Pre-"NAPA Know How"
Over the years, NAPA ads have become the most common and sometimes completely mind bending ads during a Sunday race (like you’ve never involuntarily blurted out “N-N-N-NAPA Know How!”). This spot from 2003 kind of comes off a little rough on Mikey, but what’s more shocking is to actually see Teresa Earnhardt.
Dick Trickle: 0-243
During NASCAR’s ascension to national prominence in the 1990s, one of the keys to its success was getting a mention during ESPN’s SportsCenter, where Dan Patrick always made a point to let you know where Dick Trickle finished. Another key was self-deprecating humor, as Dick proves in this NAPA spot.
Domo arigato, Mr. Kenseth
What’s this? Another NASCAR commercial with a Wisconsin racing hero? Matt Kenseth won the last Winston Cup in 2003, and was featured in this spot for Nextel. This ad is not only funny — as the knock on Kenseth at the time was that he was void of personality (not true) — but accurate, considering how Kenseth can still get out of 130-degree car after four hours and talk at Mach 2 without taking a breath. If only they had the foresight to bank this one for Jimmie Johnson … they really could have had some fun with it.
ESPN had a slew of great NASCAR spots during the 1998 season with its “NASCAR Ride Along Program.” This one with Richard and Kyle Petty was one of the best, with The King offering some backseat driving for Kyle. For some reason, I have a feeling these conversations actually did take place on the way back to Level Cross.
Toyota Comes to Cup
When Toyota came to the Cup Series in 2007, it faced a bit of an uphill battle. It was the first time since the 1950s that a foreign automaker had competed in NASCAR’s premier division. Toyota had to hit it right and knew it should tread lightly to gain fan acceptance and prevent an outright revolt – which appears to have happened with these R/C cars. Note Tony Stewart’s ode to Vince Neil with that hair.
Now They Throw the Flag!
Another one of the “NASCAR Ride Along Program” spots, this one featuring Keyshawn Johnson and Mark Martin. These two are either great actors or actually got along very well.
This Gatorade ad from 2003 featured 2002’s Rookie of the Year runner-up and the Winston Cup runner-up from the same season. Mark Martin looks more “D-FENS” from the movie “Falling Down” than a driver’s training instructor (and drives like him too). This would be the second time in a few months that Martin would drive into the side of Jimmie Johnson, as his power steering locked up on the pace lap of the fall Talladega race the season before, eventually costing Martin the title. Looks like Jimmie rebounded OK, though. As fair and gentlemanly as Martin has been throughout his career, I’ve always feared he’d snap one day and do this for real.
This commercial with Jeremy Mayfield lives on in Mopar lore as one of the greatest ads ever. Kind of ironic that she’s pouring a bunch of chemicals in a tub … something that Jeremy would apparently develop an affinity for in later years. Jeremy’s date in this one is Candice Michelle, who would later go on to GoDaddy.com and WWE fame. She actually slides through the window like a champ. Oh yeah.