Mooneyes New Year’s Party – Kicking off the 2023 Event Season on a Sunny Day with 1,100 Cars

Better known as Moon by the hot rodding’s old guards, Mooneyes has played an essential role in shaping both our industry and hobby. The company founded by Dean Moon in 1950 has produced a number of beloved high-performance components – the world-famous Moon discs come to mind.

2023 MOONEYES NEW YEARS PARTY, Irwindale Dragstrip, jim dunn racing, alex laughlin funny car

Shige Suganuma (the owner of Mooneyes USA since 1992) and Chico Kodama (the firm’s president) have done a tremendous job carrying the flame since Dean passed in ’87. This includes organizing renowned annual events, such as Japan’s Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show launched in 1991, along with the subject of this web article: the Mooneyes New Year’s Party.

The Southern California meet derived from a 1970s artists’ get-together called Rat Fink Reunion. It celebrated Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, a customizer, artist and illustrator who created the iconic Rat Fink character. After Roth died in 2001, the event’s name was changed to Mooneyes X-mas Party – it took place in December as you might expect. The “party” has been held at Irwindale Speedway, which incorporates a NASCAR oval and a dragstrip, since 2006.

The pandemic through a wrench in Mooneyes’ well-oiled machine and no one seemed certain if the show would return to Irwindale. It finally did in January 2022, not as the Mooneyes X-Mas Party but as the Mooneyes New Year’s Party, a forced change due to the track’s busy schedule in December. The good news is that the event’s program has remained unchanged.

Fuel Curve made the trek to the second meet on January 28, 2023 – and it was a hoot. The large parking lot adjacent to the dragstrip welcomed 1,100-plus vehicles (including 125 race cars), which represented the various facets of the local modified car scene. While we saw plenty of hot rods/street rods and even more customs, other types of vehicles took over every nook and cranny of the venue: lowriders, street machines, vans, air-cooled VWs…you name it.

The 1/8th-mile track entertained the crowd as well, thanks to a Run-Whatcha-Brung racing format, though gassers and A/FX entries each had their own class. The schedule additionally included Cackle Car Demos, a Pinup Contest and several concerts throughout the day. True to the original Rat Fink Reunion of yesteryear, many artists came to sell their pieces in company of other vendors, which offered a range of products, from hot rod parts to T-shirts.

With beautiful weather, Mooneyes’ shindig proved to be a hit with both locals and out-of-towners, especially the few that escaped cold and snowy weather further east. And with the Grand National Roadster Show held six days later, it made for a great vacation destination!

2023 Mooneyes New Year’s Party Photo Extra!

Photos by Stephan Szantai