Blast Cleaning for Racing Cars: The Dos and Don’ts

How to remove paint from race cars

If you’re wondering how to remove paint from race cars, then we can help.

While the rest of the northern hemisphere is coming to terms with the end of summer, the team here at SBL are getting pretty excited. We’re slap-bang in the middle of race season.  When we’re not working hard at our facility, we’re glued to our screens watching the British Touring Car Championship, Moto GP, the Super Bikes, and all things motorsport!

But we’re super lucky – we get to enjoy motorsport during our day job too. We’ve cleaned cars and components for the likes of Dextra, Driftworks, Eurotech, Simon Hadfield Motorsport, Valley Motorsport, and many more!

So, let’s take a look at how we help our friends in motorsport prepare their vehicles for a chance at first place…

It’s All About Performance

The three most important factors in any kind of racing are safety, speed, and endurance. But thankfully for us, paints, coatings, and their removal methods don’t noticeably affect performance; except for the fact that the fewer coats of paint are on a vehicle, the lighter it will be.

We frequently get asked to help with turning a regular road car or classic car into a racing car of some description. Owners will usually need to completely assess a vehicle’s bodywork for problem areas and general fitness to race. In these cases, we’re tasked with removing all paint, underseal, filler, and rust in order to get a good picture of the underlying condition of the bodywork.

How to remove paint from race cars

The Best Blast Cleaning Methods for Racing Cars

The method we select to clean a vehicle – racing or otherwise – comes down to two factors. Firstly, what material is the component made out of? And secondly, what coating, filler, or rust needs cleaning away? It doesn’t matter whether you’re cleaning a touring car, a formula series car, a superbike, or a regular road car – the cleaning method needs to suit the material being cleaned, and the type of clean required.

Lighter materials like aluminium, carbon fibre, plastic, and thin steel run a high risk of heat warping. Therefore, we avoid methods like crushed glass blasting that generate a lot of heat through friction; instead opting for soda blasting – our most gentle clean.

For more substantial metals and to get rid of stubborn filler or rust, more abrasive methods like glass media blasting are perfect for the job.

Due to the fact that racing vehicles tend to favour lighter materials like aluminium and carbon fibre, soda blasting is generally our go-to method for motorsport clients.

how to remove paint from race cars

The Dangers of Choosing the Wrong Blasting Method

When you use too abrasive a method on any of the aforementioned heat-sensitive materials, the heat caused by friction can result in the panel to warping and losing its shape. This can be a costly error. Once panels warp, they may not fit back on to the car properly and/or affect the car’s appearance. When you’re dealing with vintage or specially manufactured parts, sourcing a replacement ranges from costly to nigh on impossible, so the right method needs to be selected from the get-go.

When considering how to remove paint from race cars, it’s worth noting that chemical dipping companies generally won’t touch aluminium, carbon fibre, or plastic because prepping vehicles for dipping involves heating the frame to high temperatures, so soda really is your best bet in these cases.

On the subject of acid dipping, there is a growing issue in the racing world with very serious potential consequences. When a car is dipped, acid can sometimes get trapped in hard to reach places, which can jeopardise the structural integrity of that area. It’s easy for acid to get trapped inside roll cages, weakening the welds over time and making the roll cage unfit for purpose.

how to remove paint from racecars

Our Experience

Not only are we racing enthusiasts, but we’re also highly experienced in working with racing vehicles of all kinds. Our team regularly work on both shells and components from a wide variety of types of vehicle types. We recently cleaned a beautiful Ford Mustang shell destined for European endurance racing; and have also worked with Valley Motorsport to give a Ford Cortina shell a new lease of life, as well as restoring a classic Jaguar with a storied racing past.

We’ve cleaned bodywork for Mini Miglia racing cars, drift cars for various drivers, including Phil Morrison of Driftworks, and for BTCC teams Dextra Racing and Eurotech. Components-wise, we’ve cleaned engines, suspension components, and single panels from a whole host of racing cars and bikes.

So, if you’re in the motorsport industry, you can rest assured that SBL have worked with some well-known names on the British racing circuit. And if you’re a fellow fan, why not give your next restoration project the same treatment as the pros? Call us today on 0800 7747632 for a quote!