In today's NASCAR, we don't even think twice when a driver runs a special paint scheme for a race. It has become extremely common for almost every team to run different paint schemes throughout the year. The special paint scheme craze got its start in the 1990's. Back then, it was a big deal when a driver would switch from his regular paint scheme to a special one.
This craze can really be traced back to one event. In the 1995 Winston All Star race, Dale Earnhardt showed up at the track in a solid silver GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo that celebrated Winston's 25th anniversary in racing. Fans were accustomed to seeing Dale pilot the intimidating black #3 each week, so this solid silver car was a real departure from what fans were used to seeing.
This was not the first time a driver had used a special paint scheme in a race, but it was definitely the first time this type of thing generated this much interest from fans and the media. The program was the brainchild of Action-Performance Company and its founder Fred Wagenhals. The buzz this solid silver scheme produced was unprecedented. Of course, it also generated some seriously high sales for Action-Performance in die-cast cars and apparel.
While Jeff Gordon won the 1995 Winston All Star race, the event will always be more famous for Dale Earnhardt's silver ride. This silver paint scheme really launched the special paint craze that took off in the 1990's. Each year after this one, it became common practice for cars to show up for the race with a special paint scheme or a different sponsor.
In today's NASCAR, drivers change their paint schemes so much, we hardly notice anymore, but in 1995, this silver GM Goowrench car set the NASCAR world on fire and started a trend that completely changed the NASCAR design and licensed products industry.