SEBRING - Where did that mosaic come from?
Accounting manager Kathy Malie was driving down Haywood Taylor Boulevard one day and saw the blank concrete wall in front of E-Stone USA Corp. Behind it are the bins of gravel-sized rocks that make up tiles and granite slabs for table tops, counters and floors.
And then the epiphany: why shouldn't the wall show off the products made by E-Stone and its Vicenza, Italy, parent company, Trend Group?
She contacted Florida artist James Hahn and his wife Kay, with whom she had worked before.
Well, although the finished puzzle is across from Sebring International Raceway's hairpin turn, it wasn't quite that fast.
After a year of design, after seven weeks of installing glass tiles over 3,120 square feet, and after a dedication ceremony on Friday afternoon, "Trend at the Track" is an homage to Turn 10 and the 170-mph speeds of 12 Hours of Sebring.
"We consider it a piece of art," Hahn said. Each racer on the wall is a real car depicted in day and night race scenes that are the hallmarks of an endurance trial like Sebring.
Hahn is known for his work as the original muralist for the iconic Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.
Using a Computer Aided Design system, 3/4- x 3/4-inch glass mosaic pieces were chosen, color by color, into one-foot square backings. Four E-Stone installers started in late January and epoxied until last week to ready scenes in time for the races.
On either side of the 312 feet wide, 11 feet tall mosaic are painted murals depicting more racing scenes, including one car belonging to Sick Designs' MX5 Mazda. The speed shop on Maple Street in downtown Sebring will be racing in the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, said John Dean II and Nathanial Sparks.
"This literally is our race car," said Dean, standing in front of the mural Sick Designs and their sponsor, Projections Research, a pharmaceutical company. "Minus a few dings and dents."
Sick Sideways will be driving race fans around the track on Sunday for $15. Donations will help fund the Sebring Chamber of Commerce.
The problem for occupants of Sick's car will be to actually see the murals and mosaic while they're whizzing around Turn 10.