Chicago Artists Unveil Custom-Painted NASCAR Car at Museum of Science and Industry
In a heartwarming tribute to a cherished family tradition, artist Blake Lenoir and his 3-year-old son Brayson stood proudly at the unveiling of a new exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The exhibit featured a stunning custom-painted NASCAR Chicago Street Race show car, a project that Lenoir helped bring to life.
Lenoir fondly remembers bonding with his great-grandfather by watching NASCAR races every Sunday morning during his childhood. Their shared love for the sport sparked Lenoir’s passion and imagination, as he dreamed of becoming a NASCAR racer or engineer. Now, as he held his own son in his arms at the exhibit, Lenoir couldn’t help but feel a sense of full-circle fulfillment.
“My heart is still pounding out of my chest right now,” Lenoir shared. “I can’t stop thinking about my grandfather’s face right now, picturing him smiling about even this whole opportunity coming into fruition. This day has quickly and slowly become about him.”
The custom painting of the car was a collaborative effort between Paint the City, an artist-led nonprofit organization, and NASCAR Chicago Street Race. The goal was to honor Chicago’s history and showcase the science and mechanics behind street racing. The car will remain on display until NASCAR’s next Chicago street race in July.
The design of the car incorporates elements of Chicago’s culture, featuring the city’s flag and evoking a sense of speed and excitement. It serves as a visual representation of the city’s vibrant racing community and its deep connection to the sport. The partnership with Paint the City allowed local artists to infuse their own cultural perspectives into the design. Artist Mario Mena drew inspiration from his Mexican heritage and incorporated a monarch butterfly, symbolizing transformation and representing his culture.
In addition to the car, the artists also painted three replica helmets and three canvases, which will be auctioned on the NASCAR Foundation’s website. The proceeds from the auction will support both the NASCAR Foundation and Paint the City’s joint campaign to create impactful murals in schools within underserved communities.
The Museum of Science and Industry sees the exhibit as an opportunity to engage visitors with the physics and science behind racing. They are developing programming to educate visitors, especially children, about the intricate details and engineering involved in creating a high-performance racing car.
Chevy Humphrey, the President of the Museum of Science and Industry, expressed the importance of representing all cultures and communities. She emphasized that the exhibit aims to inspire and empower young visitors by showcasing the possibilities within the world of racing and celebrating the rich history and diversity of Chicago.
“It’s exciting for them to see themselves,” Humphrey said. “A lot of the kids that come in, and the families that come in, represent all communities here.”
Paint the City co-founder Missy Perkins highlighted the organization’s commitment to working with local artists of color. The NASCAR project, completed in just two days, demonstrates their dedication to supporting artists and promoting diversity in the art world.
Julie Giese, President of NASCAR Chicago Street Race, praised the vibrant colors of the car and its intentional representation of Chicago’s uniqueness. She expressed her hope that the exhibit will inspire the next generation of racers and engineers, serving as a “love letter” to the city and its shared history with NASCAR.
The exhibit has already garnered attention and curiosity from visitors, particularly young children, who are captivated by the car’s design and eager to learn more about the science and technology behind it.
“The curiosity just keeps going and going and going,” Humphrey said. “This car shows that science is present in everyday life.”
The Museum of Science and Industry’s exhibit serves as a reminder that racing is not just about speed and competition; it is a combination of artistry, engineering, and the celebration of diverse cultures and communities. By showcasing the custom-painted NASCAR car, the exhibit invites visitors to embark on a journey of exploration, appreciation, and inspiration.