CONCORD, N.C. – William Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will feature a throwback scheme honoring four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon during the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Sept. 2.
Byron, the current driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that Gordon drove in all but eight of his 805 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, will honor Gordon with a rainbow paint scheme that is nearly identical to the scheme that appeared on Gordon’s car during the early portion of his career.
That rainbow paint scheme, featuring sponsorship from DuPont Performance Coatings, became a calling card for Gordon, who went on to win 93 races and four championships in his lengthy NASCAR career.
Carlyle Group acquired DuPont Performance Coatings in 2013 and the company was rebranded as Axalta Coatings Systems. The company has since served as a sponsor of both Gordon and Byron and will again appear as the primary sponsor of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during the Southern 500.
The original scheme was designed by Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist, and Bass also helped design and reveal Byron’s throwback paint scheme on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“The first time I drove that paint scheme was November of ’92 at Atlanta, and then of course (during) my rookie season in ’93,” Gordon said. “It certainly changed my life as a race car driver to come to Hendrick Motorsports and having, now looking back on it, a paint scheme that was so iconic.
“I have conversations with long-time fans that say I became a fan because of this paint scheme,” Gordon continued. “We had some great success on the track. William ought to feel pretty good about that.”
Byron, the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and a rookie in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, said honoring Gordon with his throwback scheme was a natural choice.
“It’s really special to have that paint scheme,” said Byron. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully we can bring it good success at Darlington. It obviously looks amazing.
“Growing up as a kid and watching Jeff in that car, there’s a lot of memories there and some similarities in our age and the time we started (racing), so hopefully I can carry that on.”
Bass got the opportunity to design Gordon’s original rainbow paint scheme after a chance meeting with Gordon’s former crew chief Ray Evernham.
“Ray Evernham came over to my shop looking for a birthday present for Jeff,” Bass recalled. “He picked out a print and he was getting ready to leave and he wanted to pay me for it and I said, ‘No, I don’t want your money. I want you to give me a shot to design the race car for Jeff Gordon.’
“I didn’t really think he would do it but he called me back in a couple of weeks and said ‘Hey, you’ve got a shot.’”
The rest, as they say, is history.