When a fan first discovers NASCAR, typically there are three things that could be a potential draw towards a growing love for the sport.
The speed, danger, and car designs. As a child, you may recall the first time you saw “that” paint scheme that sent your love of NASCAR into a lifetime relationship.
The design of a paint scheme is one of the very first things to entice a fan into finding their favorite driver and establishing allegiance to a particular team.
This special off-season series will take a look at designers in the sport that spent their 2020 season tirelessly cranking out paint schemes one after another. So much so, you may even learn about a favorite of yours that came from one of these designers.
This week’s spotlight shines brightly on Dick Claveloux, a Graphics Production Manager for GMS Racing.
Known online as “DC2Designs”, Dick placed an impressive roster of roughly 70 different paint schemes on track from dirt late models to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Much of his 2020 palette came in the form of GMS Racing, where nearly ever truck on track, across five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entries, all came from the mind of DC2. From original designs to an outstanding rollout of throwback paint schemes for the unexpected Darlington weekend, he hit the nail on the head in all categories in 2020, much to the fans praise.
How did you first start designing?
“Honestly It was by accident. I was a pit crew member for a better part of about ten years. An opportunity came up to start a print department at BK Racing. I had done a little bit of art in high school, a big of drafting and design but never really thought of it as a profession until it came up at BK. They decided to start the department, they gave me a laptop, and I ran with it. With the pit crew stuff, it was hard to find teams that would allow you to work on a pit crew and work in the shop. I really wanted to stay in the shop, I had done final wraps in the past, but I wanted to stay in the shop and not lose that as the pit crew side starts to fade away. It’s a hard transition if you go from all pit crew to being out of it. Finding a job is tough. I tried to stay in with the shop stiff, and the idea came up at BK and had to take it out of necessity at first.”
How did you find your spot at GMS Racing?
“Mike Beam, the President of GMS, has been in racing forever, and I got the opportunity to work with him on a pit crew a few years ago. He was crew chiefing for John Wes Townley and I was doing installs for him on the side, making some money. I had a lot of friends at the shop over the years and they called me up with an opening at their shop for a graphic designer and graphics production. So I called the HR lady, interviewed, and they actually didn’t accept me. They decided they weren’t going to hire a designer, and then two months later they changed their mind and called me back. I started there in July of 2018.”
Tell me about your design process and how would you specify your design style?
“It’s kind of what vibe I get from talking with the marketing teams involved. The first thing I like to happen is to talk to whoever is spearheading the marketing campaign and wants to get the ball going from there. I feed off their energy, I’m big on energy and vibes, kind of like Emily (Butler, Creative Media Director at Truex Management Group), but I feel like I’m pretty good at reading people. Even over the phone, and I kind of just take that, and then I know what direction I want to go.
Most of the time its worked out on the first shot, I’ve been very fortunate.”
GMS Racing brought five immaculate Throwbacks to Darlington. How long did that process take and which was your favorite?
“I’ll start with my favorite – I think my favorite was Sheldon’s. Just because of transforming that Jimmie Johnson design to work on a truck and the number style and such, I really liked the final product. Those throwbacks take a lot of time because you don’t want to miss anything or get anything wrong from the font styles to the Pantones. A lot of times with those old cars, there aren’t many pictures to go off of. The Junior Johnson one, I can’t tell you how many shades of yellow I’ve seen in replicas and not knowing which one was right.”
Luckily with GMS, There’s a lot of old guys that have been around so I called on them to get the right color. But we spent probably two weeks on the concept, drawing them up, getting everything approved. There are a lot of approvals involved in that like Junior Johnson, Rick Hendrick with doing’s Ricky’s truck. You don’t just do those things, you have to ask permission. Luckily we got everyone’s blessing. About two weeks in that process, and then the printing process that’s a whole other monster because you’re trying to make sure the Pantones are right, the old schemes to wrap right on the truck. The No. 21 truck was especially difficult with the red on the nose, those are lines you don’t typically attack on the truck with the way the wraps work. We had to rethink a lot of it to make it work on the truck.”
You mentioned getting approval, what’s that process like? Who has to approve those designs?
“Sometimes its hours, sometimes it’s a few days. The Jimmie Johnson stuff, with the Phoenix truck was pretty quick. That was something that PlanBSales had already put in place on their end so they already laid the groundwork to it. Then, the Ricky Hendrick one was tougher because you’re dealing with Rick and he’s a pretty busy guy. It’s his son’s truck and it means a lot to him, you want to make sure you do it right and get his approval on it. Most schemes though can take a few hours because usually, I’m on the phone, bugging these guys. Usually, Zane’s stuff came through pretty quick, luckily many of them are West Coast so I can deal with them late at night and have stuff ready in the morning for them to view and usually its good to go from there.”
What paint scheme that you designed this year was your overall favorite?
“That’s tough… there were so many this year. One that stands out to me, unfortunately it didn’t get to run much, was Zane Smith’s La Paz Truck at Talldeaga, the “Blue Splash”. I loved working wit Tim Casey at La Paz, he’s an older guy but he seems young at heart. He would give me his idea, he said ‘hey we’re bottling this blue margarita mix- ‘roll with it’ and he told me to take the lead on it. I think because it was a reworked design, that I pitched for other different things and it was reworked in a way that I think it looked really cool on the truck. Unfortunately it didn’t last long on the track, but that one stands out for some reason I dont know why.”
What was a favorite moment of yours from the 2020 season that involved one of your designs?
“Not going to lie, the Championship got me pretty emotional. Sheldon’s a neighbor of mine, and I got to design his fire suit, his Chevy trucks the past two years. That Chevrolet scheme, although not my favorite, I really liked it. It was also one I was working on that while I had health problems in the beginning of the year. It has this weird, emotional vibe behind that scheme. That one probably holds the most meaning on me.”
Which paint scheme was the most time consuming?
“The La Paz road course truck. I’d say that most of them, the design and all that stuff kind of all has the same flow and time rate, just the way we run things there. The production side of that was a lot – it was stacked graphics, the florescent on top of that bright blue that he ran at the Daytona road course. A lot of parts and pieces to make that bit right. I’d say production wise, that was a heavy truck to do. It was an entire day in print production and usually its only a couple hours.”
Over the years, GMS Racing has run over a dozen different fonts. Have you ever tried to pitch one single font for all?
“I did! When I first started there in 2018, and then if you noticed in 2019, we never changed the font. There was the same font other than the No. 2, a single digit versus double digit, you can have a variance. You think about Hendrick with the No. 5 versus the No. 48, 88 etc. But we ran the whole season with those fonts. We started going into 2020 the same way. All I can say is people who make more than me ask to make changes, and I make them.”
What makes you standout among other designers in the sport?
“I think my background as a pit crew athlete. None of these guys really worked ‘in’ the sport. I started out in 2006 working whatever odd races, working with an ARCA team for no money to carry tires. I even worked in the shop, cleaning the floors and all kinds of stuff in Chicago. I was a hands on worker – I drilled lighting holds though, finish fab, paint and body – I’ve worked for a race team for the last 15 years. The designing part is the newer part of it, the newest chapter of my NASCAR life. I think that background separates me from the other guys. Although we have the same passion, which is awesome. I learned a ton from designers like Shawn Magee, Harris Lue, Emily Butler. I learned a ton from them. Nobody can really say they’ve done what I’ve done, not that i’ve known of.”