I’m not a big sports guy—anyone who knows me can tell you that. Obscure Italian horror directors’ filmographies? Easy. Detailed explanations of comic book superheroes’ origin stories? Name a character. But, pull out sports statistics or attempt to discuss with me who threw what ball to who—you might as well be speaking Martian.

So, imagine my surprise when I was commissioned to create concept illustrations for an effects heavy shoot promoting this year’s Daytona 500.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

While I certainly enjoy drawing (I try to produce a sketch a day with my tablet and Photoshop), it’s not everyday that I’m asked to do so by a major force in the sports entertainment industry.

I sat down with the Art Director and listened to his needs: an adjustable pivoting racecar seat, a rotating wheel with a floating gearshift, a crash pad and adjustable scaffolding and a spinning parachute glider—all able to incorporate on-camera talent, all able to manually function and all able to be shot on a green screen.

Oh… and “all done by tomorrow. This is a rush project”.

So, I jumped headfirst—I doubted I’d even have time to ask questions later.

My first step was to figure out the most practical solutions possible to physically build each piece. It’s one thing to draw a free-floating racecar seat that can move in more directions than Linda Blair’s head, it’s another to actually make the thing work.

I started with crude, small-scale models using wood blocks for the base and fishing line for the cables. I-hooks, springs and whatever else that was strewn around the garage—they would all be used to test the “theoretical practicality” of the “physics” being used and manipulated.

“I promise this will make sense when I’m done.”

From there, it was a matter of gathering research and references for each element necessary to make the piece function.
Then, finally, I got to draw! I knew there would be inevitable changes in the design once the building began, so I gave myself a little leeway. And since these needn’t be architecturally sound (this is a TV production, by the way), I felt free to make things a little cartoon-y—more my style.

“Will this be safe? Jeff Gordon’s gonna be sitting in that.”

I whipped the drawings out, and sent them to the Art Director for approval. Days later, in Daytona, the build began in a massive warehouse and shooting commenced.

While I haven’t seen the final product, some behind-the-scenes footage was shared with me of my drawings come to life.

The power of art. Not even Danica Patrick can resist a spinning tire designed by a guy with a framed “Ghoulies 2” poster in his office.

Just don’t ask me what team she plays for.