Today I wanted to take a look at what might be the oddest pairing of paint scheme design and driver in the history of NASCAR. It was May of 2000 and the special paint scheme craze was in full force. Each year at the All-Star Event everyone got involved in the special paint scheme craze and showed up at the track running special colors of some kind.
Dale Earnhardt started the trend with the unforgettable silver paint scheme he drove in 1995. He drove several other classic special paint schemes in this event, like the Bass Pro Shops gold scheme and the unforgettable Wrangler car in 1999. In May of 2000, Dale entered the race with a car unlike any other the fans had seen before.
The car was designed by noted 1960's artist Peter Max. Max was well known for his use of bright colors and cosmic imagery. Dale Earnhardt was known for his toughness and his use of black and silver. An odd pairing indeed. When the car was unveiled to the public, there were definitely some interesting reactions. How could the toughest guy on the track race a car with all of those colors on it?
I remember being at the pre-race festivities and seeing Mr. Max arrive for a signing session at one of the Action-Performance souvenir tents. There was a strange feeling in the air and the reaction of the fans was one of the strangest NASCAR moments I had ever seen. The loyal Earnhardt fans would pull for their driver no matter what he drove, but everything seemed a bit out of place when the 60's artist arrived to sign their diecast.
The Peter Max car was definitely one most will never forget, though some may want to. It definitely signaled that the special paint scheme craze had gotten a bit out of control. It definitely set the tone for what would end up being one of the strangest race weekends ever. I'm sure many of you might remember that this was the same race that saw the pedestrian bridge collapse as fans left the track that night, injuring more than 100 fans. It was a strange race weekend and the Peter Max car that raced that night will go down in history as the craziest driver/sponsor pairing ever.