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"Pandemic 500" Artist creates permanent display in new Speedway Municipal Center

The new display debuts Monday night at the dedication of the new Speedway Municipal Center and showcases the town's support for local artists.

INDIANAPOLIS — You probably remember the "Pandemic 500" paintings from back in August, that captured the uniqueness of last year's Indy 500.

Now, the artist who created those pieces has a new, permanent display in Speedway.

It debuts Monday night at the dedication of the new Speedway Municipal Center and showcases the town's support for local artists.

As Speedway waves the green flag on its new municipal building, a years-long project consolidating the town's government offices, council, police, parks, and Speedway Schools administration, the essence of this town is being unveiled in a new art display inside.

They're two paintings that capture the two pillars of Speedway: its community history and its racing heritage.

Local artist Audwynn Newman created them both.

"That represents both what we're known for, which is the 500 but we'd also like to showcase the community some of the dynamic businesses we have that have been featured here for a long, long time," Newman explained. "I just want people to get that these things you pass every day and you don't even think about are historic and fascinating landmarks. Not every town has that and Speedway does."

Credit: Jennie Runevitch
The new display debuts Monday night at the dedication of the new Speedway Municipal Center and showcases the town's support for local artists.

"I'm seeing them for the first time today and they're amazing," said Tim Gropp, Speedway Economic Development Director. "I think it's just ... a fantastic representation of the heart of Speedway."

One piece showcases the greatest spectacle in racing from the Marmon Wasp to the famed Pagoda to the yard of bricks.

The other features Dallara, Allison Transmission, the old Rosner's grocery story, the water tower, police, fire and the high school.

"Plus of course their mascot, the Sparkplug, and I toughened him up a little bit and gave him a little extra power," Newman said.

These pieces are permanent, meant to rev the engines of every visitor -- forever.

And downstairs, there's a rotating exhibit with a different artist featured every two months.

Newman is up first.

Credit: Jennie Runevitch

"It's something new," Gropp said. "It's a discussion piece it allows these artists to display their work."

To further that connection, they plan to have QR codes next to the paintings, so people can use their phones and then buy what they like.

Newman also plans to sell smaller versions of the two permanent displays in the building's lobby.

Because he also painted the popular "Pandemic 500" pieces last year, he says these new paintings also represent a chance to bring hope for a Speedway tradition - renewed.

"Just the feeling of a new dawn, a new day, a new time and I think it's exciting. I really do," Newman said. "I'm just honored to be part of it."

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