Written by Moore Good Ink
At this year’s SEMA show the corridor leading to the annual NHRA breakfast room was crowded. Distinguished racing figure John DiBartolomeo had arrived early. “I couldn’t believe it!” exclaimed the Drag Racing Action editor, “people have been queuing to get in since 7 o’clock.”
|It was October 31 and on this particular Wednesday morning, the second day of the show, a much anticipated special treat had been prepared for drag-racing lovers and racing fans alike. It was the premiere of the movie trailer Snake and Mongoose. Surprisingly, this is the first drag racing movie since Heart like a Wheel, the 1983 biographical film based on the life of Shirley Muldowney. On hand were legends, friends, and former fierce rivals, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen. The event, which attracted a 1,600 standing-room-only crowd and held in a ballroom at the LVH (Las Vegas Hotel), was opened by Master of Ceremonies Bob Frey. To set the scene Frey introduced the movie’s writer Alan Paradise, a former magazine editor, and female co-producer Robin Broidy. Filmed in Southern California with many scenes shot at historic Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Broidy said that the biggest obstacle in making the movie was finding the financial backing—someone who believed in it.
After Frey presented the 5-minute official movie trailer a lively Q&A session began where attendees fired questions at McEwen and Prudhomme. The topics examined their friendship, their adversities, their fierce rivalry, and their recollections of real-life stories that inspired the motion picture.
On stage, Prudhomme a tough professional drag racer with a remarkable 49 national victories to his credit seemed to enjoy the moment. To his left, McEwen, the 75 year-old sunny faced ex-racer, charmed his audience as he no doubt charmed the drag racing paddocks and the grandstands during his 45-year career.
Roland Leong, “The Hawaiian”, once said “McEwen was the smartest of the bunch. When he conceived the Hot Wheels deal using the Snake and Mongoose characters, it shook the world of drag racing. He produced a sponsorship package that allowed him and Prudhomme to buy the best equipment, pay expenses, make money and sell their image all over the United States. I hate to admit it but McEwen and Prudhomme showed us the way to the future. They were a lot smarter than most of us who didn’t see past the end of the quarter-mile.”
As we sat and enjoyed the lighthearted banter between the two it was impossible to overlook their glorious history—the one thing that cannot be bought.