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Building the 1/43 Brickyard Helio Castroneves AutoNation Dallara

An adventure into decal creation

Maybe Meyer Shank Racing should hire me to build models. I finished building the 1/43 Brickyard Helio Castroneves AutoNation Dallara two days before the 2022 24 Hours of Daytona. And Helio and MSR won the race. Strangely, I finished building the Brickyard Pennzoil that Helio drove in 2020 during the 2021 Indy 500. And Helio and MSR won the race.

This is another riff on the Brickyard/IMS kit that came out 2 years ago and is long sold out. I have mentioned the precision of this kit in the past. I believe it is 3D printed and it was created with extreme precision. You can read more about it at the Pennzoil link above.

An avid Indycar fan and model collector purchased a few Dallara Aeroscreen kits and I am building several versions for him. The original kit was of the Takuma Sato Indy winner and is the only version of the kit. Any other version requires purchasing and/or creating decals. I did both for this model.

1/43 Brickyard Helio Castroneves AutoNation Dallara
Solving the pink problem

The sponsor decals are pretty simple as they are available from Indycals. It’s the bright pink sections of the car that pose a problem. Matching the pink color of the MSR car would be tough without custom mixed paint. Even then, I would use a black primer under the base black paint and white primer under the pink paint. Lots of masking, lots of painting and lots of room for potential messiness.

Decals seemed like a better proposition

I will go further into template creation with another article in the near future. In this case, it involved creating 3 separate decals to do the side pod areas. The severe compound curve of the sidepod undercut provides a challenge as well. Tamiya masking tape, a scanner, a vector drawing program (Adobe Illustrator in this case) and a printer were all used in the creation of these decals.

Decals were created for the sidepods, front and rear wings, a little bit on the rear tire shrouds, the arrows in the air intake in front of the cockpit and the race numbers. Even though the Indycals decal sheet has the numbers and arrows, I wanted all of the pinks to match.

I sent the decals out to be printed at an outside source because white ink is needed to outline the race numbers and back up the pink, so any color in back of it does not bleed through. Like the intense black of the main race car color.

That was a problem…along with another

1/43 Brickyard Helio Castroneves AutoNation DallaraI was pleased that the large pink areas actually worked as intended. Unfortunately, as soon as I began working on the model, the pink color started to wear off. Fast. The instructions that came with the decals indicated that no topcoat was necessary to protect them and that Solvaset setting solution would work just fine. The Solvaset worked but the decals badly needed a protective topcoat.

Fortunately, I printed two sets of decals for just this eventuality. After stripping and repainting the model, I turned my attention to the topcoat. Some modelers use Microscale Liquid Decal Film or Krylon Crystal Clear for this purpose. I’m not a fan of either.

After some thought, I remembered that I had an old can of Testor’s Decal Bonder spray. One coat back and forth on the decals did the trick. They were now stable and applied without further problems. Decal Bonder is also useful for spraying on older and somewhat dried-out decals (like old Starter and Provence Moulage kit decals) to prevent cracking and other destruction.

Another problem was small but significant in my view. There was insufficient white ink under the pink, so some color-shift occurred and the pink has a hair of black coming through. If I was to do another model of this car, I’d print a separate white layer to underlay the pink areas.

For these reasons, I will not name the outside source for the decals as I prefer not to trash resources unless really, really necessary.

In the end

This is a true one-off model of an Indy 500 winner. Not just any winner. Helio Castroneves won his 4th Indy 500, putting him in a class of four along with AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and the late Al Unser Sr.

I am glad to have built the 1/43 Brickyard Helio Castroneves AutoNation Dallara. I learned a lot about decal creation. This was the first time I had attempted it to this extent. I will be creating more for other Indy models and will have an article on the decal creation process soon.

But it is weird about the Helio Castroneves model creation and MSR/Helio winning races.

Maybe Meyer Shank or Helio should have me build models of their cars before every major Indy and IMSA race. Just a thought.

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