There is surprisingly little information found on the web today regarding the numerous "oddball" card sets released over the past 40 or so years. Thousands of different sets have been printed during this time, featuring every imaginable sport from bowling to jai alai. We will shine our spotlight on random sets we pull from our shoebox... Who knows which cards will be next? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments!
Why do we collectors search endlessly and tirelessly for elusive cards... Cards that are like finding a needle in a haystack?
Because a needle sometimes pricks the finger that's clicking our mouse. And boy, it hurts so good.
I have never claimed to be an oddball card expert. Like any other collector, the knowledge I've gained over the past 35-plus years has been self taught, and there are huge holes in my knowledge when it comes to certain oddball card releases. One such "hole" pertains to this gem of a racing set that was released back in 1989.
Sponsored by the Forest Service-USDA, National Association of State Foresters and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), this 28-card set features race car drivers, wives and lots of Smokey Bear. I'm not exactly sure how these cards were released, but I do know that there ain't many of these floating around. In my attempt to research the set, I've come up empty on all of my internet queries; I can't find a single photo or any mention whatsoever of this set anywhere.
The cards are typical of a Smokey set released in the late 1980s. Measuring the standard card size of 3-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches, color photos adorn the front with a small Smokey head and IMSA logo found at the bottom corners. The subjects pictured on the cards are named along the front bottom, in a tiny font size that will have you looking for your reading glasses. Card backs are also typical Smokey, with a large fire safety cartoon occupying the majority of the space. Backs also list the team names, car models and hometowns of the card subjects. The cards are not numbered.
The set is loaded with names a racing fan will recognize, and at least three names for movie fans - Lorenzo Lamas, Bobby (Robert) Carradine and Paul Newman. I've posted large front and back scans of the Newman card, as they may be of interest. An excellent documentary detailing Paul's racing career was released in 2015 by Adam Carolla.
Smokey cards have always been among my favorites, and this little gem of a set is a welcome addition to my archives. I have no idea how many of these sets were printed a good 28 years ago... But what I do know is these phantom cards need to get grabbed fast if you're lucky enough to find them.
Random Fact: Australian driver Geoff Brabham's father, two brothers, son and nephew have all been professional racers.