By Kelly Frush
Imagine a project so huge and specialized that there are no other projects in comparison. The NASCAR Hall of Fame asked Thomas Sign Creations of Charlotte, N.C., to create just that: a 6,000-square-foot photomural for its Grand Hall that sits above a high-banked race track and bends along a curved wall.
Jack Thomas, president of Thomas Sign Creations, networked his way into the job. “During one of my meetings with [the engineer on a different job], I mentioned I had noticed their firm was also doing work at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and I thought the Matrix Frame andÂ fabricÂ graphic system would be perfect for that type of environment,” Thomas says.Â “He agreed and gave me the name of the engineer heading up the NASCAR project, and I contacted him to set up a meeting.” The engineers on the NASCAR project liked Thomas’s concept, showed him some sketches and asked for a mockup.
Once the mockup was approved, the customer asked to see photos and references of other similar projects. “We told them that there was nothing in the world even close to this, using frames and fabric graphics,” says Thomas.Â “Anything remotely close to the size and scope of this has always been done in vinyl.”Â Acoustical fabric from Aberdeen Fabrics was used to create the Artistri print because of a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) required by the customer.
“The reason that they wanted this done in fabricÂ was to achieve a certain NRC for absorbing and deadening the noise in the Grand Hall,” Thomas explains.Â “We actually printed the graphic on a heavy acoustical fabric to achieve the required NRC.”Â Thomas Sign Creations had to submit the fire rating specifications and fire test results for this fabric before moving forward with the project.
During installation, a challenge for Thomas Sign Creations was working among the equipment of other tradespeople. “There were times when there were as many as 10 lift and boom trucks on the floor and ramp at the same time,” Thomas says. Another challenge was the sheer size and complexity of the project. Nearly 1,000 feet of Matrix Frame was cut by Thomas Sign Creations to create a radius framework. The wall, which tilts at an 11-degree angle, required Thomas Sign Creations to cut each frame using a compound miter to create the gradual slope and radius simultaneously. The framework was finally installed using an articulating boom lift.
The graphic itself totals nearly 6,000 square feet. Thomas Sign Creations printed 10-foot wide sections and sewed them together to create a monstrous, single graphic that weighs more than 450 pounds. The graphic is 30 feet tall at its highest point, and tapers down to three feet high.
Thomas Sign Creations intentionally left the graphic slightly oversized. During installation, Thomas Sign Creations put the graphic in place, marked the bottom and right edges, cut the graphic to finished size, sewed and stapled the remaining silicone on site, and reinstalled the finished piece to a perfect fit.
“As soon as we began installing the graphic, people came out of the woodwork to see it,” Thomas says.Â “The next thing we knew, they were pointing at different sections of the graphic and smiling.”
When all was said and done, the customer was very happy with the result. “It gave them the graphic element that they wanted in this high-profile section of the Hall, while giving them the noise reduction they needed,” Thomas says. The customer liked Thomas Sign Creations’s work so much that it propagated more interest—they requested the same treatment on two side walls in the NASCAR Hall of Fame Orientation Theater.