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Gearing Up for the World of Racing

(November 2011) posted on Tue Nov 08, 2011

Tackling the challenges of race-car graphics.

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By Jared Smith

Delivering great work for a pro-race team, however, is easier said than done. You are guaranteed less than normal turnaround time because “the graphics guy can wait for the car testing to be done.” Let’s face it, the motor and suspension get more priority than the “stickers.” Along with the tight deadline, you also will be dealing with a sophisticated agency that has been tasked with the responsibility to make sure you don't screw up the graphics. The agency or corporate brand manager will require perfect color samples and detailed, professional proofs. I recommend you demand hard signatures for all of the proofs from the client – these jobs are too expensive to do twice.

Adding to the pressure is the task of accommodating the vehicle haulers, which often need to be wrapped as well. Keep in mind that when a race team garners a new sponsor, that sponsor must appear on the hauler, the “pit box,” the chase vehicles, the support vehicles, and so on. The haulers are particularly troublesome because they’re very tall, very long, and very low, which can prove to be difficult to fit in your shop.

Another challenge: the templates. These are not as cut and dried as, say, a new Ford F150 template. They’ll require you to have specific knowledge of the racecar and, again, the hauler, pit box, show body, and even the pre-runner or support vehicles.

Aiming for perfection
Have you ever noticed how a pro-race mechanic keeps his tools? They are perfect. They are clean; they are organized. And this level of perfection is exactly what your pro-race team client will be looking for in your finished product as well.

These are beyond high-profile vehicles. Think of these vehicles as celebrities about to host the Grammy Awards. They must look top notch. That means no banding, no color shifting between tiles, extremely high resolution, deep rich blacks, no wrinkles, and no bubbles or lifting. And they must be finished off with a beautiful high gloss.

After you believe you’ve achieved perfection, don’t neglect to go back over the job again –inspecting every rivet and every seam, and removing every fingerprint and grease-pencil mark. Don't make them have to inspect the work or remove your fingerprints. This type of client demands excellence and demands it be on time. Whatever you can do to limit the number of hours it will take, the better. The drivers got here by hard work – show them the respect they deserve and do whatever you can to serve their agenda. Offer them excellence, and you just may land a great client for life.

This is why we work so hard. We have taken queues from these dedicated teams and try to emulate their attention to detail in our operation. They pay well. They force you to tighten your game, and, man, do they look good in your portfolio. Keep them happy and you’ll earn great racing-day seats – and grow your business at the same time.

Jared Smith is president of bluemedia (, a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and enviornmental applications, in Tempe, Arizona.