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On the east side of South Franklin Road, a paved driveway leads past a field of grazing horses up to a barn.
Most mornings, Gary Dausch walks a few miles for exercise, has breakfast and heads inside.
He positions himself in front of a canvas, grabs his tools and begins to “lose track of time,” painting life-like images of motorsports’ cars and drivers in excruciating detail.
Since he retired in 2008, Dausch, 74, has been on a mission to capture important moments in motorsports history with a paintbrush, hoping to elevate the world of automotive art to the level of fine art.
“I’m trying to create a piece of artwork,” Dausch said, “that is of a level and quality that it is appropriate to find in museums and art galleries.”
He laments the “common” fate of automotive art – posters hanging in a garage – and spends “over 100 hours” on each piece, painting the most realistic, detailed images he can.
It drives him “crazy” if the portraits don’t appear exactly like the person, and the tread on the tires isn’t just right.
“I’ve got some faces where I’ve repainted parts of them over seven times,” Dausch said. “I have to fight with myself to find where that problem is and fix it.”
His attention to detail comes from his own experiences with motorsports, buying, repairing and racing sports cars in his spare time as the former director of marketing at Walker Racing.
On the racetrack, if everything wasn’t just right, “you could have catastrophic results.”
Dausch’s “unique” ability to paint cars and portraits with equal skill has landed his work in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and the Indiana State Museum.
But he still isn’t satisfied.
“If you don’t keep trying to improve and get better and meet new challenges,” Dausch said, “you’re not going to progress. So, I’m not at that point. I’m retired, I’m not dead.”
Brandon is also a Report for America corps member with the GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world.
Report for America, funded by both private and public donors, covers up to 50% of a reporter’s salary. It’s up to IndyStar to find the other half, through local community donors, benefactors, grants or other fundraising activities.
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