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Canopies provide shady racing

Graphics | November 1, 2012 | By:

Mobile trailer canopies offer everything from an escape for clients to a full-service garage for motorsports teams. So when it’s time for racers and their crews to venture off the track, Larsens Inc., Santa Cruz, Calif., has them covered.

Larsens began as a sail shop in 1972 before entering the mobile canopy industry in the 1980s. Since then, the company has spearheaded the development of printable, fire retardant fabrics and was the first to offer graphics printed directly onto canopy fabric.

The majority of the company’s work is making canopies for semi-trailers, with the largest customer base in the auto and motorcycle racing industries, says Jim Butler, marketing and accounts manager. Their canopies have been used as diversely as improvised garages for race teams and kitchens on wheels for disaster relief.

The company offers custom products such as pop-up canopies, banners, corral skirting and other trailer fabric needs. The team uses a Vutek solvent printer to print anything from simple text to intricate logos and photo quality backgrounds. The recent addition of a 10-foot-wide printer has helped throughput, cut down on registering large print jobs and reduced waste. The company has been able to pass these savings onto customers.

A notable project Larsens tackled was providing a complete racing setup for a long-time customer, the National Hot Rod Association’s Kenny Bernstein Racing. “We provide their garage and pit area, VIP hospitality area, pop-up tents and table covers,” says Karen Tracey, vice president of graphics.

The pit area had a footprint of 47-by-12.5 feet and featured a printed roof with mesh end caps. The hospitality setup included a VIP section with a family area extending off the end of the trailer. “At the trailer end, we installed Lexan windows for a more polished look,” Tracey says. “The trailers also have slide-outs that we covered with printed fabric. We were given the artwork for the trailer wraps and modified it for a uniform look.”

Larsens continues to welcome new challenges with the goal of helping customers garner attention. “The custom mobile canopy industry seems to branch into every sector of our society,” Butler says. “Entertainment, music, sports, business, the military, disaster relief, environmental cleanup, you name it. The one constant is that, with almost no exceptions, everybody is out there to get noticed. That’s why the graphics are key to everyone’s success.”

Mara Whitten is a freelance writer from St. Paul, Minn.

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