Every year, millions of people tune in to see NASCAR racing. It’s more than just fast cars racing around a track. For those millions of fans, there is so much more to it than that: it is a feat of engineering, powerful engines, and—who could ignore— the creative car designs and vehicle wraps that embellish and add personality to these fast-moving machines. The vehicle wraps are part of the spectacle of the race and, in a lot of ways, play a role in defining the drivers doing the work behind the wheel.
As vehicle wrap experts, we thought we’d take a moment to talk about how the tradition of car wraps and design began in NASCAR and how it has become an emblem of the sport.
NASCAR — From Humble Beginnings to Millions of Viewers
In 2021, NBC Sports reported that its NASCAR Cup Series in 2021 averaged a total audience of 2.562 million. That’s a lot of people watching the event. Stock car racing became a fast-growing pastime after World War II. Local race tracks across the countries would swarm with drivers and onlookers as they put on races year after year.
With these events garnishing so much attention and popularity, something was soon to be done about it and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was born. It didn’t take long for the first NASCAR-sanctioned race to take place in Daytona Beach. A year later the NASCAR cup series was born and fans immediately took to watching these vehicles race at tremendous speeds. Throughout the next couple of decades, NASCAR became part of the American ethos and high-speed race tracks were built across the country.
In the 1980s, Fortune 500 companies began sponsoring NASCAR race teams and drivers. Part of NASCAR’s success was because of fan loyalty to their drivers and, hence, their sponsors. The vehicle’s design played a big role in identifying drivers and their respective sponsors.
The Vehicle Wraps and Paint Jobs That Get all the Attention
NASCAR fans are attracted by the technical aspects of the sport: the engineering, the quick pit stops, the innovation, and ingenuity in achieving faster speeds. Yet, an undeniable part of the sport is the colorful and creative vehicle paint jobs and vehicle wraps that are closely associated with the drivers. In fact, some NASCAR fans reveal that part of how they choose their favorite drivers is by looking at the vehicle design.
NASCAR and the Use of Vinyl Vehicle Wraps
NASCAR started using vinyl in the early 2000s. Before that, NASCAR teams would actually paint the designs directly onto the cars. This process would take a couple of days or longer. In many instances, the race team had to experiment with paint colors before they could find the right shade. That experimentation could take four or five trips in the paint shop. After that, the design had to get approved. Lawyers often had to give the go-ahead for these sponsor designs.
After that approval, the design would then make its way through a long line of marketing, legal, and licensing processes before it was even allowed on the track. This was a drawn-out and lengthy process that took a lot of time and money. Because of technology, however, the designs can now be rendered through computers, approved in a few days, and printed as a wrap or decal that covers the whole car. This alone shaves days or weeks off of the previously lengthy process.
Benefits of using vinyl car wraps for NASCAR drivers included:
- Relative ease of the design process
- Color perfection (no need to mess with paints to mix the right shade)
- The wraps can be removed and changed easily
- Easier and faster to design
- Less expensive and less time consuming
All of the above benefits meant that race car drivers could more easily personalize their vehicles and go all out with the design. The vehicle wraps come in a few pieces that are simply wrapped around the vehicle and fit together like a puzzle. They are printed and designed to precision thanks to computer models and measurements.
Before the advent of vehicle wraps, many NASCAR drivers had to have their cars painted, stripped, and repainted. This was a very expensive and lengthy process. Today, vehicle wraps have made it much easier for these vehicles to have state-of-the-art designs with unique colors and shades without the hassle.
Racing groups such as Richard Childress Racing established a graphic studio with artists specializing in vehicle wraps and Roland wide-format digital printers. These race groups know the value of having the ability to print and reprint their vehicle wraps, which is much more cost-effective than painting and repainting a vehicle. According to some working for RCR graphics, some racing teams will go through about 325 full vehicle wraps in the course of a season.
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Learn more at Wrap Genius. Call us today.