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Indy Centennial Era Gala highlights include Kinkade art unveiling
IMS CEO Tony George, left, and famed painter Thomas Kinkade after Kinkade unveiled his Studio Masterwork that will serve as the cover of the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Official Program
Shawn Payne
Renowned artist Thomas Kinkade unveiled a new Studio Masterwork painting that will serve as the cover of the collectible 2009 Indianapolis 500 Program during the Centennial Era Gala on Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.

Kinkade revealed his piece, called Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 100th Anniversary, during the cocktail hour of the elegant Gala at the Indiana Convention Center. Described as a celebration on canvas, the painting spans the 100 years of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's history.

Known as The Painter of Light, Kinkade recently was named the featured artist for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era, a three-year series of events that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.

In addition to the Masterwork, Kinkade created a colorful and exuberant Impressionist work for the Centennial Era Gala program cover. Capturing all the excitement of Indy at a moment in time as cars flash by the stands, American flags flying on a perfect Memorial Day weekend of blue skies and fluffy clouds, it is the perfect expression of the thrill of racing that millions of fans will find easily identifiable.

From left: Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, Linda Vaughn, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears
Shawn Payne
Another highlight of the evening was a performance by legendary performer Wayne Newton. "Mr. Las Vegas" has recorded and released more than 165 albums and has enjoyed nearly 20 No. 1 and top 10 hits.

The rich century of history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was brought to life for Gala guests by the presence of 19 Indianapolis 500 winners: Mario Andretti, Kenny Brack, Eddie Cheever Jr., Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon, A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Buddy Lazier, Arie Luyendyk, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Jim Rathmann, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser.

Other legendary drivers attending were Janet Guthrie, the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500, and 1997 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Ricky Rudd.

The historic theme of the evening also was enhanced by an exciting multimedia presentation by IMS Productions and by the display of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro that will pace the 93rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24. Also on display were six historic vehicles from the IMS Hall of Fame Museum collection: Sears Motor Buggy, 1909 Buick, 1909 Alco 9-60 Touring car, 1918 Rauch and Lang, 1925 Duesenberg Model "A" and 1949 Jaguar XK120.

Proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, Inc., which is dedicated to preserving the history of auto racing through the IMS Hall of Fame Museum in order to educate and enlighten the public.

Law firm Ice Miller, an Indianapolis Motor Speedway business partner since the 1930s, is the title sponsor of the Centennial Era Gala. Presenting sponsors are Just Marketing International, Old National Bank, the Indiana Pacers and Honda.

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