EXCHANGE: Clifton shop finds niche at race track

Clifton’s Chad Brosseau didn’t set out to dominate the world of graphic presentations for stock cars. It was just a matter of seeing solutions where other folks saw obstacles.

The owner of Fastlane Graphix explains that the five-year-old business grew out of a simple need and a garage endeavor.

“He got into remote control cars as a hobby when he was hurt on the job. He had to stay active,” said Angie Brosseau, Chad’s wife of 15 years.

“And I was asking around about how to wrap one of those cars,” Chad said, referring to a vinyl decal treatment to provides an easy way to apply numbers or other messages to the model cars.

“I realized no one was doing it, so I got a printer and used my own computer and learned to do it,” he said. “Then, when someone asked me if I could do a full-size stock car, I just figured I could get a bigger printer. Why not?”

And a niche was discovered. Starting with five customers that first year, Fastlane has done 75 already this spring. The wraps have adhered to cars in just about every division of racing at the Kankakee County Speedway, as well as asphalt track cars, sprint cars and drag racing machines. At this point, Chad notes that stock cars make up about half of his business volume with commercial cars and trucks representing the remainder.

“Of course, we also screen print T-shirts, and we have embroidery machines for hats,” Angie said. “We keep pretty busy, but especially at this time of year.”

“Everybody likes to start the new season with fresh sheet metal on their cars,” Chad said. “And they want a fresh look to show off their sponsors. They want to get noticed on the track. So we are real busy right now, and then we’ll re-wrap again maybe one or twice during the season. You know, the normal wear and tear of racing. …”

Chad and a co-worker can apply a wrap in less than two hours, but some wraps are shipped out to drivers across the Midwest. Other times, a team will come to Chad to apply their wrap.

“We had one NASCAR team that called and we re-did their car, but it wasn’t our design. I’d love to get a NASCAR job to design some day, but … not yet,” he said.

Chad has learned the knack of designing wraps for any shape car or truck. And without formal graphics training, he has a handle on how to get attention on the track.

“At the World 100 (at the Eldora Speedway), they have a ‘Best of Show’ award for the best appearing car,” he said. “I thought we had a shot at it last year with the design we put on Mike Spatola’s car. But he got second. Still, that’s pretty good for a company that’s only been around as long as we have.”

So, is he always thinking of new designs to grab the fans’ attention?

“Yes, sure, when I get time to think,” he said. “We’re so busy now, it’s unbelievable.”

What attracts teams are Chad’s flair for using colors and his quick turn-around on design and application.

“The popular colors this year or fluorescent red and yellow and a lot of blue. We’ve also seen a lot more white cars this year,” he said.

And who does the Brosseau family cheer for at the track?

“I just like any close race, but Chad is always looking at the designs on other cars,” Angie said.

“Oh, I’m pretty busy cheering for our cars, but I like just watching the races, too,” Chad said. “And like this year, it’s going to be easier cheering for Brian Stevenson (track record holder from Kankakee). He’s got one of our wraps this year.”

Of course, Chad might have a little more allegiance for Luke Gash, a driver in that same division and a member of his staff.

“We’re giving his car a second wrap already because he’s been out quite a bit this summer. He’s first in the national points race, but he’s itching for his first win of the year. Maybe that’ll happen at the Kankakee track.”

Brosseau knows others will be flocking to his niche soon, so he’s already developing new ones. He has started fabricating a wood grain vinyl for a vintage car dashboard. And he’s coming up with new looks, such as a wrap that looks like a chain link fence. It’s going on Torrin Mettille’s Cullom-based car.

Source: The (Kankakee) Daily Journal,

Information from: The Daily Journal,

This is an Illinois Exchange story offered by The (Kankakee) Daily Journal.

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