Yes, Gremlins CAN fly, especially when Melanie Monagon, Northeast Ohio’s Gremlin Girl, is the pilot. While most people think of a gremlin as some kind of elf that could be related to a yard gnome, this Gremlin has much better things to do than serve as a landscape ornament.
A Brief History of the AMC Gremlin
The AMC Gremlin debuted in 1970 as a sub-compact fuel-saver. With the 70s being the era of the muscle car, in 1972 it was made available with a 304 cubic inch (5.0 Liter) V8 engine. This upgrade quickly earned it a nickname as the “poor man’s Corvette”, with a sticker price of under $2,200. It was also the industry’s first vehicle to come with a bumper-to-bumper factory warranty. While it was only produced for eight model years, the Gremlin set many precedents in the automobile industry.
The Gremlin was discontinued in 1978, replaced by the AMC Spirit. American Motors began in 1954 and after various mergers, acquisitions and separations, eventually dissolved in 1988. While AMC may be gone, it set in motion a long list of innovations in the auto industry that are still alive and well today.
A Little About “Gremlin Girl” Melanie
Melanie is a self-admitted “Daddy’s Girl” who fell in love with cars, motors, and racing. Like many women with a passion for cars, it started from a very young age. She explained, “there was always a souped-up car in our garage, a project to be worked on, and eventually a Gremlin.” It was not until she was around 10 or 12 years old that she realized that she enjoyed the races she and her father went to, both circle track and drag races.
When she was 12 years old, she asked her father if she could try drag racing, and after one pass down the strip at Norwalk (now called Summit Motorsports Park) she was hooked. Fast forward to today and Melanie not only races, but works on her car and is one of the fastest women the country, in a good way.
Melanie says that her father has always been her biggest inspiration who taught her the important values in life and to follow her dreams and never give up. She also says he is her biggest supporter and biggest fan.
The “Flying” Purple 1972 AMC Gremlin
There are not a lot of women in drag racing, and there are also not a lot of AMC Gremlins, in drag racing or otherwise. Even Melanie admits, “most people don’t choose a Gremlin and in my situation, the Gremlin sort of chose me.” “The Gremlin was a car my Dad had when I was little, it used to be a cruise-in/car show car,” but once she took that first trip down the track she was hooked. Melanie and her father soon began the evolution of the Gremlin into the powerful high-performance machine it is today.
Do not let the girly color scheme fool you, this is certainly not your typical “drive all the girls to the mall” car. Under the hood of this eye-catching pink and purple beast is an 1100 horsepower blown alcohol powerplant that means business. Once that Christmas tree goes green, the only thing visible is a purple streak, until about 8 seconds later it is slowed to a stop by its parachute, which is, of course, purple.
If all that does not get your attention, the fact that a woman drives it will. When asked about what it is like to compete in a predominately male sport, Melanie explained, “I think being involved in a man’s sport is what made me want to learn more. I wanted to make sure I could hold my own, and be more than just a driver.” If a part needs replaced, blower or injector needs adjustment, Melanie is certainly not a damsel-in-distress. Not only is she a driver and mechanic, by day she is a professional Finance Recruiter for Kelly Services helping people find work. Melanie is truly an inspiration to any woman to aspire to be anything they want to be.
Lights! Camera! Action!
Even though Melanie has a full-time job and is devoted to her drag car, she has still found time to spend in the limelight. Melanie has been featured across the internet on a variety of automotive blogs and websites both for her racing skills and for the uniqueness and beauty of the Gremlin itself. She has also appeared in both Pass Time on Speed TV and Won and Done, both nationally televised automotive competition shows. When asked about her experience on Pass Time, she said, “The people and producers were wonderful. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!”
She said that opportunities like Pass Time gave her the chance to see the reactions to her pink and purple car and the fact that a girl drives it. Melanie is certainly on the right track to change the antiquated perception of “women drivers”! Click here to watch Melanie on Pass Time!
What Does the Future Hold for the Gremlin Girl
Melanie plans to keep moving forward with her car driven by her “need for speed and blower cars.” She is proud of her Gremlin and how far it has come since its cruise-in days. While she admits that she may be a little more addicted to speed than most women, it is what keeps her striving to build a faster car. Her dream is one day drive a blown pro-mod. What did you think it would be?
Melanie is also thankful for the support of her sponsors, including her employer, Kelly Services, a Fortune 500 staffing company who has embraced her passion both professionally and personally. Melanie will be welcoming a new sponsor this year, Car Part Kings, located in Great Neck, New York. Car Part Kings is “excited about being a part of Melanie’s team and Monagon Racing and supporting both the sport of drag racing, women in the automotive world and those with a love for turning a wrench.”
Stay tuned for updates on Melanie’s season and more about all the automotive happenings in the Northeast Ohio area for 2015. You can follow Melanie on her Facebook fan page and also watch for posts on Car Part Kings Facebook page as well.
It is time to brush off the dust and put the winter coat away; it is car time in Cleveland 2015!