Memorable Black Paint Schemes In NASCAR
The rise in popularity of collectible die-cast cars helped radically influence the look of NASCAR.
The days of teams or drivers running the same paint scheme race after race, season after season, gave way to today's limited edition and one-off paint schemes destined to become tomorrow's collectibles.
The best paint schemes generate valuable exposure for sponsors and become engrained in our racing memories. The worst? Well, they fuel barroom debates and live on in internet listicles.
One element that hasn't gone out of style is the black paint scheme. Like a little black dress for women, it's timeless and fit for any occasion.
Bristol Motor Speedway, in partnership with Chevrolet, is encouraging fans to wear their favorite black NASCAR shirt to create a blackout effect in the stands for the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Aug. 22.
Therefore, it's the perfect time to reminisce about NASCAR's most memorable black paint schemes. Here are some that jump to mind.
- Dale Earnhardt was "The Intimidator" but he also was, "The Man in Black." The black No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet piloted by the seven-time Cup Series champion is the gold standard of black paint schemes. For his competitors, seeing that black car of his in the rearview mirror was unsettling to say the least.
- Last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Brad Keselowski's No. 2 Team Penske Ford had a throwback black-and-gold Miller Genuine Draft paint scheme made famous by Rusty Wallace. Wallace scored 13 victories, 30 top-five finishes and led more than 5,000 laps from 1992 to 1994 in the car dubbed "Midnight."
- Fans may identify the black, red and yellow No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford by those who drove it through the years: Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan, Kenny Irwin Jr., Ricky Rudd. No matter which driver you remember driving it, it was and remains one of NASCAR's classic paint schemes.
- In April 2006, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove a black car in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway to honor his late father's induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. The team fielded three other black cars that race weekend. Earnhardt finished a disappointing 31st in the No. 8 Chevy after his engine went up in smoke.
- Earnhardt Jr. ended a 143-race winless streak in 2012 at Michigan International Speedway driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that carried a special paint scheme promoting "The Dark Knight Rises" Batman movie. Fans picked the design which featured the Bat Shield on the hood and Batman and Bane on either side of the car.
- Kyle Busch owns 21 XFINITY Series victories since 2012 in the No. 54 Toyota sponsored by Monster Energy. The black car with the neon green claw "M" logo on the hood and white numbers is unmistakeable on the track, in part because Busch usually has it positioned at or near the front.
- The black and gold Pontiacs fielded by Smokey Yunick captured the 1961 and 1962 Daytona 500s. with drivers Marvin Panch and NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts behind the wheel. "Smokey Yunick built fast race cars and Roberts knew how to drive them. Yunick used gold leaf around the edges of the 22s he painted against a black background on the cars he built for Roberts. The number jumped out when it flashed by. In those days, cars weren't as closely matched as they are today. The best cars were much better than the worst cars. Roberts' cars looked even faster," the late David Poole wrote for The Charlotte Observer in 1998.
- The late Buck Baker was among the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame class of inductees. In 1957, Baker became the first driver to win back-to-back NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) titles. He did so by winning 10 races and six poles in 40 starts driving the "Black Widow" Chevrolet with Bud Moore as the crew chief. It was Chevrolet's first championship in NASCAR's premier series.
- Mark Martin won 49 times in the Busch (now XFINITY) Series. All but six of those victories came in the iconic No. 60 Ford that carried sponsorship from Winn-Dixie. The grocery store chain sponsored Martin's car from 1992-2000. Martin scored his only Busch Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the Winn-Dixie car in 1996.
- Clint Bowyer's first six career Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway came in the black No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. The car number fit with its sponsor - Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey - and made it a Bristol favorite.
- A week after Dale Earnhardt introduced to NASCAR the concept of a special paint scheme by running a silver No. 3 in 1995 All-Star race, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott raced the "Batman Forever" paint scheme in the 1995 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The black No. 94 Ford Thunderbird piloted by Elliott was dubbed the "Thunderbat." He finished 39th in the 600 and ran the special paint scheme two more times that season.