02 January 2015

Contested Shots 5: A Little Win and a Huge Loss

This past year I participated in the official Press Pass Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR league, and I did pretty well. I wound up finishing 6th out of around 100 participants. Sixth place wasn't good enough to win, but the 4th and 5th place folks never responded to requests for their shipping information and after a while I got an e-mail telling me I was next in line if I responded with my address. I didn't know what the prize would be, but I was sure happy to provide my information. It turned out to be a Hobby box of 2014 Press Pass Total Memorabilia cards. Five packs, with a hit in each pack. That's a pretty good prize, and this post was all set to be a happy and victorious post about my big win.

But now I have to address the loss part of the post title. Various outlets are now reporting that Press Pass is going out of business. It looks like the news started with a tweet ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell, and then spread quickly to other collecting media outlets like Beckett. I guess maybe I should have realized something was up, since the last post on the Press Pass Facebook page was back around Thanksgiving, but a lot of smaller companies come and go on social media without going out of business. Press Pass put out a lot of really neat and innovative racing cards and with many years working with NASCAR probably developed a pretty good relationship with the drivers and teams.

If the news is true, the collector in me can't help wondering where I will get my NASCAR fix from now on. There are plenty of past releases out there for me to acquire for my favorite drivers, but I like new stuff just as much as the next guy. I hope that some company is able to pick up the license in time to put out 2015 sets, and I really hope that whatever company winds up with the NASCAR rights doesn't completely blow it. I like shiny new things, but I hate change.

Press Pass put out a lot of good products. Their flagship set each year was really nice for the couple years that I've been collecting them, and their memorabilia and autograph products usually were innovative and well-designed. Whoever picks up the license has a lot to learn. Maybe they will be able to pull in some of the Press Pass staff and glean their institutional knowledge to facilitate a smooth transition.

Enough about that mess. Let's see what I pulled from my prize box:

As far as base cards go, I just got one card that fits into my Driver Collections. Josh Wise is a driver for a lower-tier team, and got a bit of publicity in 2014 when the users of Reddit raised funds to buy a sponsorship for his car and then voted him into the All-Star Race over Danica Patrick. They also sold some t-shirts to fund the Dogecoin sponsorship for another race. I was able to add the Dogecoin die-cast model to my NASCAR die-cast collection when it was released near the end of the year. It's one of my favorite additions of the last few months. I am not sure if Wise will be back in 2015, but I guess we'll see how it goes. The last few spots in the NASCAR running order are kind of like your Quad-A guys in baseball, with a mix of older guys barely hanging on and your young prospects getting a chance to try their hand in the big leagues.

I got a couple of these shiny Black & White Holofoil parallels in the box, both numbered out of # / 99. Neither driver is anyone I have a lot of interest in, which was a theme throughout most of this break. The Elliott Sadler card is # 10 / 99 and the Ty Dillon card is # 46 / 99.

The Gold parallels worked out all right for me, with the big highlight being the Danica Patrick card there in the center. She is the main driver I collect, and this Gold parallel is numbered # 165 / 175. Kyle Busch isn't a bad pull either, as he drives the popular M&Ms (and sometimes Skittles or Snickers) car. The Busch is numbered # 087 / 175. David Ragan I don't really have an opinion on at all. His card is # 066 / 175.

Acceleration is one of the inserts in the product, showing off a couple pictures of the cars to go along with a driver photo. I got another Kyle Busch card here, along with another guy I like to collect in Jeff Gordon. There are a few other drivers here, but no one I really pay attention to. I guess I pay a little attention to Clint Bowyer because of his absolutely wooden acting in the 5-hour Energy commercials.

I guess if I am thinking about 5-hour Energy while I sit here and type this post, then Clint Bowyer did his job effectively as a shill for the company.

The other insert set in 2014 Total Memorabilia is this NASCAR Hall of Fame set. It's a shiny foil set with little medallion-looking illustrations for each driver. The Rusty Wallace appears to be some kind of holofoil variant, but I couldn't find much information about them online.

And now we get to the hits. All of these cards are pretty thick, and the excessive foiling around the edges means that most of them come out of the pack looking pretty rough, with soft corners and chipping appearing pretty much universally. This Joey Logano card is numbered # 048 / 150 and features bits of tire and sheet metal from his car.

These two cards feature three swatches each, and are numbered out of # / 99. Brian Vickers' card has a pretty nice bit of firesuit, a piece of shoe, and a glove swatch. It is numbered # 57 / 99. Clint Bowyer makes another appearance, with his card featuring a firesuit / shirt / sheet metal combination. It is numbered # 32 / 99. I wonder if he is actually wearing a blank cap, or if the logos on his cap had to be airbrushed out for some reason?

I guess this would be the hit of the break, if we were trying to determine that sort of thing. It's an Austin Dillion Champion's Collection relic card, featuring a large bit of firesuit and numbered # 01 / 25. It commemorates him winning the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship. One thing that would add immensely to this card would be to have some sort of color in the firesuit swatch.

And the final card to show from the box is this Rising Stars relic / autograph of Ryan Gifford. It's numbered # 60 / 99 and features a piece of glove. The autograph isn't really that fuzzy. It's just set back in a little shadowbox and my scanner has a hard time dealing with the change in depth. He races down in the lower circuits right now, but he ran a couple of Nationwide races last year and may eventually move up into the higher levels.

That's about it for this box. There wasn't much outside of the Danica Patrick Gold parallel as far as additions to my personal collection, and there weren't any mind-blowing hits. I'd say that the two boxes of 2013 Ignite I got from Blowout Cards' Black Friday sale offered much more in the way of excitement, but I can't complain too much because the box was free. If you kept the mix of cards the same and changed a few driver names around this could have been a really exciting box for me.

It's a shame that Press Pass looks to be done printing cards. I never really liked their sports cards during my first stint in the collecting hobby during the 90's, but their racing cards over the last few years have been really nice. I hope that someone else will pick up the NASCAR license soon and I really hope that whoever it is manages not to screw things up.


  1. If the news turns out to be true that Press Pass will be closing it will definitely be a loss to NASCAR collectors. That was the unique thing about racing cards is that they did not follow the status quo that other sports cards follow so sets were always new and exciting and not just repeats every year with a slightly different design.

    When I was younger I used to enjoy NASCAR and opened quite a bit of product for about 10 years, actually the last product I opened was 2012 Press Pass Total Memorabilia.

  2. Congrats on the box of cards. Sad to see that it didn't nail more guys you collect than it did.

    Can't believe I somehow missed the post for the Josh Wise car you added to the collection. Had to go check it out, and its not a bad looking car. You'll have to do a complete showing of how all your cars are displayed one of these days. I'd be interested in seeing how you have them all.

    Sad to see that NASCAR cards in in danger of not being made now. Like everyone else I have to agree they have done some incredible things over the years.

  3. Nothing quite like winning free stuff by default. I will pour one out for Press Pass. They made consistently good-to-great, purpetually underappreciated cards.