Race Fans Have Chance To Bid On Vintage, Race-Used Fire Suits From Scotts EZ Seed Showdown Drivers
Ralph and Dale Earnhardt both trusted them. Richard Petty and Mario Andretti each used one. Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart wore them as they drove to World Championships. Jeff Gordon, Junior Johnson and Roger Penske have zipped them up during their careers, and the drivers in the March 20 EZ Seed Showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway all once again will slip on fire suits produced by Hinchman Racewear.
Even better, 12 lucky fans will have the opportunity to bid on the race-used, replica vintage suits after the race. Fans can log on to bristolmotorspeedway.com and bid on their own piece of history. The bidding starts at $1,000 and closes on Monday, March 29. The bidding will benefit the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Chairities.
Several of the legendary drivers in the race, including Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Dave Marcis, used Hinchman suits when they competed in NASCAR events.
The Hinchman Company was founded in Indianapolis in the 1920s by J.B. Hinchman. While the company made garments for many Indianapolis-based companies, it was the line of racing coveralls worn by 1925 Indy 500 winner Peter DePaolo, that began to serve as Hinchman's best sellers.
J.B. Hinchman gave the operation to his son Lew in the late 60s. Hinchman flourished, finding its uniforms on the world's greatest drivers. Jerry Chumbley, who, along with his wife Nancy, now owns the company, points to an incredible feat to illustrate Hinchman's popularity during this time.
"There definitely is a sense of pride in protecting these great drivers," Chumbley said. "We are the only race suit manufacturer to have the Formula 1 champion in our suit, the NASCAR champion in our suit and the Indy Car champion in our suit in the same year. It has never happened other than us."
"We have photos all the way back to the 30s and 40s. Drivers like Mel Kenyon have been wearing our stuff since the 50s. He retired this year. To have guys who have been racing all these years and still think so much of Hinchman is great. A.J. Foyt had four wins at Indy in Hinchman suits. They have a lot of regard for the brand."
The Chumbleys purchased the company from Lew Hinchman after his health declined in the late 90s. Nancy had served as a secretary since 1979, and brought her husband on board to help her keep the company going. Hinchman is still strong today thanks to high-quality products. Each suit is still custom fitted to each driver. A line of vintage suits, like the ones that will be worn by the drivers in the EZ Seed Showdown, also is available through Hinchman.
In fact, it was Yarborough who sparked the idea for all the drivers to wear the vintage-look uniforms in the 2010 version of the race. Last season, Yarborough arrived wearing one of his original fire suits.
"Last year, Cale Yarborough wore a 30-year-old suit," said Chumbley. "I guess it clicked and everyone said ‘this is a good idea.'"
"I think this race is going to be really neat. These are guys that I watched when I was younger. These are the guys that drove NASCAR to be what it is today. It isn't the Jeff Gordons and Tony Stewarts that built NASCAR; it's these guys. There are a lot of people who don't know that. It kind of makes me mad. These guys gave a lot and didn't make a lot of money."
Chumbley also is excited about the auction that will give race fans a chance to win the authentic, race-worn vintage Hinchman suits.
"These suits were designed in the late 1960s by Mr. Hinchman," Chumbley explained. "They are buying a piece of history. They incorporate some modern conveniences, but the basic style and material is what we used in the 70s. It is a complete 1970s-era suit. There is only one place to get those suits, and that is through us."
The suits will come with a certificate of authenticity signed by the driver and a BMS official.
Race fans will want to see the vintage Hinchman suits as Bristol Motor Speedway takes a trip back in time during the Scotts EZ Seed Showdown.
Tickets are available for Food City 500 weekend. A package, consisting of Ford Fan Friday qualifying (March 19), the Scotts Turf Builder 300 and the Scotts EZ Seed Showdown (March 20) and the March 21 Food City 500, is available, starting at only $99.
For fans who can only attend the Food City 500, single day tickets may be purchased, starting at $93. Tickets for Saturday's doubleheader start at just $45 while fans can watch Ford Fan Friday qualifying for only $5, then attend Food City Race Night at BMS for free.