by Tom Jensen May 04, 2022
A look back at some of the best Throwback Weekend paint schemes from historic Darlington Raceway.
It’s almost time for one of the most fun events in NASCAR, Darlington Raceway’s Throwback Weekend, which culminates on Mother’s Day with the running of the Goodyear 400 premier series race.
With the eighth edition of Throwback Weekend upon us, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of the more interesting special paint schemes of the first seven years of this event.
With that in mind, here are 14 of our favorites, two from each year.
For the 2015 Southern 500, Brad Keselowski paid tribute to NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison (2011) with a Miller paint scheme similar to the one Allison campaigned when he won the 1983 premier series championship. Driving a Ford owned by Roger Penske (2019), Keselowski led a race-high 190 laps before finishing second to Carl Edwards. Bobby Allison's 1983 championship car is on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
Less than a month after the passing of Buddy Baker (2020), the Hall of Famer was paid tribute to by Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing, who clad their Toyota Camry in a paint scheme like Baker’s team owner, Bud Moore (2011) ran on his Fords in the mid-1970s. Earlier in his career, Baker won the 1970 Southern 500 driving for another Hall of Famer, Cotton Owens (2013).
The NASCAR Hall of Fame hosted two of its inductees – one past and one future – in August 2016, when Tony Stewart (2020) unveiled his tribute to Bobby Allison (2011). Allison popularized the gold-over-red scheme in the early 1970s, when Coca-Cola was his sponsor. Stewart used those same colors at Darlington in 2016 on his Stewart-Haas Racing entry.
One of NASCAR’s most recognizable paint schemes was the black and silver “Gray Ghost” Oldsmobile that Buddy Baker (2020) won the 1980 Daytona 500 with, setting a speed record that stands to this day. Hendrick Motorsports reprised those colors on the No. 88 Chevrolet that Jeff Gordon (2019) drove in the 2016 Southern 500 while Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2021) was out with a concussion.
The color combination of Petty Blue and STP Day-Glo Red made famous by Richard Petty (2010) in the mid-1970s were brought back in a big way for the 2017 Throwback Weekend. That was fitting given that Petty was the car owner of the No. 43 Ford driven in the Southern 500 by veteran Aric Almirola, who finished 20th in the race.
A huge fan favorite in his native South Carolina and one of only two drivers to win three consecutive premier series championships, Cale Yarborough’s (2012) late 1970s Busch Beer paint scheme was replicated on the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Kevin Harvick for the 2017 Southern 500.
In the 2018 Southern 500, the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford recalled the team’s best-known colors, red over white, just like David Pearson (2011) drove during the 1970s, when the team was a threat to win most every weekend. This time, it was Paul Menard behind the wheel.
The original “Rainbow Warriors” paint scheme that Jeff Gordon (2019) made famous in the 1990s when he won three of his four premier series championships, was revisited on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Gordon’s successor, William Byron.
Old school Snickers colors from 1990 replaced the traditional M&M’s brand on Kyle Busch’s No. 18 in the 2019 Southern 500. Busch finished third in the race, two spots behind his teammate Erik Jones, who like Busch was driving a Toyota fielded by Hall of Fame team owner Joe Gibbs (2020).
In a somewhat unusual move, Joey Logano’s Team Penske Ford carried a retro Pennzoil paint scheme that Kevin Harvick used when he won the 2007 Daytona 500 while driving a Chevrolet for Richard Childress (2017). Logano’s team owner, Roger Penske, was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Famer earlier in 2019.
In a unique and clever design, Jimmie Johnson paid tribute to his two fellow seven-time premier series champions Richard Petty (2010) and Dale Earnhardt (2010) with a paint scheme that highlighted Earnhardt on the sides and Petty on the hood, roof and trunk.
Another nod to Bobby Allison came from Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford owned by Roger Penske (2019). In the 2020 Southern 500, Logano’s Ford was decked out in the read and white colors that Allison carried back in 1987 when he drove for Stavola Brothers Racing.
Now here’s something out of the ordinary for Throwback Weekend: Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing carried the same basic white scheme on Harvick’s rookie car in 2001, when he drove a Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Instead of 2001 sponsor GM Goodwrench, Harvick’s Darlington car was sponsored by Mobil 1.
Back in 1987, Neil Bonnett drove Pontiacs sponsored by Valvoline and fielded by Rahmoc Enterprises. For the 2021 Darlington Throwback Weekend, William Byron’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet carried the same white, blue and red colors that Bonnett helped popularize in his heyday.