Kurt Busch's Talladega Nights car is the most brilliant NASCAR paint scheme in years, because it works on so many levels.
Think about it: Busch and his tiny Phoenix Racing team have an us-against-the-world mentality, just like Ricky Bobby was forced to do in the movie when he sponsored himself with the "ME" car.
Now that Busch is driving the car – at Talladega, no less – it's just an incredible fit. And here's something to think about it: What if Busch wins in the Ricky Bobby car?
"I don't want to have to get out and run to the finish line, and have to kiss a guy to do it," Busch said with a grin, referring to Ricky Bobby's lip lock with nemesis Jean Girard. "I hope we're able to do it on track."
But getting permission to bring the movie car to life was no easy task.
Busch's girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, is the head of the Armed Forces Foundation and approached team owner James Finch with an idea to run a Talladega Nights car while raising awareness for her organization, which does charitable work with armed services members suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Driscoll worked behind the scenes for two months to get approval for the car, which was far more complicated than you might imagine.
After lower-level execs at Sony Pictures rejected the idea, Driscoll pulled some strings and finally got the studio's president on the phone.
"He was like, 'Yes! This is an awesome idea. Let's do this!'" she said.
But even after Sony approved, there were still others who had to sign on. For example:
• The picture of the cougar on the car is actually "Karen," the cougar who co-starred in the movie. Because Busch's car needed to use the photo, Driscoll had to get permission from Karen's handler – and the photographer who took the picture for the hood.
• Every company whose logo appeared on the movie car had to agree not to be on the real-life version.
• Will Ferrell's people had to agree to Busch's use of the car.
And finally, Finch had to agree as well. It took until Monday to get the team owner to sign off on the idea after some initial hesitation.
Fortunately for Busch, Driscoll is not the kind of woman who takes "no" for an answer, so she kept hammering away until she heard "yes."
"He's the only owner in the garage I know with the balls to pull something off like this," Driscoll said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he finally was convinced."
Busch said there was no way he could have pulled off the paint scheme when he was at Penske Racing or Roush Fenway Racing, which is why it was so appropriate for his current team.
"That fits real close to where I'm going through in my career right now," he said.
Busch and his crew plan to drop lines from the movie over the team radio all weekend, which will include referring to crew chief Nick Harrison as "Lucius Washington." Driscoll joked about Busch's often-vitriolic radio communications by saying it was the one time where he would actually WANT fans to listen.
But the driver is unsure whether to refer to Driscoll as "Carly" (Ricky Bobby's "smokin' hot wife") or "Susan" (Ricky Bobby's loyal public relations representative who ends up with the driver in the end).
We'll let him deal with that dilemma, because the wrong answer might result in Driscoll breaking his arm on a pool table.
Ultimately, though, the whole thing is for a good cause.
"We wanted to talk about PTSD and remind people you've got soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines in your community, and don't forget about them," Driscoll said. "Look out for these people, because everybody needs your help coming back from the war."