On December 13th, Chico Kodama
and Shige Suganuma, owners of the Mooneyes stores here and in
Japan, hosted a Christmas Party at Irwindale Raceway. The event
included drag racing, live music, cacklecars and a hot rod/custom
car show. Many of the attendees arrived Friday afternoon to set
up and that was a good plan, because by 7:00 A. M. on Saturday
there were already 3,000 cars in the grounds. About half of them
were car show participants and the rest were spectator cars in
the parking lot. By 8:30 no more entrants were being accepted
for the days Cacklefest activities. By 11:00 it took over 45
minutes to get through the gates and get parked.
Photos by Darrell
Conrad, Pam Schavrien, Rod McCarrell, John Ewald and James Drew.
A handful of the original
members of the Bean Bandits from San Diego brought this car.
The Estrus Racing Nitro
Funny Car of Richard Stannard. A great reproduction of the Beach
City Corvette driven by the late Pat Foster.
The Mooneyes car, which
last appeared at the Goodwood "Festival of Speed" in
England in June.
This track roadster belonged
to Creighton Hunter, one of the originators of the drags at Santa
Ana. One of Creighton's buddies painted the eyeballs in the car's
00 number, Dean Moon saw it and asked if he could use it as his
logo...and the Mooneyes history began.
The day started off with the
cacklecars warming up. Ron Johnson brought his Shubert &
Herbert with the express intention of doing his first push start.
John Ewald had offered Steve
Gibbs, retired NHRA Competition Director and NHRA Museum Director,
an opportunity to experience a Cacklefest push start some time
ago but could never get the right time and place. Gibbs, who
has been involved with drag racing his entire adult life had
never been in the seat of a Top Fuel dragster. He has organized
and overseen every Cacklefest since its conception - always on
the outside looking in. This was the time and place for Gibbs
to "get his license" and feel what he's been missing
all these years. He started out with a morning warm up.
Dusty and Gwen McWilliams were
on hand with the NHRA Museum based Howard Cams Rattler. Dusty
McWilliams' son Shane McWilliams (college student) was in the
John Ewald and Chico Kodama,
between the two of them quite a show was put on for the thousands
The McCloud brothers
were in attendance with their Dean Engineering Spec.
Rare site in California
- a pit heater. When it drops below 70 here the locals panic.
Steve getting into the
proper attire for his upcoming adventure, assisted by Bob Danly.
Danly and John Ewald
prepare to buckle Steve into the car, prior to taking to the
The Cackle Car portion of
the event was separated into two parts. The push start cars were
started by pushing down the track and making the turn onto the
return road and pulled up in front of the grandstands. There
were three of these. John Ewald's "Mastercar", the
NHRA Museums' Howard Cam Rattler and Ron Johnson with his Shubert/Herbert
Although Gibbs wasn't going to
make a pass, just a push start he was strapped in tight and wore
all the proper gear as if he was going to run. This is done in
the interest of safety by all cackle cars when being push started...these
cars will idle at 90 MPH!
John Ewald gives Steve
one last check and puts on his goggles..."the man"
is ready to go.
Almost time to go!
With Danly in driving
the push car the show began.
Gloria Gibbs (Steve's
wife) and Cynthia Carpenter got the back seat.
Mario Garcia gives the engine
the customary "back-off" (making sure there is no raw
fuel in the cylinders) prior to the push start.
Steve did a picture perfect push
start, made the turn and idled back toward the starting line
on the return road.
Steve was heard saying after
his cackle "good thing I didn't do this 35-40 years ago...my
whole life in racing would have taken a different direction".
Of course he would have had a car that "fits" him built!
It didn't take long for Steve
to get into the "driver" mode...he gives his family
and fans the customary wave...It's hard to enjoyed the view from
the drivers seat as you go by the crowd.
Cindy Gibbs Arias, Steve's daughter
and her sons Justin and Steven are standing just behind the fence.
Cindy in the orange and white jacket. Grins all around!
Steve, John and Gordy...an
extremely fun day for all.
Gloria "Gordy" Gibbs
standing behind the car, now in full enjoyment mode... having
almost as much fun as Steve.
Steve and Gloria with
Cynthia and John. All's well that ends well.
Mario and his pals get the honor
of backing Steve back into the pit space...something Steve has
done thousands of times for other drivers over his history in
Following Gibbs down the track
was Shane McWilliams in the Howard Cam Rattler...he has done
a push a few times before and father Dusty wanted him to have
some more "seat time".
Last up for the push started
cars doing his first push start ever was Ron Johnson in the Shubert-Herbert
car...at the finish you had no chance of wipping off the grin
on his face!
Son Kol stands with the still
grinning dad, Ron Johnson...probably won't see as many other
drivers in this car in the future...Ron's got the bug!
Jake McCloud led off the static
started cacklefest with longtime friend Marshall Westmark in
the seat...the healthy sounding Hemi was music to the fans ears.
Jake keeps and eye on his Hemi
as Ron Stearns makes some noise with his Chevy powered altered
in the background.
Shige Suganuma and Chico
Kodama with the famous Moon Eyes dragster
"Shige Suganuma, Chico's
brother, enjoys the opportunity to sit in the seat of the running
Mooneyes Dragster. Shige is based in Japan and manages the Mooneyes
back for more event coverage as they happen.
At the end of the day one last
fire-up found photographer, James Drew in the seat of the Mastercar.
Nice end to a great event. Ewald offered Drew a mask and he just
laughed at him; he said, No thanks I like my nitro raw!