Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
The second throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway has come and gone. Unlike 2015, the Southern 500 actually ended with retro paint scheme in victory lane. Martin Truex Jr. won with a tribute to his sponsor’s 100th anniversary, while Kevin Harvick and his throwback to Cale Yarborough in the early 1980s finished second.
But just like the day after Christmas, we’re not entirely sure what do with ourselves now.
I’ll make do by sharing what retro paint schemes I hope to see at the track “Too Tough to Tame” when Labor Day rolls around again in future seasons.
Jeff Burton‘s Exide scheme – Mark Martin has had four paint schemes honoring him during the last two Darlington weekends. It’s time Martin’s teammate of nine seasons, Burton, got an acknowledgement. There’s no better way to do that than for Roush Fenway Racing to resurrect the No. 99 in 2017 and bring out this paint scheme for the Southern 500, which Burton won in 1999. Burton first drove the purple and black car in his first season with Roush in 1997. I’m a little attached to this scheme. Burton won his first Sprint Cup race in the 1997 Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, which was the first NASCAR race I attended. Burton won three times in 1997 and would take Exide to victory lane 14 times.
Ted Musgrave’s Family Channel scheme – It took until researching for this article for me to realize Musgrave also drove for Roush (1994-98). For his first three seasons with Roush, Musgrave’s No. 16 Ford was draped in the colorful tones associated with the Family Channel. Musgrave never won in the Sprint Cup Series in 305 starts, but success isn’t a qualifier for the throwback paint schemes at Darlington. Last weekend, Landon Cassill‘s No. 38 car honored J.D. McDuffie, who holds the record for most Sprint Cup starts (653) without a win.
The “other” Rainbow car – Kyle Busch was not the first driver to “Taste the Rainbow.” Nelson Bowers fielded this car with Derrike Cope in 1997 and Ernie Irvan in 1998 (Rickey Craven drove in the final three races). Cope’s best performance in the Skittles car was fifth in the season finale at Atlanta. Irvan’s best result was finishing sixth five times, including in the Southern 500. I still own a diecast from Cope’s season in the car.
Bud…Weis….er – Sure, Anheuser-Busch switched the beer they market in NASCAR from Budweiser to Busch this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go back for one race. Variations on this scheme were driven by Ricky Craven, Ken Schrader, Bill Elliott and probably a few others drivers. Elliott won six times in the Bud car while driving for Junior Johnson, including the 1994 Southern 500. That was Johnson’s last Sprint Cup victory as a team owner. Three years later, Craven earned four top fives with Budweiser while driving for Hendrick Motorsports, including a top-three sweep in the Daytona 500.
Bobby Allison’s Miller High Life – Bobby Allison won the Daytona 500 three times, the final one coming in 1998 with his son, Davey Allison finishing right behind him. The win would be Bobby Allison’s 84th and final Sprint Cup victory. This gold and white scheme would stand out in a field, and if NASCAR ever got it into their heads to bring back a body style, the 1988 Buick would not be a bad place to start. It just looks plain mean.
Which paint schemes from yesteryear do you hope to see in the future?