Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Album artist creates piece for Checker Auto Parts 500
Three divergent and wildly popular American pastimes have come together under the umbrella of Phoenix International Raceway to help promote the November 9 Checker Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil at PIR - NASCAR, art and rock and roll.
Richmond-based artist/musician Wes Freed – best known for his album cover art for alt-country rockers The Drive-By Truckers (including 2008's Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
, which peaked in the Billboard Top 40) – was commissioned by PIR President Bryan R. Sperber and has produced a limited edition promotional poster for Phoenix’s upcoming race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"Many NASCAR fans have come to enjoy the artwork of Wes Freed after being exposed to his work through the Drive-by Truckers," Sperber said. “We reached out to Wes and also discovered he was a huge NASCAR fan - becoming thoroughly excited when he agreed to develop a special project with us that presents his unique perspective on the excitement of NASCAR racing at Phoenix. Wes’s work of art will commemorate the Checker Auto Parts 500 in a special way and make this November’s race even more memorable.”
Freed’s artistic rendition of PIR features an Arizona flag in the sky melting seamlessly into a breathtaking sunset over the Estrella Mountains. Fans donning traditional NASCAR gear cheer raucously alongside cacti and the raceway’s famous blue wall as a car zips its way around a portion of PIR’s historic 1-mile oval. The piece incorporates not only the famous traits of Phoenix International Raceway and NASCAR, but does so in the macabre and enchanting style that Freed has become known for in his album covers, comic strips and commissioned works.
"Racin', rock and roll, and art makin' are alike in that in each field, to make it work on any level you just gotta throw yourself into it 100 percent and pray you don't hit the wall,” said Freed. “All three endeavors are driven by blind passion.
“It's been a blast working with all the folks at PIR - they're 'thinking outside of the box’ types, and I like that a lot. I was able to make it out there in March for the Sprint Cup testing to get a feel for the place. I got to check out the view from the hillside and grandstands, and see the garage and press areas up close. It's an amazing facility.
“I really don't think you can make a painting of a race track just by looking at photos, you need to have a hot dog and a cold beer from their concession stand! I can't wait to see the fall race at PIR.”
In the early 1980s, Wes Freed formed and became the frontman for several bands, including the punk rock Mudd Helmut, the hillbilly soul of Dirtball, and country-influenced and critically acclaimed band, The Shiners. Through his music career Freed formed a friendship with the Drive-by Truckers and designed artwork for their ambitious Southern Rock Opera
. The album was widely praised after its release in 2001, earning four stars from longtime Rolling Stone critic David Fricke. Freed also painted and designed the album covers and booklets for the band's 2003 release, Decoration Day
, 2004’s The Dirty South
, 2006's A Blessing and a Curse
, and 2008's Brighter Than Creation's Dark
Freed stopped actively pursuing a musical career around 2001, partially to be able to concentrate more on his artwork. With his weekends free for the first time in his adult life, he was able to become a full-time NASCAR fan. He has been an avid student of Appalachian history for decades, with a heavy leaning toward moonshining, and stock car racing, and both subjects are frequently featured in Freed's artwork. One of his favorite memories and crowning achievements is having had his signature "Drive-by Truckers" lettering featured on the No. 07 Jack Daniels Sprint Cup car, driven at the time by NASCAR driver and former World of
Outlaws Champion, Dave Blaney.
For more information on Wes Freed, visit www.wesfreed.com
Tickets for the November NASCAR event weekend at PIR can be purchased online at www.racetickets.com
, or over the phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223)
. Be a part of it all at PIR!