Drivers. Spotters. Crew chiefs. Pit Crew members. These are all jobs that come to mind when one speaks about NASCAR. Certainly, these folks are on the front lines. This Beyond the Track series will introduce you to a handful of the countless people that play a unique role in bringing NASCAR to the track and TV week in and week out.
Meet Shawn Magee, Creative Director – SMD Racing
Shawn Magee grew up with a love for art, spurred on by his parents. As a young child, he would paint cardboard boxes to look like racecars. His favorite was a Kyle Petty, Mello Yello inspired box that he would push around the living room. He reminisced about the detail that went into his cars, painting even the dash gauges!
While he didn’t have the patience to sit through full races as a child, his appreciation for the sport grew as he did.
Magee obtained his bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania College of Technology and set out with high aspirations in the world of graphic design. He was fortunate to learn valuable skills in his first job with a local newspaper. Those skills then propelled him into a position with a Casino Marketing firm.
This firm allowed him to work with most of the casinos in Atlantic City, the midwest, and Las Vegas. This afforded him the opportunity to get his “first taste of bigger advertising,” and see his work featured within stadium programs for the Chicago Cubs and on billboards for comedians such as Ron White and Howie Mandel.
“The Perfect Sport for a Designer”
When Magee and his wife moved to North Carolina, he discovered racing as a way of life, not just a Sunday afternoon show. This produced a newfound love and appreciation for the sport as a designer. Magee shared, “No other sport supports graphic design like NASCAR does.”
From there, he set a goal in place to create a paint scheme for the NASCAR Cup Series. However, Magee confessed it was a long road to seeing this goal come to fruition, taking nearly 10 years.
His plan started with optimizing his website, and from there, entering numerous contests. Eventually, a call came from a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series team. He was able to assist the organization with website design and promotional materials.
Magee’s first paint scheme to hit the track was the No. 74 Faith Motorsports leased from Mike Harmon Racing in 2016.
After that, it came down to connections. Magee made sure to get to the track and meet as many people within the industry as he could.
His first Cup Series experience came with Front Row Motorsports in 2018. Fr8Auctions was the primary sponsor of David Ragan’s car for this 400th start. They came seeking a logo to commemorate the occasion and formed the beginning of a partnership that continues to this day.
In fact, Magee went to Talladega Superspeedway with Fr8Auctions owner, Marcus Barela, during track renovations. Fr8Auctions signed on to sponsor portions of Celebration Plaza around the winner’s circle.
Magee was able to help Barela formulate a plan for different branding opportunities by pinpointing locations to place oversized banners that would be easily seen from the grandstands and on television. He noted this was a unique opportunity, not only to be entrusted with these decisions but to work on something outside of paint schemes.
In addition to paint schemes in all three of the top series of NASCAR, Magee has designed hero cards, pit crew shirts, fire suits, pit wall banners, pit box wraps, and so much more. Magee has had a hand in designing trophies as well.
When the COVID Pandemic halted on-track action, Magee was still designing for digital racing. As a matter of fact, he designed the majority of Timmy Hill’s iRacing schemes. Interestingly, he was the creative mind behind Hill’s winning Roof Claims car. Magee shared, “Lionel actually produced that car – the first race win iRacing diecast! So that was really cool!”
It’s worth noting that Hill’s iRacing diecast was the first Lionel produced diecast to include the SMD logo. The second time Magee’s logo would be featured on a diecast came on Brett Moffitt’s Fr8 “Merica” No. 02 Xfinity paint scheme. Both diecasts will ship in the next couple of months.
2020 has seen the majority of Magee’s work featured on MBM Motorsports cars, as well as Corey LaJoie’s Go Fas Racing machines.
Moreover, his work in recent seasons has been featured on the cars of Matt Tifft, Michael McDowell, Stefan Parsons, JJ Yeley, Stephen Leicht, and many more.
It’s worth noting that Moffitt and Fr8Auctions have a long-standing partnership. If Fr8Auctions is sponsoring Moffitt’s car or truck, there is a good chance Magee designed the scheme.
One of Magee’s most notable paint schemes to hit the track was featured on Alex Bowman’s No. 88 at the Charlotte ROVAL in 2019. Bowman brought his care second behind teammate Chase Elliott.
Gratifying Aspect & Biggest Enemy
Magee shared that the most gratifying aspect of his job was seeing his paint schemes on television. He said, “It’s being broadcast nationwide. From a designer’s standpoint, that’s the reward, to see your work out there in front of millions of people.”
Although, Magee noted that having the opportunity to see his paint schemes in person has been a “different kind of experience.”
On the flip side, Magee said, “Time is always my biggest enemy.” In addition to his work with SMD Racing, he works full-time for a design agency. He and his wife have four, young children and run an additional business on the side.
Given how NASCAR is a fast-paced business, on and off the track, sponsorship deals often come at the last minute. For Magee, this means a fast turnaround time.
Finding the positive, he shared, “There are some nights I only get three or four hours of sleep before having to get up and do it all over again. But, it’s an opportunity. You never know next season if you’re going to have the same opportunities…you have to take advantage of it.”
Sharing the Knowledge
Magee closed out our time with information about a podcast he and other designers participate in entitled, Under the Hood – Designer Roundtable. This podcast is hosted by Michael Carey who works on the production side of NASCAR on NBC. For fans interested in this side of the sport, this is sure to be an interesting listen.
I want to extend a huge thank you to Shawn Magee. Not only for taking the time to share his story, but also give a glimpse into the world of graphic design within NASCAR. Be sure to follow him on his social channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to see his most recent designs.