With December in full swing and Christmas-time near, tis the season for parties and holiday cheer. With hot rods on the freeway, plus an onslaught of rain, I had to yell at times, “stupid ass, stay in your lane!!!”
This past weekend, I attended the Annual Mooneyes Christmas Party at Irwindale Speedway. I can’t believe it’s already been a full year since the last time I visited the show. I have to admit… cold, rainy weather makes me feel pretty lazy. Living in Southern Cali, I think I’ve gotten used to the weather being 73 degrees all year round, so when it dips below 55 degrees outside, it’s pretty hard for me to convince myself to leave the comfort of my baffled goose down comforter behind and trudge through the rain with 30+lbs of camera gear and flyers on my back. This Saturday, it was especially difficult because I was out with my friends at a house party and didn’t get back until 4:30am on the day of the show.
However, I’m really glad I did make it to Mooneyes this year. Speaking to my friend Shige (the man behind Mooneyes and Crown Classics in Yokohama Japan), we both agreed that the rain did put a bit of a damper on the event’s attendance, but it was good in a way. It weeded out most of the “trying to be down” scenesters and showed everyone who the real hardcore hot rodders were. Most of the guys who came to this year’s Mooneyes Christmas Party actually drove their period correct traditional hot rods with vintage whitewall tires on the 605 freeway IN THE RAIN to and from the show. Now that’s dedication! Much respect!
The very first group of cars we encountered in the parking lot were from a really big (and kind of dangerous looking) group of guys with custom plaques on their cars that proudly displayed the group’s name – the Dead Sleds. If you’ve ever been to an event like the Mooneyes Christmas Party or Ink and Iron, then most likely you’ve seen some of these cars before. They are always out at events, and they always catch my eye because their cars are so raw and bad ass.
This year, I had the chance to attend Mooneyes with a certain stylish young lady that isn’t quite what you would expect from a typical “LA girl” who studied fashion, design, and merchandising in college. She absolutely loves lead sleds and traditional hot rods, and she told me that this particular Dead Sled was probably her favorite car at the show.
As I approached the big group of guys drinking underneath the Dead Sleds banner to find out who owned the car, I thought to myself, “I hope these guys are cool. They sure don’t look very friendly. Especially because they probably think I look like a guy who drives a car with neon lights and a big ass wing.” One of the guys pointed me towards the leader of the crew, interrupting what looked to be an important cellphone conversation, saying, “Hey CePe, this guy is looking for you.” (WTF? Nice introduction, man…)
When I introduced myself and our website to CePe, I was shocked as hell. Instead of the “Oh yeah? What do you want?” response I was expecting, the leader of the Dead Sled crew responded with… “Oh yeah! Man, I’ve seen your photos online. You got this bad ass photo of my car last year. I got that shit as my wallpaper on my phone.”
Whaaaaaaaaaat! That was pretty damn cool.
Turns out CePe and his dangerous looking group of dead sleds were pretty damn cool. And I was completely floored and honored by what he said. Man, that just made my day.
After leaving the Dead Sled area, I wandered around until I came across this slammed to the ground Ford pickup truck with a bunch of guys drinking next to it. This truck impressed the hell out of me; it was so damn low that you couldn’t even open the doors all the way because they would hit the ground! Bad ass.
If you like cars like this, you better get used to saying “Orale vatooooo” because cars and trucks like this don’t get built by old white guys wearing Hawaiian print shirts and cargo shorts. Even though those old white guys might have invented hot rodding in the 1940s and 50s, this newer influx of interest from Mexican and Latino guys is what’s redefining the hot rod scene today. Whether the hot rodders of old like it or not, these types of guys are taking over the scene. These are the guys who have been making the best cars, in my opinion. These guys have the cojones to throw traditional classic car values out the window and create traditional hot rods and kustoms that scrape the ground while they cruise the boulevard. This is the new generation of low riding. If you don’t like it, then you need to GTFO of the way.
Taking a closer look into Rags’ Ford truck, you’ll see some cool details, like the white steering wheel and this bad ass shifter! C’mon, man! That’s dope as hell.
I know it isn’t really a hot rod or a kustom, but for some reason I think this 1959 Volkswagen Bomber Beetle fits right in to the group of cars at Mooneyes. This car is owned by a young guy named Noe Prado from the Heathen Kings Social Club, who gave it a hot rod-meets-WW2 bomber look. I love it. Awesome style.
Another awesome feature of the car is the fact that it spits out some pretty mean fireballs, due to the flamethrower exhaust! It doesn’t run crazy rich and spit flames like a full-built Mazda rotary engine, but it did manage to spark up enough to attract quite a bit of attention and light some cigarettes. And quite possibly singed the eyebrows of a certain Dave Anderson, the cool guy pictured here.
