Joseph Love’s painting “Race Day” a 30x 24 oil on canvas, depicts African American race car driver Charlie Wiggins getting ready for a big race

By Janice Malone

NASHVILLE, TN — Art enthusiasts and customers who have purchased the beautiful refined paintings of Nashville-based artist Joseph D. Love, Jr. are familiar with his prolific paintings of famous celebrities, ranging from Muhammad Ali to George Clinton, Prince, Nelson Mandela and so many more A-list names. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Nashville Arts Magazine and numerous other magazines and newspapers, and Channel 5 local news, to list a few.

But Joseph has a special interest in his heart for classic automobiles and has his own private collection of vintage Mercedes Benz cars. He also has a keen interest in vintage race cars, especially the Formula 1 racing vehicles. His love of these particular race cars inspired him to create a collection of oil paintings of Formula 1 racing autos and the African American drivers who raced them, from the past to the present. The series titled, ‘Black Speed’ was recently exhibited in Austin, TX. The series has become a favorite among the public. In fact, in recent years the art exhibit has been featured with Metro Nashville Public Schools at Robert Churchwell Magnet Schools, Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University. The Black Speed series offers a fascinating and informative facts about the history of African Americans as race car drivers during the early 1900’s, all the way up to The Great Depression era. Names such as William Rucker, the Colored Speedway Association, Charlie Wiggins, and others, are just a few of many prominent people and organizations that played a pivotal role in the history of Blacks in the world of sports car racing.  “The Black Speed series takes the viewer back in time to 1910, when black race car drivers were repeatedly denied the opportunity to race alongside white race car drivers,” Joseph writes in his artist statement about his Black Speed collection. He adds, “Charlie Wiggins was a mechanic and race car driver, who went on to be the most celebrated driver of the series winning three Gold and Glory Sweepstakes titles and finishing in the top 5 for over ten years. Charlie was nicked named ‘The Negro Speed King.’ White drivers loved and respected Charlie, but they just weren’t allowed to race with him.  Charlie was able to reach speeds on dirt tracks after exceeding speeds of white drivers on the paved brickyard of the Indy 500.  White drivers would often borrow Charlie’s car to win races. Charlie hand built his cars from scrap parts found in junkyards and garages around town.”

For more information about the artwork of Joseph Love visit him at: Instagram/

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