It was a triumvirate of fun. Large masses pressed against the fence along the drag strip and filled the grandstands as American muscle cars with names like “Monrovia Missile” and “Galpin Gasser III” blasted down the 1/8-mile long slab of asphalt. The section just behind that was filled with rows and rows of vendors, hawking everything from decorative pinstriped bowling pins to “Hoonigan” t-shirts. You could get a full shave and haircut on ‘barber’s row’ while listening to the licks of The Hot Rod Trio on the stage nearby. But the parking lot was the place to be, the place where clubs and their cars gathered under E-Z ups, the party fueled by coolers full of frosty beverages and tables loaded with grilled grub.
Taking a stride through vendor’s row, Kutty Noteboom was hanging out at the Hippy Killer booth, looking relaxed as he talked shop with people passing by. HK has solid products that are fairly popular, from HK Flake Pegs and Grips to cast Kicker Pedals and sharp-looking timing covers. Evil Spirit Engineering was also on hand, the company’s cool vintage tail lamps prominently displayed among other Evil Spirit merch. The Mooneyes booth had prime location, and the official Mooneyes Xmas Party 2014 t-shirts sold like hotcakes. Among its motorcycle offerings, Moon Derby Covers and a Spinner Gas Cap were products we could see on our Sportster project. We talked to Joel Klass of Vintage Klass Helmets and Accessories who was pinstriping vintage flake helmets on the spot. Klass said he scored a slew of retro originals in a container he bought, cool collectibles like a 1966 NOS Shoei. Offering them as is or with custom paint at a reasonable price was tempting, and if there were more XL to choose from, one of those helmets might have come home with me. The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) also had a small set-up, highlighted by a couple of stunning builds by Shinya Kimura, including “Spike,” the 1946 Knucklehead Kimura challenged Bonneville on. The SCTA talked about how proud they were to recently host Indian Motorcycle’s return to its racing roots when the company took the new Scout and a specialized Chief called “Elnora” to El Mirage.
Part of the beauty of Mooneyes is you never know what legendary figure you’re going to run into around any corner. We stumbled across racing great Jim Dunn quietly sitting beneath an awning busily signing pictures of the Mooneyes Funny Car. Dunn was a winner for 40 years racing everything from Top Fuel dragsters to Funny Cars. He continues to be a drag racing fixture as the owner and tuner of the Mooneyes Funny Car. A few rows over, skateboarding legend Steve Caballero sat inconspicuously at his booth selling original artwork and prints. Caballero happily signed an autograph for a young fan who recognized skateboarding royalty when he saw it. Caballero is a self-professed hot rod enthusiast, and the Mooneyes show is a mecca of classic car culture.
With the sounds of engines running wide open in the background, dolled-up girls with big curls took the stage for the 2014 MoonEyes Christmas Pin-up Contest. There was style and panache galore as Ms. Jenny Dame strutted her way to the title, with Miss Retro Jojo earning the runner-up spot. Props to the girls for adding to the retro vibe of the event with their elegant gowns, perfectly manicured hair and artfully applied make-up.
Because at Mooneyes, it’s all about the vibe. It’s hanging out, checking out cars, enjoying the camaraderie being a part of hot rod culture brings. It’s listening to music and sharing beer and BBQ with friends, something that never gets old, be it 1950 or 2014. It’s a big part of American culture that could easily slip into obscurity, but instead lives in cars painted with big Mooneyes and the people that drive them down memory lane.