If you’re a NASCAR fan, you may have seen the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro SS zipping around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend. If you’re a service member or history buff, you may have noticed its coloring was in line with the olive drab that was prevalent throughout the military for much of the 20th century.
There was a reason for that, and it’s all thanks to Air Force Staff Sgt. Sabatino DiMascio. The six-year veteran of the Air Force is passionate about history and racing. Thanks to his graphic design skills, he was the guy behind the No. 31 car’s paint scheme.
DiMascio, 26, of Middletown, Delaware, works in public affairs at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. It’s a role he swapped into last year after previously working as a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft maintainer.
When the Air Force opened a contest last fall for Airmen to submit designs for the paint scheme for a NASCAR Cup Series car, the staff sergeant was all about it. This year is the Air Force’s 75th anniversary, and DiMascio said he picked a green paint scheme that paid homage to the C-47 Skytrains that flew over Normandy, France, during the early hours of D-Day in World War II.
“When I was trying to think of what design I wanted to do, the C-47’s history and the dynamic design that I could do really sticks out,” DiMascio said. “I wanted to design a car that stood out and signified a great part of our history, both Air Force and Army Air Corps.”
His design didn’t win the contest, but his public affairs connections and prowess did help bring his creation to life. DiMascio contacted Jordan Anderson, who owns the No. 31 Camaro, and asked if his team would consider using a patriotic paint scheme during a Memorial Day weekend race.
“It turns out that [Anderson’s] grandfather, Maj. Ralph Clifton Anderson Sr., flew into D-Day on a C-47,” DiMascio said.
Anderson was interested in the idea, so the pair reworked the design DiMascio had submitted for the Air Force contest. Aside from the olive drab color scheme, they added gold plating, as well as black and white “invasion” stripes like the ones that were painted on Allied aircraft during World War II. The stripes were crucial for crews returning to their bases to be identified as friendly aircraft.
When Anderson got approval from his sponsor to make the design happen, the wrap was printed at the race shop and the team applied it to the car. The cars aren’t painted with a paintbrush or airbrush; they’re covered in a vinyl, decal-like wrap that’s cut to precision and then applied to the car like wallpaper.
The finished product included a decal dedicating the car to Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, a Green Beret who was killed in September 2019 in Afghanistan.
DiMascio, who did some racing of his own when he was stationed in Washington State, said he would love to see more opportunities like this going forward for other airmen — and, of course, for himself.
“If it was up to me, I would be doing not only my normal job on active duty, but if I could get the Air Force to pay me enough money, I would be out there racing myself,” he said.
The No. 31 Camaro, driven by Myatt Snider, placed 10th out of 38 cars in the Memorial Day weekend’s Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 race.