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Automotive artist Ken Dallison’s Canadian legacy

Entitled Mosport Memories it is not only Dallison’s largest scale work and most researched ever, but one he admits was “a joy to work on”.

  • Dallison-Mosport

World-renowned automotive artist Ken Dallison looked at his latest work and said, “this is my legacy to the country I love – Canada”.

Entitled Mosport Memories it is not only Dallison’s largest scale work and most researched ever, but one he admits was “a joy to work on”.

Dallison, of Mississauga, has had his work appear in magazines such as Car & Driver and Road & Track, and on the cover of the Monterey Historics and Indianapolis 500 programs to name just a fraction of his accomplishments.

“My art hangs in museums and homes all over the world, but not in Canada,” he said. “So when this came along, I jumped at it.”

“This” is a massive eight- by four-foot oil painting that hangs on the top floor of the new Event Centre at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formerly Mosport) and was unveiled during the recent United SportsCar Championship race.

Two years ago, Mississaugan Ron Fellows, one of the great sports car champions of all time with wins at LeMans and the outright victory at the Daytona 24 Hours, got together with Carlo Fidani, whose Orlando Corporation practically invented the design/build industrial and commercial building concept, and took over Mosport.

From tattered pavement and ageing buildings, Fellows and Fidani spared nothing in creating what is now a world-class racing facility.

Last fall, the two realized their sparkling clean racetrack needed something of the old Mosport.

Several years ago, Dallison was commissioned by Chevrolet to commemorate the epic wins of Corvette. Much to his surprise, the main person in the commission, Fellows, lived behind Dallison’s house the Lorne Park area of Mississauga.

So contacting Dallison was a perfect fit.

But there was a problem.

The three decided to depict the years 1966-1977 and photos and records were scarce and/or lost.

And then there was the problem not who to put in, but who to leave out.

“Ron initially came to me with a list 18 people he wanted in,” Dallison joked at the unveiling, “and then he said ‘drop five’ and handed me a list of 33 more.”

On a huge easel, Dallison started work in earnest just after Christmas. By February there were dozens of preliminary sketches, each one different, as Dallison moved cars and people around.

Getting accurate photos of the cars and drivers who had won at Mosport was the hardest part, “but I had a lot of help from people like Bill Petro (photographer) and Ed Graney (archivist) without whom this could not have been done.”

At the unveiling, Dallison didn’t talk about the 12-hour days balancing the positions of the subjects and then doing them in oil, as he is noted for his watercolours.

“Nothing could have made me happier than to do this assignment,” he said.

Born in England, Dallison and his wife, Gwen, have lived in Canada for more than 50 years. With their great granddaughter now part of the Dallison clan, he reflected on Mosport Memories.

“Canada has been so good to my family and I, that I wanted to leave something, my legacy you might call it.

“This is the biggest project and the most demanding I have ever done, but the result is what I wanted.”

At the unveiling, Fidani and Fellows announced they are going to have limited edition prints made in the near future.

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  • Automotive artist Ken Dallison’s Canadian legacy
  • Automotive artist Ken Dallison’s Canadian legacy
  • Automotive artist Ken Dallison’s Canadian legacy

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