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Talented Hoosier Artist Finds His Muse at IMS

Justin Vining at IMS
Posted at 8:19 PM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-18 10:13:05-04

SPEEDWAY — Justin Vining has a gift, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has become his muse during the month of May.

"I think most fans will agree," Justin says, "There's almost something emotional that happens. Sitting out here in the stands, I want to put those feelings into my paintings."

Justin wasn't a race fan, but something in 2017 compelled him to visit the track with his paint and brushes.

He remembers his first piece, high up in the stands on Turn One.

"I painted right down that main straightaway and it didn't take very long for me to get the bug," he recalls. "And then next year, I found myself out here almost every day, including race day, painting."

Now, every May, Justin sets up his easel around the track in different vantage points from the stands, to the garages, to the press boxes, and live paints practices, qualifying, races.  

"It's a full, sensory experience out here," Justin says, "To be able to paint in a situation like that, i really feel like all of the sounds, the speed, the people --- all of that, I hope, goes into these paintings."

Justin has created roughly 75 paintings, since his first one on Turn One. Most he sells, except the ones from the Indy 500 race days. He holds those dear.

There is a growing collection at his east side Indianapolis art gallery. A smaller painting shows dawn on each race morning. A larger canvass shows the winning car crossing the finish line.

There's even a painting from the year the race was held in August, during the pandemic. It is the year Takuma Sato won and the stands were empty. Last year's finish line painting features Marcus Ericsson's red racer.

For Justin, these particular paintings are tough to part with.

"I cant go back in time and paint that," he says, "So, I'm there living it and feeling it and it's incredibly autobiographical and it's such a core part of my life. You just can't put a price on that."
For a creative spirit who had no connection to racing before, there is now no place else he would rather be in May.

"I have a weird connection with this place now," Justin says, "And it goes beyond even painting it. It's more emotional now."

He's using oils and brushes to document the rich history at the Yard of Bricks.

Time-lapse of Justin Vining painting at IMS

He ponders, "I don't know how many photographs are in the archives -- millions at this point. How many are paintings? Probably not that many. And then, how many are paintings that were painted on location, sitting right here, watching the cars go by? It really is a unique way to document and capture what's happened and the essence and the feeling of what it's like to be out here."

Justin was practicing law, before he decided in 2011 to focus on painting full time.

He sells his paintings the day after the Indianapolis 500. He's hoping, however, his collection of paintings from the 500 itself, will one day be on display somewhere at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.