BMW, Canepa & Corvette Racing
Wow! It’s been quite a late spring and summer of art. In the last two months some fantastic patrons from Brian Redman for BMW, Canepa and Pratt & Miller Corvette Racing have purchased commissioned work. Before that though, not long after the Petrolicious article came out, I was contacted by Speigel in Germany for an interview with their online publication. For those not familiar with Spiegel, they are a pretty large print and online magazine. A similar magazine here in the U.S. would be Time or maybe Newsweek. Having my work featured outside of North America has been a big goal since most of my work is of European racing. Seeing an article published about my work in a different language is a surreal thing. I had to ask a German friend if the article was well written and received. Since Germans are typically brutally honest I took his word for it! Strangely enough, some requests came in from a few more German speaking sites in Austria as well as Germany: Motorblock, Classic Driver – German, Auto-Service, Vanishing Point. Then, a Romanian contributor to CarScoops, Andrei Nedelea, gave a great article of his impression of my work. Andrei said:
“His paintings should be featured and be the main support for a course on how to capture movement into still frames because they epitomize the idea.”
Seeing and reading people deriving enjoyment about something that I’m passionate about is very special to me. It’s a great thing when people with different perspectives can express their passion and enthusiasm about a given subject. Meeting other fans, and eventual patrons, sharing thei passion for racing with me has been the best thing about my creative motorsport journey. When I received an email from racing legend, Brian Redman about creating a tribute painting for BMW North America’s CEO, Ludwig Willisch, I was beyond excited! For those who may not know Brian’s career, he is one of the fastest and winningest sports car drivers in the last 50 years. Manufacturers from Aston Martin, BMW and Porsche have all benefited from his driving services. He was also one of the few drivers Enzo Ferrari asked twice to race for him! Brian’s request was for me to recreate Team BMW’s 1975 Sebring 12 Hour victory, in which he co-drove the CSL 3.0 with Allan Moffat, Hans Stuck and Sam Posey.
An interview for Classic and Sports Car Magazine out of the UK came not long after the BMW painting. This lead me to my next commission when I received a call from a strange number. I missed the call so I rang back.
“Canepa, how may I direct your call?’
“Hello, this is Alex Wakefield, I received a call from this number and I was just trying to see who was trying to contact me.”
“Ah, I think I know who can help you. Hold please…”
“Executive Assistant how may I help you?”
“This is Alex Wakefield, I believe I missed your call?”
“Yes, Bruce Canepa saw your work in a magazine recently and loves your work. I was simply looking to make a contact with you so he may inquire about your work. Would it be alright if he contacted you in the next day or so?”
“Absolutely!” I replied.
Bruce rang back a few hours later, he reiterated what his assistant had said of my work. There was a specific space he had in mind for the “Porsche 936” painting he saw in Classic and Sports Car. Bruce said that he used to own the very 936 that I depicted in my painting. Le Mans, 1977, Ickx, Barth, Haywood, THE legendary machine. Bruce felt that that painting really depicted the pure art and emotion of how he felt about that car. So, if he didn’t own the car any longer, he wanted what he felt was a great artistic representation of that legendary Porsche. The size he required was 48×60″ for the space he was requiring. That would require a one-off reproduction of the original with the caveat of making sure it was at Canepa by the Porsche Rennsport Reunion V in 3 weeks time. No pressure, eh?
Thankfully this piece was mostly review for the composition. The process of creating this was mainly in improving on little details that might have been tweaked on the original canvas, like improving the shape and positioning of Ickx’s helmet, and tweaking how the light streaking is achieved to hopefully intensify the motion. Finally, keeping the sharp details and letting the others blur or fade away. Ultimately, the finished product is how I think the painting should be. Thankfully the painting arrived at Canepa on time for presentation at Rennsport V. Bruce called me directly to say just how pleased he was with the finished product. I don’t think I could ask for anything more, a happy customer! I hope I can work with Bruce and his staff at Canepa, they’re professional, first rate people.
My most recent commission came from a friend of mine who happens to be related to someone who’s big in the IMSA sportscar scene, Jim Miller of Pratt & Miller Corvette Racing. The painting was to be a gift for his birthday in October. We had initially chatted about this early in the year. Basically, it came down to whether or not Pratt & Miller Corvette won at Le Mans this year or not. After seeing their two-car effort go down to one on Thursday, due to Jan Magnussen’s unfortunate wreck, I knew it would be difficult. It was just one Corvette vs. multiple challengers from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche. It was looking good before I went to bed the Saturday night of Le Mans, so the hope was that when the race was on with a few hours left, Corvette would still be in the lead. Somehow through preparedness, determination and good luck, Pratt & Miller Corvette took their first 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2011.
Once they’d safely made the finish I was messaging my buddy Jon, “OK, we’ve gotta do a painting now!” “Let’s do it!” came the reply. We decided that going with something that showed more of the ambiance or vista of Le Mans would be a great way to go instead of an up-close depiction of the Corvette. Working with the idea of the low sun over the trees exiting Virage Mulsanne heading towards Virage Indianapolis gives a real image of beauty. To the fan that really knows Le Mans, especially at this point of the day, the imagery also gives a feeling of how far the combination of car, driver and team have come in the race. Clicking off the laps in a swift, yet steady fashion to make sure they’re making the finish at 4PM on Sunday afternoon. There’s really something about Le Mans that to me almost reaches the metaphysical. The track isn’t just a little 2-miler with the race being 2 or 3 hours. Le Mans is raced on an 8.5-mile circuit for 24 Hours. To me it’s the ultimate racing adventure for a day and a night.
Receiving word from Jon that Jim really enjoyed the gift painting for his birthday was fantastic. Hopefully this will spark some wonderful memories of this great moment for years to come!
Before 2015 is over, there are some exciting events coming up this fall and winter. Still working out the details, but when they are set stay tuned to the Motorart27 Blog and Facebook page for more details. Thanks for reading!