One of the best things to take a look at in NASCAR is some of the rockin’ paint schemes these drivers sport from time to time. Who can think of Jeff Gordon and not think about the rainbow warriors? Who can think of Dale Earnhardt and not picture a slick black No. 3 car with orange (yes, the color is orange, not red) and silver stripes at the bottom? Who can think of Matt Kenseth and not think of the Killer Bees with all their black and yellow Dewalt glory?
But some of the most interesting paint schemes ever run in NASCAR were one-offs. Here are just a few we will most likely never see again!
Bill Elliott’s 1995 Batman Forever Ford
After leaving the No. 11 Budweiser Ford for Junior Johnson & Associates he had a great deal of success in, Bill Elliott decided to try his hand at team ownership with the backing of McDonald’s sponsorship. In 1995, the year I was born and Bon Jovi released what I consider to be their best album, a new Tim Burton movie came out: Batman Forever.
To promote the movie, McDonald’s created this scheme this beautiful scheme which Bill Elliott would wheel to an unfortunate 39th place finish. Despite that, we at the Daily Downforce still thinks this car looks pretty groovy.
Dale Jr.’s 2012 Black Knight Chevy
By the time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolled into Michigan in 2012, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver was amidst a 4-year winless drought. But Junior Nation had hope as, after being paired with Steve Letarte at the beginning of the 2011 season, Dale Jr. seemed to have an uptick in performance which left many Junior fans hopeful that he would soon snap his career-long losing streak.
That fateful day would come when Dale Earnhardt Jr. absolutely smoked the competition at Michigan in the summer of 2012, making this rare Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevy which was promoting the new The Black Knight Rises film a fan-favorite.
Dale Earnhardt’s 2000 Peter Max-Designed Chevy
For several years nearing the end of his career, Dale Earnhardt would run special paint schemes for exhibition races. In Japan at Twin Ring Motegi, he ran a red, black, and white Coca Cola car to balance his son’s black and red No. 1. In 1996, he drove a red, white, and blue car in the All-Star Race to promote that year’s Summer Olympics. Also in the All-Star race, he ran a black and gold Bass Pro Shops entry and a throwback to his Wrangler days.
The last special paint scheme he would ever run would be in the 2000 All-Star race. Though despised by Earnhardt himself, the rainbow-colored No. 3 designed by artist, Peter Max, has to be one of the best and most memorable paint schemes ever run in a NASCAR race.
Kyle Petty’s 1996 Earnhardt Protest Pontiac
This oddball from Kyle Petty’s Felix Sabatos team has a pretty funny story. The year was 1996 and it all started in that year’s Coca Cola 600. Petty was a lap down and fighting to get it back.
After what the team felt was a bad call in restart order, Petty dipped low very quickly to correct the call and pass Ted Musgrave. This triggered a big crash collecting a total of 6 cars. Petty got away unsaved. After racing back to the line, Petty was able to get his lap back. NASCAR would then penalize Petty, holding him on pit road for 5 laps for rough driving. Petty feeling that if Earnhardt had done the same, it would have been deemed a “racing incident”.
In response, the next week at Dover, the No. 42 team unloaded a black car to look exactly like Earnhardt’s.
Jimmie Johnson’s 2011 Lowe’s 5% Off Chevy
All-Star races tend to be the events where teams get a little more creative. Hendrick Motorsports did just that when they opted to change Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy to the No. 5 to promote Lowe’s 5% off promotion running at the time.
Mark Martin’s 2011 #25 Chevy
Because of his usual No. 5 being used by ole 7-time, Mark “the kid” Martin drove this No. 25, a throwback of a sort to Tim Richmond.
Jimmie Johnson’s 2008 Lowe’s/Kobalt Truck
Jimmie Johnson is (jokingly) considered a “NASCAR bust” when it comes to the lower series. While he has made a handful of Xfinity Series starts in his legendary career (winning only once), he only made 1 start in the Truck Series.
The start came at Bristol Motor Speedway in Randy Moss’ No. 81. While initially running up front, Jimmie would spin out and ultimately fall out of the race.
Josh Wise’s 2013 Carson-Newman Ford
Okay, I won’t lie: this made the list for personal reasons. Many may not know this but the owner of Front Row Motorsports lives in Dandridge, Tennessee, a small town which boarders Jefferson City, Tennessee where Carson-Newman University is located.
Being a CNU alum, this car holds a special place in my heart. They even brought it on campus and I stood next to it and took pictures with it. Josh Wise was the driver.
Bonus: Kevin Harvick’s 2023 No. 29 All-Star Ford
Okay, maybe this one is cheating because we WILL see this car one more time…in May at North Wilkesboro for the All-Star Race. But I believe that will be the last time ever a No. 29 with that font and paint scheme will be run in a NASCAR sanctioned event. So, soak it up in May when you get the chance. It won’t last forever.
What about you, DDF community? What paint schemes do you will we will never see again in NASCAR? Let us know!