Ambush Art: An Art Surprise

This whole ‘Ambush Art’ thing started innocently enough when, in 1995, Steve Lewis (founder of Performance Racing Industry tradeshow and magazine) commissioned me to do a painting to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Chevy V8 Engine. Steve created a memorable event, gathering Herb Thomas (the first race car driver to win a race with the new 1955 Chevrolet V8), Zora Duntov, Smokey Yunick, seventeen of the original Chevrolet engineers, and many other Chevrolet notables. We surprised (ambushed!) Chevrolet with the painting (and yes, I do have one of the 10 serigraphs with all those signatures on it - inquire for availability). This was the start of Ambush Art.

I have collaborated on many Ambush Art projects since then. In 2010 I worked with Brad Lackey (In 1982, he became the first and only American to win the 500cc Grand Prix Motocross World Championship) to ambush Danny ‘Magoo’ Chandler (professional motocross racer) with a painting for auction to support getting him a new handicap van. Also, in 2010, Brent and Bud Kaeding brought my ‘Do It- Hewitt’ painting to the Jack Hewitt (top sprint car racer) roast in Eldora, Ohio and the painting was auctioned off to help out Jack. Then, in a complete surprise to everyone, the buyer of the painting handed Jack the cash AND the painting. Jack was deeply grateful to have been “ambushed” with both the painting and the cash.

In 2014 Jimmy Carr, Brent Kaeding and Tony Iacobitti restored the Doug Wolfgang sprint car, and we plotted together on an ambush art collaboration. Tony Stewart (3-time NASCAR Champion and Team Owner) thought he was going shopping for antiques in Scotts Valley, CA when he was in town for the Searspoint Raceway for the NASCAR race. We surprised him with the restored race car, my 48” x 60” Wolfgang painting and over 100 people that were part of that era in Wolfgang’s and Stewart’s life. Another successful Ambush Art collaboration!

A March 2018 Ambush Art event was a collaboration between race car driver Michael Lewis and myself, to surprise his Dad, Steve Lewis, with a painting. I painted Steve and one of his best friends Ed Pink (the founder of Ed Pink Racing Engines, in LA, CA) tuning the Strombergs on Steve’s 1932 flathead hotrod. When I walked in Steve’s house with the original 30” x 40” painting and handed it to him, he said “I’m a guy that likes to be in control in my life, and right now- I’m not.” He loves the painting.

The next Ambush Art occurred at the Luftgekühlt 5 Porsche event at Ganahl Lumber, Torrance, CA in April 2018. Mark Pribanic drives his 1958 Porsche Coupe - from Florida to LA, and all over the US! I saw his story on Instagram and decided to ‘surprise’ Mark with a painting of his Porsche. Having never met Mark, I orchestrated presenting him with the painting of his car, while journalists and videographers captured the event. Mark is a great guy and was truly surprised and appreciative!

At the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI, September, 2018 at Laguna Seca Raceway I ambushed my great friends Jerry Cvitanich & Denise Christensen with a painting of their very cool VW Double Cab (I thinks it's Porsche powered...maybe a 4-cam, Jerry?). If you haven't yet checked out Jerrys 'Tanich Garage' VW Double Cab, you are missing out!

The most recent Ambush Art episode took place with Bill Warner, the founder of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. We presented three of my paintings to Jacky Ickx, Jurgen Barth and Hurley Haywood last Sunday at the Amelia Concours. The three drivers teared up and they were almost speechless! 

And if you are wondering, yes, I am working on more Ambush Art events right now! Who will be the next surprise member of the Ambush Art Club?

I guess you could say I’m a car guy, a story teller, and an “Ambush Artist.” www.kellytelfer.com