Race Weekend Central

Dropping the Hammer: NASCAR Throwback Judgments

It’s t-minus 10 days until NASCAR’s official Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway begins, and the deluge has finally occurred.

In years past, announcements about which vintage paint schemes we’d see at “The Lady in Black” would start coming as early as March, with some even happening at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

But this season, the opening months were almost barren with nostalgia-based unveilings.

See also
Here Are the 2024 Throwback Paint Schemes

The major exceptions: Josh Berry‘s tribute to Rodney Childers, Chase Elliott donning Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2014-Daytona-500-winning look and Kyle Larson‘s exquisite “all but the sponsorship” ode to Terry “Ice Man” Labonte.

Seriously, how did it take until Year 10 of Throwback Weekend to get the definitive Labonte colors?

The green really pops.

But after weeks of relatively radio silence from, throwback paint schemes were everywhere Tuesday (April 30).

You have Alex Bowman throwing back to Jimmie Johnson‘s heyday for *counts* the second time? (Including when all of Hendrick Motorsports did it for Johnson’s farewell season in 2020).

Even I have to admit, the Hendrick yellow on the No. 48 is easy on the eyes.

Corey LaJoie is throwing back to his ARCA Menards Series East win at Bowman Gray Stadium.

RFK Racing trotted out its latest Castrol throwback.

On Monday (April 29), they teased fans with three options by making it seem like they had a say in the choice between a John Force scheme, a 1990s sports car paint job and Casey Atwood‘s 1999-2000 NASCAR Xfinity Series scheme (the last and only Castrol scheme win in NASCAR until Chris Buescher did it in 2023 at Michigan).

But apparently it was really just Brad Keselowski‘s choice.

Yes, it’s a good-looking car.

However, I’m having trouble mustering up enthusiasm for it.

Mostly because of timing.

This month was the most relevant Atwood has been in the NASCAR hemisphere in decades.

Atwood was the once-heralded Xfinity Series talent who won twice in 1999 and then jumped to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2001 to race for Ray Evernham’s Dodge team. It didn’t last, and he was out of a full-time ride after two seasons.

He last raced in the Xfinity Series for 20 races in 2009.

ESPN’s Marty Smith wrote a feature on him in 2014 titled, “Hindsight haunts Casey Atwood.”

And just last week, the now 43-year-old Atwood was the guest of honor on the Dale Jr. Download.

Now you can’t expect RFK Racing to make a paint scheme decision based on a podcast’s guest list.

And there have been plenty of good retro schemes that originated from non-NASCAR racing series.

But who knows how many more Throwback Weekends there’ll be or how long Castrol will find NASCAR appealing?

See also
Holding a Pretty Wheel: Can NASCAR Stop the Air Blocking?

Get in those NASCAR throwbacks with the actual sponsors when you can!

Which brings us to ….. Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor DeWalt.

*Puts on a smoking jacket and inserts a pipe into mouth*

*Blows bubbles*

Now, DeWalt. Can I call you Dewalt?

Let me be clear up front.

You’re not required to participate in Throwback Weekend.

But it is more fun, right?

I mean, you did just last year.

DeWalt has been in NASCAR for many, many years. Back before half the kids racing around Darlington these days were born *shudders*.

There’s plenty of Matt Kenseth schemes you could have gone with.

Look at that black scheme.

I’ve never even seen that before.

It rocks.

Now, by including the 100 Years logo in the scheme — which, congratulations, you don’t look a day over 75 — you’re acknowledging what weekend it is.

Why not truly embrace the occasion?

That logo would have been fine on a classic DeWalt scheme.

Anyway, I just want to remind you that your mother and I love you and that we’re not mad.

We’re just disappointed.

This is Daniel McFadin’s 11th season covering NASCAR, with six years spent at NBC Sports. This is his fourth year writing columns for Frontstretch. His columns won third place in the National Motorsports Press Association awards for 2021.

About the author

Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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Throwback Weekend is played out. Time to give it a rest.


Either that or have the use real throwback cars. Would be interesting to see how the drivers would be able to manage driving an “older” style car for this race.


I have a hard time calling it a throwback if the original sponsor is not on the car, regardless of the paint scheme. For example, Larson’s car could be considered a throwback, but without the Kellogg’s (sp?) sponsorship on it, it just seems really tacky. Sharp looking colors, but it doesn’t make it a throwback in my opinion.

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