NASCAR: The 20 Most Ridiculous Fire Suits in History
They're NASCAR's version of the jersey that athletes in other sports wear.
Much like the team colors and names that adorn what is worn on the field by players and off the field by rabid fans, NASCAR fire suits are strewn with sponsors that are often very similar to what appears on the car on race day.
While some fire suits are successful in both design and conveying sponsors (Dale Earnhardt Jr's current fire suits, made by Adidas, support this), others are just poorly thought out or look very odd.
Without further ado, here are the 20 most ridiculous fire suits in NASCAR history.
Jerry Nadeau, Time Warner, 1998-1999
In the final days of Melling Racing, Time Warner and its family of television networks and properties—more specifically, Cartoon Network—sponsored the iconic No. 9 Ford in the Sprint Cup Series from the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
While Lake Speed drove the machine for the start of NASCAR's 50th anniversary season, Nadeau took over late in the season after a failed run at Bill Elliott Racing in 1998.
It was bad enough that Nadeau had to drive in cars with ridiculous paint schemes, including a pink Ford to promote The Powerpuff Girls, a car with The Jetsons' Astro on the hood promoting Sprint phones at RadioShack and a gold car for pro wrestler Bill Goldberg.
All of this makes this particular fire suit ridiculous for its lack of outlandishness and vibrancy. The No. 9 is front and center, which fails to even make the actual sponsor stick out. It's also a plain white.
A exercise in ridiculousness by being very drab.
Kyle Busch, Toyota "Sponsifier," 2010
As part of Toyota's "Sponsifier" promotion—a contest in which fans can create their own paint schemes to support causes and win prizes—Kyle Busch drove a car in the Nationwide Series race at Richmond last September painted identically to the one he drives in a Toyota commercial.
Much like the car, his firesuit was pink with rainbow striping and kittens.
Mike Bliss, Kim Kardashian Fragrance, 2010
For the March 2010 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Tommy Baldwin Racing was sponsored by Kim Kardashian's newest fragrance. A hot pink paint scheme adorned the No. 36 Toyota, and Mike Bliss wore a black-and-pink fire suit.
Pink on a fire suit is a big no-no.
Larry Foyt, Harrah's, 2001-2003
First of all, the hero card from which this image was taken looks awful. Why is Larry Foyt not looking into the camera? Better yet, why does it look like he's staring off into space?
As for the fire suit, he looks like a Care Bear with the star on his chest. The purple and yellow scheme doesn't work nearly as well here as it does for the Minnesota Vikings.
Trevor Bayne, Out! Pet Care, 2010
Before he was signed last fall by Roush Fenway Racing "and the rest was history," 2r011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne drove for Diamond-Waltrip Racing in the Nationwide Series.
For most of 2010, he represented his sponsor, Out! Pet Care, with a huge logo on his fire suit.
To some, it looks like an ugly blue square in the middle of it.
Kurt Busch, John Deere, 2000
Kurt Busch wore this when he took over the No. 97 Ford for Chad Little late in the 2000 Sprint Cup season.
The green-and-yellow checkerboard style just looks odd, even if it is John Deere green. It's even worse that the odd pattern returns in a black-and-green form on the back.
Very ridiculous indeed.
Derrike Cope, Mane 'n Tail, 1995
Where to begin with this one?
The "v" stripes in yellow, teal, purple and blue, along with the ridiculous design on the fire suit to begin with, really make this fire suit seem very outlandish.
Kurt Busch, Shell/Pennzoil, 2011
Kurt Busch's fire suit looks like a rejected Ronald McDonald costume, and that's being kind.
McDonald's missed a real opportunity here. They could have jumped from Jamie McMurray at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to Busch at Penske, and Penske wouldn't need to pay for new fire suits.
Kyle Busch, Combos, 2009
I can't get over how bright Kyle Busch's orange fire suit is.
It's so orange, it's almost radioactive; however, he did win at Richmond in May 2009 wearing this.
