Digital Motorsports Painting

Digital Motorsports Painting

I’m not a true artist because I draw terribly and likely paint even worse.  But I discovered that being a prolific user of Photoshop gave me some skills that allowed me to digitally paint certain styles of artwork, in my case motorsports.  Photoshop gives the user a powerful array of tools that immediately compensates for innate weaknesses in one’s ability to draw what one sees accurately.   And then it unleashes the power of digital manipulation.  I can change colors at will, erase and correct, layer and filter.

Everyone paints subjects that have emotional appeal to them.  I chose motorsports because I’ve been interested since a child and as a adult have come to appreciate the human story behind every great victory.   Or loss.  And it’s another avenue for my over active brain to focus on and to satiate that urge to produce something.  In the past, the struggling artist struggled in isolation.  One would hope that digital integration of the world gives a new chance for artists to share their work and perhaps gain some consolable degree of recognition.

This is my first piece.  Long time readers of this blog will know I have a penchant for Mazda rotary powered vehicles and their professional motorsports victories.  A sports car is not a real sports car unless its proven its mettle on the track.  And the Mazda Rx7s of the early 1980s dominated their class and often punched well above their weight.

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From left to right:  The outright 1981 24 Hours of Spa winner, the GTU class winner and 5th overall 1979 24 Hours of Daytona,  3rd place Group B Rx7 in the 1985 Acropolis Rally.

My next pieces were involved in my attempt to convince Blipshift to market one of my designs on their T-shirts.  Since I’m also a motorcyclist and I noticed a paucity of motorcycle themes in their wares, I did some research to find a subject that would strongly resonate with me.  And I found the ideal one.

This is famed German racer Helmut Dahne aboard the handbuilt Honda homologation model VFR750R, commonly known as the RC30.  Dahne set the Nurburgring circuit record aboard the RC30 at 7:49:71 in 1993.   That record will never be broken because after a spate of fatalties in 1994, the track cancelled all future motorcycle contests.    How fast was Dahne?  The current record is a minute faster with a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ that has 770 bhp, 4 wheels and all wheel drive.   The RC30 only has 112 bhp and exquisite balance and handling and can rev to 14,000 rpm.   I know, I used to own one.

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One of Dahne’s earlier victories was winning the 1976 Production TT on the Isle of Man aboard a BMW R90S.  The Isle of Man is likely the most fearsome road course in the world, running through sea level towns with narrow roads lined with stone walls and then up to the mountains and back down, it claims lives every year.  And I still own a 1968 BMW R60/2 US and on early Sunday mornings on empty streets I have my Walter Mitty moments riding it.

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I was leafing through a magazine and came across an ad for a business that sells vintage racing posters.  Loving the style of them, in an era when these posters were produced just for mass marketing purposes and then destroyed, they nevertheless exemplify a lost world of technique and talent.

FInalPoster
The 1991 Le Mans, where underdog Mazda is against the proven forces of Porsche/Mercedes/Jaguar.  The iconic Mazda 787B is powered by a 4 rotor Wankel engine with an exhaust wail that can burst eardrums.  It is not the fastest car.  But it is the strongest.  Here’s the scene.  The 787B is driving through the night lapping with metronomic efficiency with the Jaguar relentlessly chasing it. The two Mercedes are in the lead, they are faster but they have to keep up the punishing pace to fend off the Mazda. By dawn, one Mercedes breaks and Mazda is in 2nd place. By noon, the last Mercedes breaks its alternator mount, the serpentine belt is thrown and the engine overheats. Mazda takes the lead at 1pm and holds on until the end of the race at 3 pm!

Mazda is a tiny car manufacturer in a world of behemoths created through a gradual consolidation of company mergers.   To pull off the 1991 feat on their budget and limited resources is almost beyond belief.  And with a non piston engine whose development only began in the 1960s.   And based in the Japanese city of Hiroshima where the company had to rebuild from nuclear devastation …. again the indomitable human spirit rises.

The next one is the result of pent up nervous energy in a winter devoid of photographic targets.   Thunderball is my favourite vintage James Bond movie.  Here we have beautiful Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi riding a rocket grenade equipped BSA A65 Lightning Clubmans about to tangle with Bond in his Aston Martin DB5.   Bond has deployed the twin Browning machine guns hidden in his driving lights in anticipation of some action.

ThunderballFInal

Next to the Rocket Goldstar model, this BSA is my favourite.

And most recently, I was inspired by the motorsports art of Tim Layzell, I tried my hand at capturing a moment in autosport history in his style.  This is the 1983 24 Hours at Daytona.  Legendary driver AJ Foyt fought through the torrential early Sunday afternoon rain to gain a 4 lap lead over the next GTP class car in his Porsche 935L. Meanwhile the tiny 1.3L Racing Beat Mazda Rx7 rose through the ranks as attrition claimed 50 of the 79 competitors to win its GTO class as well as placing 3rd overall – the highest finish by Mazda at Daytona. The race was briefly halted after visibility fell to zero, and when they returned for a final hour of racing, the Rx7 lead the Porsche 935L for a single lap until the Mazda was put back into its place! Years later, AJ Foyt recounts that amongst all his many, many wins (4 Indy 500s and the great 1967 LeMans) this one was his favourite. His dying father persuaded him to race in Daytona and as such desperately wanted to win.

The hilarious thing is that Foyt was not supposed to drive in the Porsche 935L at all, his ride was an Aston Martin which retired early. But the owner of Swap Shop who owned the 935L wanted Foyt’s celebrity to promote his business. French driver Bob Wollek was incensed when he learned Foyt would take the car out in the rain knowing that Foyt had never driven it or even knew the shift pattern but Foyt was a genius and gave the team an additional 4 lap lead and set the fastest rain lap.

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