NASCAR’s Eighties Flashback

This weekend, NASCAR will have two “throwback” races at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, one for the “AAA” Xfinity series and one for the “major league” Monster Energy series. Darlington and NASCAR started with this throwback theme in 2015, and this year 35 of the 40 cars in the top-tier series will have retro color schemes centered around 1985-1989. In my opinion, two of the best of these liveries are Brad Keselowski’s tribute to Rusty Wallace’s #2 Miller Genuine Draft car and Aric Almirola’s version of Richard Petty’s 1984 #43 STP car—the one he won his 200th race in.

An example Darlington throwback paint scheme, linked from Motor Racing Network.
The #43 throwback paint scheme, also linked from Motor Racing Network.

To be fair, Brad, Aric, and their teams have some advantages over some of the other tribute schemes—they have the matching car number, and the original sponsor is a) still in business and b) willing to sponsor the new car. Because of this, some of the other schemes are more of a reach—but it’s still nice to see the effort.

It’s not just how the cars look, either. NBCSN will use some old school graphics, and with any luck, there will be some commercials from the period (I’ve seen Coca Cola and Mellow Yellow in past years). Some of the pit crews are wearing uniforms styled like those from decades ago. Even the Monster Energy girls are getting into it with some eighties hairstyles.

For me, this is appointment viewing—to be honest, likely the last time of the NASCAR racing year that this is true. What do others think?

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