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Joey Gase’s Darlington scheme pays tribute to father’s racing career

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Joey Gase is using his paint scheme for the Sept. 1 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway to honor the racing career of his father, Bob Gase.

Through a fan vote last week, The Go Green Racing driver allowed his followers to choose between two paint schemes inspired by his father’s career when he raced at their home track of Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

They could choose between a 2003 Purple & Black Modified scheme or a 1994 Blue & White Late Model.

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When the vote was closed, the 2003 Black & Purple Championship Modified scheme won out.

“I couldn’t be happier to be running this scheme,” Gase said in a press release. “This is the scheme I think of the most when I think of my dads old racing days and I had a lot of fans reaching out to be saying the same.”

Gase is competing full-time this season. Through 13 races he is 20th in the standings.

His best finish is 16th at Bristol and Auto Club Speedway.

NASCAR fan prepares to attend 1,000th Cup race Sunday at Michigan

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Imagine doing one activity.

Then picture doing that activity religiously, 1,000 times from February 1963 to June 2018.

Joe Baumann is preparing fulfill that this weekend at Michigan International Speedway when he attends his 1,000th NASCAR Cup race.

Baumann, 79, is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, and owner of a carpeting and flooring company, something his family has done since 1885.

But Baumann has made NASCAR his weekend business.

After getting out of the Navy in 1960, Baumann had his own brief racing career until life got in the way.

“I raced a couple of years in late models at our home track here in Erie,” Baumann told NBC Sports. “Went into drag racing a couple years after that. Started having a big family and that was the end of everything. I become a spectator because I figured there’s no way I can afford a family and the cost to race race cars.”

Baumann’s first time in the grandstands of a NASCAR Cup event came at the 1963 Daytona 500, when Tiny Lund won for the Wood Brothers.

“I loved what I saw when I got to Daytona,” Baumann said. “I’ll never forget it.”

Baumann has seen everything in the 998 races that have followed.

It’s documented in the couple hundred race programs that line his office and in the diary he decided to start keeping about a decade ago.

Joe Baumann sits in his office filled with NASCAR race programs. (Courtesy of Cale Baumann).

Baumann was there in 1969 when Talladega Superspeedway opened its doors for the first time.

He was also present in 1996 when North Wilkesboro Speedway said goodbye to NASCAR racing. He has “everything from the last race there,” including commemorative hats, unused tickets and the program.

Just a year before he experienced his “all-time No. 1” race.

You may have seen the highlights, but Baumann was sitting in Turn 3 of Bristol Motor Speedway the night of the 1995 Food City 500.

“Dale Earnhardt. Terry Labonte. Unfriggin’ believable,” declared Baumann, who was an Earnhardt fan. “I’ll never forget it. (Earnhardt) got black flagged at least twice, maybe three times for rough driving. They sent him to the back of the pack and oh my God, he was hell-bent to get back up front again. He did and it comes down to the last lap and they come off Turn 4 just slam banging each other, side by side and Earnhardt smashed him sideways.

“… I think the people went completely crazy. It was just phenomenal.

“That was tops.”

Baumann racked up races in the 70s, 80s and 90s while owning permanent seats at 10 tracks that hosted two races a year, including Bristol, Rockingham, North Wilkesboro, Atlanta and Talladega in addition to his visits to other tracks.

In 2004, he put a big dent in his total by attending all 36 Cup races, from Daytona to Homestead, with roughly 100 friends joining him over the course of the year.

At his peak, many race weekends saw Baumann and a group of six to 12 friends make the pilgrimage.

“Most of us worked six days a week, we’d leave Saturday night,” Baumann said. “We would leave Erie and drive straight to the track.”

One track, the one in South Carolina that’s Too Tough to Tame, really spoke to him.

Since 1964, when Buck Baker won in Baumann’s first visit to Darlington Raceway, he hasn’t missed a Southern 500.

The custom shirt Baumann and his friends and family will wear this weekend (Courtesy of Cale Baumann).

“The people and the good-hearted racing, it was just amazing they could run 500 miles at that speed and then it had the full metal roof over the top of the whole front straightaway and that made it even worse on your ears probably,” Baumann said. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to miss one of these things.’ Back then tickets were like $10 or less and fuel was reasonable. We took a half a dozen guys, normally starting with a pickups truck, campers and things like that to go down. Motels in that day and age were few and far between. … Then my wife (Jackie, who passed away in 2015) got interested, so then her and I started going together. Next thing you know we got into motor homes and things like that. … It’s a great weekend now and everywhere we go it’s the same way. NASCAR people are just unbelievable.”

Baumann’s dedication to Darlington was rewarded last year when he was one of three people inducted into the track’s Fan Hall of Fame.

“That was pretty neat. They took care of me,” Baumann said. “The ring is like a Super Bowl ring.”

Baumann, who named his youngest daughter Allison after his favorite driver, Bobby Allison, and his youngest son Cale after Cale Yarborough, wanted his 1,000th race to come at Darlington.

