Today I wanted to take the readers of Sports Design Blog along for a ride on a design project I was involved in when I worked for Hasbro toys, designing NASCAR related products. This project involved some great creative ideas and the hard work of one of the greatest creative teams ever assembled. I thought you might enjoy some insight into this project. If you look closely at the image of the car and the Hasbro team, you may find a certain sports design blogger in there somewhere!
For the 2000 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt took to the track in a special #3 car featuring the famous Looney Tunes character Taz. The Taz character was part of a GM Goodwrench advertising campaign at the time. The car featured a red paint scheme with Taz on the hood. The number 3 on the roof was day-glo red, indicating Dale's inclusion in the Winston million dollar promotion. Dale ran well all day in this car but was involved in a late race incident that left him in the 21st position.
After the race, you would think that this car might end up in a museum or on display somewhere. Surely the car's shell would be immortalized in someone's collection? Well, at first, that was not the case. This photo shows the shell of the Taz car behind the race shops of Richard Childress Racing. The car's shell was not sitting in a museum, but was sitting in some tall grass outside the race shop.
That year, the design team at Hasbro was looking for a unique product idea that would bring a part of the race to the fans. The idea was to bring a piece of the actual race car and deliver it to the collectors of Winner's Circle products. The team found out about this piece of NASCAR history wasting away behind the RCR shop and decided to purchase it. The team had the body of the car shipped to its facility in the Cincinnati area and began a process to deliver pieces of the car to the fans. The product was eventually called the Team Authentics Series.
The car was shipped with the entire body in place. No chassis or motor, just the shell, windows and all. The Winner's Circle team disassembled the car and began a complicated process that would divide the sheetmetal into 1 inch squares that would be placed inside Winner's Circle product. The hood, windows, nose, rear and roof flaps were removed and the remaining sheetmetal was used to create the squares. The squares were then placed inside a plastic container and were included with a 1/64th scale diecast with the Taz car paint scheme.
The Team Authentics product was randomly inserted into packages of regular Winner's Circle product in 2001. The series also included other drivers and in addition to sheetmetal, there was a set that included swatches of drivers' uniforms as well. Of all of the Team Authentics pieces, none had more history than the Dale Earnhardt Taz car set. In a way, the Taz car no longer exists, but in another way, it lives on because it is now in the hands of Dale Earnhardt fans everywhere.