Ryan Newman and Speedy Thompson were the most recent drivers to be enshrined into the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame before race weekend, Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Davey Allison Memorial Park in downtown Talladega, AL.
The Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame was developed in 1994 and was a tribute to late Davie Allison. The Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame has inducted one active driver and up to two inactive drivers since 1995 based on the fans’ vote chosen from a ballot of nominees selected by strict guidelines.
This year’s active driver honoree was Ryan Newman, 33, driver of the No. 39 Go Army Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing and native of South Bend, IN. Newman is not your ordinary NASCAR driver being a graduate of Purdue University back in 2001. He holds a degree in vehicle structure engineering. He also has an in-depth understanding of what a car is designed, and built to do, on the racetrack.
Newman, aka “Rocketman” is well known for his ability to qualify at the head of the class,
winning at least one pole position in 11 consecutive seasons. A former Daytona 500 Champion – while driving for Penske Racing – Newman has collected 47 poles and 15 victories. When not on track, the avid outdoorsman focuses his attention on his family, wife, Krissie and daughter, Brooklyn. Newman also stays very involved with the efforts in the Ryan Newman Foundation.
Inactive driver nominee, Alfred “Speedy” Thompson was one of the most successful drivers of the late 1950′s. He made 198
starts from 1950 – 1971, winning 20 races along with scoring 78 top-fives, 106 top-tens, and 20 poles. Speedy Thompson passed away April 2, 1972.
Not only is it interesting to cover the inductees, but how about the artist responsible for the sketches that are displayed in honor of these inductees?
I had a great opportunity to meet the gentleman who was responsible for just that while visiting Ryan Newman’s pit at Talladega Superspeedway. This gentleman, Barry Woodard and I were standing next to each other and we started up a conversation. He showed me a picture of Ryan Newman he had on his cell phone, and as I usually do to pay someone a compliment, I said, “nice photo!” But almost in an instant, I stood there corrected. “Oh, no…. I sketched that,” replied Barry. “That’s what I do….I am a professional pencil artist!”
I was amazed! The details of both portraits are unbelievable, as you will see for yourself.
Barry Woodard, 47, currently lives in Talladega, AL and was selected to draw the portraits of the 2011 Inductees – that of Speedy Thompson and Ryan Newman. The sketches are actually placed into the Heritage Hall Museum, but showcased at the Talladega-Texaco Walk-of-Fame a week prior, and for a few weeks after the induction.
Barry has been sketching portraits since an early age. He entered his first art exhibition when he was in the second grade – a drawing of a blue jay. During the seventh grade, he did a mural on the elementary schools library wall with the help of one of his classmates, and sold his very first portrait to his seventh grade math teacher for sixty dollars. When Woodard was a junior in high school, he went on to do their senior class t-shirts for the seniors for two years straight. He’s done some charity work every year for the city council, for Mardi Gras, which is held at the Speed Dome (equivalent to the NASCAR Hall of Fame), at the Talladega Superspeeway every year. Woodward’s portfolio include sketches of Andrew Jackson, Stonewall Jackson, General Lee, two Creek Indian chiefs, and Davy Crockett. These five pieces are currently in the permanent collection in the Heritage Hall Museum, which is located just a couple of blocks from the Walk-of-Fame in downtown Talladega.
When asked how much time it takes to do a typical portrait, for example – Ryan Newman’s – he stated he put in about 20 hours and really focused on the detail of his facial features and expression. He was notified three months in advance that he would be sketching and Walk-of-Fame’s Inductee’s portrait, then had had around 2 months to actually work on it from a photograph. The one negative thing about pencil art, is if the subject is wearing black or have a black/dark background “it’s very difficult to pick up on the highlights and shadows,” said Woodard.
Barry has taken the typical race fan oath of attending the ‘Dega race every year. Actually, this was Barry’s first time being down in the pits, thanks to the help of Ryan Newman, the Walk-of-Fame and Speedy Thompson’s son, Speedy Thompson, Jr. The excitement and energy showed. “This is so much better than sitting in the grandstands…this is great” exclaimed Woodard. As with many race fans out there, Woodard was a huge Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan. When Earnhardt was killed at Daytona International Speedway in 2001, Woodard actually took a week off as paid vacation to help cope with the loss of the man he had always looked up to. “I never had a father figure in my life, but some how, Earnhardt sorta filled those shoes for me,” said Woodard. “Then he was gone.”
Woodard “tries” to like everyone in the racing circuit, but I have a feeling I know who he doesn’t favor. “How ’bout that Kyle Busch this past weekend? Earnhardt would’ve kicked his ass and straightened that boy out,” said Woodward. Ok, I think that answered my question before I could even ask it…
Barry is really into motorcycle racing also since he can really relate to it. Woodard’s been riding dirt bikes and street bikes since the age of seven.
But sadly three years ago, Barry was in an accident while jumping his supercross bike and broke his collarbone, which hasn’t healed properly. He needs to have surgery, but Woodard’s had to put it off. At that time he was in the telecommunications trade, as a professional lineman. Woodard is currently unemployed and has filed for disability. As with many other people, he gets by with what he can with his only source of income, presently, is that of his artwork.
Woodard specializes in portraits of adults and children, and has often been asked to do portraits of people’s pets. He has done work ranging from $150 all the way up to $2000 and hopes to do more for Speedy Thompson Jr. He is currently under comission to do another portrait of his Dad, and also wants to have a picture done of his oil rig which is overseas.
If you or someone you know would be interested in a pencil art portrait, or would like to get more information, you can contact Barry Woodard through Facebook (link supplied). He simply asks that you send him a Facebook message with the friend request stating you read his article on Racingal.com. He said he is “picky” when it comes to accepting friends on Facebook, but wants to make sure he doesn’t turn away anyone. You can also send him an email at BWoodard2112@gmail.com or call him directly at (256) 493-4841.
Interviewing Barry for this article was very interesting and enlightening. I’m also very happy that I got to meet Barry in person. I wish nothing but the best for him and his future bride and the wonderful work he does. He certainly was born with a special talent and has demonstrated how well he utilizes it.