18 January 2010

Sunday! SUNDAY!! SUNDAY!!!!!

Remember hearing those radio ads that started and ended with the announcer screaming Sunday! SUNDAY!! SUNDAY!!! I sure do.

Those ads were the staple of AM radio back in the day, when I was a teen. AM radio was what we had - FM was still in its infancy and FM stations mostly broadcast religious sermons or classical music. But AM, that's where the action, the noise, the rock and roll were.

And on AM radio, spring summer and fall, the ads for drag strips and dirt-track races seemed to be aired non-stop. Every ad had the same voice, the same excitement, the same sound, and always the same Sunday! Sunday!! Sunday!!!

I'd hear the ads in my bedroom, coming out of the tinny speaker on a Westinghouse radio (one speaker, no treble or bass controls). Sometimes I'd hear the ads blaring out of the speaker (singular) in my Dad's '61 Impala convertible (fawn beige, white top, 283, automatic) when I drove around town at night, top down, turning a 15 minute errand to pick up a bottle of milk into a 45 minute drive.

Other times I'd almost hear the ads coming out of the radio of my ratty '57 Chevy, glass pack mufflers drowning out the radio.

The ads played on WLS, the distant Chicago station that came in only at night, and were usually for the "...beautiful US 30 Drag Strip in Hobart, Indiana". Or sometimes for a dirt track race in Islip, Illinois. Or maybe a USAC midget race in sun Prairie.

When my feeble car radio couldn't pick up WLS, I'd hear similar ads on the Milwaukee rock and roll stations, WRIT, WEMP and WOKY, except they'd be for Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove, an hour south of Milwaukee. And always, the ads would say Sunday! Sunday!! Sunday!!!

The person who created those ads was a man called Jan Gabriel. He passed away last week at age 70.

What a remarkable man. His love for life and enthusiasm for putting on a good show should be the stuff of marketing classes.

Here is an interview Mr. Gabriel did recently. It's a bit long, but mesmerizing. Watch the whole thing; there's a payoff at the end.

Somewhere in heaven the call to Sabbath prayer is starting Sunday! Sunday!! Sunday!!!


  1. Who could forget Bid Daddy Don Garlits and Shirly Cha Cha Muldowney? I know I can't

  2. I do remember those ads. Thanks for posting those recollections.
    Weren't there races at the Columbus 151 Motor Speedway? Ruth Anne might know.

    Michael, we may have crossed paths at so many places back in the day.
    Did you ever eat at Lombardino's? Remember the big mustachioed Eye-talian guy on the wall outside? Lombardino's was more popular before they put Campus Drive through.

  3. Lombardino's was one of several Italian restaurants that I frequented while attending the U of Wisconsin. "Red food" (Italian and Mexican) was usually the lowest cost restauruant meal, and that made it attractive to students.

    Madison had many student-oriented Italian restaurants; probably still does. Good pizza draws a big crowd.

  4. This was such a well written remembrance. I worked with Jan for 21 years and he would have loved to have had you come up to him and tell him all that you wrote here.

    --Denise Dorman--

  5. Denise Dorman - Thank you so very much for your comment.

    Working with Jan must have been wonderfully exciting.

  6. Raceway Park in Jersey was the one in the New York area that did those commercials.


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