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The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

May 5, 2007

In 1972 and 1973, one body painter in the San Francisco area disputed the 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. Fortunately we 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. We did our best to adjust and sharpen the old pictures. 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

Above, Jim Aguirre’s MAC Ferrari body with beautiful colors and detail.

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

Earl Campbell’s Associated Ferrari 612 body, painted before he found out that the M.A.C. 612 was worth 1/10th of a second…

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

Another Keiji creation for “Fast Earl”. Campbell himself was an excellent but more traditional painter and painted many of other racers 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 Philippe de Lespinay. The car has survived and is presently being restored for its owner, Dennis Hill… Note the faux rear-view mirror and its faux shadow!

The Art of Keiji Kanegawa

One of the wilder ones (but not THE wildest, unpublishable here due to basic laws of decency) was of commissioned by Steve “Spiderman” Kessler, possibly the most 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 slot car racing’s Hall of Fame?


2 Responses to “The Art of Keiji Kanegawa”
  1. John Phillipis says:

    Aloha to all,

    Keiji passed away this past Monday December 13, 2010 at his home in San Francisco California. He was in the process of honing his skills in water colors and his love for art. He never knew he was “famous” and when he was shown that there were those of you who cared, he didn’t now what to say…just a smile. Mahalo’s for the posts from all of you about my wonderful Brother-in law. He will be missed. I’ll miss our conversations. He was the most interesting and intelligent person I’ve known. It was an honor to have been close to him. A Hui Ho Keiji!!

  2. Webmaster says:

    For the younger ones here, Keiji was an absolute master in painting slot car bodies. His sense of perspective in his creations that included painted accessories and their shadows was unique. Keiji was also a fierce racer and a terrific person. This is a great loss. We at Electric Dreams and the LASCM, present his family and friends our most sincere condolences.

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