‘Days of Thunder’-inspired car won’t see Victory Lane
The green-and-yellow race car took the lead after four laps. And inside the vehicle, the driver delivered his line just on time.
Kurt Busch shouted: “I’m dropping the hammer!”
During a caution period midway through the race, Busch and his team reenacted movie scenes over the radio, wearing throwback uniforms complete with mesh-back ball hats, and even ate ice cream sandwiches. Busch and Phoenix Racing took full use of their paint scheme, which was inspired by “Days of Thunder,” the 1990 cult classic starring Tom Cruise as a NASCAR driver, and nearly delivered a Hollywood ending on equal with that of the film.
Busch finished fourth in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, losing his drafting partner on the final restart before hooking up with with Elliott Sadler as the field rushed to the finish line. But coming up just short of a repeat victory — Busch won the same race last year with the same team — didn’t seem to damper Busch’s enthusiasm for the event.
“It was a lot of fun,” Busch said on pit road after the race. “I almost had to smack myself and go, ‘Remember, this is a race, and keep this serious.’ But we gave ourselves enough time to zone into what the focus needed to be with the car, and then to zone out and have some fun. It was just great to have the banter back and forth, and even have Dr. Lewicki come on and give me advice.”
That’s Busch’s girlfriend Patricia Driscoll, speaking a few lines from the film’s Nicole Kidman character. Driscoll is also the president of the Armed Forces Foundation, which used the color scheme to raise awareness of brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome, both of which are conditions that have affected returning service members and two of the movie’s injured drivers.
The atmosphere over team radio, on the other hand, was joyful and relaxed for the most part. From the start, spotter Steve Barkdoll referred to Busch as “Cole Trickle” – the character played by Cruise — and crew chief Nick Harrison regularly exchanged famous lines from the film with his driver.
“Harry, we’re not going any faster!” Busch intoned at one point. “Everybody else is going slower!”
Harrison, voicing the lines of fictional crew chief Harry Hogge, was up to the task. “No, he didn’t slam you, he didn’t bump you, he didn’t nudge you,” he said later. “He rubbed you. And rubbin’, son, is racin.’”
Mind you, much of this happened while the race was still going on.
Turns out both Busch and Harrison had cheat sheets with some lines from the film scribbled down. “But most of it,” Busch added, “was from the love of the movie.”
Added Harrison: “We studied a little, but we still had cheat sheets. We’re racers, we’re not actors. But it was fun to try to act like one.”
The project was conceived by Busch and carried out with the help of Rick Hendrick, who supplies engines to James Finch’s Phoenix team and also owns the City Chevrolet store in Charlotte, which is the sponsor of Trickle’s race car in the film. Busch and Driscoll opted for classic uniforms after Hendrick provided his OK for the logos to be used. The Armed Forces Foundation brought parched ice cream sandwiches so that team members may enjoy a mid-race snack like the characters in the movie.
There was a race to win, and Busch was in it for the most of the night. He had good luck drafting with his younger brother Kyle — whose Camping World Truck Series nickname, Rowdy, comes from a character in the movie — and eventual victor Matt Kenseth early in the event. The No. 1 team planned to pick with Nationwide Series leader Regan Smith despite a red flag for a major crash that knocked the wind out of driver Jason White.
It didn’t work out. “Everybody made plans under the red flag the way (NASCAR) called the lineup out, and then they changed it come to one to go. So we kind of lost our partner who we wanted to run with,” Harrison said. “We still had a shot to get up there and had a good strong run, fourth, and had a lot of fun with the whole program. We’ve run all three plate races with Kurt this year, and had shots to win all of them.”
Potential combinations with Justin Allgaier and Kyle Larson also didn’t pan out. So Busch went looking for Sadler, a Nationwide regular who he pushed to third place and a $100,000 prize under the circuit’s Dash 4 Cash program.
“I was by myself as we crossed the white,” Sadler said. “… I look and I see ol‘ Cole Trickle coming. … He did a great job. He pushed me straight, and we were able to stay connected, because we were three-wide, and make it back to the start-finish line.”
Trickle, of course, wins the big Daytona race at the end of the film. The No. 1 team did not have a Hollywood ending on Saturday night, but it was also impossible to find any true disappointment.
“You win some, you lose some,” Harrison said. “We still ran strong all night, and I got to eat ice cream on TV. It was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs. You don’t get to have a lot of fun as hard as we work and as much as we travel these days. But running the ‘Days of Thunder’ paint scheme and Mr. Hendrick and Finch letting us do it, and having Cole Trickle behind the wheel and me getting to be Harry, it was a lot of fun.”
Inspired by the character ‘Cole Trickle’ from the movie ‘Days of Thunder’, we introduce ‘Cole Trickle Uniform’ in our Nascar racing suits collection:
The uniforms of Nascar racing drivers are currently available at the following websites for a reasonable price: