Sports Collecting: All-Time Most Collectible Athletes in Hockey, NASCAR, & Golf

By JEFF FIGLER
Autograph May 2010 [Read more…]

Collecting NASCAR wrecks…..on a photo!

Even the most die-hard NASCAR fan ( you know, the guys like me who travel to the race tracks to see amazing side-by-side racing ) will tell you that one of the most exciting aspects of every race week-end is the looming danger of a major wreck. These stunning wrecks are commonly known as “The Big One” within the sport. However, “The Big One” doesn’t actually have to be “BIG” to be memorable. It just needs to involve these three factors.

1. A fast car being  hit, slammed, bombed, or slightly touched by another car that’s racing only inches away at speeds of around 200mph.

2. Lift-Off! The out of control car’s wheels leaves the surface of the race track. This makes the several ton car both a missile and a flying obstacle that the other drivers must avoid.

3. No matter how bad the car is damaged, the driver MUST walk away from the wreck un-hurt. These wrecks are NOT a fun thing to witness if a driver is hurt.

Once you have all three factors in place. BOOM! you have NASCAR history.  One of the fun sub-set categories of NASCAR autograph collecting is trying to collect photos of these wrecks that are signed by the driver of the “flying” car.

Here are a few examples of  some of the more popular wrecks captured on signed 8×10 photos.

Darrell Waltrip:In 27 years of racing in the top levels of NASCAR, D.W. had his share of wrecks. Including a 1990 wreck at Daytona that broke his leg. However, this 1991 Daytona wreck presented an amazing photo opportunity. This car now rests in the Daytona USA museum.  One thing to notice is how Darrell’s arm is sticking out of the car’s roof. This shows how the G-forces inside the car leave the driver unable to control his body.

Darrell Waltrip Wreck

2009 had it’s share of major wrecks as the best drivers in NASCAR battled hard for the win and the 10 extra championship points that were awarded to the winner of each race.

1st, Joey Logano took to the air at Dover. As you can see, his flying car became a mid-air wall for other cars.

Joey Logano wrecks at Dover

in 2009 Talladega, AL was a demolition derby of sorts. This track has always showcased some amazing wrecks. However, in 2009, the track struck back hard at these drivers.

Mark Martin:This wreck happened as Mark was in a heated battle with Jimmie Johnson for the NACAR sprint Cup Championship.

Mark Martin Wrecks at Talladega. 2009

Ryan Newman: In the same race, the popular driver for the U.S. ARMY turned his race car into a fighter Jet.

Ryan Newman Wrecks at Talladega. 2009

The most spectacular wreck of not only 2009, but also one of the most amazing and frightening wrecks in NASCAR history involved three drivers, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, & Brad Keselowski. This wreck occurred as the three drivers were fighting for the race wiin. Just mere feet from the finish line, the rookie Brad Keselowski ran into the Race Leader Carl Edwards ( who tried to block Brad’s oncoming car ). The result was a fabulous wreck. Carl’s car went airborne, Hit Ryan Newman’s car, then went into the safety fence that separates the fans from the on-track action. Even though the fence did it’s job and kept the car from flying into the stands, several fans were injured by debris. Brad Keselowski ended up winning his 1st Sprint Cup race while Carl Edwards climbed from his car and ran across the finish line on foot ( to the cheer of the crowd ).  Here are some signed images from the wreck.

Carl Edwards Wrecks at Talladega. 2009

Carl Edwards Climbs from his Wrecked Claritin Car.

These amazing wrecks can happen at any time, to any driver. Some of the top names in the sport have had their wild rides through the air. Including “The King” Richard Petty.

Richard Petty wrecks #1

Richard Petty Wrecks #2

Richard Petty Wrecks #3

So, while none of us want to see a driver’s safety put into danger. This fun category of NASCAR Autographs is fun and rewarding to collect. May times, the drivers will comment about the wreck when they are signing the photos. So, you get to capture a moment with the drivers as well as walk away with a cool collectible.

Next, I will discuss the catagory of collecting autographed  race win photos.

The images shown here are the personal property of Brandon Mysinger and may not be used without permission.

Sports Collecting: Most Collectible Current Athletes in Hockey, NASCAR & Golf

By JEFF FIGLER
Autograph March 2010

[Read more…]

DALE EARNHARDT JR: Signing habits & Signature variations

As the 2010 NASCAR season opens this month, I wanted to take time to focus on NASCAR”S multi-time most popular driver and the true face of the sport, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Being the most popular driver in the world”s 2nd most watched sport means that fans clamor for your autograph at every turn. thankfully, Dale Earnhardt Jr is a NASCAR driver. That means that Autographs are a way of life for him.

Dale Jr has ALWAYS been one of the sports best signers. He has litterally signed THOUSANDS of autographs each year since the time that he was a pre-teen. Dale Jr and I are the same age. I have grown up seeing him grow up in this sport. Autographs were just something that not only comes with the sport, it comes with the name Earnhardt.

For many years, if you met Dale Jr at a track or event, you were rewarded with a very nice full signature autograph like this

Early Full Dale Jr signature

This perfect type of full signature autograph was common from the 1980″s until 1998. At that time, Almost overnight, Dale made a stunning change to his signature. What was a fully signed signature, was shortened into this:

Dale’s shortened signature in 1998

This change was one of efficiency, Dale was now driving in the NASCAR Nationwide Series ( then known as the Busch series ). This series meant that Dale was signing hundreds to thousands of autographs each week due to  sponsorship obligations of autograph appearances mixed with track side signings. Dale simply had to change his signature to keep up with the volumes of the demands.

Dale carried this signature variation into the NASCAR Sprint Cup series ( then known as the Winston Cup Series) in 1999. An example of this is here:

1999 Winston Cup signature

Dale maintained this type of signature with slight variations until 2003.  In 2003, Dale literally added a new loop to his signature, What once was a signature that ended with a pronounced R in the name JR, now turned into a reverse loop to the left such as this

Dale Jr signature showcasing the reverse loop in JR

This loop is a variation with a life of it”s own. Sometimes, it is short, sometimes long. Sometimes it flows straight across the signature, sometimes it has an upward angle to it. And sometimes, The signature ends with no loop sich as these signed photos.

Signature with no loop

No loop #2

No loop #3

This signature is mostly what Dale has signed with from 1993 until now in 2010. Even though the signatiure is mostly the same pattern, there are MANY variations. Here are a few perfectly signed items  from 2008 & 2009

2008 Mountain Dew

2009 NAVY Hero Card

2009 AMP 8×10

2008 AMP Hero Card

The previous examples of Dale”s signature showcase very nice signatures with perfect flow and spacing. However, One of the pitfalls of collecting NASCAR autographs is that the drivers are always in a hurry as they rush from spot to spot on a race week-end. Even though they are in a hurry and very busy, drivers like Dale Jr still sign everything that they can. However, this hectic schedule makes for rushed / sloppy signatures. The following images showcase a few of the rushed patterns of Dale”s autograph.

2008 Rushed signature

2008 Rushed Signature

2009 Rushed Signature #1

2009 Rushed signature #2

2009 Rushed signature #3

2009 Rushed signature #4

2009 Rushed signature #5

2009 Rushed signature #6

As you can see, obtaining track side autographs from Dale Jr is a  good way to build a nice autograph collection. Dale is known to take time out of his schedule whenever possible to sign for fans such as he is here at Bristol, TN

Dale signing at Bristol

Now that the 2010 racing season is here, Dale Jr is already back to his autograph signing ways. There are already new products to collect and get signed like the 2010 AMP and National Guard die Cast cars and the 2010 Hero Cards.  Here are two items signed during the 2010 Daytona 500 race week activities.

2010 AMP Hero Card

2010 AMP 1:24 scale Die-cast car

Remember, Dale Jr has also offered official holograms on items that are signed at Dale Jr foundation events and for select retailers. While the holograms are a good way to ensure you are buying an officially signed item, they are NOT given out at EVERY autograph event, nor are they applied to items that are signed at the race track. For more information about these holograms, visit the Autograph Magazine live website and read my blog here : http://live.autographmagazine.com/profiles/blogs/nascar-driver-autograph

Look for a more detailed year by year signature studies from me of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Darrell Waltrip, and others coming soon to the magazine and this site.

Each image shown is my personal property and may not be copied or used by anyone. for more information or permission to use these images please contact me directly at racingauthentication@yahoo.com

Kevin Harvick’s Fan Club Gathering

By SCOTT VOISIN

— Autograph February 2009

Kevin Harvick with Sharpies in hands at his seventh annual Fan Club gathering in North carolina in October 2008

Of all the professional sports, nascar is arguably the one that inspires the most passion and loyalty among its fans. With drivers like Kevin Harvick to root for, it’s easy to see why.

Harvick’s success story was born from tragedy. He entered the NASCAR Cup series in 2001 after Dale Earnhardt was killed in a wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Having earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2000’s Busch Series, Harvick was hand-picked by car owner Richard Childress to replace the legendary driver. With Earnhardt’s shadow looming large over the newcomer, Harvick earned immediate respect—and fans. He won his first race in just his third start. But that was only the beginning.

Table of items waiting for Harvick's autograph

Since then, Harvick has compiled an impressive resume both on and off the track. He has won two Busch Series championships, has victories at the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 and he started Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI), an organization where he and his wife, DeLana, are the owners of vehicles in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

As his accomplishments grew, so did his fan base, which led to the creation of the Kevin Harvick Fan Club (www.kevinharvick.com). One of the many perks of membership is the opportunity to meet Kevin in person and obtain an autograph at the annual Fan Club Gathering in North Carolina. While other drivers restrict the number of fans that attend their events, Harvick welcomes each and every one of his members with open arms and a Sharpie in hand. For those who can’t make the party, Harvick gladly signs items through the mail and at the racetrack, ensuring that his faithful supporters leave happy.

Table of items waiting for Harvick's autograph

Harvick’s seventh annual Fan Club Gathering was held this past October, and although rain fell constantly during the chilly evening, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the huge crowd who showed up to meet Kevin and DeLana. Afterward, Kevin took a few minutes for an exclusive interview with Autograph.

Scott Voisin: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?

Kevin Harvick: I’ve signed many cool and interesting things in my lifetime. If I had to pick one it would probably be someone’s leg, shoulder or arm, which they would get turned into a tattoo.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?

A birth certificate. The weird part about the birth certificate is that the boy’s parents named him after me.

When you’re at the track getting ready for a race, is it distracting dealing with autograph seekers?

Hat signed by Delana and Kevin Harvick

I usually just sign while I walk through the garage area, and I usually always sign for kids or anyone that walks beside me while I try to get where I’m going. I don’t sign autographs when the time isn’t right. For example, when I’m talking with Todd Berrier, my crew chief, about the car or when I’m getting ready to get behind the wheel of the car. I feel those are inappropriate times to seek autographs as I’m concentrating on my job.

Is it frustrating to be asked during your off time or do you just accept it as part of the job?

I do get approached while out in public, but that’s part of being a professional athlete. I don’t mind signing an autograph or two for the people who are nice and wait until after I’m done eating or shopping.

A lot of drivers’ fan clubs hold a lottery for fans to attend an event, yet you invite everyone in your club to come out. What made you decide on opening your party to every single member?I don’t think it would be right to hold someone back who is a fan club member. We are very fan-friendly here at KHI. We’ve been doing these gatherings for a while now and they’ve gone very smoothly. It’s incredible to see some of the fans that show up at KHI from all over the country.

members of Harvick's fan club waiting in the rain to meet him

You don’t hear a lot about NASCAR wives, but DeLana is very popular at the gatherings. How did she get involved in the autograph line-up?DeLana has been a very big part of my racing career and always will be. She is very involved with Kevin Harvick, Inc. and many of the fans keep up with DeLana like they keep up with me.

 
 

Delana Harvick signs autographs of her own as she works a Fan Club Gathering booth

 

Does DeLana enjoy stepping into the spotlight during these events?

  

 

I think she does. The Fan Club Gathering gives DeLana and me the opportunity to give back to the fans. She’ll sit and sign autographs and talk to the fans before I arrive.

Have you ever collected autographs?

I do collect autographs. I have Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre signed uniforms, as well as a baseball bat signed by Cal Ripken and a 2007 New York Yankees team-signed jersey.

What bothers you the most about autograph seekers?

I don’t like when people get items signed and turn around and sell them to make a profit.

Have you ever gone on eBay to see what autographed items of yours are being sold and if they’re authentic?

Yes, we have someone who visits not only eBay but other online websites to make sure everything is legit. We’ve come across a few problems in the past, but they were eventually taken care of.

Why is it that NASCAR drivers seem to be more attentive to fans than athletes in other sports?

Harvick recieveing autograph requests

This is the only sport where fans have access to just about everywhere. You can’t go to a football or baseball game and stand outside the locker room waiting for autographs. This is what drives our sport. Fans can walk right up to you almost anytime, and you always want to uphold a good image when it comes to the fans. We understand what makes the sport go round and that’s the fans. We have to thank them for that.