Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress Racing helped pave the way for the special paint scheme in NASCAR when they switched the traditional black No. 3 to silver for the 1995 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The design, known as the “Quicksilver Car,” honored the silver anniversary of R.J. Reynolds’ NASCAR sponsorship at the time, and opened the door for more merchandise and cross-promotion opportunities, a trend that continues to this very day.
Earnhardt’s unprecedented change of paint schemes in 1995 set the tone for five additional All-Star designs. And although he never won with any of them, the paint schemes are still remembered.
Earnhardt’s next All-Star car honored the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games held in 1996 in Atlanta. The red, white and blue design with silver threes on the sides finished third.
In 1997, Earnhardt became even more of a household name when he became the first NASCAR driver to appear on a box of Wheaties. Renowned motorsports artist Sam Bass helped bring that honor to the track when he designed the No. 3 Chevrolet in orange to represent a Wheaties box. That car, which was chassis No. 29, finished fourth.
Bass Pro Shops appeared on Earnhardt’s car in the 1998 All-Star Race. Before being painted in gold and black colors for Bass Pro, Earnhardt won in the fall of 1995 at Martinsville Speedway with the car. His 19th-place finish in the All-Star Race with the Bass Pro colors was his worst in the six-year span of running specially designed cars in the All-Star Race. The finish came after Earnhardt was caught up in accident when another car’s engine blew in front of him.
Earnhardt turned back the clock in 1999 when he brought back the Wrangler colors he made famous in the 1980’s. He finished fourth, but it was another race in which the chassis was made famous. Back in the traditional black colors, Earnhardt won in chassis No. 47 later that season at Bristol, when he spun Terry Labonte out on the last lap. He would go on to make the term “rattle his cage” famous in Victory Lane.
In 2000, Earnhardt fans witnessed something they probably weren’t expecting when “The Intimidator” ran a multi-color car that included a mixture of yellow, purple and pink. That car, designed by pop artist Peter Max, wasn’t a particular favorite for Earnhardt. But he would go on to race the car (chassis No. 61) and finish third after sustaining damage in an early wreck. More importantly, Earnhardt celebrated in Victory Lane later that night with his son, Dale Jr.