How Stock Car Painting Works

Applying Clear Coating to Stock Cars

In NASCAR racing, it's difficult to determine just who has the hardest job. Is it the driver controlling the machine while sitting and sweating in a small confined area, or is it the pit crew buzzing through a stop to make sure their man (or woman) is back on the track in no time flat? This isn't exactly clear, but one thing is certain: the clear coat has an important -- though under-recognized -- job. This coating protects the paint job and helps make the cars shine [source: DuPont]. It's also used as an adhesive for graphics on your favorite cup vehicle. But what is this stuff?

­Since it shields a car's paint from bird droppings, road gunk and debris, you know it has to be strong. Clear coat is a layer of paint, or resin, that doesn't have any color added to it. The initial layers of paint on a car have color added to them, so this clear coat is a "stage-two layer" that seals the paint and extends its life [source: Hot Rod Magazine].

3M, a leader in paint and clear coat development, spends a great deal of time researching its products to ensure their durability. As paints are phased out and vinyl wraps become the standard, they are also developing the clear coats needed to master this new technique [source: 3M]. NASCAR's super speedy vehicles aren't the only ones on the roads (or tracks or speedways) to have this glossy finish applied -- yours might too.

What about those very important decals? Read on to find out.