In endurance racing, it’s critical for crew and officials to be able to identify your car at night. Sure, your crew might know which crazy-looking LED strip pattern is yours, but the officials might not. The best way to ensure everyone knows who you are is with lighted number panels.

The lighted number panels come with a protective plastic film, which needs to be removed before you can apply the vinyl numbers.
The lighted number panels come with a protective plastic film, which needs to be removed before you can apply the vinyl numbers.

They look great at night, and they’re visible from far away. They’re flexible, thin and they generate no heat. The only drawback is when the panels aren’t lighted, they look pink. So if you install them permanently, you’ll have pink number plates.

There are a number of ways to install them. You could lay them underneath permanent number panels and wire them to a switch the driver can reach on the dash. Since this car is used more for sprint races than enduros, I wanted to devise a system in which the lighted number panels could be removed when not needed.

We sourced the EnduroBright number panel kit from Enduro-Racer.com for $279. The kit includes two 12-inch by 12-inch panels, an inverter and the wiring needed to make it all work. Added weight is negligible, maybe a pound.

The kit from www.Enduro-Racer.com costs $279 and comes with two 12-inch by 12-inch number panels, an inverter and harnesses for either a cigarette lighter or hard-wiring the kit to 12-volt power.
The kit from www.Enduro-Racer.com costs $279 and comes with two 12-inch by 12-inch number panels, an inverter and harnesses for either a cigarette lighter or hard-wiring the kit to 12-volt power.

We got the daytime number panel decals from GoGoGear.com. The decals had a 12-inch by 12-inch area for the numbers and the required side NASA sticker incorporated into the top of it. The idea was to tape on the lighted panel, which has the same dimensions as the daytime number panel, for enduros that run after dark. That way the lighted panels wouldn’t sustain damage from the tire donuts that happen more often during sprint races.

The daytime number panels from www.GoGoGear.com also measured 12 x 12, and have the required side NASA sticker incorporated into the design.
The daytime number panels from www.GoGoGear.com also measured 12 x 12, and have the required side NASA sticker incorporated into the design.
The lighted number panels would tape right over the daytime numbers for nighttime enduros. When not needed, remove them an store them in the trailer.
The lighted number panels would tape right over the daytime numbers for nighttime enduros. When not needed, remove them an store them in the trailer.

Because the number panels are pink, we had decals cut in reverse type, so the decal would cover most of the pink and the numbers would really stand out at night. In fact, the lighted panels are so bright, they make the blue decal overlay glow a bit, too. Here’s one way to do it.

By using reverse cut numbers, you cover most of the pink with whatever color vinyl you choose. This is as close to “Mazda blue” as I could find. Apply decals with a sprayer filled with water and a couple of drops of baby shampoo, which lets the decal stick better than Windex, then squeegee out the air and liquid.
By using reverse cut numbers, you cover most of the pink with whatever color vinyl you choose. This is as close to “Mazda blue” as I could find. Apply decals with a sprayer filled with water and a couple of drops of baby shampoo, which lets the decal stick better than Windex, then squeegee out the air and liquid.
Set the number panels in the sun to dry so they take a good set.
Set the number panels in the sun to dry so they take a good set.
The kit comes with enough wiring to reach across nearly any kind of car used for racing.
The kit comes with enough wiring to reach across nearly any kind of car used for racing.
I chose to through-bolt the inverter to the glove box lid with Allen-head fasteners, flat washers and nylon locking nuts to keep it from vibrating loose.
I chose to through-bolt the inverter to the glove box lid with Allen-head fasteners, flat washers and nylon locking nuts to keep it from vibrating loose.
The “glove box” is just the lid separated from the actual bin, so mounting the inverter was simple. I mounted the inverter with the switch at the bottom of the door to make it easy to turn on from the passenger side. I used a die grinder to cut channels for the wires into the lower hinge tabs. A zip tie and some electrical tape keeps things neat.
The “glove box” is just the lid separated from the actual bin, so mounting the inverter was simple. I mounted the inverter with the switch at the bottom of the door to make it easy to turn on from the passenger side. I used a die grinder to cut channels for the wires into the lower hinge tabs. A zip tie and some electrical tape keeps things neat.
This is how it looks from the front.
This is how it looks from the front.
With the glove box door in place, you just reach under it to flip the switch to turn the numbers on.
With the glove box door in place, you just reach under it to flip the switch to turn the numbers on.
After the decals have set, remove the transfer paper. It’s a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before removing the transfer.
After the decals have set, remove the transfer paper. It’s a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before removing the transfer.
The panel on the left is energized to show the difference between the panel colors with and without electrical current. It’s a little tough to capture with a camera in the daytime.
The panel on the left is energized to show the difference between the panel colors with and without electrical current. It’s a little tough to capture with a camera in the daytime.
With the number panel lying inside the car, you get a better idea of how brilliant they are. At night, these are visible from hundreds of feet away. Now tidy up the wiring and you’re done.
With the number panel lying inside the car, you get a better idea of how brilliant they are. At night, these are visible from hundreds of feet away. Now tidy up the wiring and you’re done.

 

Resources

www.Enduro-Racer.com

www.GoGoGear.com

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Image courtesy of Brett Becker