Feature: Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen’s Tirend Top Fueler (PART 2)

Check out the second part of this exclusive feature. If you missed Part 1 be sure to read first!

The bloodthirsty Mongoo$e adjourns the front wing.

The bloodthirsty Mongoo$e adjourns the front wing.


At the end of ’69 Goo$e sold the Tirend car to Glen O’Neal, who hauled it to Texas. Shortly thereafter he moved to Southern California and hooked up with Kenny Logan who put his new KB engine in the chassis.  At Irwindale, their first race as partners, Logan faced off with Chuck Flores.  Flores redlit and fireballed the engine, Logan legged it through. In flames and oiled in, Flores managed to run right over the front end of the Tirend car in the shutdown area.


Note all of the hand-formed body panels are straight as a string and no gaps.

Note all of the hand-formed body panels are straight as a string and no gaps.


O’Neal decided to order a rear-engine chassis, so the damaged T/F was sold to Ron Kolb, Leland Kolb’s son, who replaced the front end and installed a small-block Chevy, racing it in that configuration for several years.  Eventually, the former Tirend T/F was stuffed up in the rafters of Kolb’s shop in Fullerton, California, where it sat for 30 years.


In 2005 Kolb crossed paths with Kuhl and asked if Mike would be interested in the car, which he was. Unfortunately Kenny Logan had first right of refusal and opted to buy the Tirend car, but stayed in touch with Kuhl.  In ’07 he elected to sell car to Kuhl.


The view most competitors had of the Tirend dragster

The view most competitors had of the Tirend dragster

Back in his shop, Kuhl began the restoration. During the process, former fuel ace Tommy “Watchdog” Allen threw in with Kuhl, intending to purchase the finished product, until the Soapy Sales T/F, which he drove, became available, and he quickly snatched it up, but stayed involved. Fortunately, the car was completely original from the motorplate on back to the pushbar.


(L to R) Mike Kuhl, Tom "The Mongoo$e" McEwen and Tommy "Watchdog" Allen

(L to R) Mike Kuhl, Tom “The Mongoo$e” McEwen and Tommy “Watchdog” Allen

Kuhl, an inductee into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, recipient of the California Hot Rod Reunion Lifetime Achievement Award and whom many consider one of the godfathers of the  wildly popular Cackle Car movement, slowly brought Goo$e’s Tirend T/F back to life. He was aided in his quest by fabricator extraordinaire Steve Davis; Fred Hayhurst, who painstakingly duplicated all of the bodywork originally done by master craftsman Tom Hanna; and finally, Phil Whetstone faithfully duplicated George Cerny’s eye-grabbing paint job on the car and Goo$e’s period-correct helmet. Kuhl has been involved with the period-correct restorations of numerous historically significant drag cars, including Goo$e’s blue Hot Wheels Duster, the dragsters of Kansas John Wiebe, Yeakel Plymouth, Frantic 4 and his own Kuhl & Olson fueler.


The new era T/Fs may be light years quicker, but they're not nearly as pretty.

The new era T/Fs may be light years quicker, but they’re not nearly as pretty.


This faithfully restored beauty was debuted and cackled at the 2011 California Hot Rod Reunion to the delight of thousands. Another key player in drag racing history saved from oblivion and brought back to life.  Although Kuhl would love to hold on to this rare piece, it just isn’t financially possible, so it’s for sale. In addition to the car, Goo$e’s 26-foot enclosed Bowlus trailer, which he bought new to transport the Tirend dragster, is available.  Bolus trailers were built by professionals for touring professional racers; this is #5 of 22 and authenticated by Jack Bowlus, the manufacturer.


Text by Pete Ward

Photos by Pete Ward and Tom McEwen Archives

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