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The History of Moon Discs: From Land Speed Racing to Hot Rod Icon

The History of Moon Discs: From Land Speed Racing to Hot Rod Icon

Moon discs, the sleek wheel covers synonymous with speed and style in the world of hot rods and land speed racing, have a rich history rooted in innovation and performance enhancement.

1. Origins of Moon Discs:
The concept of wheel covers can be traced back to early 20th-century aviation, notably with Benjamin Douglas Thomas introducing them on Curtiss aircraft during World War I. This early application laid the foundation for their adaptation in automotive racing.
1925 Curtiss P1 Hawk with inner and outer wheel discs.

Louis Ross' 1903 Stanley 'Woggle-Bug' steam racer and Barney Oldfield driving the 'Blitzen Benz' at Daytona Beach stand as the earliest documented examples of wheel discs in land speed racing, showcasing early attempts at streamlining for speed.

Louis Ross’ 1903 twin-engined Stanley ‘Woggle-Bug’ steam racer at Daytona Beach, Florida.

The famed ‘Blitzen Benz’ was shipped from Germany to the US in January 1910, and sported disc wheels.

2. Evolution of Moon Discs:
Moon discs gained significant traction in the automotive world with pioneering speedsters like Tommy Milton's twin-engine Duesenberg. Equipped with fabric wheel covers, Milton's car achieved remarkable speeds in the early 1920s, setting records and demonstrating the aerodynamic advantages of such innovations.
The Duesey had fabric wheel covers that Milton added to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics and increase its speed.

By the 1930s, prominent figure Sir Malcolm Campbell was incorporating various types of wheel discs like the 'ripple' on his speed machines like his 'Bluebird', which not only improved aerodynamics but also set trends that would influence the burgeoning custom car culture.

On This Day - Record Breaker Sir Malcolm Campbell Born |
The 1935 Campbell-Railton Blue Bird was Sir Malcolm Campbell's final land speed record car.  

The "Ripple" Style Wheel Cover Hub Cap
Available in 12", 13", 14", 15" and 16".

3. Cultural Impact:
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, moon discs became emblematic of the hot rod scene, thanks in part to Bob Rufi's pioneering use of aircraft wheel covers on his streamlined racer. Initially met with skepticism from traditionalists, the aerodynamic benefits of moon discs soon won over enthusiasts seeking both speed and style on the dry lakes and drag strips.
Rufi's home-made tear-drop shaped streamliner, was powered by a 1925 Chevrolet four-cylinder topped with an Olds 3-port head, hit 140mph. Part of Bob’s recipe to speed was the front and rear, inner and outer wheel covers.

 The "Hollywood" Style Wheel Cover Hub Cap
Available in 12", 13", 14", 15" and 16".'

4. Mid Century Adaptation:
By the 1950s wheel discs experienced a resurgence as wheel covers, thanks to Dean Moon and his hand spun Moon Discs that were a hit with Land Speed Racing enthusiasts, street rodders and customisers. Their association with speed and innovation persists today, with modern versions catering to both vintage enthusiasts restoring classic rods and contemporary racers seeking to optimise performance.


5. Modern Day Popularity:
100 years later, these innovative wheel discs still capture attention and imagination, even found on Teslas! For the most part though, they remain a staple with rodders around the world given their incredible heritage.

Moon Disc For Tesla Model Hub Cap, 57% OFF
The "Moon Disc" Style Wheel Cover Hub Cap
Available in 12", 13", 14", 15" and 16".

Eagle Field Hot Rod Gathering 10-09-10 032 (Small).jpg
Moon discs remain an enduring symbol of innovation and style in the automotive world, bridging the gap between form and function since their inception. From their origins in aviation to their pivotal role in shaping the aesthetics of hot rods and land speed racers, these iconic wheel covers continue to inspire and captivate enthusiasts worldwide, embodying the spirit of speed and ingenuity that defines automotive history. At Australian Auto Accessories we continue to supply the world with high quality, heavy duty, stainless steel versions in five different diameters: 12" inch, 13" inch, 14" inch, 15" inch and 16" inch, sets of four.


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