But knee-replacement surgery last year shortened his schedule.

Instead, he’ll reach the 1,000 race mark Sunday with the FireKeepers Casino 400. The drive to Brooklyn, Michigan, is a much easier trip for the roughly 50 people who will camp with him for the weekend.

What festivities will there be to mark the occasion?

“My friends are full of surprises, believe me,” Baumann said. “Something’s going to happen.”

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Daniel Hemric to honor Walker Evans with Darlington scheme

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Daniel Hemric will pay tribute to Walker Evans, a Hall of Fame off-road racer, with a throwback paint scheme for the NASCAR Xfintiy Series race at Darlington Raceway, Richard Childress Racing announced Wednesday.

“Walker Evans and the Gaughan family (owner of sponsor South Point Casino and Hotel) go way back to off-road racing all throughout the ’90s and their love of that is what led them into NASCAR,” Hemric said on a video posted to social media.

Hemric said he met Evans earlier this year when Evans attended NASCAR races at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway.

“I really got to know the guy and thought ‘Man I really want to do something special that emulates what the Gaughan family has done for NASCAR and what Walker Evans has meant to both sides, off-road racing and NASCAR,’ ” he said.

Evans was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004. He recorded 142 victories and 21 championships in short-course and desert racing events, making him among off-road racing’s most accomplished drivers. He was the first person to win the overall title in the Baja 1000 in a truck.

Evans was inducted as part of the Class of 2015 for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. His nine Baja 1000 wins are among the accomplishments noted with his induction.

Evans competed in 41 Camping World Truck races in 1995-96. He also owned teams that competed in the Truck Series from 1995-2000. Brendan Gaughan drove five races for Evans.

The Darlington Xfinity race is Sept. 1 and will air on NBC.

 

Fans will help decide Kyle Larson’s Southern 500 paint scheme

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For the first time since the Throwback Weekend began at Darlington Raceway, fans will have a say in the retro paint scheme a team races in the Southern 500 (Sept. 2 on NBCSN).

That opportunity is being made possible by Chip Ganassi Racing and Kyle Larson.

Between now and June 11 at midnight, fans can submit potential retro paint schemes for Larson’s No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet on social media. Using #TeamLarson, they must include a picture of the original car.

Larson has made four starts in the Southern 500 with his best result, third, coming in 2016.

Here are the throwback paint schemes Larson has used the last three years:

2015

(Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)

2016

(Getty Images)

2017

(Getty Images)

William Byron to drive Jeff Gordon’s ‘Rainbow Warriors’ scheme in Southern 500

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CONCORD, N.C. — One of the most famous paint schemes in NASCAR history will ride again in the Sept. 2 Southern 500.

The rainbow paint scheme Jeff Gordon drove for the first eight years of his Cup career will be resurrected for William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet.

The scheme was announced Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a presentation with Gordon, Byron and artist Sam Bass, who designed the scheme that debuted in the 1992 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race was Gordon’s series debut.

Gordon drove the scheme full-time from 1993-2000 when he was sponsored by Du Pont. He drove it one last time in the 2015 Bristol night race during his final full-time season.

The scheme was used by Dylan Lupton in last year’s Xfinity Series race at Darlington.

Gordon, now an analyst for Fox Sports, never dreamed his paint scheme would be used in a throwback fashion decades later.

“I was just a young kid that was anxious to get out there and show what I could and excited about the opportunity to be at Hendrick Motorsports and hoped that I would be able to do my part and go on and win a race, let alone 93 of them,” Gordon said. “I certainly never looked far enough ahead that I would have ever thought we were creating something that would be part of NASCAR history or a throwback to the history at Darlington with a 20-year-old kid behind the wheel that wasn’t me.”

The four-time champion is a nominee for the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class. The class will be announced Wednesday.

Byron, 20, is in his rookie season with Hendrick Motorsports and will compete in his first Southern 500.

“Jeff’s got a huge history in the sport and to follow that and be able to carry his legacy and hopefully have success with it is my goal,” Byron said.

Byron is 19th in the point standings through 12 races.

Bass told the story of how he came to get the job of designing Gordon’s car in 1992.

“(Jeff Gordon’s crew chief) Ray Evernham came over to my shop looking for a birthday present for Jeff,” Bass recalled. “He picked up a print, he was getting ready to leave and wanted to pay me for it. I said, ‘No, I don’t want your money. I want you to give me a shot to design the race car for Jeff Gordon.’ I didn’t really think he would do it, but he called me back in a couple of weeks and said, ‘Hey, you got a shot.’ I worked on three designs and had two of them done the day it was due. On the way driving to work, I kept thinking in my mind Du Pont had said they wanted a rainbow of color. They wanted to car to show that they could produce a rainbow of colors.

“I went back to the shop and started working on something, and I knew when I got it done that if they would paint it that way it would definitely be different. I thought the guys in the body shop were gonna kill me when they saw it because they knew how difficult it was going to be to paint. To their credit, they did it and they were so proud of it.”