Several times during the day, the heavens decided to take a leak on us and rain came down in buckets. As some people frantically scrambled to cover their topless roadsters and engine bays, some guys just played it tough with their flannels and rolled up jeans, letting the rain soak through their pompadour hairdos and old school Converse All Stars.
It was pretty bad… the Irwindale parking lot quickly turned into a swimming pool, with streams of water flowing everywhere, making it hard to walk around without completely soaking your shoes and socks in water. I’m a pretty dedicated individual… so I decided to endure that mess to bring you these photos… and I ended up walking around all day with wet, squishy, socks… and the leather/suede kicks I wore that day were completely ruined by the water flowing through Irwindale. Dammit.
As the rain began letting up, I decided to turn my attention to some of the other cool elements of hot rod style, like all the custom pinstriping and lettering workmanship that takes place at the Mooneyes Christmas Party every year. I spotted this guy walking around with this super gold flake painted helmet, which looks kind of similar to the helmet that All Star Bash driver Tommy Roberts wears when he drives his Goldmember S13, but this pinstriped version is way, way cooler in my opinion.
Check out the intricacy and detail of that freehand brushwork! The guy holding this helmet said he had just gotten it finished 5 minutes prior to me taking the photo.
Pretty damn cool. Last year, I got my own driving helmet gold leafed, pinstriped, and lettered at the Mooneyes show. I wish I brought something to stripe this year too.
Even if you’re not into striping, they had other cool stuff on sale at the show too. Lelia Morgan from Car Kulture Deluxe Magazine had these modified cigar boxes on sale, with dice and box wrenches on the top. Pretty cool if you ask me. I could put horn buttons in there, or lugnuts or something. I like that Joya de Nicaragua box. Hook me up, Lelia!
Another super cool thing I saw at the Mooneyes show was this little kid cruising around in this modified Radio Flyer style wagon! The owner of the wagon (and this little kid’s dad) told me that his parents bought this wagon a long time ago, and he rode around in it when he was a kid… but it rusted away over the years, so he decided to cut it up and modify it, and repaint it for his son! That is sooooooo cool! I wish I had something cool like this when I was a kid!
Look at the detail! The red wagon wheels have lugnuts, and the wheels have been painted to simulate white wall piecrust slicks, with side exit headers, a V8 symbol, steering wheel and a revolver shift knob?! Holy crap, what a cool dad. And what a lucky kid. (BTW, that’s MotorMavens’ own Horacio Z Flores crouching down taking photos of the kid. I hope he doesn’t make a habit of taking photos of kids, cause I think they have laws against that. LOL)
I love these vintage flannel jackets! These jackets proudly display the historic car club logo of the Cavaliers from Long Beach, a car crew that’s rightfully proud of its heritage, which stems back to the 1940s. If you’re looking for OG traditional hot rods, these guys are it. The guy on the left side is Tony, the Vice President of the Cavaliers. His super slammed Border Patrol car was probably my favorite car at the entire show! Stay tuned to Motor Mavens for photos of Tony’s car. I didn’t want to include his pics on this post, because it deserves a spotlight all by itself.
(By the way, the other Cavaliers guy is NOT wearing a white lace doily hat. It’s a plastic covering that he had on his real hat. Just wanted to clear that up, hahaha)
Super low down, tires rising above the rear fenders, V8 engines rumbling… this is what it’s all about.
Here’s a super sick traditional hot rod that didn’t feel the need for the widely used (maybe overused?) rusty patina and bare metal look. This car was outstandingly clean… immaculate ragtop, clean engine and details, and super low to the ground on black wire wheels. The evolution of low riders? Hell yeah. I hope so.
If there were hot rods like this 10 years ago, I certainly didn’t know about them. It wasn’t until just a couple years ago that I first saw super slammed traditional hot rods like this. All I ever saw before were hi-boys, gassers, and super tall classic Fords that don’t really appeal to me. However, when you come face to face with a car like this, how could you not leave the meeting inspired?! Amazing.
I’ll close this group of photos with a snapshot of a certain stylish pinstriping fan with the legendary “Wild Man” of Mooneyes Yokohama, Japanese celebrity pinstriper Takahiro Ishii.
One of the things I admire the most about Japanese culture is the fact that when Japanese people are passionate about something, they dedicate their entire lives to honing their skills and the mastery their chosen area of expertise.
Wild Man has certainly put in at least 10 thousand hours into the honing of his pinstriping and lettering skill. Hell, Ishii san has dedicated his entire life to the mastery of his craft… and to watch him perform it live is just amazing. Going to the Mooneyes Christmas Party last year opened up my eyes to the world of traditional hot rods. I definitely encourage everyone who didn’t make it this year to attend the show next time. You might discover, as I did, that you really loved these types of cars all along, and just didn’t know it yet.
:: Antonio Alvendia