Paul’s obviously still in Scotland, but he wanted me to run the following column this week. I’ll be back with a very special Benchies and the ticker below. Cheers. — Phil
[Editor’s Note: Whatever your feelings about NASCAR, I think everyone will enjoy today’s guest entry by Clark Ruhland, which showcases some uni-notable exhibits from the new NASCAR Hall of Fame. Enjoy. — PL]
By Clark Ruhland
The NASCAR Hall of Fame officially opened its doors on May 11th in Charlotte, North Carolina — the sport’s central city, hosting over 90% of the teams that field cars today.
This past Sunday, the Hall added its first five inductees in time for the week leading up to the annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The new Hall was in the works for over five years, giving the sport’s historians plenty of time to collect items. The layout includes over 30 cars from every era, along with trophies, memorabilia, and driver and crew uniforms. It’s cool to see how the artifacts chart the evolution of the sport. Here are some highlights that should be of particular interest to Uni Watch readers:
• Sam Packard’s NASCAR official’s jacket, 1949: Packard attended the first meetings to form NASCAR in Daytona Beach in 1947 and served as one of the first officials when the sport began in 1949.
• Lee Petty’s first NASCAR trophy and driver’s license, 1949: Lee Petty, the late father of inaugural Hall of Fame inductee Richard Petty, was a pioneer of the sport. He won the first Daytona 500 in 1959, but this trophy marked his first ever NASCAR victory. Above the trophy is his first license issued by the sanctioning body.
• Tim Flock’s Kiekhaefer Mercury driver uniform, 1955: Carl Kiekhaefer fielded Mercurys with huge success. He was the first owner to uniform his entire team, setting the standard used today. Flock wore this uniform when he won the second of his two Cup titles.
• Soldier Field checkered flag, 1956: This souvenir was sold during the two years NASCAR ran events at the home of the Chicago Bears. One of the greatest racing names ever, Fireball Roberts, won the only Cup event held there in 1956.
• Driving suit cooling liner, 1960s: Many innovations were tested to combat the extreme heat that builds up inside racecars with the windows closed to prevent drag. This suit was based on technology used by the U.S. Air Force.
• The first Winston Cup Series trophy, 1972: Before Sprint/Nextel sponsored NASCAR’s premier series, the cigarette company from North Carolina propelled the sport to the status it enjoys today. The Winston Cup Series was first won by Richard Petty, his fourth title.
• Janet Guthrie’s driving uniform and shoes, 1976: Guthrie was the first woman to compete in the World 600 in Charlotte. She drove in sports car races and Indy 500s. Her shoes were soft-soled from her road racing days, where drivers needed a soft touch on the pedals.
• Dale Earnhardt’s helmet, 1991: Inaugural Hall of Fame inductee Dale Earnhardt was famous for wearing an open-faced helmet all the way until his death in 2001. He wore this helmet when he won his fifth Winston Cup championship in 1991.
• Alan Kulwicki’s driver uniform, 1992: Kulwicki wore this uniform the day he won his only Winston Cup championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway on November 15, 1992. He won the championship by leading one more lap than his nearest competitor, Bill Elliott, in the closest championship battle to date. Kulwicki would die in a plane crash only 137 days later.
• Dave Marcis’s wingtip shoes, 2002: Marcis raced in the Cup series from 1968 until 2002, competing in 883 races. His signature race-day apparel was his pair of wingtip shoes, which he wore instead of the usual racing shoes worn today.
There’s plenty more, including a hands-on layout of a race shop, car inspection areas, driving simulators, and more. I personally could spend all day on the third floor with the historical items.
Do you remember where you were when it all began? Well, here’s where it all began. Ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only, Rick “Ricko” Pearson:
Once upon a time, two old friends were sitting on a bench, waiting for the rest of their team to arrive. There they sat, seriously pumped for the competition they awaited. Uh-huh, sure they were. Then the strangest thing happened. And that’s where it all started.
Here’s your very special Tuesday Benchies.
[Benchies appears every Saturday and Sunday on Uni Watch.]
Uni Watch News Ticker: Interesting picture of Inter Milan’s Diego Milito celebrating his second goal of this weekend’s Champions League Final, notes Jordan Guthmann. Check out the compression shorts underneath his actual uni shorts. Same Number in the exact same place with the same font. … Chalk on up for the little guy? Maybe. The Supreme Court has sided with American Needle, overturning lower court rulings throwing out an antitrust suit brought against the league. More info here. … James Huening, Blackhawk fan, notes that the CNA building has been turned into a 20-story tall tribute to the Blackhawks. … Ben Thoma found a nice little story about a the revival of vintage baseball in Jersey City. … Patrick Runge found this neat article about Six things we miss about the World Cup — Check item #3 and #4 for a discussion of what people miss about old World Cup kit problems and old World Cup posters. Some of the posters are pretty darn gorgeous. … More from Patrick: Hartford Colonials unveil new logo: “Because,” says Patrick, “who knew Hart Ford was two words?” Gregory Krejmas follows with the logo and graphics. — OK, I realize the bottom graphic is the “helmet stripe,” but really? … In the “too weird for words” department, Mike Edgerly notes, “After Bayern Munich returned to Germany after their loss in the UEFA Champions League final, they were given large Gingerbread Hearts to wear around their necks when they got off the plane. According to Fox Soccer channel, these ‘cakes’ are part of some German tradition… well…right… whatever.” … Bo Baize snagged company tickets for Wednesday’s Rockies game. Why is this notable? They feature Dexter Fowler, the guy who infamously lost his glove chasing a deep fly on Sunday … Nice catch by B. Thom who found this item buried in the USPS press releases, announcing Negro Leagues Baseball stamps, to be issued in June, will pay tribute to the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to about 1960. … Brett Crane reports that according to the Utah Jazz owner’s mailbag, the Jazz will be switching Jeff Hornacek’s retired jersey banner from the Jazz mountain logo back to the music note logo which will match all other jerseys hanging in the rafters. … Nice “heads up” for anyone who is interested, from Jim Wooley, that Classic Collectibles has an auction featuring some pretty sweet hockey jerseys, etc., including Paul Henderson’s game worn from the 72 Summit Series … Sean Clancy noticed yesterday’s ticker photo of Venus Williams, and asks, “think Venus inspired by rider no. 109 (Martin Pedersen of Denmark) in this photo from stage 3 of this year’s giro d’ italia?” … Pittsburgh’s finest, Ryan Connelly found this “football jersey style” shirt, which, according to the seller, is an “original 1973 orange & white football jersey style shirt of Bowling Green University.” … Matt Motl was browsing the NCAA 11 website when he came across this screenshot. Looks like EA will be including the special uni set that Nike debuted this past season (at least for TCU). … Big-time Boys fan Brinke Guthrie notes the Cowboys have unveiled their 50th Anniversary Logo. Kristoper Hunt also sent along that graphic with the following description, “Yeesh. I’m all for simplicity with these kinds of things but this smacks of a young designer spending 20 minutes with Adobe Illustrator, slapping some elements together that only kinda-sorta go together.” Well said. … Usually, when a baseball team files for bankruptcy, it’s seen as a bad thing (thanks Ricko). … Bowling Green State University’s baseball team had throwbacks made to celebrate the 100th aniversary of the school opening a few weekends ago and wore them for just the second time on senior day this past weekend, writes David Paul Arnold. “The logo on the hat is the same logo that’s on the socks underneath the hockey socks.” Um, if they’re throwbacks, shouldn’t they be wearing stirrups? Just askin’ … Kevin Brown has added to the growing collection of misspelled names — In this case, it’s Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream.
The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car its the one who refuses to lose. — Dale Earnhardt