Jeff Gordon, Pepsi Throwback, 2009
To celebrate the debut of Pepsi Throwback in the spring of 2009, Jeff Gordon drove a paint scheme that looked similar to the car Darrell Waltrip drove in 1983.
While the car looked pretty close to the real thing, the retro look didn't work as well in terms of Gordon's fire suit. It seems as if the fire suit was compromise between retro logos and modern style, and it just looks ridiculous.
Bobby Labonte, Wellbutrin XL, 2004
The top of this fire suit looks perfectly fine.
The bottom, however, is a complete mess. Blue and yellow pants? Really?
Jeremy Mayfield, Mobil 1, 2000
There was definitely a run on gigantic uniforms taking over uniforms and fire suits at the turn of the century. Jeremy Mayfield and Penske Racing followed MLB's inane "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion a year late and placed a gigantic Mobil Pegasus across the front of his firesuit.
It just looks very cheesy.
Steve Grissom, WCW, 1996
This fire suit is awfully ridiculous, as the red "WCW" doesn't even match with the purple and yellow scheme.
Once again, save the purple and yellow for the Minnesota Vikings.
Wally Dallenbach, WCW/TBS, 2000
I wasn't aware that a staircase pattern even existed for fire suits, as Wally Dallenbach demonstrates in the No. 75 Ford for Galaxy Motorsports in 2000.
Another new rule: if you're sponsored by a professional wrestling promotion, your fire suit will look awful.
Kasey Kahne, Mountain Dew, 2004
A real fashion tragedy here, as the green-yellowish trimming on the fire suit doesn't appear to be the color typically associated with Mountain Dew. It also doesn't help that the suit is mostly black, placing emphasis on the disastrous design.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., MLB All-Star Game/Budweiser, 2001
It may be the most memorable win in NASCAR history, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the July 2001 race at Daytona in one of the more dreadful fire suits in the history of the sport.
The No. 8 Chevy had a special paint scheme to promote the MLB All-Star Game in Seattle later in the month, and Junior also took part in the celebration. His open-face helmet was painted to look like a baseball, and his fire suit was adorned with pinstripes and a vest-like look.
Great on baseball uniforms, not so much in NASCAR.
Matt Kenseth, WileyX, 2011
This arrangement gets on the list because of the sheer ridiculousness that a sponsor gets primary status on a car that wins the race, but gets zero mention on the driver's fire suit.
Such was the case when Matt Kenseth won at Dover last month, when WileyX-sponsored Matt Kenseth wore the company's sunglasses but celebrated in a Crown Royal fire suit.
That's a huge blunder for WileyX. I had zero clue what the company produced until Kenseth won the race, and I'm sure Kenseth's fire suit didn't help things.
Dale Jarrett, Ford Quality Care, 1999-2000
A lot of fire suits at the turn of the century were just brutal.
For example, take a look at Dale Jarrett's fire suit from 2000. The "V" pattern on the top half seems completely unnecessary, even if it is to stress the American origin and pride involved with the now-defunct Quality Care service.
Elliott Sadler, Citgo, 2000
I'm not sure what was the plan here by going with the shark-tooth look for the normally all-red Citgo Wood Brothers Racing fire suit of Elliott Sadler, but the car also had this same look for the 2000 season.
As Sadler's fire suit demonstrates, such an alteration just looked ridiculous and out-of-place. The last time I checked, there was no black or yellow in the Citgo logo.
Jimmy Spencer, Winston, 1998-1999
This was ridiculous then, and it still is now.
Could you imagine the fun social media would have now if Jimmy Spencer was still active and driving Travis Carter's No. 23 Winston Ford? For someone who appears to have "Wins" across his stomach (the hat does too, but all drivers wore that at some point), he never did win save for a pair of victories during the 1994 season.
Thoughts? I realize this is a fairly skewed list, so any and all opinions are welcome. Comment below.