Daily Record 1/23/11: 1963 Winter Championships-American Hot Rod Association (1963)

In 1960s, 1963, sports on January 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm

It is now SUNDAYSUNDAYSUNDAY and you’re looking for red hot hot-rodding action, right? Lucky for you, the Daily Record just happens to be 1963 Winter Championship, the “soundtrack” to event highlighted in the title. The album was released by the American Hot Rod Association as part of the “Competition Sound Series” on Fleetwood Records sometime later in 1963.

The hot rod event captured on this record happened from Feb. 22-24, 1963 at the Arizona Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Side one, is a single 26:03 long track that includes “Record runs-Hot Cars,” “Stock Cars” and “Fuel & Gas Dragsters.” It’s like one of those sidelong Yes epics where a single very long track is broken down into a bunch of subtitles, but what you get here is basically the sound of hot rod cars revving up and racing. Side two, clocking in at 30:27, includes “Final Round Eliminations” and “Fuel & Gas Dragster Eliminations.”

Both sides are narrated by Jon Lundberg, “The Voice of Drag Racing.” However, Lundberg’s voice, which sounds like it was captured at the event and not recorded later, is buried pretty deep in the cacophony of hot rod engines. You’re really going to have to pay attention to catch Lundberg’s comments.

I will be honest and say that I have yet to listen to 1963 Winter Championships in its entirety, though it seems to me that it might make a nice audio double feature with Lou Reed’s epic Metal Machine Music, which is a double album of squally guitar feedback.

While not terribly listenable, 1963 Winter Championships is certainly one of the more interesting items in my record collection. Of course, its very existence (apparently in both mono and stereo editions; I’ve got the stereo) is intriguing and poses such questions as: was there really a market for records featuring sidelong tracks of hot rod noise in 1963? And if there was such a market in 1963, does that mean that there are similar records out there from 1962 or 1964? I’ve only ever encountered the album I own, which I’ve had for years (though I don’t remember where I got it), but maybe the release of the Winter Championship soundtracks was a hotly anticipated event among hot rod fans in the early 1960s? Especially hot rod aficionados who were also hi-fi enthusiasts?

The cover of 1963 Winter Championships is a visual treat, featuring photos of three of the participating dragsters on its colorful front and extensive liner notes (including notes by Don Elliott’s article on the event from The Tachometer, the official publication of the AHRA), and a list of winners and records set on the back cover. This record would be a treat for student of American hot rod history. While I’ve made for the decision for the moment not to include photos on this blog, I’ve got to say that the cover makes this album. If I ever do post photos here, I’ll make sure to include 1963 Winter Championships.

  1. I now believe that you can find anything on the internet!!! We just got done listening to the entire album and are shocked that there is an album that exists like this let alone a review on the album. We were also wondering if other years exist… Your review nailed our thoughts precisely. We really appreciated the parts of the album where we had to stop our conversation every 2 mins since the roar of the engines were so loud. Now, we’re listening to Tom Jones live. You can see how we roll!

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