Despite today being St. Patrick’s Day, I honestly had not considered devoting this blog spot today to some kind of St. Paddy’s Day theme, until I started listening to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this morning and I heard a discussion about green paint schemes. Said discussion ran from the start of the superstition of green being bad luck in racing and the extent to which some drivers went to avoid having the color on their cars to the superstition seemingly falling by the wayside sometime before today.
Either today’s drivers aren’t as superstitious as drivers of yesteryear, or this superstition is one that just fell by the wayside. Maybe today’s drivers just figure that superstition of green being bad luck was just debunked and, therefore, is no longer valid. If anyone in the NASCAR community still considered green to be bad luck as recently as last year, Kyle Busch had to at least have that person questioning the mindset. After all, Busch missed 11 races, still managed to make the Chase and went on to his first Sprint Cup in 2015; green paint schemes be damned. I mean, among Busch’s various paint schemes on the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota are at least three with some shade of green as the primary color. The Mars Inc. sponsorship, alone, accounts for two green schemes — a Doublemint Gum paint scheme and an M&M’s paint scheme promoting the candy’s crispy variety. Then there are the races in which JGR brings back that old Internatate Batteries paint scheme; you know, that green paint scheme with which Bobby Labonte claimed his lone Cup title in 2000.
A piece on Jalopnik read, “The superstition (of green paint schemes) faded further as years went on, and now the curse of the color green is almost as under the radar as the curse of the land of Talladega Superspeedway — still around, but not very widely believed or talked about these days.” That gives me a Halloween blog post idea, as long as I don’t forget about it before then. Anyway, back to the subject at hand.
That Jalopnik piece borrowed a quote by Jeff Gordon from NASCAR.com. Gordon said he was knowledgeable of the superstition “until I had a race car that had green on it, and I won a lot with it.” In reality, I think Gordon was talking about his old familiar DuPont paint scheme that featured several colors and green was no more prominent than any other color on that car, but we get the idea.
Nowadays, green is just another color on a race car here and there. Darrell Waltrip kind of started the arguement that green wasn’t such bad luck after all with a 1981 Winston Cup championship won with a Gatorade-sponsored car. Still, not everyone was convinced. The late, great Tim Richmond was, apparently, in the still-naysaying camp.
Did you know that if Folgers got its way back in the day, Richmond would’ve driven a green race car, not a red one? Come to find out, the coffee company wanted to promote its decaf formula on Richmond’s race car, a formula with green packaging. Richmond, reportedly, wasn’t comfortable with the idea of driving a green race car, so Folgers was convinced to promo its regular formula on the car, the one with the red packaging.
Imagine how such a conversation with a sponsor would go today. These days, it often seems like sponsors are pulling the strings, and understandably so, considering their money pays the bills. A driver, basically, telling a company which of its products can or can’t be promoted on his/her race car? Apparently, that would fly back in the 1980s. Nowadays, I’m guessing that wouldn’t go over so well. Could you imagine Busch telling Mars that crispy is green and peanuts — also considered bad luck back in the day — are a no-no, so its plain M&M’s or nothing? I’m guessing that would lead to nothing, as in nothing for Busch in terms of money from the candy company to finance his racing efforts.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and don’t be afraid of the green, unless you want a pinch.
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