MADISON, Ill. – It’s a big weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway as NASCAR is coming to the racetrack. And if you’re heading to the race from St. Louis, you’re sure to see a brand new mural along the interstate at the I-55/I-70/I-64 split.
The project was recently completed and you can’t miss it.
“Everyone who’s coming from St. Louis should be able to see this. It’s over 1,100 feet long. It’s really a neat piece,” said Curtis Francois, owner of World Wide Technology Raceway. “We hope as people pass over and over they’re learning and seeing what other message each time they pass through,”
Francois had the idea for this project, stemming from his drives across the river to his racetrack for the past decade.
“And one thing that I always thought would present a tremendous amount of potential was to look at areas within the Metro East that we could beautify. That we could start to show some change,” Francois said.
He partnered with East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern and Lorenzo Savage of I Am East St. Louis and they got well-known mural artist Cbabi Bayoc on board.
“It was a joint effort. And I knew that Cbabi was the artist for this particular piece right here because of his immense talents and the time constraints,” Savage said.
“I always have a great time doing it. I’ve always wanted to go big,’’ said Cbabi. “So I’ve always envisioned a skyscraper so I think I got that. Just wide instead of tall.”
Cbabi worked on the mural over a 10-day span and had a lot of moral support from the community.
“A lot of people spoke over the wall. They knew it was my work before you could see anything and they saw me working so honking their horn and yelling. So a lot of people were feeling it and I’m glad. That’s what I wanted,” Cbabi said.
His mural is full of positive messages to greet everyone entering East St. Louis.
“The messaging says it all. Strong-willed, 89 blocks strong. And of course, he gives a lot of positive messaging within his art all the time so we just wanted to welcome people into East St. Louis in a great way,” said Savage.
“Me and my fiancé came up with ‘Believe that you are worthy,’ because I feel like that’s something everybody needs to see as they drive by anyway,” Cbabi said.
And there will be a lot of extra eyes on the mural this weekend.
“What better way to bring NASCAR into the City of Champions? The home of the world’s greatest athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee to commemorate the inaugural event,” said Mayor Eastern.
“We just want to show people what we’ve been doing. The mayor, everybody, been doing to our city. Beautifying our city and this is just indicative of it,” said Savage.
And Mayor Eastern is grateful to all who made this possible.
“I just want to make sure that I tell Curtis Francois and all those behind the scenes, thank you,” he said. “We’re winning here in the city of East St. Louis. You know this is a new day, a new era. And it shows by the community partnerships that are steadily unveiling and steadily getting bigger and bigger.”
So if you’re coming to WWT Raceway this weekend, you’ll see more than just racing.
“Take a look. It’s really cool,” said Francois.
“I just hope the right people see it. Whoever’s supposed to see it, see it,” Cbabi said.