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Motorsports Designs Takes Pole Position

(May 2006) posted on Mon May 15, 2006

North Carolina operation is prime graphics producer for the professional racing circuit.


By Kacey King

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What sporting event has all its customers typically going to the same event at the same time, needing all the graphics at once, and also frequently needing replacement? The answer: car racing, and these challenges have forced the hand of some highly inventive shops to develop ways to work around the issues.

More than 40 cars start every race"?each a moving billboard on television for up to 4 hours for the cars' sponsors. Each car's sponsors want highly visual graphics that can do a good job of touting their products"?both live and on camera. And all the graphics must hold up under some of the most harrowing conditions.

John McKenzie, owner of Motorsports Designs in High Point, NC, knows all these challenges well, and his company is now in the pole position when it comes to producing car graphics for the professional racing circuit.

McKenzie founded his company back in 1982 with a single car he did for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) sponsored by Piedmont Airlines. By the end of that year, Motorsports was doing more than half the cars in the race. The company blossomed from there and, today, McKenzie employs 45 workers and has a shop that comprises 23,000 sq ft of space. Motorsports Designs prepares several cars just for RCR, its first customer--three Nextel Cup race cars, one part-time Nextel race car, and two Busch race cars. It also works on cars for Penske South, Roush Racing, Ganassi Racing, and many other racing teams"?more than 20 cars in all. "We do Indy car, drag racing, and sportscar racing"?but NASCAR is our primary market," says McKenzie.

A shot of controversy

"Historically, teams wanted to paint the race cars and use cut graphics as accents," says McKenzie. "But nowadays, teams rely heavily on decals and other vinyl graphics such as striping. Even with the buzz about our RaceWraps, which we pioneered for the Nextel Cup Series, many teams stick to die-cut decals because of their endurance and simplicity of application."

A typical NASCAR car, says McKenzie, has approximately 85 to 95 percent its surface covered in graphics. For the NASCAR racing season, Motorsports produces 35 or more sets of a teams' standard graphics for each race car. For "high risk" areas such as the B-posts"?the area between the windows"?it produces 100 sets because these areas tend to get damaged most often.


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