California Hot Rod Reunion news 2007-09-07

Mooneyes Dragster to Debut at California Hot Rod Reunion Legendary car will be in Justice Brother's display at Auto Club Famoso Raceway during Oct. 12-14 event BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- (Sept. 7, 2007) -- The Mooneyes Dragster, made famous as a...

Mooneyes Dragster to Debut at California Hot Rod Reunion

Legendary car will be in Justice Brother's display at Auto Club Famoso Raceway during Oct. 12-14 event

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- (Sept. 7, 2007) -- The Mooneyes Dragster, made famous as a racer and a Revell model in 1962, will be at the upcoming 16th Annual Automobile Club of Southern California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by Holley, Oct. 12-14 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. The car will be on display as part of the Justice Brothers Spotlight on the U.S. Drag Teams.

"The Mooneyes Dragster was one of the first model kits I ever put glue to," said Tony Thacker, executive director of the non-profit Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Auto. Club of So. Calif., which produces and benefits from the event. "No doubt a million others kids and fans did just the same promoting the Mooneyes brand into millions of American homes."

According to Thacker, the car was developed by Mooneyes founder, Dean Moon and debuted in 1961. "The Mooneyes Dragster had a Dragmaster chassis (Moon was a dealer), and was built to promote and test Moon products. It quickly established itself as a winning combination and even graced the cover of Hot Rod magazine. With a Potvin (front) blown 300-inch Chevy it went 147 mph in 10.29 seconds on its first outing with Dante Duce at the wheel. Moon acquired Potvin in 1962 but for some reason decided to move the blower atop the motor and with Gary Cagle driving, it went 153.06 in 9.52 to take Middle Eliminator at the NHRA Winternationals."

As quickly as it burst upon the scene, the Mooneyes gas Dragster was surpassed by developments -- everybody went back to using fuel. However, the car got a second life when Duce took it to England with Mickey Thompson in 1963 and helped initiate the U.S. Drag Team tours of 1964 and '65. Those teams are being honored with the Justice Brothers Spotlight award at the Reunion.

The original dragster was on display for years at the former Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, Calif., and now sits on a turntable at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Fla. Meanwhile, it was faithfully recreated by the new owners of Moon Eyes USA Shige Suganuma and Chico Kodama. Honored at the 2003 Reunion, Suganuma unfortunately wrecked the first replica in Japan but quickly decided to rebuild the car and had, in fact, contracted Dode Martin of Dragmaster fame to replicate the original chassis. With the front and rear ends hung and the motor slotted into place the car is ready to debut at this year's Reunion.

The 16th annual Automobile Club of Southern California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by Holley, is part of the museum's Hot Rod Heritage Series which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.

Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods, classics, customs and muscle cars of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.

A three-day credential for admission to all events is available for $55 by calling 800/884-NHRA (6472) or by completing a form found in the Reunion section of the Museum's web site. Auto Club members receive a $5 discount off Adult credential prices. Credentials include a goodie bag with a dash plaque, lanyard and event program. Children 15 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Daily general admission tickets/pit passes will be available at Auto Club Famoso Raceway gate, (www.famosoraceway.com). Cost per person: Friday, $20; Saturday, $20; Sunday, $15. Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Auto Club discount is also available at the gate: $2 off Friday and Saturday and, $1 off Sunday.

-credit: museum.nhra.com

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Don Garlits , Tony Thacker