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Car Wrapping Makes Painting Obsolete In Today's Economy

Joey Logano had just qualified his No. 20 GameStop-sponsored Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota seventh, for the Saturday afternoon Nationwide race at Auto Club Speedway back on Feb. 29, 2009.

Since Logano was able to qualify his primary car, his back-up car would begin a four to six hour transformation in readiment for teammate Denny Hamlin, who would drive it the following weekend in Las Vegas.

The cars originally unloaded from the team’s hauler both had matching black shiny paint jobs, along with big bright orange numbers on both sides of the car, and the customary number on the middle of the roof.

Written across the hood was the name “Killzone” in yellow lettering, along with a pair of menacing eyes that depicted one of the video game and entertainment software retailer GameStop’s many titles.

This innovative transformation--being used by enthusiasts around the country, which completely replaces the current paint scheme, takes the automobile from mild to wild, or is used for advertising purposes.

I say “Replace” instead of  “Repaint” because there is no painting involved when applying a car wrap, which is simply a vinyl sticker that covers the whole car.

Before NASCAR started using vinyl about five years ago, teams would actually paint the designs on the cars, which could take three to four days depending on the design and sponsor of the car. 

The race team had to experiment with the different colors in order to get the right shades, and that often took four or five trips through the paint shop—before company officials, including lawyers needed to approve sponsor designs.

Once approved, the paint schemes had to pass through NASCAR's massive marketing, legal, and licensing process before they were allowed on the track.

This was a very timely and expensive process, especially if NASCAR or the sponsor didn’t like what they saw.

Now that it’s all done by computer, it takes a day or two to make the approved decal and another four to six hours to remove and apply it.

Car wraps have quickly become not only the easiest way to paint a vehicle, but are also the most cost effective because they can be removed with relative ease, making it much less expensive to change from one advertisement to another.

The wrap itself comes in many pieces that fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and is usually installed by two or three people, depending on the size of the vehicle. Once the wrap is completely fit into place windows, grille, and other areas need to be cut away.

In the case of Logano’s Nationwide car three installers worked on the wrap because the job had to be finished by the end of the Nationwide race, so the car could be put back in the hauler and sent on its way to the next race in Las Vegas.

Most custom paint jobs can start anywhere from $10,000, and quickly escalate depending on the type of paint being used and the design chosen.

Not only is custom painting expensive, it is also time consuming—taking anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, from start to finish.

The cost to transform the No. 20 GameStop black Toyota that Logano drove at Auto Club Speedway, into the No. 20 First Interstate Batteries green Toyota that Hamlin drove in Las Vegas, was in the neighborhood of $3,000.

Consider the cost of stripping, sanding, and painting the car each week, and vinyl wrapping becomes one of the few areas where teams can achieve much needed savings  in todays hard-hit economy.

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Comment by Dave Norris™ on September 24, 2011 at 2:31pm

very interesting article, Sal, thanks for sharing this.

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