Bloomfield native making a name in motor sports world for his race car paint designs

Sunday, February 6, 2011
Bloomfield High graduate Brett Nicholson, a senior designer for Just Marketing International based in Zionsville, is gaining a rising reputation in the motor sports world for his car paint scheme designs.(Photo courtesy of Michael L. Levitt, USA LAT Photographic)

If you watch the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opener at Daytona International Raceway on Feb. 20 and see the paint scheme on the purple-colored No. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal car, take notice there is a Greene County connection.

The paint design on the racer is the work of 1994 Bloomfield High graduate Brett Nicholson.

Nicholson is a senior designer for Just Marketing International based in Zionsville.

Brett Nicholson designed the paint scheme on Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Royal Crown car that will be in the Feb. 20 of the Daytona 500. (Photo courtesy of Michael L. Levitt, USA LAT Photographic)

He's been with the Indiana-based firm for just over seven years and his designs are gaining a rising reputation in the motor sports world.

"Motor sports is my passion and I get to go to that like an 8-5 job every day," he said. "I do a variety of things. A lot of times it will start with a paint scheme and once you get that approved by the client and the (race) team and then I do what I call the team collateral. That will be the fire suits, the helmets that the drivers wear and the transporters that carry the race cars from track to track. Then, that will move into autograph cards and printed pieces that you might see in a grocery store, a convenience

store or a department store. I do a variety of times like the at-track banners and I've designed some of the race logos."

The logo for the second race of the NASCAR season -- the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix on Feb. 27 -- is Nicholson's work. His logo will be painted on the infield grass, on T-shirts and tickets.

Nicholson's paint scheme was on the Michael Shank Racing No.60 Crown Royal XR car at this past weekend's Rolex 24 race at Daytona Speedway.

He's also done NASCAR racers for Subway and Roush-Fenway. Racing with Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards as drivers as well as the UPS team.

Brett is now working on designs for an Indy Racing League car with Verizon with Will Power as the driver. Verizon also has associate sponsorships on cars driven by Helio Castronevis and Ryan Briscoe.

"It's always hectic and busy, but it has been a good couple of years," Nicholson said. "I feel the last couple of years some things have kind of fell together and I've gotten a little more recognition and some things have happened and my name got out there a little bit more."

Nicholson studied graphic arts at Vincennes University (1996 graduate) and the prestigious Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, where he graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Nicholson, who lives in Brownsburg with his wife Kimberly, says he's pleased to be able to let his artistic talents flow onto the exteriors of finely-tuned racing machines that roar around the track at speeds near 200 mph.

Brett, the son of Joe and Betty Nicholson, of rural Bloomfield, was recently featured in a story on the popular national website RubbingsRacing.com, which covers NASCAR.

Nicholson, who also has his own graphic arts company called "In The Groove Graphic Design", says his very first NASCAR design to hit the track was for the Army National Guard in the 2004 season with Greg Biffle the driver.

Shortly after graduation from college, Brett relocated to Louisville, Ky., accepting a job as a graphic/web designer and technical officer supporting and training client designers.

In 2001, with a desire to be closer to his style and variety of design work, Brett established "In The Groove Graphic Design, LLC."

In 2003, Brett took a step closer to his dream of working in motorsports design when he was chosen as one of five finalists for the Daytona 500 pace car paint scheme contest. The same year in May, he participated in the Art In Motion contest in Indianapolis that featured "art cars," using a blank racing car replica as his canvas.

It wasn't long before his artwork could be spotted on the racetrack and in the boardrooms of several Fortune 500 companies.

"We sell them and pitch to them and try and bring them into racing as whole. Once we try and get our foot in the door, then we start looking at where would be the best fit for them," he said.

"We're pitching to clients or sponsors to be in a series and in return we're trying to get them a return on their investment for their sponsorship."

His 2005 paint scheme for Ron Capps's Brut Dodge Charger Funny Car for the NHRA drag series was a big personal achievement -- and remains one of his favorite creations.

To see more of Nicholson's work go to his website at www.inthegroovegraphicdesign.com.

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  • Great story! But, of course, we shouldn't have the arts in school right? They get in the way of ISTEP.

    -- Posted by Music Man on Fri, Feb 4, 2011, at 5:40 PM
  • I'm so happy that Brett is following his dreams and succeeding so well. Great job Brett!! I always knew you would be great at whatever you pursued.

    Diana Cornelius

    -- Posted by dbeth on Fri, Feb 4, 2011, at 9:39 PM
  • This guy should be doing work for NASCAR he looks like he could be Tony Stewarts brother.

    -- Posted by geewowwe on Sat, Feb 5, 2011, at 10:26 AM
  • Great story, and well said, Music Man!

    -- Posted by just sayin'... on Sat, Feb 5, 2011, at 1:52 PM
  • Pretty cool!

    -- Posted by Jada on Mon, Feb 7, 2011, at 9:29 AM
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