Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist, has died. He was 57.

He suffered from kidney problems. His wife, Denise, announced his death Saturday with a note on his official Twitter account.

Bass helped design paint schemes and programs for some of NASCAR’s top stars and marquee events. His NASCAR Cup Series background included paint scheme designs for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and others.

He turned NASCAR into art, and we all loved it. Sam Bass has died at the age of 57. pic.twitter.com/JzK1dyXKsO

The Virginia-born Bass became interested in racing at Southside Speedway in Richmond. In 1984, he was commissioned to do the race program cover art for the 1985 Coca-Cola 600. He’s done every cover for Charlotte Motor Speedway since.

NASCAR said in a statement that “though he may have never turned a lap or a wrench, few captured the essence of our sport through his work more than Sam Bass.”

FILE - In this July 24, 2006, file photo, artist Sam Bass, stands next to a poster he created for the movie,
FILE – In this July 24, 2006, file photo, artist Sam Bass, stands next to a poster he created for the movie, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” starring Will Ferrell at his Concord, N. (Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP, File)

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