SEMA News—December 2011
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Source Interlink Media Archives
Quarter-Mile Test Bench
Dean Moon’s legacy lives on at car events all over the world. Those in the know recognize the spun-aluminum disc wheels that land speed racers prized or the pressurized fuel tanks that rode on the noses of so many dragsters. But for most, the enduring symbol of Moon’s contribution to the speed parts industry is a pair of eyes—those googly Mooneyes that stare out from countless T-shirts and decals found from Bakersfield to Yokohama.
Moon’s iconic eyeballs—along with the Moon-trademark searing yellow paint—figured prominently on all of the race cars he built, including the famous Mooneyes Dragster. Moon built the rail in 1961 to serve as a rolling test bed for the Moon Equipment Company’s various speed products. Hot Rod magazine’s Eric Rickman went to Moon’s shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, in May of 1961 to photograph the car for what would be the magazine’s September 1961 cover story. Posing with the car in this outtake and on the magazine’s cover is Moon’s “top mechanic,” Roy Gammel.
In its original configuration, the car was built on a Dragmaster chassis and was powered by a 300-in. small-block Chevy fed by Hilborn fuel injection and a Potvin supercharger mounted in front of the engine. (Moon had acquired Chuck Potvin’s speed parts business the year before.) According to Rickman’s story, “The first time out the car cranked 147 mph in 10.29 seconds.” It would go even quicker and faster a year later with Gary Cagle at the wheel and a top-mounted blower on the engine.
Moon was among the original founders of SEMA and was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 1988, a year after his passing. Mooneyes and many of Moon’s speed parts live on, thanks to the trans-Pacific efforts of Shige Suganuma, who oversees Mooneyes enterprises in Southern California and Japan.