EP172: Dirt Wrap, The CARS Racing Show, and 1 Million Views

EP172: Dirt Wrap, The CARS Racing Show, and 1 Million Views

Published by Crate Insider on 14th Nov 2023

This week Kate had Jimmy Schiltz, from DirtWrap and the CARS Racing Show, join the podcast. They discussed Jimmy's race industry expertise, the CARS Racing Show, and CrateInsider's 1 Million views on YouTube. 

I think a lot of people probably don't realize how long you have been doing wraps for race cars. And actually, you started before you were called DirtWrap. This goes way, way back, tell us how you started DirtWrap. (2:21)

So this goes back to 1997. I was in college, you know, as I was studying mechanical engineering. And I always drew race cars when I was a kid and all that and I wanted to get into it. Where I came from was that our dad was was hanging the bodies on the cut cars and all that sort of stuff. And so his partner was Kenny Cordell, and Kenny was from Crossville. And  while he was in North Carolina, he was renting his shop out and half the shop was Randall Chup. And the other half was was Jam Motor graphics. If you remember them they did that he was the one that did that really cool Ronnie Johnson car and the Ray Cook way back in the day. I mean, he was like, Jamie Koontz is his name. And, and, and so one of those times Kenny went home and he came back and he had like some material and like a, like a little catalog type thing that Jamie had made. And so Kenny was like, You should do this. So I looked it up and you know, and bought a plotter and got the software and everything else. And I put it in my apartment when I was going to college. It was my senior year. And so I just kind of messed around with it and, you know, did some cars and stuff like that. But then I worked as an engineer for 10 years, but I did the cars for that long. Just, you know, I just moonlighted and, you know, did them on the side and everything like that, but really just because I wanted to race so bad and it was kind of how I could justify spending some money on, you know, on racing. So, anyways then then I moved to Hickory and because i Then I took a job with Harley Davidson and and did some that was doing concept design work and still doing the graphics and everything like that. And then that was about time when the printers - inkjet printers came out where they were affordable and and you could actually print per square foot like in a reasonable way before that were like thermal printers and you had like ribbons and things like that. And it was crazy. It was like $3 a square foot to print there was totally unaffordable. There's no way you could sell anything like that and the quality wasn't very good. So my boss had died in a plane crash and I was in the I was in between jobs and I was looking for jobs handsome offers and things like that but I didn't really want to move and then I bought a printer. And, and, and it just really took off from there that was 2007. And then I've just been doing it full time ever since. So that's kind of where it's at.

DirtWrap has become, I mean, almost like a Kleenex name. When it comes to, to wraps. You're like, are you gonna get a dirt wrap? (5:27)

Yeah, I mean, I've heard that. So that's, it's kind of cool. I've probably been doing it. As long I mean, longer than anybody else. You know, Anthony Sanders been doing it for a long time. So he started doing about the same time a little bit maybe before me. So, other than that, you know, we see a lot of people that come and go in this business. And if you don't love racing, you don't understand the last minute part of things and how racers are, it's a unique culture, if you don't, if you don't get that, then you're not going to last very long. So fortunately, I've been able to, you know, build some, some great relationships over the years with, with clientele. And that's really helped, you know, propel me to where, you know, I can make a good living doing it.

Do you do mostly dirt late models these days? (6:23)

There for for a while I was we were doing, you know, some asphalt stuff and everything, but that's kind of tapered off. And so mostly the late models and the dirt modifieds. That's pretty much about it. I don't have a problem with other types of cars or anything like that, like four cylinders or street stocks. It's just I don't know, just just people call us to do late models and modifieds.

You start a racing business because you want to race, but then your business takes off, and then you don't have time to race. You know, so. So it's been it's been a little while since you've been behind the wheel. (8:12)

I mean, it's been 2015. It's just like, life happens, you know, you have kids and built the house. And, and then, you know, we do a trade show, you know, so it's like, all those things add up. And next thing, you know, it's the year the calendar turns and your hair gets grayer. And, you know, you have to get bigger glasses. So it's the way it is. But I mean, for me, it's like, I'm glad that racing in other parts of the country, you know, is really healthy. But you know, where I live in Hickory, it's a long hike to really go anywhere, and really, for me, with the other things that are going on in my life that have I mean, running a business and things like that, really, the crate stuff was really the only stuff that really only racing that made sense for me. And so, you know, there was a time when we had a lot of racetracks around our area here, you know, we had Lawndale you know, I love going to 311, Carolina ran all the time. Let's see, and then, you know, with the Fast Track series, which, you know, NDRA ran for a little while, we got to run around some, you know, the Pelican, you know, you know, they're running now some, you know, but, it's just a lot of racetracks you could choose from but now it's like, you have to travel so far to, to go places and I never mind traveling, but it's a big deal to travel. It's, you know, to, to go more than, you know, a few hours away from home. 

