Members of the Great Bend community recently gathered to commemorate the completion of a massive, 3000 square foot mural saluting the rich history of drag racing in Barton County. The project was organized and commissioned by the Barton Arts Movement, a grassroots volunteer movement under the auspices of the Golden Belt Community Foundation. The colorful masterpiece is located on the north side of Golden Belt Bicycle Shop at 1111 Main Street in downtown Great Bend, and was installed by internationally renowned artist, Ryan Christenson - better known as ARCY. Within a matter of weeks after being announced, members of the public stepped up to make this project possible with financial contributions and in-kind support.
Affectionately nicknamed "Starting Line", this 3,000+ square foot mural installation will be the largest project of its kind in Barton County by far. It's a salute to the popular dragstrip located west of Great Bend operated by the S.R.C.A., which hosted the very first ever NHRA national drag race in 1955. The driver shown in the mural is Calvin Rice, the actual winner of that historic race nearly 70 years ago. The dragstrip still attracts thousands of visitors to the Great Bend area each year. "The S.R.C.A. volunteers that operate the track invest countless hours and their blood, sweat, and tears to keep this historic attraction operable," says Andrea Bauer, BAM Volunteer. "We couldn't think of a more deserving subject matter for such a large scale mural. One that will be seen by up to 5,000 drivers per day traveling up and down Main Street in Great Bend."
The Barton Arts Movement was formed in early 2021 with the goal of "Creating Community Pride Through Public Art" and since then, the grassroots volunteers have gotten several projects in the works, with the goal of completing at least one more before the end of this year.
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) has also taken notice of the project and is planning to feature Great Bend and the Barton Arts Movement mural during a national broadcast of their 1000th national race in Las Vegas at the end of October. It is anticipated that at least 500,000 people tune in or watch online during this broadcast.
Anyone interested in supporting the Barton Arts Movement to help make this project, and more like it, possible in all four of the main communities in Barton County, please consider donating to the movement! Learn more or donate at bartonartsmovement.com/donate.
Donors Making this Project Possible
Joe Andrasek & Bryan Kramer, Property Owners
Thelma Faye Harms Trust
Dennis & Diane Call Family
Francis Financial / John Francis
Alan & Gail Moeder
Roy & Marcia Westhoff
Marmie Auto Group
Jane Isern & Gail Carpenter
Amerine Construction / Amerine Family
Todd & Theresa Smith
Brian & Tanya Staats
Shawn & Desa Behr
Nels Lindberg, DVM
Lindsey & Mark Bogner
Justin & Rachel Mawhirter
G-B Tires, Inc.
Moses Properties, LLC
Craig & Jolene Biggs
Craig & Kari Smith
And many other generous contributors!
BAM Action Team Volunteers