CONCORD, N.C. – This week, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed his throwback paint scheme for the Labor Day weekend race at Darlington Raceway.
Earnhardt and his partners at Nationwide channeled a racing legend for the scheme, 60s, 70s and 80s icon Buddy Baker and his No. 28 bullet of a race car.
“It was called the Gray Ghost and it had this mystique and this identity,” Earnhardt said. “Usually cars rarely become a thing and this car certainly drew a lot of attention because of its speed and dominance.”
Take a look at the fun facts below about both Baker’s and Earnhardt’s Gray Ghosts.
1) Baker drove the record-setting No. 28 Gray Ghost from 1979 to 1980. Bobby Allison was behind the wheel of the legendary car in 1981.
2) The Gray Ghost was known for its speed, especially at the superspeedways. Baker won the 1980 Daytona 500 in it and set a new average speed record at the track.
3) Because of the gray paint scheme, the car would blend in with the surface of the racetrack, so competitors had difficulty seeing Baker coming from behind. That is, until he blew by them for position.
4) NASCAR officials finally ordered Baker to put Day-Glo decals on the front of the car to make it more visible on the track.
5) Earnhardt said they didn’t take too much creative leeway with the design of the scheme. “We just took what we saw from history and tried to represent that the best we could on the car today,” he said.
6) Earnhardt loves the orange highlighting on the car because orange is his favorite color.
7) “There’s a little bit of an old-school influence in every inch of the car from not only just the color and the scheme but to the decals and logos themselves,” Earnhardt said. “They lend themselves to the history of the sport.”
8) The Nationwide logo on the hood of Earnhardt’s Gray Ghost is circa 1980.
9) Earnhardt’s typical No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS for 2016 also took design elements from the Gray Ghost, which the driver said is his favorite paint scheme of all time.