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Mooneyes Dragster to Return at Reunion

The Mooneyes Dragster model, released by Revell in 1962, was one of the first kits I ever put glue to. No doubt a million others kids and fans did just the same, promoting the Mooneyes brand into millions of American homes. Dean Moon was, like many pioneers of the early hot rod industry, a self-styled promoter. He was trained in the Air Force as a photographer during the Korean War and put his skills to good use afterwards photographing his ever growing line of products.

Debuting in 1961 using a Dragmaster chassis (Moon was a dealer), the Mooneyes Dragster was built to reinforce that promotion and develop products and it quickly established itself as a winning combination. It even graced the cover of HOT ROD Magazine in September of that year. With a Potvin (front) blown 300-inch Chevy it went 147 at 10.29 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@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 Dante took it to England with Mickey Thompson in 1963 and helped initiate the U.S. Drag Team tours of 1964 and ’65.

The dragster was on display for years at the long lamented Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa and now sits on a turntable at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala. Florida. Meanwhile, it was faithfully recreated by the new owners of Moon Eyes USA Shige Suganuma and Chico Kodama. Honoured at the 2003 California Hot Rod Reunion, Shige enjoyed being behind the wheel but unfortunately, in 2005, he put it in the wall in Japan and made a mess of it.

Hefty rear impact took its toll on the chassis - fortunately not the driver!

Shige had always planned 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 expected to debut at this year’s Automobile Club of Southern California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Holley. Scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 12-14 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, the Mooneyes Dragster will be featured in the Justice Bros. Spotlight that this year features the United States Drag Racing Teams.

The new chassis as it looked in January of this year

Story:Tony Thacker

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