Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham

Tom

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Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« on: February 09, 2013, 09:03:19 AM »
Gene Mooneyham is most widely known by his '34 Altered, 554.  However, Gene had a far more significant impact  to drag racing from his work on superchargers.  Gene passed away in 2006.  From his obit:

Mooneyham got his start racing hot rods on dry lake beds when enthusiasts converged on dusty drag strips in the sport's formative years.

Although he owned teams that raced professionally, his work with superchargers made him one of the sport's most influential people.

In 1996, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Hot Rod Assn., the sanctioning body that oversees most drag racing in America.

"His real contribution to the sport came in the area of superchargers," Garlits said. "Some of my best runs were with his Mooneyham blowers. He was very innovative.

"The Mooneyham, Jackson and Faust car was a streamlined dragster where the driver sat behind the rear-end, which was really forward thinking in the 1960s. The whole car was covered, even the cockpit."

It, along with Mooneyham's trademark fuel-altered car, the 1934 Mooneyham and Sharp Ford coupe, rests in Garlits' Museum of Drag Racing in Lakeland, Fla.

The coupe, with the number 554 on its door, was even replicated as a collector's edition model by Mattel.

The trademark race car had been lettered for a race on the Bonneville Salt Flats, but the number was mistakenly applied with marine paint.

Afterward, the imprint showed through succeeding liveries. Finally, Mooneyham gave in and repainted the number over the imprint, and it became the car's trademark, as well as his own.

Although he retired from racing in the 1950s after a crash in San Diego, Mooneyham's car continued to win with driver Larry Faust.

It won at Bakersfield in 1960, and held the top spot in Junior Eliminator through much of the mid-1960s.

Mooneyham and Faust later joined with Wayne Ferguson and Jerry Jackson to become one of the best fuel dragster teams on the West Coast, and his top-fuel dragster with Robert Anderson won the inaugural Gatornationals in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1970.

While running his own team, he also was crew chief for Jack Chrisman's supercharged Comets in 1964-65, which preceded the current funny car class.

Gene's company is still in business:  http://www.mooneyham-blowers.com/Pages/default.aspx

It is people like Gene who made hot rodding such a big influence in my life.  Thank you Gene. 





Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2013, 10:32:36 AM »
This is my tribute to two men I have great respect for. I have long admired Red Greth's fiberglass "Speed Sport" scoops. Last year a mutual friend introduced me to Red. After our first conversation, Red said he would dig out the old mold, and make one more scoop for an old fan. Once I got it mounted, I had a cover made using a cloth patch Dorothy Mooneyham gave me when Gene built my blower in 1996. The truly great people on this earth are also the most humble.
Roadster pick ups forever!

TS3X65MPH

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2013, 10:35:30 AM »
THANKS TOM & DEAN. HERE'S A EARLY PIC OF THE COUPE.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2013, 12:09:31 PM »
Here's an even earlier shot of the 554 before the fenders were removed.
Roadster pick ups forever!

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2013, 12:11:35 PM »
Right after the fenders came off, and before a Chrysler replaced the flathead.
Roadster pick ups forever!

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2013, 12:14:04 PM »
This how the coupe looked the first time I ever saw it in person at the 1960 March Meet. It ran with the silver paint in '60 and '61.
Roadster pick ups forever!

Dean Lowe

  • Historian
Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2013, 12:17:17 PM »
The first tim I saw the car in it's blue paint was early in '62 at San Gabriel. The driver was Ron DiCicco.  At that time it was running close to 160 in the mid ten's. In this Pomona pic you can just see "Ron" lettered over the door.
Roadster pick ups forever!

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2013, 12:23:52 PM »
When I saw the car at the March Meet in '62, jungle Larry Faust had replaced Ron DiCicco in the driver's seat. At this meet, the car suddenly went from mid ten second ET's, to 9'70's in the 165 range. In later years I asked Gene what he did to the car to gain such a performance increase. He said "it was easy, I finally found a driver that wasn't affraid of it"! 

Here's a shot of the coupe, and Gene's matching Ranchero waiting out the rain at the '62 March Meet. Note "Ron" is still on the roof. After Larry proved he could tame the beast, the Ron lettering was polished off. Larry told me the car always went straight. What he brought to the table was lightning reflexes, and the ability to feel the traction and modulate the clutch and throttle. 90% of his match races were won on hole shots.
Roadster pick ups forever!

TS3X65MPH

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2013, 12:25:25 PM »
A FEW WITH THE FENDERS ON.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2013, 12:32:12 PM »
here's a shot before the blower was added. I love seeing the evolution of this race car.
Roadster pick ups forever!

Red

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2013, 12:33:45 PM »
These pics are from an old Lions program.  The dragster replaced the 554 coupe.  Larry Faust drove it, too.

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2013, 03:12:44 PM »
The 554 in the horrible yellow when K&G owned it.  :'(
Roadster pick ups forever!

Steves32

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2013, 05:42:29 PM »
Anyone got pics of his blue 55 Dodge truck w/ the blown hemi Gene & his wife drove everywhere to car shows?

Dean Lowe

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2013, 09:17:13 PM »
Steve, I've got a couple somewhere. I'll have to dig them up. About a year before he passed, Gene finished his chopped Model A Tudor, also painted blue.
Roadster pick ups forever!

Steves32

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Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2013, 10:29:27 PM »
I remember Gene said that hemi was a bitch to fit in there.

TS3X65MPH

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  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Racing Tribute - Gene Mooneyham
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2013, 11:28:18 AM »
A FEW MORE OF 554
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.