Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Special paint scheme
Special paint schemes are one-time or limited time variations on a race car's typical appearance. Their use has been largely confined to stock car racing, partially due to the much larger surface area of a stock car as opposed to other types of race cars. NASCAR's increased media coverage has also contributed to their popularity with both fans and sponsors.
Special paint schemes in NASCAR have been popular since they debuted at the 1991 Daytona 500. In that race, five unsponsored drivers used paint schemes paying tribute to the branches of the United States Armed Forces serving in Operation Desert Storm:
- #7 - Alan Kulwicki - Army
- #18 - Greg Sacks - Navy
- #24 - Mickey Gibbs - Air Force
- #71 - Dave Marcis - Coast Guard
- #88 - Buddy Baker - Marines
Fan reaction to the paint schemes proved so popular that by the end of the decade, scarcely a race went by without one or more drivers sporting a special paint scheme. Often several drivers sported related paint schemes simultaneously.
Popular themes for custom paint schemes have included sports teams, charities, cartoon characters (such as the Muppets or Bugs Bunny), and movies. The latter of these is viewed as being perfectly suited to promotion through the use of special paint schemes due to the short-term nature of a movie's box office run.
Often die-cast replicas of the paint scheme cars are produced for the collector market.
The sheer number of special paint schemes has led to criticism that they are no longer "special" at all. While the 1991 designs were a heartfelt tribute to the Armed Forces, some of the modern paint schemes have been criticized as crass commercialism.
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