Throughout the years, NASCAR sponsors have used the cars to promote not only their businesses and charitable ties, but also a series of special projects. Movie and cartoon characters — such as Snoopy on this Jeff Gordon car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — have gone for high-speed rides at tracks. Non-points events bring out the gold, silver and super-shiny models of the cars. At times, the panels have marked tragedies within the sport, commemorating those who have been lost. Over the years, NASCAR has featured an interesting array of promotions and tributes. Here's a look at 10 of the most memorable.
NASCAR has always enjoyed strong ties to the military — and those were clear in 2004 when the U.S. military-sponsored NASCAR teams lined up at the Daytona 500. Left to right are the National Guard car driven by Greg Biffle, Marines car driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., Navy car driven by Casey Atwood, Army car driven by Joe Nemechek, Coast Guard car driven by Justin Labonte and Air Force car driven by Ricky Rudd.
Several teams got in the act of joining the Justice League in 2004, with men like Greg Biffle and Ricky Rudd joining the group promoting the superheroes. Wonder Woman stepped in to help with the announcement of the project.
Man in black
In 2006, Dale Earnhardt Jr. marked what would have been his father's birthday by driving a black No. 8 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The Hendrick Motorsports organization was stunned by the loss of 10 friends and family members in a plane crash near Martinsville Speedway in Virginia in 2004. The organization paid tribute to those men and women in the weeks that followed.
In 2004, Hendrick Motorsports gave a nod to the pineapple under the sea, promoting SpongeBob SquarePants (and his friend Patrick) on the cars of Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson as part of a promotion at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
There is perhaps no car as recognizable to fans, old and new, as the Petty blue No. 43 of seven-time champion Richard Petty. While he enjoyed variations on the look, it was that shade that made the 43 well known to fans of all ages throughout the years.
History in the making
In 2010, Dale Earnhardt Jr. delighted fans by driving the No. 3 Wrangler-styled Chevrolet featuring a retro scheme made popular by his dad, the late Dale Earnhardt. Driving the entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, he took it to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway in July 2010.
Love is in the air
When Toyota set out to have fans design their cars, an ad campaign turned into reality. Tough guy Kyle Busch found himself racing a pink car decorated with kitties, puppies and baby seals. And baby horses. And hearts. And rainbows. Busch, noted as one of the most aggressive drivers in the Sprint Cup Series, drove the car at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia.
On Sept. 22, 2001, NASCAR returned to racing for the first time after the tragic events of Sept. 11. The Cup series teams, racing at Dover International Speedway near Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, worked to honor those lost. Ken Schrader's No. 36 was one of many cars designed in tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
In 2000, Peter Max designed a psychedelic pink-hued car for seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt to use in the all-star race. The softer tone certainly didn't hamper The Intimidator's effort that day, though. Earnhardt raced the car to third place, behind winner Dale Jarrett and his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.