Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: Embrace the Fauxback

Darlington Raceway’s throwback weekend has become a popular weekend on the NASCAR schedule. Drivers from the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series choose throwback paint schemes for their teams to design and run, either as a tribute to a driver, a nod to a popular scheme back in the day, an ode to the old days of a specific team, or just because the driver or team like the scheme.

Typically, sponsors are also onboard with throwbacks, changing logos or even running different colors to fit the desired throwback. But every now and then, sponsors control the throwback, or the team and sponsor agree to run a scheme that doesn’t necessarily resemble a throwback but rather incorporates elements of a bygone scheme, design, or logo into a modern paint scheme.

This, my friends, is what we call a fauxback.

Every year, a fauxback scheme sneaks up in the middle of the throwbacks. A scheme that, while still looking nice, doesn’t resemble a former paint scheme. Fans sometimes get disappointed when a driver unveils a scheme that doesn’t seem to fit the throwback mold.

But maybe we should embrace these pseudo-throwbacks for what they are. While fauxbacks don’t necessarily pay tribute to a certain driver, owner or team, most of the time the paint schemes don’t look that bad by themselves. Typically, these schemes would look good if they were run at any other race of the season, but because these schemes get run on throwback weekend, they get bashed as fauxbacks.

After all, throwback weekend doesn’t necessarily have to refer to what was run on the track. Some teams would rather honor its sponsors or its own history instead of trying to find a scheme to reference.

Let’s take a look at my favorite fauxback from each of the three series that will hit the track May 12-14.

Justin Allgaier’s No. 7, BRANDT 70th Anniversary

While Justin Allgaier is not running any sort of throwback to another driver or team, he and sponsor BRANDT will be running a retro car that celebrates the sponsor’s 70th anniversary. This could still be considered a throwback — except it’s a throwback to the sponsor.

Sure, Allgaier and BRANDT could have come together and run a driver throwback. Perhaps the No. 7 Band-Aid car that Michael Waltrip drove when he tumbled down the frontstretch of Daytona International Speedway in 2000. Or maybe even Robby Gordon’s No. 7 SPEED Energy car he ran for a few seasons in the early 2010s — BRANDT has similar colors, it could have worked out.

But it’s BRANDT’s 70th anniversary, and the sponsor, the team, and the driver wanted to recognize that on throwback weekend. And I don’t hate it.

See also
Here Are the 2023 Darlington Throwback Schemes

Bubba Wallace’s No. 1 and Tanner Gray’s No. 15, Red Horse Racing

TRICON Garage fully acknowledges that Bubba Wallace and Tanner Gray will be running fauxbacks, where the numbers on both trucks will be designed to resemble the old numbers in a box that former Truck team Red Horse Racing used to run.

However, these two trucks are just as cool looking as each of the other three trucks for which TRICON will be running actual throwbacks. TRICON decided to have an overarching theme for its team this season, choosing RHR as the team that each of its drivers will be throwing back to.

Dean Thompson‘s No. 5, Corey Heim‘s No. 11 and Taylor Gray‘s No. 17, will all be running actual throwbacks to RHR schemes of the past. TRICON actually changed its logo this week to resemble the old RHR logo, so it makes sense that the team wants to keep with the RHR theme and have the Nos. 1 and 15 participate, despite not finding suitable throwbacks for the trucks.

So, yes, these two individual trucks are fauxbacks, but if you look at the whole theme that TRICON is going for, these two schemes are just as cool as their three teammates. They fit in just as well as the others.

Chris Buescher’s No. 17, Fifth Third Bank

Now for my hot take of the article: This is a very interesting and unique touch to an otherwise normal paint scheme.

This scheme is no different than the one Chris Buescher runs on any given week, except for one thing — the font of the No. 17 has been switched to resemble the old Reiser font that Matt Kenseth ran his entire career with Roush.

This is the textbook definition of a fauxback: taking one retro idea and putting it on an otherwise modern paint scheme. But in recognition of Kenseth’s addition to the 75 Greatest Drivers list, RFK Racing decided to use throwback weekend as an opportunity to pay tribute to the driver who delivered its first championship and won a lot of races for the team.

Along with the change of number font, there is also a decal on Buescher’s C-post that outwardly recognizes Kenseth’s addition to the list.

There are a couple other fauxbacks throughout each of the three races, but these three take the cake. These schemes deserve to be pointed out just as much as any other throwback paint scheme. Sure, they aren’t on par with other throwback schemes, and sure, these schemes don’t resemble any throwback to any particular driver. But that’s OK.

Instead of rejecting fauxbacks because they don’t fit the common theme of a NASCAR throwback, why not embrace fauxbacks as unique touches to throwback weekend? After all, on a weekend with so many tribute schemes and schemes that honor the past, paint schemes have to stand out somehow. The fauxback might just be the way to do that.

They certainly get people talking, that’s for sure.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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Christopher

The throwback weekend has outlived its relevance. NASCAR, in its typical style, beat that horse to death by doing it every year.

Shayne

I don’t know what a lot of the products/sponsors are on the cars these days. I doubt most of the sponsors know either. I’m sure any self-professed marketing genius could explain the value of that.

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