1950 Ron Burton Original “Basement Bessie” IndyCar Artwork
Original Ron Burton artwork depicting the Russo-Nichels Special “Basement Bessie” IndyCar. The original car was built in the Basement of Paul Russo’s house in Harrison Street, Indianapolis. Russo and engineering friend Ray Nichels started building the car on a shoestring to enter the 1950 Indy 500. Once the pair had two-thirds of the car finished they had to disassemble the machine to get it out to the street and head to the speedway for qualifying. The story is, Wilbur Shaw, president, and general manager of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gave the car a long gaze, seeing no front grill, a temporary fuel tank and not a drop of paint anywhere. said, “You can’t qualify without a number.” Nichels and Russo told Shaw “we’re broke and can’t afford to get a number painted on the car” Shaw replied, “If you boys qualify, get a number painted and send me the bill.” By that afternoon the boys had a number on the car.
This artwork was started by famous Indianapolis artist Ron Burton back in the ’70s and put to one side to be completed at a later date. Unfortunately, Ron never got round to finishing the work. It was recently detailed and finished by young Canadian artist Abriella Sammy. She can be seen completing the work in the pictures.
The medium of the work is oil on canvas and the approximate size is 24 x 18 inches