It’s a good month for film-loving racing fans. Director Ron Howard’s Rush, a biopic about the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda, hits theaters nationwide September 27th. But the story of another historic racing rivalry-turned-enduring friendship already is being told on the big screen in select cities in the new film, Snake & Mongoose.
During the 1960s, drivers Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen put drag racing on the pro motorsports map with their dynamic clashes and a little bit of marketing magic. On-track, they were the fiercest competitors in the then-struggling minor sport. But off-track, the two Southern Californians were the closes of friends.
By 1970, the two had created a solid following. But a genius marketing move gave them history-maker status. Realizing the appeal of Mattel’s Hot Wheels line, introduced in 1968, Prudhomme and McEwen convinced the company to put their Snake and Mongoose branding images on the toy cars. That sponsorship agreement proved wildly successful and gave rise to the corporate sponsorship and licensing model that continues to dominate motor sports to this day. Thanks in large part to McEwen’s gift of gab and penchant for publicity, the agreement allowed the two to buy the best equipment, pay expenses, make money and sell their image all over the United States, driving drag racing into the pro motorsports mainstream.
But success can prove a volatile mistress. A failed marriage, a child’s tragic illness and the palpable loneliness of a constantly-on-the-road existence weighed heavily on both men and their families. The film explores the many layers of that friendship via a scripted retelling of their captivating story interlaced with vintage National Hot Rod Association footage.
The film currently is screening in California, North Carolina, Indiana, Washington and Canada, and it’s slated to hit nearly 20 more cities soon. Want to bring Snake & Mongoose to your town? Let the producers know on the Snake & Mongoose Facebook Fan Page. Seen it already? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.