The Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway has become the premier race of the season for the CARS Tour. Now in its third year, the Throwback 276 is a reminder of racing’s past and where the sport has transgressed over the last 70 years. Each year, Late Model cars sport throwback paint schemes, while fans and drivers show up in their favorite throwback apparel.
CARS Super Late Model Tour driver Molly Helumth joined Speed51.com’s The Morning Bullring to talk about her throwback scheme for this weekend’s Throwback 276. She will be taking a car with the Dale Earnhardt “Peter Max” paint scheme that he drove in the 2000 Winston at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Helmuth originally had a different idea in mind when it came to what paint scheme to run this weekend, but later changed her mind. The idea for the Peter Max scheme came from a sponsor, and she saw it as an opportunity for sponsor GXS Wraps to showcase their work.
“Last year we did the Alan Kulwicki throwback scheme and we took a black car and turned it white and it was really cool and it definitely honored Alan, so this year we wanted to do something different and better that kept us standing out from the competition,” Helmuth told Speed51.com. “At first when I was thinking, I thought how cool it would be to do a Janet Guthrie scheme because there aren’t too many females that run the CARS Tour and it probably won’t be done unless there’s another female that runs the whole series, so I thought it would be cool to throw it back to her. It just wasn’t a wow factor, I just thought it would be something cool to do it. But then GXS wraps came and said hey, I want to do the Peter Max car and I was like if he wants to take it on, then go for it. It came out so rad, the video just doesn’t do it justice.”
Originally from Seattle, Washington, Helmuth moved east to North Carolina last year as she continued her rookie year in the CARS Super Late Model Tour. The Throwback 276 has become one of her favorite events of the season and the opportunities to drive famous paint schemes and connect with new people makes it one to not miss.
“It’s become a prestigious event and there’s a lot of series that try to do throwback races but there’s just not a lot of participation,” she said. “The CARS Tour just does a great job of getting a majority to participate. It’s not just about the race cars, last year was my first year in the CARS Tour throwback race and people were dressing up, officials were dressing up, it’s really like a big, huge event and people come together and it’s more like a talking factor that brings people together in that aspect. People that you normally don’t talk to, they come up to you and talk to you about your race car and paint scheme and why you chose it. It’s kind of cool, it brings everyone together and gives them a different feel for that weekend.”
Helmuth looks as the event as a chance to honor the top drivers from the past and to reconnect with fans of the driver whose scheme is being represented.
“it’s really, really cool, like last year running Alan Kulwicki’s scheme and being a part of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, I felt like there was a lot of pressure but it really is kind of cool to be like this is a one-off race and see what we can do,” she added. “It’s hard for somebody like me as a female, it’s just a very different feel from Dale Sr to me, it’s just different. Nobody can be another Dale Sr. There’s those diehard fans that love the paint scheme, I don’t know if they would feel any different if I’m running it. I hope they don’t, I just want to honor him and do something cool for my sponsors.
Along with her racing career, Helmuth has become increasingly active in the digital media world with her company, 9D Creative. When not racing, she is still at the track producing videos for other drivers and Speed51. She talked about her work with 9D Creative and how it impacts her on and off the track.
“I’ve always been somebody that likes to juggle and multitask and be stressed,” she said. “It’s probably weird, I like having all these different things to juggle. I think being the owner of 9D Creative and producing this business over the last few months, it shows people that I normally don’t talk to or people I do talk to, they see a different side of me compared to the racing. They see I’m a hard worker and that I’ve got a creative mind. I’ve always done these different things like videos and websites and stuff for my racing and a lot of people didn’t see or care that was really me doing all that behind my racing. It’s hard to balance but I love it. Sometimes I’m still involved in racing and not as much with 9D and other times it’s the other way around. It’s nothing really new but it keeps me busy and I like being busy.”
Looking forward to this weekend’s Throwback 276, Helmuth does not feel any added pressure with driving a Dale Earnhardt throwback paint scheme on top of what she already puts on herself. Admittedly not a fan of the race track due to struggles one year ago, she is ready to go back to the historic racetrack after a strong showing at April’s Easter Bunny 150.
“There’s not really any pressure to perform in it, I go out there and do my best every single race,” she stated. “We’ve been running a lot better this year at Hickory. Last year I hated Hickory, but in the Easter Bunny, we were fastest in practice all weekend long so that was kind of cool. We’re going to be testing tonight and get us ready for it so hopefully it’s a little bit better than testing in the daytime. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself just to run a paint scheme because I put pressure every single race on myself just to be good for my fans, my sponsors, my family, and my friends.”
Speed51.com will have more coverage of the CARS Tour Throwback 276 throughout the week, including stories, exclusive videos and more.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Molly Helmuth Facebook