When it comes to drag racing, there are few names that can hold a candle to the legends that were Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen, better known by their racing nicknames, Snake and Mongoose. Together, the two racers broke a tremendous amount of ground getting the sport out in the open to a wider audience through natural showmanship and the right sponsors. Earlier we brought you the first trailer here, but since then we’ve dug a little deeper into what is sure to be another classic automotive feature.
And anyone with an appreciation for competition, cars, or just a great story, should check their local listings for showtimes come August 9th, when the biopic celebrating Prudhomme and McEwen will make a run through select theaters, dubbed “Snake and Mongoo$e.” The film is being backed by the NHRA, in addition to Rhino Films and Entertainment Universe.
Back when the duo were first starting out in the ’60s, it was Tom McEwen’s natural charisma and promotional acumen that got the two of them to cook up the names “Snake” (for Prudhomme) and “Mongoo$e” (for McEwen), channeling the rivalry found in those same creatures in nature.
For a period of several years, from the mid-60s to the early ’70s, the pair made a traveling show of their ostentatious Plymouths and larger-than-life personalities, garnering attention and fanfare with trash-talk and jokes. For the most part, it worked to rev up the attending crowds, but it was hardly enough to make ends meet off the track.
But it was the partnership made with Mattel in 1970 that really catapulted the small-time road show into a national phenomenon. Tom McEwen, recognizing the potential gold mine that comes from children, toys, and money-laden parents, used his slick business skills once again to secure a sponsorship from Mattel’s Hot Wheels division.
And just like that, the guys had it made. Within a short span of time, Hot Wheels sporting stylized snakes and mongooses on orange plastic tracks were flying off the shelves, and bringing more fame and attention to drag racing as a whole.
The film looks like it’s going to cover the whole gamut of Prudhomme and McEwen’s relationship, including their funny car days and Tom’s tragic loss of his son to leukemia in 1978.
Hopefully, it’ll be as true to the story as it can be without going overboard on LSV. To those who know and knew them, as friends, partners, and drag racers, it’s undeniably true that the Snake and the Mongoo$e really changed the game. Here’s to hoping the film will do it proper justice.
Check out the photos we have below to see the exhibit at Goodguys Rod & Custom Association at Del Mar last fall. And be sure to check out the gallery of these restored funny cars and their haulers below.