CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Like everyone else the NASCAR R&D Center's job description has changed lately.
"We're kind of the engineering and nerve center for all the technical stuff for NASCAR," said Eric Jacuzzi, the head of the center's aerodynamics team.
Located in Concord, the center just recently ramped up its 3D printing capabilities, and now they're using it to make personal protective masks for local healthcare workers and first responders.
The R&D Center prints the top and bottom of the mask, and uses a moisture-resistant plastic shield provided by Piedmont Plastics.
"I think it helps everybody to have something we can do to focus on," said Jacuzzi. "We were surprised at the initial demand."
Volunteers are working 18-hour shifts to produce 40-50 masks per day, which are donated locally.
Meanwhile a company in Michigan called Technique, Inc., which makes NASCAR chassis, can make a metal version of the masks, and is producing over 200,000 per day for hospital systems to purchase.
CORE Autosports in Rock Hill is also making 1,000 masks per day.
Popular driver Brad Keselowski's manufacturing company (KAM) is making shields as well.
More than any sports league in the U.S., the automotive industry is well-equipped for the fight against coronavirus.
"We have a lot of talented engineers, fabricators, at the R&D Center and across the industry," said Jacuzzi. "You know we even have people in the industry who's spouse or significant other is a medical professional and they're reaching out saying 'hey can I get 5 or 10 for my wife to be able to take it to work with her, so it's really great to be able to do that."