By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archive
Some 10 years after its founding, Hot Rod was branching out, looking for new trends to appeal to its speed-hungry readers. Late ’50s and early ’60s issues continued to cover the traditional hot-rodding venues—Bonneville, Indianapolis, Pikes Peak and NHRA-sanctioned dragstrips across the country—but other forms of motorsport were appearing regularly, too.
During these years, a lot of editorial space was devoted to go-carts, “autodom’s newest, cheapest, funnest sport,” wrote Managing Editor Bob Greene in “Go-Cart Cavalcade,” a lengthy roundup of carts and cart parts in the August 1959 issue.
“Now, through an evolution of miniature powerplants graduating from the early washing machine engine, a whole new world of carting has exploded,” he wrote, “a creditable industry mushrooming overnight to supply the sudden demand for simple tube frames, engines, wheels and sprockets.” A “century note” could get you into a cart kit, “and some of the five-cubic-inch two-stroke mills sell individually for about a third of that.”
At the time of Greene’s roundup, there were about 40 cart makes on the market, some from hot-rodding veterans such as Chuck Potvin and Frank Kurtis. Halibrand made mag wheels for carts, and Dean Moon turned out scaled-down versions of his famous disc wheel covers.
“Four for $5.95,” said Greene.
Moon and his father, in fact, created a 1/5-mile dirt cart track in Santa Fe Springs, California, on a plot of unused land next to Moon’s speed shop and his father’s restaurant. They named the track Moonza and held a 100-lap race there on Memorial Day in 1959. That’s when Petersen photographer Eric Rickman snapped this starting-line photo that day as Moon gave pre-race instructions to a motley assortment of competitors.