You won’t find it on your Daytona International Speedway tour. It’s not flashy or particularly impressive to look at. But tucked behind Turn 2 of the grandest stage in racing is Glen Morris’ uniquely personalized sign shop. Morris, a man of whom fans seldom hear, is often all they see during an event weekend – well, see his work that is.
If you’ve ever been to Daytona International Speedway you’ve seen Glen’s handiwork.
The 18-year DIS veteran is DAYTONA’s head sign artist, serving as a key link in the chain of communication between the beloved 500-acre property and the adoring fans that travel from all over the world to enjoy it. In a very real way, he serves as a mouthpiece of sorts for the World Center or Racing, disseminating the event-time messaging that best enhances the fan experience.
In fact, if you’ve ever watched a race at DAYTONA on television, you’ve probably seen his craft as well. Glen holds the revered duty of painting the famed start/finish line – something he says only three people before him have done – prior to each and every race. Glen’s first start/finish line was the one that Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo crossed in 1998 to claim what, to that point, had been an elusive DAYTONA 500 victory. “It was an awesome experience,” said Morris. “I mean, talk about starting a new job on a high note.”
Armed with a cutting mat, utility knife, ruler and high-tech vinyl printer, Glen estimates that he creates around 1,400 signs during Speedweeks; however, the size, purpose and look of the signs can vary quite significantly. His range is quite impressive; he truly creates anything and everything, from signs as little as credential signs and stop signs to signage for ticketing, parking and camping areas.
The sign-making process begins simply enough. He receives a request from a colleague at DIS, outlining what type of signage they’re looking for. From there, the creative aspect of the signs overall look and feel is up to Glen to decide.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and have really been able to experience everything that could possibly be thrown my way, so normally I already have a pretty good idea in my head of what I want a certain piece to look like,” he explained. “It probably takes me about 20 minutes to work an average sign up and design it.”
Once designed, the layout, styling and type is laid out on his computer, and the sign is printed, cut, taped and mounted before being placed on property.
Morris is no one-trick-pony however as he is also responsible for repainting the DAYTONA logo above the track's steep banking, in addition to his work on the start/finish line.
“That’s 200-foot-wide by 4-foot-high worth of logo that I lay out, paint and upkeep,” he said. “I actually have to stay in somewhat decent shape to be able to climb those banks over and over again.”
Glen was kind enough to share his expert technique.
“Well, I get my paint tray and roller to start with,” he began. “Then I march up the high banks, grab and hold onto the wall, and get started painting it.”
While he makes it sounds quite simple, anyone that’s had the privilege of climbing the DIS high banks knows that it’s hard enough to stand, much less paint a logo with exact precision.
All of that work is done to get ready for an event. The events themselves? “Even crazier.” he says with widened eyes.
“It’s making every last-minute sign, which is a majority of them, there’s changing out Gatorade Victory Lane and doing all of that track painting because we have get it prepped for the next morning,” he explained.
All of his hard work and 12+ hour days don’t come without their benefits. Back in the day Morris' shop was in the infield, placing him right in the middle of the action and rubbing elbows with some of the true legends of motorsports.
“I was once asked to do a NAPA logo on the spoiler of Michael Waltrip’s car,” he recalled. "I was actually asked to put it on for them. In the older garage’s all of the teams were right on top of each other and it was very loud with all of the teams working on their cars, so I hightailed it out of there after putting on the logo."
Throughout the rest of the day Morris joked with members of Waltrip’s team that he had given the driver the good luck charm he needed for a trip to Gatorade Victory Lane that day.
As it turns out, Waltrip led 99 laps and edged out Rusty Wallace to win the 2002 Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, his second DAYTONA victory in just under 18 months.
Glen made it clear, however, that his experience at DAYTONA doesn’t just boil down to a few special moments.
“I love all of the moments,” he explained. "I love this job. I love helping people. It’s such a fun challenge for me when people come in and say, ‘We need something, but we don’t know exactly what we need.’ I want to help them and figure things out together.”
Even after nearly two decades at DAYTONA, it doesn’t take more than two minutes with Glen to realize the fire and passion he still has for the work he does.
“Being able to do it well and do it fast is what I take pride in. Even if I have to stay here all night, the work is going to get done. I love coming through for the great people that work here.”
While Morris enjoyed the notoriety he received after his appearance on a 2010 episode of the NBC show, "Undercover Boss," he doesn’t want fans to think twice about him when they’re here for an event.
“None of what I do is about me,” he said. “I don’t want any special attention. If I’m doing my job right, nobody should notice. This is all about the fans. I’m just trying to help get them where they’re going.”
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If you had a chance to ask Glen one question, what would it be? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll do our best to get an answer!