Are there any particular questions that you get from racers that are you know, that could be added to like your frequently asked questions? (13:12)

I think the biggest thing that's going on that has gone on this year is the composite panels. So Staffed came out with with a composite panel and a lot of guys are using them and now MD3 has came out with their panels and it's comical because Five Star with MD3 came out with these composite panels. But as far as I know, there's no way that they had that they've consulted anybody in the wrap industry. So they released these panels and the standard vinyl that we would all use, we all use a calendered vinyl like a three mil calendered vinyl, it's affordable, it's durable. And it's easy to work with for for the layman to be able to put it on themselves, the more expensive material to cast films, that's what we would use for like, like a full vehicle wrap or anything like that. They're - obviously their performance is greater for for different substrates straights as far as going around complex curves and things like that, but they're thin, they're not as durable and they're hard to work with. I mean, if you don't know what you're doing, they're hard to work with. So anyways, you go to our, our calendared films, and they're not going to stick that to the plastic composite panels. And I've seen these cars out here where like half the rap is flying off and all that you know, and it's terrible and people have asked me about it. Now fortunately, I have a great relationship with our material manufacturer, and they have a material that sticks to all that stuff. So it's that's great, but not everybody has that so the standard 3M Arline Avery stuff is not gonna stick to that plastic MD, MD3. So they came out with this video that showed everybody what to do. And it was like you have to sand your good clean it with alcohol, sand your panel, then you have to paint the whole thing with primer 45 It was like, that's all that's like 20 years ago in the wrap industry, you know, I mean, you still use it but the films have gotten so much better now that you really don't have to use it in the recesses and all that, but there's no way that a standard racecar any race guy is going to like want to do that. I mean, most of the time, the guys are especially anybody that's racing a lot. They're putting the you know, their wrap on and then probably at the racetrack or, or their, you know, the day of and, you know, at least these adhesives have to sit for a while for them to become more permanent too, so because they're all air aggressed type adhesive. So that's probably the biggest thing that's going on right now. Is the is the material sticking to the composite panels.

I'm seeing so many of these cars that are, you know, they're they're brand new. So with your sheet metal, I mean, just a regular sheet metal car, and it's got all the plastic still on it, you know, like the clear plastic. I can imagine that for a racer, it will be heartbreaking to get like you're here you've got this brand new race car and now you're gonna hit it with a sander, so you can sand it down that would be that'd be rough. (16:06)

I joke about it a lot. I mean, just because I mean I've been you know and I was the same way when I first my very first race car I'm like, I get chassis powder coated and I'm super proud because I'm you know, built the car and all that sort of stuff and I make sure all my you know, you know, you know all my my relief cut, all my notches around the bars and everything like that are all nice and sanded smooth. And I put taped up my bars so they didn't get scratched up now anymore. I mean, it's like my last car, I still have my last card sitting in my truck, but my last car thing was spray bombed. I didn't care. I mean it's like you look at these cars after they go out on a dirt track for like five laps. You know what I'm saying? I mean, they're like, like four or five races and they look like you know, they've been shot with a sandblaster I mean, it's just the way they are but you know, I mean it's at least in the south, you know maybe other areas of the country isn't so bad but but especially if you go to race a track that has a lot of rocks in it but but yeah, it's you know, I think you have to get used to the heartbreak you know and because you know our cars are basically tools you know, to try to accomplish a goal of winning races.

I'll just continue that story about the composite panel stuff, the, about the vinyl. And just so people know, with the position it puts the wrap people in, is the fact that we all we all know what everybody is that if you're going to high if you're going to have a reputable wrap company, a race car, and I'm not saying going to Fast Signs or, or somebody that doesn't do race cars I'm talking about if you go to somebody that is in the wrap business and get them to do a car, we all are pretty close in price and what we know what the market is, and we know what we can charge because if we're a little higher, then people are going to leave and they're going to go somewhere else and we know that and so we all use pretty much the same materials too like I said we use a three mil calendered film. And so if somebody calls us up and they say we have composite we have let's say an MD3 composite panels. And we know that there's like a big problem with our material stick into the panels. The right thing to do is for us to use a different material with a high tach adhesive. The problem with that is is that is that a, let's say a standard roll of, of 30 inch calendered material, I'm just going to throw a number out, let's say it's $125. Well, a roll of High Tack adhesive vinyl is like 375, like three times the cost, we're not talking about, like, an extra $10 here or anything like that we're talking about a lot. So and then now you have to switch your printers out whatever it is that you have, and you know, to and you know, let's say it's only the right side or whatever, but you have to raise the cost of your wrap. But now you now you're raising your cost of the wrap. And now you're more expensive than the other guy. And so that now and then a lot of your customers don't understand that. They just look at that, that it's the fact that it's just a wrap. And so you're kind of like stuck, do I like do it the right way and be more expensive? Or lose my customers? Or do I do it the wrong way cheaper and let it fly off the car and lose your customer? So anyways, so that's where it's at. Right now we're in the we're working on some materials, we're working on a material here with with some adhesives that are at work, and it's being tested right now to be able to be in that lower range with the composite stuff. But that's been going on for the last couple of years. So I'd say that's probably been the biggest thing.

Bentley has something to add to that. He says "the issues with the new panels are a fiberglass slash polypropylene blend" (21:25)

With the polypropylene noses, we have to use the High Tack adhesive stuff. And like we have a material here on this stuff that stick to gravel, I swear to God, I mean, it's like it. I mean, you're probably, you know, probably could have saved the Titanic if they have had that stuff. But, it's expensive. It's just the way it is, you know. So how do you draw that balance?

Are you seeing any other color trends other than all black cars? (1:13:46)

No, not really. I mean, maybe some white stuff, but I haven't really seen anybody. Nobody else is really been, you know, risky at all. We did you see Davenport's car from the world with the green and the black. It was like mostly black with the green and the white. That could have went a couple of different directions. I think it looked good when it was all said and done. But you know, with the but it could have been a little more - little more green.