Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveils throwback paint scheme for “Gray Ghost”

President Chip Wile, Director of Sports Marketing for Nationwide Jim McCoy, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Photo courtesy of Harrelson Photography for Darlington Raceway. Darlington Raceway

President Chip Wile, Director of Sports Marketing for Nationwide Jim McCoy, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Photo courtesy of Harrelson Photography for Darlington Raceway. Darlington Raceway

By Jana E. Pye, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

Dale Earnhardt Jr. arrived at the Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, April 13 to unveil the new paint scheme for the No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Gray Ghost Chevrolet SS that he will drive in the Southern 500 during Labor Day weekend in September. The 2016 throwback car design honors Buddy Baker’s No. 28 Gray Ghost paint scheme, which was made famous by Baker when he won the 1980 Daytona 500.

“I’m glad that Darlington is here,” said Earnhardt. “It’s a great place to come and enjoy history and I tank them for creating the throwback weekend to give us the opportunities to do these things. I love doing old paint schemes, and different paint schemes, and this is a definite opportunity that is marked on the calendar for every year for every team to get involved in. I hope that when people prepare for Darlington, the team owners and drivers and crew prepare for Darlington, they bring their history with them and bring their paint schemes back year after year.”

Earnhardt told media that he had a very integral part of the paint scheme for this car.

“I like the orange, orange is my favorite color, so I think it makes a good looking car.”

He decided to wear a white suit; his team is still deciding on their attire.

Earnhardt stressed how much it means to the driver to be part of the look of the car. “When I don’t like the paint job, I really don’t feel like driving it. I really like this one.”

Chip Wile was on hand for the unveiling, and shared his excitement for the upcoming Southern 500.

“Its really helped bring Darlington back to the forefront of every conversation that NASCAR is having right now,” said Wile. “We are on the NASCAR Marketing Calendar, which is a huge deal. We’ve won every big award that NASCAR gives out, and it truly is because of the team here at Darlington. These guys, most of the folks have been working here for 20 plus years, and they deserve this credit. And it is really great for us to be one of the first 10 pole races now that people get on looking forward to. We are here in April and we are talking about a race in September. That means that we are doing our jobs and I can’t say enough about the group of people who come here to work every day.”

Earnhardt has been very supportive of the throwback theme, and even gave his tips to the track’s team on ways to make the event even better.

“When you get the most popular driver giving you advice on what works, certainly that helps us continue to be successful,” continued Wile. “With the help of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the other drivers, we know we are going to be successful again this year.”

The Bojangles’ Southern 500 throwback theme will highlight pioneers and legends from the sport, celebrating drivers from 1975 to 1984. “The concert will be an iconic band from that era. Everything we did last year, we will continue to build on that good foundation in the next five to ten years.”

As past NASCAR icons like Kyle Petty embraced the throwback theme by wearing wide lapels and bell-bottoms, hopes are that more will follow suit this year.

“We can do a better job promoting people to dress up,” continued Wile. “With this being a new concept, last year it was hard to visualize. Now that they have seen it, I think you’ll see more people playing the part on the team side and the drivers getting into the era, and you’ll see it with media folks and the fans. It’s a fun concept. One of the greatest things about our sort is that everyone tries to one up each other; this year you’ll see even more of it.”

Author: Duane Childers

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