Panther Graphics has used its racing connection to find wrap success.
But telling the National Guard representatives a camo-themed car posed too many challenges was not an option. “Our president and CEO John Barnes is not the kind of person who settles for hearing, ‘We can’t do something,’” Baumann acknowledges.
The Alabama team
So, Baumann and other members of the team cast a wider net, beyond Indianapolis, asking their contacts for recommendations on the best vehicle wrappers in the business. Ultimately, those referrals pointed south, to Alabama, and to a team that included lead installer Tony Kendricks and graphic designer Neal Cross. Panther Racing shipped off its ideas, a sample of the camo pattern, and one of its racers to Alabama. Two weeks later it was back, fully wrapped.
“They did the wrap which took other installers 30 pieces to complete with just five or six pieces and no visible seams,” marvels Baumann. “They just have the knack for making the car look its best.”
While the logistical challenge had been met, concerns remained. Cars competing on the IndyCar circuit can reach sustained speeds of as much as 230 miles per hour over the course of a 500-mile race. Could the vinyl and graphics endure conditions that Baumann likens to three hours of sandblasting?
“Not only did it hold up, but it proved to be more durable than a paint job,” he recalls. With paint, Baumann says, once track grit chips away any of the protective outer coating, the underlying paint begins to flake away from the car as well. “With the vinyl, though, the dirt just bounced off.”
From that point on, painting the cars was no longer an option. Kendricks and Cross essentially became working partners with Panther Racing. They wrapped all three of the team’s cars in 2009, then began wrapping the team’s haulers in 2010. By 2011 they were doing “a ton of work” for Panther Racing from their Alabama base: wrapping four racing chassis plus three 53-foot haulers, all vehicles associated with the races.