If you want to be a pro, or if you want to act like a pro, then you need to look like a pro. Using blue painter’s tape to cobble together a car number or class designation on your doors will never make you look like a pro. Have you seen any teams at Le Mans using that method for a car number? Nope, and you shouldn’t use masking tape either, especially when making a car number or class identifier isn’t complicated or expensive.
I’m not saying you have to spend a few hundred dollars on custom graphics every time you go to the track. I understand for a lot of Time Trial drivers, these racecars are the same vehicles that get you to work on Monday — as long as there are no really bad offs on Sunday, of course. This month we will show you a way to build a sharp looking car number with nothing more than a piece of blank vinyl, a knife and your home computer.
If you go to a sign shop and ask them to print you two door numbers, you will probably get dragged into “design costs” and “material costs” and a lot of hassles you don’t really need for a simple No. 3 on your doors. Skip all of that nonsense and tell them you only want to buy the blank stock vinyl. Choose a color you like that contrasts with your car’s paint. A lot of times the sign shop will sell you scrap they can’t use and you can be out of there for less than $10. Don’t tell them what you want the material for because they will create a “special” price for a racecar driver. I always tell them my kids need the vinyl for a school project they’re working on. It works every time, and occasionally they just give me the scraps.
Go home and play with Microsoft Word and find your favorite font to print out your car number and class. Do not use comic sans! Don’t ask why. Just don’t do it. We are trying to make you look like a professional here, so leave the wacky fonts for use at preschools. Use a bold, thick font. Read your class rules and regulations to ensure your numbers are the correct height and stroke. Make your font size something ridiculous like 700 point because you’re going to use the printed page to cut your number actual size out of the vinyl stock.
Once you have your number, using your favorite font printed out, tape it to the piece of vinyl you got from the sign shop. Then use an X-acto knife or scissors to trim the vinyl. Once you’re done trimming, you will have a professional and decent looking number to place on your car. Slap that sucker on and go fast! This will be easy because you just gained five horsepower from the sticker.
For those of you who want to really add some fake horsepower — meaning lots of stickers — then buy more of the vinyl material and add some stripes or other graphic elements to make your car stand out at the track. Use soapy water and a squeegee to lay the vinyl down flat. Multiple colors can really help the graphics contrast from the color of the car. Have fun with it. Vinyl is cheap, and with a little patience and creativity, you can transform your car from grocery getter to trophy getter.