Need for Speed

A three-day racing event calls for more than 4000 graphics.

The only American Formula One Grand Prix is located at a venue in Austin, Texas, built expressly for Formula One racing. The three-day event, held each October, draws upwards of 250,000 fans from all over the world. 

More than just a single race, the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) also includes question-and-answer sessions with drivers and team personnel, autograph sessions, a family fun zone, interactive racing exhibits, photo ops, go-karting, carnival rides, and concerts from well-known musicians. (2017 featured Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder.)

wide formatWide-format print service provider RedSmith Graphic Solutions revved up their printers to provide graphics throughout the 1500-acre racing facility for the occasion. In addition to providing critical wayfinding and informational signage, RedSmith sought to “add some color and vibrancy to the scenery,” says Hannah Roisum, VP of large-format operations.

RedSmith printed more than 4000 components for COTA including flags, banners, signage, life-size cutouts of the drivers, wall wraps, and large printed cubes for photo ops, plus massive wall murals and building wraps that were installed at strategic downtown Austin locations to promote the race and concerts. 

“The vastness of the property creates its own set of unique challenges. Because it’s an outdoor venue, we have to consider the size of the sign structures so that it’s visible at a distance, while also ensuring the structures and materials will withstand wind and weather,” Roisum says. “In addition to those challenges, we have to make sure that we have enough signage to fill the space so that it doesn’t appear empty, while ensuring the content remains functional, informative, and cohesive from area to area.”

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RedSmith printed more than 5000 square feet of flags on a Digitech RetroJet dye sublimation machine using Aberdeen Flag 5384, Deko-Tex 7048GFS, and Deko-Tex Blockout 7255KMFLBS; more than 10,000 square feet of banner on a Digitech RetroJet Eco-Solvent onto UltraFlex Strip Mesh Plus; 3000 square feet of adhesive vinyl with HP Latex 560 and Seiko ColorPainter H-104s (now sold under OKI) printers onto 3M Controltac IJ180 and IJ40c with standard matte laminate, Arlon 6100 DPF 6100XLP with matte laminate, General Formulations MetroMark transit vinyl, and Continental Grafix PanoRama Walk&Wall; and 7000 square feet of Coroplast, styrene, and PVC using a Digitech RetroJet UV flatbed printer. 

This colossal undertaking required two weeks and an 18-person crew to install everything. Because an evening concert was held right on the track shortly after the race concluded, the concert signage could not be installed until after the cars were removed. Installers had an hour between the race and the musicians taking the stage to put up the graphics for the show.

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