2017 marks my 25th anniversary of discovering the sport of NASCAR. It was December 26th, 1992, but I'm going to celebrate it all year anyway, and all of 2018 as 1993 was the first year I actually watched.
I wanted to do something special to mark my 25th Anniversary, but what? Then it hit me, how about highlighting some special paint schemes? Special Anniversary = Special Paint Schemes, It made sense! I originally conceived the idea as a weekly series, but soon realized that wouldn't work- since Press Pass never bothered to produce cards showing the cars, I would run out of cards to post before I reached the end of 2017, let alone get me through 2018. Then I thought about it some more, and realized, since it's a 25th Anniversary special series, I could do 25 posts- one per month in every month of 2017 and 2018, and a bonus post to be published on the actual 25th anniversary day. Now that...that was doable.
I knew to begin the series I would use Dale Earnhardt's 1995 Silver Select car, or at least that's what Action called it. Most sources, including NASCAR itself, call this the very first special paint scheme. But, it's not. Not by a longshot. It's not even the first Dale Earnhardt himself ran.
The first special paint scheme in NASCAR history was run in 1968, by David Pearson. The Holman-Moody Fords he usually drove were blue with a gold roof, but for at least 5 races in 1968, he drove a gold car with a blue roof, to celebrate Ford Motor Company's 65th anniversary. There are no cards of this car or most of the cars that predate the silver car shown in this post.
Dale himself drove the second and third special paint schemes in NASCAR history. He ran a reverse paint scheme at the 1985 Daytona 500, and in the 1986 Daytona 500, he ran with "Red Headed Stranger" on the hood and Farm Aid on the tail panel.
The fourth special paint scheme was run by Dale Jarrett in 1989, to promote the Ghostbusters II movie. This car DOES appear on a card, in the 1991 K&M Sports Legends Dale Jarrett set, but I don't have it.
The fifth special paint scheme was driven by Morgan Shepherd in 1993, when an alternate, eagle design was used on the hood of his car at least at the first Darlington race, possibly others. I would not have remembered it's existence if it was not shown in the NASCAR Yearbook, which leads me to another point- there may be others I don't know of or don't remember.
The sixth, seventh and 8th special paint schemes were all run by Kyle Petty, one in 1993 and two in 1994. In 1993 he ran a tribute to his father, Richard Petty on the trunk lid at the Daytona 500 only (where he won the pole- this was the first race I ever saw). During 1994 he ran a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hood and at the final race of the year, the sponsor, Mello Yello, had a tribute to Kyle himself on the sides of the car, thanking him for being their driver since 1991.
Finally, we get to 1995. 1995 was the year that special paint schemes really took off, and it was at the Winston that it all kicked in. From that race forward, special paint schemes have been a staple of NASCAR, culminating in the 2016 Southern 500 when 38 of 40 cars had a special paint scheme, the most in NASCAR history.
While the silver car may not be the first, it certainly is the one that made it popular. Earnhardt would drive a special paint scheme at The Winston (The All-Star race) every year for the rest of his career, and more than likely his Winston specials may appear in this program again.
The Silver car was run to celebrate Winston's 25th anniversary being the title sponsor of the sport, but unfortunately for Earnhardt, his night ended 10 laps short of the end, when he was taken out in a multi-car accident, finishing 14th in the 20 car field. I never saw the race, as it was on a TV channel we didn't get, but I believe he was battling for the lead at the time.
The accident is actually shown on 1996 Ultra #200, but I don't have that card.
The Silver car appears on a number of cards:
1995 Action Packed Winston Cup Country Jumbos #1, 2 and 4, probably 3 as well but I have not seen it
1995 Maxx Premier Plus special card, unknown number
1996 Ultra #200
1996 Ultra Golden Memories #4 (back only)
2002 Dale Earnhardt: The Artist's Series #63
The final card in the list is the card shown, as it's the only one in my collection. This somewhat mysterious series has no year or maker's info anywhere on the cards. It was sold through QVC's "For Race Fans Only" show in 2002, which is where I got it, as a factory set. The entire series is painted by artist Bill Purdom.
Thanks for reading, and expect February's post to go live during the Daytona 500.
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