Throwing Down on Darlington Throwback Schemesby Kyle Pokrefky September 4, 2015 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. — “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
No, it’s not time for the winter holidays just yet as it’s still race season, however, outside of the day/night of the Daytona 500, this weekend’s throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway has me the most excited at a single race weekend.
For the history buffs of the sport, it’s almost a dream considering how many teams have embraced the throwback theme – heck, even NBC and the sanctioning body have gotten in on it.
When it comes to the paint schemes that will be on the track for Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500, there are plenty of schemes that look absolutely spectacular; however, for me, there are a few that are just a cut above the rest.
Whether it be for its historical significance or for being a scheme that I personally have a sense of nostalgia for, here are my top-eight Sprint Cup schemes that will be on the track throughout this race weekend.
Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Miller High Life Ford
Already running a special tribute scheme to Rusty Wallace’s famous ‘Midnight’ livery at Michigan in August, Brad Keselowski will hit the track with a special throwback scheme to replicate the livery of Bobby Allison’s 1983 Southern 500 winning car.
Truthfully, there are several iconic schemes that the No. 2 Team Penske could have entered for this weekend (gold-and-white Miller High Life from the late-80s, gold-and-red Coca-Cola scheme from the 70s), but the scheme chosen for entry is significant in its own right.
Allison, a five-time Darlington winner, went to victory lane at the track four times in the 70s with the gold-and-yellow Coca-Cola car (twice with Roger Penske in 1975), yet went eight years without a Darlington victory until his 1983 effort. In terms of the historical significance of the scheme Keselowski and Co. have chosen to run, the No. 2 entry for this weekend more than deserves a spot on this list.
Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet
This special scheme is to replicate the design of Budweiser’s original can; but while it wasn’t intended to resemble a paint scheme from the past, the golden yellow body with the red No. 4 does strike a resemblance to what I’d say is an iconic scheme from the 90s.
Back in the 90s, Ernie Irvan helped Morgan McClure Motorsports as one of the top teams in the sport with seven victories coming across three-and-a-half years in the team’s No. 4 Chevrolet sponsored by Kodak Film – including one win in the 1991 Daytona 500. More Daytona 500 victories followed with Sterling Marlin leading the team to victory lane in the Great American Race in 1994 and 1995 as well as delivering the team a Darlington win in 1995.
There were only a handful of schemes that I’d call iconic from that decade of the sport – and the Morgan McClure Kodak scheme was one of them. While the throwback scheme for Kevin Harvick wasn’t intentionally made to resemble that car, it brings back a wave of nostalgia for myself.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Cargill Ford
Before being known as perhaps the most iconic pilot of the Wood Brothers Ford, David Pearson wheeled his way around race tracks across the country in a No. 17 Ford. The current driver of the No. 17 Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., will pay tribute to Pearson with his Roush Fenway Racing-powered Ford this weekend with sponsorship provided by Cargill.
The scheme being replicated comes from a time way before when I became a follower of the sport; however, visually, the scheme is (and was in its past incarnation) striking and is one of my favorites just based on its color scheme.
Chase Elliott – No. 25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
While the color scheme may not match up with the car it’s intending to pay tribute to, in terms of the design layout, Chase Elliott will be throwing back to a scheme that was a decade 10 years before he was even born – his father Bill’s 1985 Winston Million winning car.
One of the more memorable wins in Darlington’s history in the modern era, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville pocketed a cool one million dollars after taking his third win in the four Winston Million races of the year – declaring Elliott the winner of the program in its first year of existence.
In 1985, his Darlington win delivered Elliott his 10th of 11 wins that season, but the overall win in the Winston Million program helped elevate his national fame. 30 years later, the younger Elliott, the defending winner of Darlington’s XFINITY race, will try to do the same with what’d be his first Sprint Cup win.
Josh Wise – No. 32 CorvetteParts.net Ford
If you’ve been a NASCAR fan since the turn of the millennium, chances are that you remember exactly where you were when you saw the finish of the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.
A duel for the history books between Kurt Busch and eventual winner Ricky Craven, both drivers found themselves bouncing off of each other and Darlington’s walls before coming together to cross the finish line while being separated by two thousandths of a second. 12 years after the finish, Josh Wise and Go Green Racing have collaborated to replicate Craven’s paint scheme from his tenure with PPI Motorsports.
The memories of 2003’s spring Darlington finish are still just as fresh in my head as they were those dozen years ago. Seeing the car back on track will be nothing but a treat for myself and for plenty of other followers of the sport.
Kyle Larson – No. 42 Mello Yello Chevrolet
50-percent Kyle Petty throwback scheme, 50-percent Days of Thunder throwback, 100-percent pure awesomeness.
One of the first schemes to be announced for the weekend, the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team has gone all out in embracing the entire throwback theme encompassing the weekend – doing promos for the event in a similar vein to Days of Thunder.
If the 1990 film was your introduction to NASCAR or if you’re just a fan of the film, you’re going to have your eyes peeled on this car all weekend.
Aric Almirola – No. 43 STP Ford
There perhaps is no paint scheme more iconic in the history of NASCAR than ‘The King’ Richard Petty’s blue-and-orange STP schemes that were made a presence on the track throughout his illustrious career.
Making its return to the track irregularly in occasional races throughout the years post-Petty retirement, it’s only fitting for the car to return for this one specific weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet
In my view, Valvoline schemes have always looked great whether it was Buddy Baker, Mark Martin or Cale Yarborough piloting the car – and that’s no different this week with Dale Earnhardt Jr’s throwback scheme featuring the sponsor.
The Valvoline-sponsored car this week is a homage to the days of the 80s prior to Martin taking over as the sponsor’s driver. While the white and dark blue with light blue and red stripes scheme is without a doubt an iconic scheme, the 80s version in my book is a head above the rest.
A scheme so popular, two drivers are running it. While Earnhardt Jr. runs an 80s-based theme, Trevor Bayne will run a Valvoline-based (Bayne will be sponsored by usual primary sponsor Advocare) scheme designed like Mark Martin’s Valvoline scheme from the late-1990s.
Do you have a favorite paint scheme that’s running this week? Comment below!
All Photos: Hunter Thomas/The Fourth Turn