Obituary: Tom “Mongoose” McEwen 1937 – 2018

Obituary: Tom “Mongoose” McEwen 1937 – 2018

By V. Moore: The man who achieved more for modern drag racing than any other has departed. Tom “Mongoose” McEwen died in his sleep sometime on Sunday night or Monday morning 10-11 June 2018 at the age of 81. McEwen was a rare bird: he had a gambler’s nerve and his word was dependable. He was also one of the most popular and charismatic personalities on the US drag racing scene. More importantly, his horizon extended beyond the dollar bill. He kept racehorses, as many as twenty, and though some were uncompetitive he preserved and loved them anyway. During his heyday with Coors sponsorship, he earned between 3 and 4 million dollars a year. Yet, on the topic of finances he described himself as “not too reliable”. On matrimony, “not easy to live with day in and day out.” On diet constraints, where his compulsive nature was well known, he regarded himself as, “on the goofy side—impossible to control.” Tom “Mongoose McEwen” was a generous and exceptionally lovely man. Born in Florida, he moved with his mother to California following the death of his father. His ambitions from the beginning lay with drag racing. It was a passion he never relinquished.  An endearing man, he was amusing and a formidable debater. He was also a gifted raconteur and entirely devoid of lofty opinions regarding his own accomplishments. To apparently intractable problems, “Mongoose” had a knack for conceiving wonderfully improvised solutions.  And to those who knew him, particularly those closely acquainted, Thomas “Mongoose” McEwen was unusually selfless, in fact, probably the most generous man they have known. To Peter Ward...
Hot Rod Power Tour visits Chattanooga

Hot Rod Power Tour visits Chattanooga

Sunday, 10 June 2018: The grounds of the Chattanooga State Community College, located on the banks of the Tennessee River, hosted the first stop for the participants of this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour. Hundreds of Long Haulers, revisiting the vivid images of previous tours, poured into the grounds of the Community College. Around noon, it would seem to any curious onlooker that a miracle of efficiency was occurring—how could the arrival of so many be accommodated? But accommodated they were, providing all of us a further glimpse of an extraordinary festival where the hot rod flourishes. Here in this limited photo library are a few of the more unusual.   Click here to view photo...
Competition valve locks:  Brief guide.

Competition valve locks: Brief guide.

By Fergus Ogilvy: Even a brief assessment of the valve lock will quickly convince us it’s at the heart of the competition valve train. If engines are exposed to over-revving—provoking valve springs and sometimes valve retainers to float—we are dependent upon the valve lock to remain locked or else… Pioneered by the original equipment manufacturers and virtually fail-safe, the ubiquitous 7-degree valve lock has been the standard for decades. Its 7-degree outer tapered shape fits into a similar taper on the valve spring retainer. Some engineers refer to its 7-degree angle as a locking taper. But, the shallower the taper, the harder it is to separate and remove, and drag racers constrained by time, understandably, grew impatient. It was infernally tedious, frustratingly tight and thus inconvenient. In their desire for efficiency, the 10-degree taper emerged. Though the 10-degree valve lock offers faster dismantling, the wider angle, unfortunately, cannot function reliably for sustained periods of valve float as the retainer can become separated from the valve lock, causing the locks to fall out. Thus an 8-degree configuration is often the better compromise for the racer. It offers better retention during valve float than its 10-degree counterpart and remains in unity with the retainer under severe conditions. In addition, the 10-degree design will reveal wear on parts during valve float that don’t usually sustain wear.      Identifying the telling signs of over revving Engine builder Jon Kaase says, “Sometimes if the valve train gets out of control and it’s bouncing around, the valve locks get chafed on their bead locks or scored on their half-round portion beneath the bead lock—that...