Dale's Silver Secret
How Dale Earnhardt changed NASCAR paint schemes with one car.
In modern NASCAR terms, to find a driver sporting various different liveries and paint jobs throughout the season isn't unusual, but back in the sport's heyday of the late 20th century, it was rarer than you'd expect. Drivers would rarely change from their normal sponsored paint jobs unless they just straight-up changed their sponsors, or the company had something different they wanted to advertise. This mentality changed abruptly as NASCAR's favorite bad boy, Dale Earnhardt Sr, rolled his car off the truck for the 1995 Winston All-Star Race in Charlotte, unveiling a sleek, silver Monte Carlo...a drastic change from his infamous black #3.
According to Earnhardt's long-time friend and pit crew member Chocolate Myers, the car was a complete and total surprise to everyone: attendees, officials, and drivers...and even the #3 team themselves. The story goes that when the car had been finished being built, the team was asked to leave the building for the night, and the painters would finish the car for the following day. No one had seen the car since, and no one knew that anything special had been planned, so when the sparkling silver paint saw the light for the first time, complete shock and awe filled the air.
The silver paint job was not a coincidence, however. It was chosen to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Winston Cup sponsorship deal, known as the silver anniversary. The car quickly became known officially as the "Silver Select," though some have called it the "Silver Secret" due to the hushed story surrounding the car's unveiling and the paint scheme, which also just so happened to be an almost complete reverse of Earnhardt's normal black/silver Goodwrench Monte Carlo of the time.
Unfortunately, the silver Goodwrench car never saw victory lane, being crashed out later in the following race. But it didn't need to cross the line in first to seal its legacy...its existence had already done so. Following the car's inception, various driver's immediately started jumping on board the trend of special paint jobs for special races. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and even Earnhardt's own son Dale Jr. would become famous for various special schemes to coincide with important events or anniversaries, extending even beyond the All-Star race festivities. Nowadays, with the inclusion of multi-contract deals, most drivers will go week-to-week sporting different flavors of car, which honestly took away some of the exclusivity of the idea. Luckily, the throwback schemes at Darlington every year keep the special scheme legacy going strong.
This beautiful model of this historic car comes to us courtesy of our old friends Action Collectables as part of their 1/24 scale Elite model line. It's (obviously) no longer in production, but can be found online for a decent price given enough digging. It is, by all means, my favorite of all of Dale's schemes, and is a solid addition to any a NASCAR fan's collection. For those interested, the real Silver Select is currently on display at RCR's headquarters in North Carolina, a place I highly recommend visiting. It's not often you get to see a car that made such a big shift in the sport during its heyday in the flesh.