New year brings teams' new looks
By Tim Packman
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 29, 2000) With a new year upon us many resolutions are being made, some to be kept and probably more to be broken. Some NASCAR teams, however, are evolving instead of resolving.
Mark Martin's No. 6 Ford team is making the switch from the colors of Valvoline, his former sponsor, to those of Viagra, his new primary backer. Michael Waltrip will have the No. 15 Chevrolet with NAPA blue and yellow colors around him instead of his former No. 7 Nation's Rent black and yellow scheme. In October, Jeff Burton made a very quick change on his No. 99 Ford to CITGO SUPERGARD red, white and blue from the Exide black, white and pink design.
A lot more goes into the transformation than just painting new colors on the car and getting the driver a new uniform. Once the sponsor's racing logo is approved, it starts to appear just about everywhere.
In addition to the driver getting new threads, his whole pit crew must get measured for uniforms. Work uniforms are worn in the shop during the week, so they all have to be changed, too. The travel team members have to get new jackets, sweatshirts, turtlenecks, dress shirts, hats, T-shirts and fire suits for race days.
The pit area needs special attention, too. The pit box and its cover, the toolbox, the pit wall banner, decals on scanner headsets and any tools that have a sponsor's name on it have to be changed. Also needing to be switched over are the windshield covers, pit chairs, umbrellas and sign boards. Don't forget the car cover for inclement weather because that gets replaced, too.
The car transporter that carries all the equipment from race to race is virtually a mobile billboard for the race team and sponsor. It has to look good as well, which is no easy task.
Martin's 53-foot trailer has to stripped down and then coated with 26 gallons of paint in the new colors. Then add the decals and striping to round out the latest look. Speaking of a new look, the Viagra uniform shirt takes 200,000 stitches of embroidery to complete.
The off-season allows some time to get everything changed over, but when Burton did his deal, it was done in three weeks time. It was an effort that didn't go unnoticed by him, either.
"I couldn't believe everything got turned around so quickly," he said. "Every detail was covered, right down to the last decal. We've got such a great group of people working at Roush Racing, there aren't that many other teams the could pull something off like we did in such a short period of time."
One team that doesn't have that much work to do is Waltrip's at Dale Earnhardt Inc. NAPA-sponsored Ron Hornaday in the DEI-owned NASCAR Busch Series race car is coming aboard Waltrip's new ride in the Winston Cup Series.
"All we have to really do is peel off a name and a number on the transporter," said Steve Hmiel, general manager at DEI. "The crews will have to get fitted for uniforms and we'll have to put Michael's name on a few things. Other than building the cars themselves, we are pretty much set as far as the changeover goes." -nascar.com-