While a number of crew chiefs and spotters in NASCAR’s top three series have spent time behind the wheel, not many can say that one of their own paint schemes from their time as a driver is returning to the track.
However Greg Ives, crew chief for Alex Bowman, can say that as his driver, and sponsor Ally surprised Ives with a throwback paint scheme of Ives’ time as a late model driver.
— Greg Ives (@Ives_Greg) April 20, 2021
“I was more than surprised; I was practically speechless there for a little bit,” Ives said. “I get emotional, maybe I’m a sentimental guy. I like seeing things classic and old school. I never necessarily thought that was going to be a tribute to me or one of my paint schemes on the car, that’s why I never really thought about it, never thought that was going to be an opportunity to happen. So, when I did see it, initially it shocked me back to that moment when I first saw the paint scheme in 1998. Sometimes, the paint scheme picks you.”
Bowman claimed his goal was to get an emotional reaction out of Ives, to which he and Ally succeeded.
“I think it means a lot to Greg, and it’s really cool for Ally to let me steer the ship on it a little bit,” Bowman said. “Greg definitely had some interesting looking late models, so we’re going to be styling in Darington.”
According to Bowman, Ives had been asking about the throwback for Darlington recently, but no plans were concrete. Following the reveal, his family was ready to see his reaction via Zoom.
“This was not even a blip on the radar,” Ives said. “This was something that was truly surprising. Alex, my wife, (car chief) Austin (Konetski), whoever else was in on this, led me to believe that none of this was happening and maybe I led myself to believe that none of this was happening, as well.”
The solid color No. 31 for Ives during his time as a driver in the 1990s came from Jim Pagel, a driver who passed away in a crash in 1997. It couldn’t be more fitting for Bowman to honor Ives, and for Ives to honor Pagel.
“I try to stay humble in my career and how I grew up,” Ives said. “To think somebody would want my paint scheme in honor of Jim Pagel was something that wasn’t even thought of. A paint scheme sometimes has more meaning than just selling a sponsor or looking good on a racetrack. Sometimes in memory and understanding those who lost their life to give us this great sport that we have today.”
To add some more flair to the throwback authenticity, Bowman will also wear a similarly designed firesuit that Ives had worn during his time as a driver.
“He really started on the bottom end of the totem pole at Hendrick Motorsports and worked his way all the way up,” Bowman said. “Obviously, he was a successful late model driver, but then has been a really successful engineer and crew chief and all the above. I think it’s really neat, and definitely really special. He’s a done a lot for me, so it’s cool to kind of be able to point something back at him.”
Fans can see the No. 48 Camaro ZL1 1LE hit the track on Sunday, May 9th at 3:30 PM EST on FOX and the FOX Sports app.