The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

July 10th, 2008 · 3 Comments

In 1972 and 1973, one body painter in the San Francisco area disputed honors for best pro-racing painter in the nation. His inventive and creative art was unique and since then, copied by many. His name: Keiji Kanegawa, familiarly known as "Keiji". Kanegawa introduced accurate portraits, carefully applied with multiple shades of mixed colors, as well as shaded trompe-l’oeil representation of objects not really there such as lights, mirrors, rivet detailing… Unfortunately, few of these wonderful creations have survived, but I have dug these quickly-fading old pictures taken just before the 1972 Western States Championship Races, which gathered more attendance and a more competitive field that even the Parma Nationals in Ohio that year. I did my best to adjust and sharpen the old pictures, but this will get you an idea and possible inspiration for your own painting if you have run out of imagination…

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

Jim Aguirre’s body with beautiful colors and detail.

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

Earl Campbell’s Associated Ferrari 612 body before he found out that the M.A.C. 612 was worth a good 3/10th of a second…

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

Another Keiji creation for Fast Earl. Campbell himself was an excellent but more traditional painted and painted most of my own bodies, like this one:

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

This next one is very special: it is the one with which Speed & Sport Raceway owner Ron Granlee, paralyzed in a wheel chair, set his own track record with a car built by yours truly. The car has survived and is presently being restored for its owner, our own Dennis Hill… Note the faux rear-view mirror and its faux shade!

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

One of the wilder ones (but not THE wildest, un-publishable here due to basic laws of decency :grin:) was of course commissioned by Steve "Spiderman" Kessler, possibly the most, huh, colorful slot racer ever…

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

A small detail showing clearly where Kessler’s mind was, unfortunately the comment is unreadable…

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

Now, don’t you think that Keiji should be nominated in the Hall of Fame?

Tags: Vintage Slot Cars

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 T. Kanegawa // Jul 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks for posting the pictures and writing such a glowing review of my father! Another family member showed him the pictures on your site, and it really brought back some fond memories.

  • 2 Gus Kelley // Aug 22, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I just located these sites. These one especially and the previous one about the “Thingies” have brought back tremendous memories. I remember rooming with “Spidie” about ’75 in so-cal for the western states. Enough can’t be said about the mid sixties to mid seventies. Here in Sacto, where I’m from the numbers of raceways must have hit close to a hundred. I don’t have the energy to go on about then ,now. But maybe later on I can go on with it. Gus

  • 3 John Phillipis // Dec 14, 2010 at 2:20 am

    To all the fans of “Keiji Kanegawa” and his artistic talents, I regret to inform you that today December 13, 2010, he passed away at his home in San Francisco. He went quietly and peacefully. He was my brother in law with whom I had many wonderful conversations. He was extremely talented and a very kind individual. HIs love for art was being expressed thru water colors at the time of his passing. He will be sorely missed! I really enjoyed getting to know him. “A Hui Ho Keiji”…….John

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