As a racing fan, it doesn’t get any better than Labor Day weekend racing at Darlington Speedway. A few years ago, NASCAR embarked on a fan-fueled new tradition for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 Labor Day race: Throwbacks. With the full-endorsement of their sponsors, teams and racers deck themselves out in schemes and swag from a bygone era.
It’s a fun celebration of racing heritage with lots of subtle nods to the multi-generational appeal of the sport.
I talked to Ryan Blaney and his dad, sprint car-legend Dave Blaney (…and owner of Sharon Speedway in eastern Ohio), about why NASCAR throwback weekend is such a great weekend on the NASCAR calendar. Ryan is rocking his Dad’s 2003 Jasper Motorsportsscheme on his Team Penske Ford.
“Throwback weekend has been a lot of fun over the past few weekends. You have your scheme and then you have 39 other schemes that you get to walk around and admire. This year I have my dad’s Jasper scheme, one of the first Cup cars he drove. It’s really cool. I had a Kyle Petty scheme last year, this year with Penske I’m able to have it in my family. It’s yellow and blue and silver with the Menards yellow. I can’t wait to get it out on the race track.”
Ryan’s dad, Dave, chimed in…
“He didn’t even tell me about it. He just did it and then showed me the car when it was done to surprise me…”
“There were a couple different options,” Ryan continues, “Penske showed me that we could do the yellow Jasper scheme. And Menards was cool with it. It’s pretty special – Not very often you get to run your dad’s old car.”
And why is that so special to Dave, besides seeing his boy in Jasper yellow?
“That car did run third at Darlington the year that Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven had that great finish in 2003… That was a cool race to be a part of. It’s just cool to be part of the throwback thing…”
Without further adieu, here’s a little ranking of the best eye-candy on the track at Darlington this weekend…
Tyler Reddick – Old Milwaukee
An OG booze brand in the stock car world. I’ve never needed a racing lid more in my life…
Matt DiBenedetto – Jeff Burton Tribute x Exide Batteries x CorvetteParts.net
Bright, flashy schemes rule. They make racing fun. Racing should be fun. Just read the tweet below for how special this is for Matt.
Kyle Busch – Throwback Skittles Car
Kyle Busch wins so often in his candy-sponsored cars that, if I were I’m, I’d dread his trips to the dentist. Can’t imagine how many cavities he’s had over the years. These are the weird thoughts that keep me up at night that Alexa just can’t answer…
Ryan Blaney – Menards x Duracell Batteries x Dave Blaney Tribute
As mentioned early. Very cool throwback to Ryan’s dad in the Jasper car…
Matt Kenseth – Oscar Mayer Lunchables
A childhood staple for every ’90s kid ever. You can’t tell me you didn’t love stackin’ the ham and cheese crackers.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – John Deere
Nothing runs like a Deere. Giddy up, Ricky.
Chase Elliott – Napa Auto Parts
A couple weeks ago, at Watkins Glen, I said to my cousin the exact words: “Chase Elliot has the best looking scheme in this race.” SunEnergy Metallic Blue, touched with raver orange. Dude looks like a blue flame at 150-mph. He’s going to win. Cosmetics, of course, don’t necessarily mean power, but damn if that didn’t happen to the #9 car on that glorious Sunday in early August.
Nice to see Chase flaunting a yellow-jacket scheme for NAPA. This is the same scheme of the his cousin, the late great Casey Elliot, who passed away of cancer in 1996 at age 21.
Dude is a man of many colors: Hooter’s orange, NAPA blue, Mountain Dew Baja Blast green, etc. This is probably the most meaningful one yet.
William Byron – AXALTA Racing Throwback #24 Car
Makes my heart sing to see the classic, colorful DuPont scheme for the #24 car. That takes NASCAR fans down memory lane big time and what throwback weekend is all about. Jeff Gordon had to shed a couple tears seeing this unveiled.
Kevin Harvick – Busch Beer #4 Throwback Car
Man, I miss the old Busch cans. The white and dark blue before they modernized it. Such a classic logo. Nice to see it back in racing, where it belongs.
Brad Keselowski – Miller Genuine Draft #2 Car
This is my #1. A nice little homage to Bob Keselowski’s MOPAR car back in the day, except in a VERY appropriate Miller Genuine Draft scheme. Man, I miss those legendary Rusty Wallace’s MGD cars…