Mooneyes Does It Again!

March 15th, 2010

01In 2008, I wrote a column about attending back-to-back Mooneyes events. On Saturday, December 12, 2009, we were out at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale for its annual Christmas Party, and on Sunday, December 6, 2009, we were in Japan for the 18th Annual Yokohama Hot Rod and Custom Show.

01In 2008, I wrote a column about attending back-to-back Mooneyes events. On Saturday, December 12, 2009, we were out at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale for its annual Christmas Party, and on Sunday, December 6, 2009, we were in Japan for the 18th Annual Yokohama Hot Rod and Custom Show.

It’s hard enough putting a mega show together in the first place; two in the span of one week is crazy, and holding them 5,500 miles apart is literally off the map (so to speak). The secret is hard work and two talented groups of employees – one in Yokohama, Japan, and the other in Santa Fe Springs, California. The real question is: Why? Simple. Mooneyes owner Shige Suganuma lives and breathes anything on wheels, and loves to share his passion with anyone who cares to join in.

Shige got hooked on Moon Equipment when he was a young man in Japan, and finally became acquainted with Dean (Moon Founder) while he was going to college in the States. Shige doesn’t really know why, but the “old man” took a liking to him and in the end, Dean considered Shige a son. In 1992, Shige bought the rights to Mooneyes, and the rest is history.

In the old days, the Mooneyes Christmas Party was co-hosted by the late Ed Roth. A few years back, Shige and Chico Kodama (Mooneyes U.S. President) ran out of room at their Santa Fe Springs shop, and eventually moved it to the Speedway, where it now consumes all 75 acres of the facility.

This year it rained, but the event was advertised “rain or shine.” I was amazed to be part of the huge, hard-core Mooneyes fans checking out the display of 600 cars and lots of “rain or shine bikes.” The drag races were canceled, but little else affected this iconic experience. On top of it all, there was great food and 96 vendors selling everything imaginable for sleds, bikes and rods.

Six days before, my wife Carol and I were joined by ZZ Top front man, Billy F. Gibbons, his wife Gilligan, in Yokohama, Japan, checking out the crowded convention center at the Mooneyes show. Shige’s expanded show boasts 13,000 spectators, 250 rods and customs, 600 custom motorcycles and 225 vendors. This year, we brought over Gibbons’ new ’58 T-Bird, done up in mild custom trim by SO-CAL. The black and gold beauty is affectionately named “Mexican Blackbird,” after a song taken from ZZ Top’s “Fandango” album.

There were lots of Yanks on the tour this year, including bike builders Jeff Decker, Cole Foster, Gabe Griffin, Kutty Noteboom, Tom Foster and artist Keith Weesner. Rick Figari and actress Candy Clark, who played Debbie in “American Graffiti,” brought over “Milner’s Coupe” and a replica of the black ’55 Chevy 210 sedan, used in the movie of the same name. Willy Dorsey, his ’55 Chevy Gasser and the ever-stylish Jenny Parker from Trophy Queen rounded out the group.

I am honored each time I attend the show to give the SO-CAL Trophy. This year, I picked an understated ’65 Caddy, custom built by Japanese customizer Bet Yamaguchi of Hot Stuff Custom Finish. I have a soft spot for Caddies, and this is a good one!

Thanks again to Shige, Chico, Goshu, Makoto, “K” and the Mooneyes crew for making both events as good as it gets.

{smoothgallery album=11&timed=true&delay=25000}


Advertisements

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.