We were over on the Hemmings blog this morning where Kurt Ernst reminded us that the film we’ve been hearing so much about as of late, “Snake And Mongoose,” is getting closer and closer to a release date.
Now, of course a little prejudice comes along with our two cents on this thing, but the real-life story of Tom McEwen and Don Prudhomme pitting their Funny Car teams against each other in the Seventies contributed so much to the popular culture of the day that its effects are still being felt all these years later…
Don (The Snake) and Tom (The Mongoose) were pretty fucking tough drag racers, each in his own right. Don had been making a name for himself as far back as the early Sixties when he was partnered up on the iconic Greer-Black-Prudhomme FED (with the bitchinest scoop to ever top a motor, as far as we’re concerned) and was the first guy to clear 250mph in the quarter-mile. Tom had been drag racing since the mid-Fifties and none other than Ed Donovan (of the self-named racing engines shop) nicknamed him “The Mongoose” in order to entice a few races against Prudhomme in 1964. After all, what’s the natural enemy of a snake, right? Drag racers. Always with the quick wit and the gallows humor.
It was McEwen’s idea to really make a go of the match race idea between the two teams and focus some marketing energy on appealing to the kids of the early Seventies. After all, it was the age of Evel Knievel toys and KISS comic books and Star Wars action figures – all of which hit the mother lode by turning on the purchasing power of a generation that wasn’t even old enough to vote yet. The Snake and The Mongoose made it rain for years with just the right combination of drama, tire smoke, wild paint and larger-than-life personalities, both on and off the track.
Tom’s persona and career eventually influenced another drag racer who decided to start his own bicycle company out of his garage in Southern California: Skip Hess’ budding young Mongoose brand basically created the BMX industry as we know it today. And Don is one of the winningest drag racers in the sport and has paved the 1320 for countless teams to make their way through the ranks of the wooliest form of motorsport to ever exist.
One of the characters in the yet-to-be-screened film, no doubt, is McEwen’s original late ‘Vette-bodied flopper. It sustained some damage during filming and Cole Foster – son of Funny Car hero, Pat “Bananas” Foster – got the job of lovingly getting the car back into show shape. And we were lucky enough to get our hands on it before it went back to the production company. Good times…
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