by Julian Spivey
Things are going to get groovy on Sunday night at Darlington Raceway as NASCAR has returned to the famed South Carolina track on Labor Day weekend for the first time in more than a decade for the traditional Southern 500, one of the most storied races in NASCAR history.
As a way of really driving home the historic and traditional aspect of the Southern 500 at Darlington on Labor Day Weekend NASCAR is doing a throwback race and it has been incredibly well-received by everybody involved, especially the fans.
The biggest treat for the fans has been the throwback paint schemes that mimic or pay tribute to some great paint schemes of the past. About ¾ of the cars in Sunday night’s race will be running throwback schemes with some paying tribute to notable legendary schemes and drivers of the past like Aric Almirola running his boss Richard Petty’s iconic No. 43 Petty blue and red STP sponsored car, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. running a car that looks exactly like the one David Pearson drove during his 1968 and 1969 championship seasons and Clint Bowyer running a scheme that pays tribute to the recently departed Buddy Baker. A good number of drivers are also paying tribute to their auto racing fathers with Jeb Burton running an identical color scheme to the one his dad Ward won the 2002 Daytona 500 with, David Ragan running his No. 55 Toyota with a similar scheme as his father Ken ran in the 1987 Cup season and Paul Menard and Chase Elliott also running schemes similar in style to those of their fathers. Among other interesting throwback schemes are Josh Wise’s No. 32 running an identical color scheme to that of Ricky Craven, who won the closest finish in NASCAR history at Darlington in 2003, and Kyle Larson running an exact replica of the car Tom Cruise’s character Cole Trickle drove in the NASCAR movie “Days of Thunder.”
In addition to the paint schemes adding some interesting throwback flair to the proceedings at Darlington on Sunday evening the broadcast by NBC Sports is also doing the same with throwback graphics from the ‘70s and legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett, joined by his Hall of Fame racing son Dale, stepping into the broadcast booth to call a portion of the race while usual broadcasters Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte step aside for a bit. Supposedly the broadcasters will also be dressed in ‘70s garb during the race, as well.
Among the other spectacles is NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Terry Labonte serving as Grand Marshall for the race. Incredibly, Labonte’s first and last career wins came in the iconic Southern 500 in 1980 and 2003 respectively, with Labonte’s win in 2003 coming in the final Labor Day weekend event before the race was moved to the spring and replaced by Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The throwback vibe for Sunday night’s race has had everybody within the sport and who’s a fan of the sport excited and talking about it for weeks, which has made it one of the most anticipated events of the season and should become one of the most watched races of the year. Hopefully these drivers in their throwback paint schemes will put on some old school, throwback racing on the track, as well.
5 Best Throwback Paint Schemes