On Saturday, November 18th, at the Salt Lake City Ferrari dealership, Lehi native Stan Wanlass unveiled his latest creation, “Rising from Its Ashes.” The sculpture has been years in the making, and the story behind this incredible piece of art is as compelling as the sculpture itself.
Wanlass has always loved cars. In his early teens, he would hang out at his dad’s service station on Main Street in Lehi. He had a particular fascination with race cars and vintage automobiles. When just a teen, he attempted to purchase a 1932 Ford three-window, but the owner refused to sell. Finally, the sale was made, and Wanlass began the restoration in one of the bays of his father’s service station. After a time, Dad said the car had to go. The bay was needed. The passion for restoring old vehicleswas second only to his ability to sculpt his vision of automobiles’ unique and historic appearance. Over his 82 years, Wanlass has established a reputation as the “finest sculpture of the automobile,” as stated by the great Peter Helck.
Racing fast cars was also a passion of Wanlass, and when, in 2006, Larry Miller started the “Utah Fast Pass” automobile race for charity, Wanlass wanted in. Forty to sixty fellow racers paid $10,000 to race in the iconic race. Each day of the race, the Uth Highway Patrol guided the racers on a spirited tour of some of Utah’s most scenic and thrilling mountain highways. On the third day, the troopers shut down a 13-mile section of road and let participants experience the appropriate potential of their cars. Participants ran at top speed through a charity radar trap for added fun. The drivers’ top speed was memorialized with a speeding ticket (suitable for framing) but not memorialized on their driving records. The participants paid the “fine” as their charitable contribution.
This event inspired Wanlass’s “Rising from Its Ashes” sculpture. Wanlass drove behind a good friend and fellow racing enthusiast, Richard Losee. Losee was driving one of only 400 Ferrari Enzos ever made. Losee was anxious to see how fast he could go on this beautiful 14-mile scenic Utah State Route 257 stretch. “I knew I was going to go fast,” said Losee, “I wanted to get a really big-ticket for the charity, plus it was for bragging rights.”
Losee had arranged to meet with a state trooper to pre-drive the relatively straight two-lane path of blacktop flanked by distant mountains. Instead, he trusted the highway patrolman who had told him the course had been driven at 100 mph by three fellow troopers without issue.
“They had warned us of some whoops early on in the run. I didn’t pay any attention to it because I had 1400 pounds of downforce with the Enzo,” Losee said. The next thing Losee remembered was he was in a very large, out-of-control slide, thinking, “This is not good.”
Wanlass recalled, “The first thing I saw coming around a long left-hand turn was his engine on one side of the road and his transaxle on the other. The Enzo was in a thousand pieces. The engine was designed to come apart, taking the brunt of the accident away from the driver strapped in. Life flight arrived immediately and saved Richard’s life. His helmet strap had cut off his airway.”
Richard eventually recovered and, over a year later, could drive again. His first wish was to drive his 2003 Ferrari. After the accident, Losee insisted that every part of the car was gathered up and the car was restored to pristine condition. The culmination of the over one-million-dollar restoration was Losee driving his Ferrari to break the world land record at Bonneville Salt Flats, driving 237.7 mph.
Several years later, Losee asked Wanlass if he would be interested in doing a sculpture of his car. Wanlass took on the task with enthusiasm and gravity as the two close friends collaborated. In some ways, this was his way of acknowledging his friend’s journey and the history and artistry of the iconic Ferrari.
In the sculpture of the Ferrari Enzo, Wanlass has placed a magic square in the tradition of the great German artist Albrecht Durer. The magic square is put on the bronze breastplate of the horse, the symbol of the Ferrari brand. The horse is in homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s unfinished horse, Sforzo, or “The Great Horse.” In the magic square lay significant information concerning Losee’s journey. Wanlass’ legendary attention to detail and allusions to ancient art are evident in this magnificent work.
The back side of the sculpture looks unfinished, but as the viewer looks to the front of the sculpture, the images become more and more detailed. According to Wanlass, Losee, the owner of several addiction recovery facilities, wanted to portrayhis and his precious automobile’s journey, from beginning to end, to that of a patient’s recovery from addiction. At the base of the sculpture is a Pegasus and a phoenix, with the Ferrari emerging from the two iconic figures.
Losee’s words to Wanlass in the commission of his work was,“If one patient looks at it and says, ‘I can rise from the ashes,’ all the time, effort and money will be well spent.” The sculpture will be placed permanently at the entrance of Losee’s Orem addiction recovery facility to inspire all who enter and give hope and peace in their recovery.