- Snake & Mongoose, a film about the rivalry between Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, will open on September 6.
- Competition between the two drag racers peaked at the 1978 NHRA Nationals.
- In addition to on-track action, the film depicts their revolutionary marketing deal with Mattel for a Hot Wheels drag racing set.
HOLLYWOOD, California — Independent film studio Entertainment Universe has unveiled a new trailer for Snake & Mongoose. Scheduled for nationwide release on September 6, the movie depicts the often-bitter rivalry between drag racers Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen.
The film traces the lives of Prudhomme (played by Jesse Williams) and McEwen (Richard Blake), from their roots in the Southern California drag racing scene of the early 1960s to their dramatic showdown at the 24th U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1978. The two drivers, who had butted heads for years as both rivals and teammates, were at the peak of their careers, and each had something to prove.
Prudhomme, a racing legend since the age of 20, had come closer than anyone to a perfect season, winning six of eight national events in 1975 and seven in 1976. Coming off another championship in 1977, he was eager to assert his dominance.
McEwen, the underdog, had taken a backseat to the tremendously popular Prudhomme for years. Although he was a talented top-fuel racer throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, The Mongoose had only one NHRA national win at that time, compared to dozens for The Snake.
Tragically, McEwen's 14-year-old son had died from leukemia just a week before the 1978 Nationals, and whether he would even compete was a question on the minds of fans nationwide. When he showed up, saying it was one of his son's last requests, sentiment turned dramatically in his favor.
What happened next was one of the most memorable finishes in drag racing history, one that couldn't have been scripted any better had Snake & Mongoose been fiction. If you don't know the result, you'll have to see the movie — or look it up — to find out. We don't want to spoil the suspense.
In addition to the on-track action, the film highlights the marketing initiatives that revolutionized drag racing at the time. An innovative sponsorship deal between Mattel and the two racers resulted in the Hot Wheels Mongoose and Snake Drag Race Set, which featured Prudhomme's yellow Barracuda funny car and McEwen's red Duster, complete with pop-out drag chutes and a twin-looped track.
The success of that toy and similar product tie-ins brought an explosion of sponsorship money and changed the way drag racing, and virtually every other sport, was promoted. Prior to that ground-breaking deal, racecars generally carried only the names of automotive products and services. Suddenly, every product in the world was a potential sponsor.
It was McEwen who came up with the Hot Wheels idea, first took it to Mattel and convinced the company that pre-teen racing fans would also be a prime market for the toys. The resulting eruption in sales not only became a goldmine for Mattel but also gave drag racing a huge boost in exposure, propelling it from a special-interest activity to a nationally televised mainstream sport.
Edmunds says: Fans of drag racing will want to rush out and see what promises to be heart-pounding on-screen adventure.