33 Artists Create “Welcome Race Fans” Signs

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway partnered with the Arts Council of Indianapolis to put a twist on the usual May banners.
From handwritten posters to greetings on restaurant signs, one saying shows up all over the city each May: “Welcome Race Fans.” To celebrate the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway partnered with the Arts Council of Indianapolis for a new take on this Hoosier tradition. The Arts Council commissioned 33 artists—the same number of cars that race in the Indianapolis 500—to turn the usual welcome signs into works of art. The artists were instructed not to focus on incorporating race imagery or colors, but on delivering the welcome message in their own style.

For local artist Kristy Hughes, that meant finding a way to incorporate the greeting into a montage of paint, paper scraps, and sometimes even pieces of trash she finds in the street. Hughes used paint and collage to construct her work. By making a mess with paint, cutting away pieces, and gluing pieces back on, she eventually arrived at her finished product. Hughes spent around two months working on her “Welcome Race Fans” piece, which can be viewed at the Indianapolis International Airport along with three of the other signs. She wanted to be involved in the initiative because she thought it was unusual to see the IMS investing in the arts. Although not a racing fan herself, she has come to understand what a big deal the 500 is to the community after living in Indy for two years.

Of the 10 pieces sold at this time, only two have gone to art collectors. The other eight were purchased by IndyCar fans—people the Arts Council probably wouldn’t have reached through a gallery, says vice president Shannon Linker.

If you’re interested in seeing the 33 works in person, you can find them at several locations around the city.