CONCORD, N.C. – Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist who designed paint schemes for countless NASCAR competitors, died Saturday. He was 57 years old.
The announcement was made by his family on Bass’ official Facebook page.
Bass, who attended his first NASCAR race in Richmond, Va., when he was 7 years old, had battled type 1 diabetes for several years and had his left leg amputated in 2008. More recently Bass had been in search of a kidney transplant.
Race fans have seen Bass’ work on the race track for more than 30 years. He designed some of the most famous NASCAR schemes in history, including Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 DuPont rainbow scheme. Bass also designed cars driven by Dale Earnhardt, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and many others.
NASCAR released a statement on Bass’ passing prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway Saturday afternoon.
“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,” read the statement. “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.”
In addition, Bass’ work has been featured on program covers for many NASCAR speedways, chiefly Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. He also designed many of the cars featured in the film Talladega Nights, which starred Will Ferrell.
“Our deepest sympathies are with Denise and her family today,” said Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith. “Sam Bass has been a significant part of NASCAR’s history. He poured his heart, soul and talent into producing souvenir program covers at many speedways including Charlotte for more than 30 years. His work provided our fans a keepsake to treasure, and that was so appropriate, because Sam was always such a fan of our sport and he was such a treasure to the entire NASCAR family. His body of work will be a legacy that lives forever. We will miss Sam’s smile and positivity.”
His work has also been featured in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, North Carolina Motorsports Hall of Fame and The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway, among many others.