World-renowned pop art icon Peter Max has been commissioned to create official artwork, including the Official Program cover, for the 2003 Indy 500.

"It's exciting to have Peter Max involved with the Indianapolis 500 this year," said Joie Chitwood, senior vice president of business affairs for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Peter's portfolio is literally a history of every major cultural event in the world. We're eager to see how Peter will capture the speed, the machines, the pageantry and the patriotism that engulfs Indianapolis every Memorial Day weekend."

"Art In Motion" is the common promotion and design theme being used by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 500 Festival in 2003. Max also will paint an "Art Car" for the Festival. Each Art Car is an 11-foot by 4-foot IRL IndyCar Series car, which represents a blank canvas for artists to create their impression of racing and culture in "The Racing Capital of the World."

Additionally, Max is creating an original poster for Chevrolet to commemorate the unveiling of the Chevy SSR, the Official Pace Vehicle of the 87th Indianapolis 500.

"It is certainly refreshing to step out of the studio to participate in the Indy 500, one of the truly American experiences," said Max, who maintains his studio in Manhattan. "I am honoured to lend my pallet to this kinetic event."

Max first gained acclaim for his cosmic artwork of the late 1960s and its distinctive line work and bold colour combinations. His work in that era and ever since has become the artistic symbol of American pop culture.

The 87th Indianapolis 500, scheduled for an 11 a.m. (EST) start Sunday, May 25, becomes the latest in a number of American sporting events of world-class status for which Max has created artwork. Max has been the Official Artist of five Super Bowls, the World Cup USA, the U.S. Tennis Open, the NHL All-Star Game and the 2000 Major League Baseball "Subway" World Series, among others.

He also has been the Official Artist for numerous international events, including six Grammy Awards, three World's Fairs, Earth Day and the United Nations Earth Summit. He has painted portraits of world leaders such as the last six presidents of the United States, the Dalai Lama and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Although Max was born in Europe and lived in China, Tibet, Israel and France before moving to America with his family at age 16, a great deal of his work in the last three decades has carried the spirit of American patriotism.

He began an annual Independence Day tradition in 1976 - the year of America's bicentennial - of painting a likeness of the Statue of Liberty and the American flag. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Max donated all proceeds from sales of a select group of patriotic-themed posters to organizations assisting families affected by the attacks.