May 26, 2016 • By

How the No. 3 gets its Cheerios wrap

Speed is everything when it comes to NASCAR. And not just on the track.

Getting the cars race ready is a rush of its own.

We’re excited to see the No. 3 car driven by Austin Dillon back in its yellow and black Cheerios design for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) at Sunday’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 3 that Dillon drives, like all Sprint Cup cars, is continually changing its look because of sponsorships – the lifeblood of NASCAR. So car designs are created with “wraps” instead of paint. (General Mills has been a NASCAR sponsor for 19 years and we’ve partnered with RCR since 2009).

How does RCR Cheerio-ize the wrap for the No. 3?

This time-lapse video shows you.

It takes a five-person team several months to design, produce and install a wrap, says Nick Woodward, graphics manager for RCR.


Typically, he and his staff start working with sponsors the summer before the season even begins. The Cheerios scheme for Austin Dillon was created in the summer of 2013, a few months before he started racing for RCR and Cheerios in the 2014 Sprint Cup Series.

The graphics team collaborated with Cheerios Racing and began with eight designs for the car before deciding on the version used back then, and still used today.


“If it’s a car that’s going to run multiple times in the year, we may have to scale back our design just a touch to think about producing it a number of times,” explains Woodward. “If the car is just going to race once or twice, we may do some special things that may take a little longer to produce, but it might look just a little bit neater on the racetrack.”

When we covered Dillon and RCR at Kentucky Speedway in June 2014, we saw the No. 3 in a Cheerios Protein design.

RCR’s graphics department has seven Roland printers to print all of its wraps. (Roland is an RCR sponsor and supplies the racing company with advanced wide-format digital printers).

“It’s basically like the printer you have at your desk. It’s just eight feet wide,” says Woodward.

Three wraps are printed for each RCR car about four weeks before a race – one for the primary car, one for the backup car and one to have on hand.

“We make another complete wrap that we put in a box and keep in the truck at the race,” Woodward says. “If the first day we scrape the wall or something like that during practice, we will cut some pieces from that extra wrap to make the car look the best it can.”


Each wrap, including labor to install, costs between $2,800 and $3,200. Installation requires about eight man hours and takes place a week or two before the race.

The process doesn’t always go according to plan.

“We’ve had some tight deadlines. We’ve designed at seven in the morning, printed between eight and 11 a.m., and after lunch we’ve put the wrap on the race car,” says Woodward. “We may put four guys on a car, and we’re done wrapping it in an hour and a half.”

RCR was the first in the NASCAR industry to have an in-house graphics department design, produce and install all its wraps. The department wraps about 325 cars a year. Plus, it wraps the haulers, trailers and tool boxes you see around the track at a race.

The driver fire suits that Dillon and the other RCR drivers wear? It designs those, too.


By the way, Dillon is having the best season of his young Sprint Cup career, with six top-10 finishes in the first 12 races of 2016. He’s currently ranked 10th among drivers.


When Dillon races the No. 3 Cheerios Chevrolet SS this Sunday, how about a hand for the RCR graphics team, too?

Their impressive work helped get his car into its yellow and black Cheerios wrap, in time for the green flag.

Editor’s note: Can’t get to a race? You might still be able to see the No. 3 Cheerios “show car.” This map has the schedule.

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