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IndyCar factory workers switch gears, cut fabric for hospital gowns in spare time

IndyCar maker volunteers to cut out patterns for hospital gowns

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — A factory in the shadow of Indianapolis Motor Speedway best known for making parts for IndyCars is now volunteering its efforts to help those on the front lines. Volunteers who work at the factory are cutting out patterns for hospital gowns.

Dallara USA is also a manufacturer with contracts for the Department of Defense and aerospace industries. But it’s what they’re doing for employees on the front lines that some might see as the most essential.

As composite technician Mike Carlisle clicks the mouse and pushes another button, you can almost hear “Gentleman, start your engines” as the cutting table machine warms up inside the Dallara factory on Main Street.

But instead of carbon fiber, it’s five layers of blue fabric. The fabric that will soon be a hospital gown at Eskenazi Hospital.

“We are an Indiana company,” said Stefano DePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “We thought how to give a contribution even a small contribution to help the community.”

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The prepreg fibers the machine usually cuts have been put aside for a couple hours at a time. A few steps and eight hours of work later, it turns into any number of IndyCar parts.

But with racing on the sidelines, and the museum and event center out front all dark, a new priority tops the list among the other Department of Defense and aerospace projects.

“We’re a motorsports company,” said Bryce Moore, commercial and sales support for Dallara USA. “To be able to give back to the country and the state of Indiana at a time like this when there’s a global pandemic going on, to be able to be a part of the solution, it’s part of the picture. It feels really special.”

It’s not just cutting.

Employees have designed the gowns and built the pattern on software which can fit as many as they can on the machine.

Wednesday marks the first day of production.

While many of the other steps to create the hospital gowns are not for free, this step is: officials with StitchWorks are picking up the pieces and working to figure out how to cut the patterns in mass. They have a contract to provide 2,500 gowns to Eskenazi by mid-April.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the bigger picture. It’s something very, very big to be a part of,” said Moore.

“The Indiana community gave us a lot in terms of affections and support for what we do have for motorsports. This is the occasion to give something back,” added DePonti.

Dallara cut enough pieces to make 50 gowns Wednesday, which alone may not be enough to keep up with demand.

StitchWorks is also hiring about 15 people right now to help make the gowns.

For more information about the work and the group’s efforts to make a million masks, click here.

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