HMS Chassis No. 2411, aka "Blacker"
- Dec 08, 2004
- Team Hendrick
Without a doubt, the car simply referred to as “Blacker” is the most successful Chevrolet ever to run under the Hendrick Motorsports banner. From 1995-99, this No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet racked up 12 wins, six poles and $1.5 million in earnings with Jeff Gordon behind its wheel.
The original intended use of Blacker was as a research and development Monte Carlo by the Hendrick chassis program in 1994. The machine was first referred to as the “W Plus Coupe,” but then gained the nickname Blacker due to its dark paint scheme.
The name eventually stuck as the “24” team and Jeff Gordon began to use the Chevy in NASCAR Winston Cup, (now NEXTEL Cup) competition starting in 1995.
Success came quickly as Blacker and Gordon won the second race of the season from the pole on Feb. 26 at North Carolina Speedway.
The pair followed the Rockingham, N.C., win up with a victory in Atlanta and a pole in Darlington, S.C. the next month. Blacker’s ontrack success remained steady all year as the DuPont team would pick up an additional pole at Indianapolis in August and a win in Dover, Del. later that fall.
Perhaps the biggest achievement credited to Blacker in 1995 was that the machine delivered Gordon his first triumph in the Southern 500 at Darlington.
“Everyone knows the history of this place (Darlington) and what it has meant to the sport, Gordon said after the triumph.
“To win here – especially to win the Southern 500 – is one of the greatest accomplishments of any driver’s career. It’s a very special race that everyone wants to have before they are finished racing.”
Blacker’s win at Darlington helped cement Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick’s first NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship.
The year after the championship run, Gordon and Blacker continued to shine in the Cup Series. In the summer of 1996, Blacker won three poles – Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway and Pocono Raceway—all succession. During that three-week period, the pair would visit Victory Lane at both Dover and Pocono.
When Blacker retuned to Darlington in 1996, the domination continued. The DuPont team “swept” the track by winning both of its Cup Series events, including the Southern 500 again. Gordon would go on to snag two more victories that year, the first at Pocono and the second at Dover.
In total, the DuPont team racked up 10 wins in 1996, with three of those triumphs coming from Blacker. All of that success wasn’t enough to gain Gordon his second championship though, as he finished second in the points to teammate Terry Labonte.
When 1997 rolled around the “24” team was back and seeking their second championship title. Blacker delivered a win in its first time back on the track at Rockingham in February. The car and Gordon would team up for two more victories that year—the June Pocono event and the inaugural race at California Speedway in the driver’s home state.
In all, the DuPont team would win 10 races for a second straight year with Blacker again being responsible for three of the victories. That year the “24” team would win their second championship.
After the 1997 season, Blacker continued to serve as a member of the DuPont team’s stable. The special paint scheme in the photos was done in celebration of NASCAR’s 50th anniversary. The paint on the car is DuPont’s “ChromaLusion,” a mixture that contains special crystals that allows the color to dramatically change according to the light source and angle of perception.
After being retired from race duties in 1999, this historic car was put on display in the Hendrick Motorsports museum in Charlotte, N.C. which is open to the public.