By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Racing events from triathlons and NASCAR to marathons and charity walks require a variety of signage. This includes banners, billboards, fence graphics, flags, window graphics, and vehicle wraps.
Established in 1996 in Muskegon, MI, Source One Digital is one print provider that offers race signage. The shop started with three people offering vinyl cutting and printing in a 2,000 square foot workspace.
Today, Source One Digital employs over 50 with a national outreach. In a 25,000 square foot work area the company offers design, digital printing, finishing, sewing, painting, fulfillment, and installation services. Its applications include architectural décor, building and vehicle wraps, event graphics, floor graphics, in-store signage, outdoor signage, promotional products, sports graphics, trade show signage, and window graphics.
Source One Digital began producing race signage in 1996, primarily sponsorship graphics. Its digital printing capabilities allowed it to meet the demand for quick turnaround graphics. “Digitally, we could provide lower runs with multiple images and variable data. We could also put graphics on a variety of materials at a lower cost,” explains Randy Crow, CEO, Source One Digital.
Race signage includes awards, backlits, menu boards, banners, bleacher seat coverings, billboard wraps, concrete and asphalt decals, custom racetrack graphics, flags, fence mesh, floor and step decals, grandstand wraps, media backdrops, pole and pillar banners, sponsor signs, suite graphics, track wall graphics, vehicle graphics, and windscreens.
Industries that request race signage include NASCAR, raceway venues, staging and production companies, and organizations that host marathons and charity walks.
According to Crow, race graphics involve the entire gamut of media, depending on the client. “Some of the non-profit events tend to be a little more upscale, so things like fabrics, window graphics, and low-tack PSAs tend to be more popular with that group,” he says. Common media suppliers for Source One Digital include Aberdeen Fabrics, Inc., General Formulations, and Ultraflex Systems, Inc.
One of the company’s first race signage projects was for the National Hot Rod Association. Source One Digital developed a special graphic with removable film layers to keep the graphics looking vibrant for television.
“Racing is not a clean sport and keeping branding and sponsor graphics looking sharp through the entire event is important,” shares Crow. Over time, the company has developed customized solutions to keep graphics vibrant and clean.
While dirt and durability are a concern, race signage also presents challenges with volume. Racing events generally have high sign volumes with different artwork, sizes, and materials. According to Crow, they also have unique shapes and frequent installation changes because the business relies on sponsorship revenue.
To overcome volume challenges, Crow says print providers should understand what racing events entail and to staff properly to accommodate last-minute demands. “A close working relationship with your installation crew is also key to get the right specifications for all graphics and to coordinate the timing of graphics for installation,” he offers.
Five percent of Source One Digital’s work is race signage. The company mostly uses digital roll-to-roll printers for these projects. This includes printers from EFI, Fujifilm NA Corp., and HP, Inc.
In major racing events, the company has noticed a trend in flexibility for suite graphics—various types of graphics used to provide interior décor and branding to suites, premium seating, or luxury boxes. According to Crow, it can be challenging to complete quick turnarounds while ensuring each project is customized per client. “We also see a lot more creativity in application, clients look to apply graphics in new ways and to new surfaces constantly,” he adds.
Michigan International Speedway
In June 2017, repeat client Michigan International Speedway (MIS) approached Source One Digital for race signage. It runs two major NASCAR events each year in addition to other races.
“MIS’ goals were twofold—to create an engaging experience for guests and to provide sponsors with value for their sponsorship dollars,” says Crow. For each race or event, there is usually a four to six week turnaround from concept to installation.
For the first event of the season, Source One Digital printed over 45,000 square feet of signage. This included adhesive ground and window graphics, acrylic suite graphics, billboards, concrete wall graphics, fabric and feather flags, fence mesh, flex face backlits, framed photos, grandstand mesh banner graphics, static window cling, and victory lane backdrop graphics. A variety of media suppliers were called upon, including 3M Commercial Solutions.
The print shop collaborated not only with the MIS staff on the project, but worked directly with the sponsors to design, engineer, and create specific elements geared toward their promotional and branding goals.
Because of the job size, the shop used nearly every piece of its equipment to produce the race signage. Crow says the company is fortunate to have a variety of equipment that allows them to complete all jobs in house. “Outsourcing a job like this would be a nightmare based on the tight timeline,” he explains.
Once the graphics were finished, it took a great amount of coordination to ensure delivery and installation was completed in a timely and orderly manner. “The biggest challenge is that everything happens very quickly and has to be coordinated down to the last detail including installation,” says Crow. This is especially difficult when working with individual sponsors who all have different requests. MIS was impressed with the finished race signage including how Source One Digital coordinated with each sponsor.
Before offering race signage it’s important that print providers consider the different types of graphics that racing events require. Clients in need of race signage seek digital print providers like Source One Digital who offer variety while meeting short turnarounds and customization demands.
Jan2018, Digital Output