Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist, died Saturday. He was 57.
Bass’ wife Denise confirmed the artist’s passing in a statement. Bass had been battling kidney failure and was in search of a transplant, NASCAR.com reported.
“It is with a sad heart that our family shares the news of our loss with the NASCAR community,” Denise Bass wrote. “Sam Bass, a loving husband, father, and inspiration to us all, passed away earlier today. Thank you for your prayers during this very difficult time.”
In a statement, NASCAR said: “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.”
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith released a statement calling Bass “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,” the statement read. “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.”
Many in the NASCAR community expressed their condolences.