Despite what Sports Illustrated may have reported, Danica Patrick will not be body painted for the Ice Breaker 200--NASCAR DOES ART benefit race on April 3 at the newest racing venue, the Sugar Bowl in Pittsford, Vermont; however, her car, the number 7 Chevrolet, will be.
      "We're working with artist Warren Kimble and all our car owners to build this project," Vermont Sugar Bowl Communications Manager Carolyn Dumfries said. Each of the race cars in the Nationwide Series race will be painted with a design created by artists in the three northern New England states.
      "This event will be much like the 'really really pig show' of Brandon except the parade will be faster," Mr. Kimble said. Much much faster.
      Well known in Vermont, national folk artist Warren Kimble spearheaded the Palettes of Vermont project as the first major statewide project in which artists, schoolchildren and talented residents transformed humble objects into works of art. Our own World's Largest Palette was part of that effort.
      Mr. Kimble gathered drivers, car owners, and arts council chairs (including yours truly) last month at the southern Vermont racetrack. We picked four Franklin County artists.
Check the Date
      Ms Patrick chose to carry a surreal, gauzy angel proposed by Franklin artist Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard. Chad Blount selected Bob Eldridge's quirky maritime art for his number 10 Braun Racing Toyota. Kevin Lepage of Shelburne wants Dick Harper's photographs of the USS North Carolina on his hood and a woman body surfing on Lake Champlain on the fenders of his number 156 Mac Hill Motorsports Chevrolet. Chrissy Wallace will adorn the Chevrolet with Harald Aksdal's hawk stooping over the Wildlife refuge. The hawk is actually a falcon which is a nice irony for a Chevy driver.
      "I may have been the first artist to sign on," Ms. LaRocque-Bouchard said, "because my murals are usually as big as cars anyway."
      Six other drivers including Bobby Gerhart, Lucas Oil Chevrolet; Jeff Green, Tobacco Free Florida Chevrolet; Brad Keselowski, Discount Tire Dodge; Eric McClure, Hefty Ford; Paul Menard, Menards Ford; and Kenny Wallace, Hot Rod Grills Chevrolet, will carry the work of other Vermont artists during the event. The remainder of the field will have work by New Hampshire and Maine artists.
      NASCAR worked with Dan Pattullo of Sheldon to digitize the work in preparation for the full body decals now applied to race cars.
Remember the Date
      The NASCAR Nationwide Series is the stock car racing series one step below the "big league" Sprint Cup. Nationwide races attract Cup racers as well as drivers working to step up. They are usually held the day before a Sprint Cup race to encourage fans to attend both events.
      This is the first major event at the Vermont Sugar Bowl in Pittsford. The new track is a .956 mile oval speedway with 1,500 foot straights banked at 1 degree and 96 foot wide turns variably banked up to 26 degrees. A 1.46 mile, 11 turn Road Course will be completed this summer. There is seating for 91,262 fans. "There is no Sprint Cup race this weekend but we hope to have one on the schedule next year," Ms. Dumfries said.
      The green flag will drop for the Ice Breaker 200--NASCAR DOES ART race, one leg of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, at 3 p.m. this Saturday, April 3. Admission ranges from $5 for youths under 16 to $75 for adults in the reserved section. Tickets are available at Gates open at 7 a.m. Proceeds will benefit local art projects in all three states.

After reading this report, you may think that your favorite arts council chair has breathed too many high octane fumes. Rest assured that

it is again April 1, and you have been fooled.

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