ll give it a C

Aric Almirola #43 US Air Force Ford Fusion I’ve been tough on military schemes this year, but this is the best one! The dark blue sky theme, with two small fighters with light clouds works perfectly, and earns an A+. See, military schemes CAN be done well without camo.

AJ Allmendinger #47 Freightliner/Sullivan Palatek Chevy SS Classic look, good color scheme, A+

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS Only one word can sum up this scheme…overdesigned. F

Martin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Row/Colorado Freedom Memorial Chevy SS Nothing wrong with this scheme! A+

Ryan Truex #83 Burger King Toyota Camry Great simple design, and I love the Borla Exhaust design adds a unique look. A+

Arm Gussets…Comfortable AND Safe!

By David G. Firestone

We’ve all seen them in telecasts and photos, but what many of us do not realize is what they are and what they do. I am talking about the arm gusset. Arm gussets are seen at the top of the sleeve on a driver suit, under the shoulder. They are a flexible piece of Nomex specifically designed to do two things. One is protect the driver, the other is give the driver some freedom of movement.10-labonte-rshoulder 10-labonte-lshoulder

Arm Gussets are almost always present on race-worn driver suits. Anyone who has worn a one-piece full body jumpsuit can attest to the fact that it restricts freedom of body movement. The gusset takes some of that restriction away. This is important when it comes to driving, because it gives the driver one less thing to concentrate on, and in the worst case scenario, can help a driver escape a burning vehicle much quicker.36-said-rshoulder 36-said-lshoulder

Gussets have very little variation, though I have seen one unusual one. In this Ricky Craven suit from 1996, the front of the sleeves look like they are attached to the body, whereas the back has a gusset in it. This would be done for driver preference of course, bur I have never seen a half gusset before or since.100_3458 100_3457 100_3456

This Lake Speed suit from 1997 is store bought, as opposed to custom designed, and it has no gussets. This suit would have some restriction of movement. Again this can come down to driver choice.9-speed-rshoulder 9-speed-lshoulder

The need for protection vs. the need for driver comfort is a major conflict in the world of racing safety. The gusset is a major meeting point between the two sides involved, and the drivers love them.

RIP Jason Leffler…you will be missed.

Now on to paint schemes.

Jame McMurray #1 Parade Magazine Chevy SS-Great color scheme, great design, nothing wrong at all, A+

Jame McMurray #1 Banana Boat Chevy SS-A scheme that could be a B+ is ruined by an awful color scheme. That orange is the worst I have ever seen on a race car. It takes this scheme and takes to a D-

Jamie McMurray #1 Bad Boy Buggies Chevy SS-An attempt to be innovative with design fails horribly here. The color scheme is decent, but the design is awful.

Marcos Ambrose #9 Stanley/DeWalt Racing for a Miracle Ford Fusion-This is a major improvement over what they currently run. This just works! A+

Denny Hamlin #11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry-Seriously? Why does it look like a sperm is painted in red on the side of the car? The red/white/black color scheme works, but the door design is just awful! D-

Denny Hamlin #11 Fedex/Autism Speaks Toyota Camry-Much better! The puzzle design, and solid color scheme look really good here. The red 11 is amazing too! Can’t give this anything but an A+

Tony Stewart #14 Code 3 Chevy SS-Love the scheme, love the simple design and great color scheme.  Works very well and earns an A+

Clint Bowyer #15 5-Hour Energy Patriotic Toyota Camry-How is this patriotic? Oh….I get it…the stars….just one problem…THE COLOR SCHEME IS WRONG! If it was red white and blue I would like this, but this is just awful! You want to honor America, but can’t get the color scheme right? F-

Greg Biffle #16 Fastenal Ford Fusion-Since minor variations of this scheme were run by Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse, and Carl Edwards with minor variations between them, I will grade them all here. Solid scheme, good color scheme, A+ for all 3.

Greg Biffle #16 3M/Ace/Rite Aid Ford Fusion-The color scheme is good, but the door design is too busy. If it was one single color, it would work quite well, but being a mix of black, blue, red, and white it just looks confusing. It works, but not as well as it could, and earns a C+

Jeff Gordon #24 Axalta Chevy SS-Another DuPont scheme with different logos that works very well. Good color scheme and design. A+

Paul Menard #27 Menard’s/Libman Chevy SS-The Libman green hood design just looks horrible on the yellow background of the car. The green is too light, and if it were darker it might work, but this scheme earns a D

Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Patriotic Chevy SS-This is another patriotic scheme that works very well with a good design. A+

J.J. Yeley #36 Click it or Ticket Chevy SS-Good design, but awful color scheme. The green and blue is just horrible. If one or the other was used it might work, but this is horrific. F

Ryan Newman #39 Quicken Loans Patriotic Chevy SS-Meh.  The design needs work.  Too much going on with the front of the car to earn anything above a C

Aric Almirola #43 Air Force Ford Fusion-Great design, simple design with a great color scheme. A+

Bobby Labonte #47 Bush’s Grilling Beans Toyota Camry-The overall design and color scheme is good, but the major flaw here is that the quarter panel has 5 different logos, most of which clash with the Bush’s scheme. It takes an A scheme and drags it down to a C

Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowes Patriotic Chevy SS-The only bad thing I can say about this is that the red should be a little darker. Other than that, this scheme earns an A

Jimmie Johnson #48 Monsters University Chevy SS-If the blue was darker, I would like it more, but the blue is too light. Other than that, this is a solid scheme. B+

Martin Truex Jr. #56 Napa Patriotic Toyota Camry-Perfect…that is all I can say. A+