Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

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The Gemini Giant is a 28-foot tall muffler man who stands on Route 66 outside the Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois. He weighs in at a whopping 438 pounds: not counting his base of the giant 80-foot rocket he holds in his hands!

This space man is one of many muffler men spread throughout the United States.

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

Burger and fries at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

The Wilmington Gemini Giant has gone through some rough times, with an uncertain future, over the past few years. The Launching Pad closed down in 2010. With the drive in restaurant and muffler man statue for sale no one knew when, or if, it would reopen and what would happen to the Route 66 icon.

In 2016, the restaurant went to auction, but failed to sell because the reserve wasn’t met.

Though the Launching Pad restaurant closed, the space-age muffler man statue still stood and drew crowds of road-trippers looking for roadside attractions on Route 66. But, with the business closed, and no potential buyers in site, the fate of the big green man was still up in the air and no one knew how much longer he’d keep standing.

Luckily, in 2017 the Illinois Gemini Giant’s fate changed: Holly Barker and Tully Garrett bought the business and decided to restore the building and keep the famous mascot.

The Launching Pad reopened on April 16th, 2018 as a Route 66 Welcome Center and gift shop. Eventually, the kitchen was restored and the restaurant was brought back as well.

The Gemini Giant muffler man in Wilmington, Illinois is here to stay! In fact, in May 2019 this Illinois muffler man got a facelift. He was restored with a fresh coat of paint! This allotted fans to come check out a site that hadn’t been seen over 50 years: the Gemini Giant without a helmet!

The helmet had to be removed to paint his face (and with it, a football that was stuck inside for over ten years was also removed!). I took a mini road trip to Wilmington (it’s only about an hour and a half drive outside of Chicago) to check it – see the photos of the Gemini Giant with his helmet removed below!

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man's helmet at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Val with the Gemini Giant Muffler man's helmet at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Painting the Gemini Giant Muffler man at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Close up of the rocket held by the Gemini Giant Muffler man at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Painting the Gemini Giant Muffler man at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Painting the Gemini Giant Muffler man at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Val with the Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

The Gemini Giant Muffler man without his helmet on at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington, Illinois on Route 66.

We unfortunately didn’t stick around to try one of the Launching Pad’s hot dogs, pot roast sandwiches, fruit pies, or ice cream sundaes (I’ll have to return again when it’s less crowded!) but on the way home from our mini Route 66 road trip we did get some fried chicken at another Mother Road institution: Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket.

Photos of the Gemini Giant in 2007:

Here are a few photos of the Gemini Giant and Launching Pad restaurant from my first trip there back on July 13, 2007. I visited again on a very quick Illinois road trip in 2010 where I also visited the Leaning Tower of Niles and the Agricultural Crash Monument.

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

Gemini Giant Mural at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois
Route 66 Mural Inside
Mini corn dogs, fries, and a shake at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois
Mini corn dogs, fries, and a shake

Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad Restaurant

Location: 810 E Baltimore St, Wilmington, IL
Cost: Free to see. Lunch/dinner extra.
Hours: Always visible.
Date: April 9, 2010

Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois
Gemini Giant muffler man at the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois
Val

Val is the founder and head road tripper at Silly America. Having grown up near Berwyn's famed car kabob, The Spindle, and a restaurant with a cow on its roof, her fascination with roadside attractions started early. Today, Val has visited over 300 roadside attractions across 31 states and is constantly on the lookout for the next BIG thing!

Val also blogs about her life, travels, and cats on her personal blog, Choosing Figs.

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