April 2022

Issue link: https://digital.nexsitepublishing.com/i/1466236

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33 Spiel – April 2022 state for a couple of early track events until I saw a picture of myself wearing it. I looked like a giant white-headed mushroom. That couldn't stand. That night, I put colored pencil to paper and came up with three designs that were all way more advanced than I thought my limited technical prowess could accomplish. Nonetheless, I tore the shiny new helmet apart and got to work. A week later, I had something that was amazingly close to the drawing I'd produced. Images of that one also went up to social media, and I got the same result: more inquiries and new customers' helmets showing up on the porch. It was becoming clear that I'd stumbled into an under-served market. The pros in IMSA, NASCAR, IndyCar, etc. have a ton of choices in helmet painters, especially in the Southeast. I thought, "Shouldn't the average track junkie; low-buck, fun endurance racer; or SCCA driver be able to have a great looking helmet without breaking the bank?" Since I was doing the design and production, I could control the cost of both to achieve a price point at which custom helmet designs were more of a "luxury item" than an extravagance. After a couple of conversations with my wife, Amy, we worked out a rough business model that included custom helmet design and production along with the motorsports photography, livery design, and custom motorsports apparel that I already offered through MC Motorsports Design. We decided that, as long as I liked doing it and people continued to enjoy what I was doing, we'd see where it went. The next day my first helmet from California showed up. After that came helmets from Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and even South Carolina. It was clear that helmet design and production was turning into a serious endeavor. I worked out a small-volume partnership with Sherwin Williams Automotive finishes and invested in some more professional tools. I even built a custom, negative air spray booth in the back of the shop. With the development of a "real" production model, I ended up creating 24 custom helmets that first full year. Every helmet was an opportunity for growth, both in design and production, and they resulted in a series of joyful successes and "learning moments" in equal measure. Since those early days, my designs have transitioned from colored pencil drawings to full digital renderings. Processes, materials, and finish have all been refined to a point where production is now predictable, manageable, and of consistent high quality. Each year, 35-40 helmets leave the studio on their way to racetracks all over the world. In 2021, one even made the trip to Spa, Belgium. If you're in the market for your own custom helmet, it is a very simple process. First, we chat about what you want your helmet to look like. I will ask you for some examples of designs that you like, which are easily findable online. You will send me colors, textures, graphics, etc., and a quick explanation of what you like about each, so I can really pinpoint what you want. I want each design to be original and specific to you, so I don't copy other designs unless it is an homage to another driver or a previous design you've done and want to continue. I will take your ideas and present you with three different designs that span my price range. From there, we can work together to mix and match the designs according to your price range or continue with one of the designs as is. Once we have the design settled, production of the helmet ought to take two or three weeks, depending on my schedule at the racetrack and when you need it. I am very particular about my work, so I won't produce anything that I wouldn't wear myself. Once the helmet is painted, I will send you images of it and wait for a "GO" or "NO GO." If you give the go ahead, I will clear the helmet. If you give the "NO GO," you and I will discuss changes you want to see, and, if possible, I will make them for you. Once the helmet is finished with clear, it takes a few days for the clear to cure and the helmet to be polished to a shine. As soon as that is done, I will send you pictures of the final helmet and won't invoice you until both you and I are completely happy with the finished result. After that, all that's left is handing off the helmet back to you, sending it out on track. In the end, I want to make a helmet that you will love and won't break the bank. If you're interested in exploring a custom helmet for yourself or as a gift, I'm happy to chat by phone at (425) 260-2177 or by email at kirk@myhrecreative.com. Examples of MC Motorsports Design custom helmets can be viewed on the MC Motorsports Design site myhrecreative.com.

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