Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist who fought a lengthy battle with serious kidney issues, died on Saturday.
Bass’ death was announced by his wife, Denise, who posted a note on his official Twitter account.
“It is with a sad heart that our family shares the news of our loss with the NASCAR community,” she wrote.
Bass, 57, helped design paint schemes and programs for some of NASCAR’s top stars and marquee events, with his NASCAR Cup Series background including paint scheme designs for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, among others.
Born in Hopewell, Va., Bass first got interested in racing at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va. After moving to Charlotte, N.C., in 1984, Bass was commissioned to do the race program cover art for the 1985 Coca-Cola 600. He’s done every cover for Charlotte Motor Speedway since.
“Though he may have never turned a lap or a wrench, few captured the essence of our sport through his work more than Sam Bass. He was a consistent presence in the NASCAR garage, and his ever-present smile and endearing personality welcomed all. Though we have lost a member of the NASCAR family, his legend will continue in his art – all of which illustrated the greatness of our sport and the talent of a true friend.”