Famed NASCAR artist Sam Bass dies at 57

by Justin Nguyen

For decades, Sam Bass designed paint schemes for many of NASCAR‘s greatest names from Jeff Gordon to Dale Earnhardt, while also holding the title of NASCAR’s first official artist. On Saturday, the Bass family announced his passing at the age of 57; he had long battled with Type 1 diabetes and recently required a kidney transplant, sparking a social media campaign supported by driver and friend Dale Earnhardt Jr. to find a donor.

“PR: It is with a sad heart that our family shares the news of our loss with the NASCAR community,” his wife Denise posted on Facebook. “Sam Bass, a loving husband, father, and inspiration to us all, passed away earlier today. Thank you for your outpouring of sympathy and continued support and prayers for us during this very difficult time. God Bless – Denise Bass”

Among Bass’s most well-known works are his designs for NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Gordon‘s #24 Hendrick Motorsports cars, beginning with the Rainbow Warrior DuPont (now Axalta) scheme that Gordon used at the start of his Cup Series career. Bass later created Gordon’s flames-based car that he began driving in 2001, followed by various other Gordon rides.

Gordon’s Hendrick team-mates, including Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson, and others like Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Tony Stewart have also raced with Bass-designed cars.

“Sam designed many of our iconic schemes, including the rainbow and flame schemes for the 24 car,” Axalta’s Twitter wrote. “His legacy will live on in NASCAR history. Sending thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

Gordon tweeted:

A watercolour painter, Bass also drew various race programs and created trophies like a Gibson Les Paul guitar for the Xfinity Series race winner at Nashville Superspeedway during the series’ run at the track.

The NASCAR community issued its condolences and reflected on their experiences with Bass on social media:

Sam Bass: November 20, 1961 – February 16, 2019

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