Snake & Mongoo$e – a tribute to drag racing’s glory days

Snake and MongooseOur resident Gearhead puts his grease gun down to review the new DVD release of this indie drag racing film.

I had a chance to drive a drag-racing car many years ago, and to be quite honest with you, I was too scared to get behind the wheel. Sometimes I find myself wishing I’d taken the plunge. But as I watched the excellent new film Snake and Mongoo$e, I was reminded of just how terrifying these cars can be. I mean, I like speed as much as the next guy — maybe more — but as early as 1970 or thereabouts, professional drag racers were turning quarter-miles in under 7 seconds at over 200 mph. Even as a daredevil teenager, which is what I was back then, that seemed a little too hot to handle.

It made for a great show, though, and no two men were more instrumental to the sport’s growth than Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen. Initially bitter rivals, the pair formed a partnership in the late 1960s that helped elevate drag racing from fringe spectacle to big-ticket entertainment.

Their most important joint venture was probably the sponsorship agreement they signed in 1970 Snake & Mongoose 3with Mattel’s Hot Wheels franchise, which put the Hot Wheels logo on both men’s cars — and set a precedent for such agreements across professional sports. But the film goes well beyond the boardroom, of course, delving deeply into the complex personal relationship between Prudhomme and McEwen as it evolved through the years.

 Drag racing on the big screen

Now, I’m no movie critic, so when I tell you that I thought the dialogue was mostly by-the-numbers, I want you to take that with a grain of salt. But you know I’m a car guy, so you can trust me when I say that this is one car movie that got my blood pumping. I loved the split-screen cockpit closeups of the Snake and Mongoose, side by side in full protective headgear, with the drag-strip “Christmas tree” lights in the middle.

Another neat idea was the inclusion of archival racing footage from the ’60s and ’70s, reminding you that this isn’t just a popcorn movie; it all really happened. And this flick’s got some star power, too, from a barely recognizable Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy) as The Snake to Hollywood veteran Noah Wyle as Mattel executive Arthur Spear.

Sname & Mongoos 2As car films go, I still gotta give the nod to Bullitt as the best of all time, but I think Snake and Mongoo$e is right up there with Senna and another recent car movie, Rush, as far as true stories are concerned. If you’re awestruck like me at the sight of those drag-racing cars thundering down the track, you’re gonna want to take this Snake for a spin.

Snake & Mongoo$e is available on DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Check out a clip here:

Movies, motors and McQueen (Steve McQueen, that is)

Steve McQueenBetween all the multi-tasking that my husband and I do — you know, those responsibilities and obligations to our jobs, our kids, our families, our pets, our activities, our home and our vehicles — there is actually one thing that does remove the sting from the whole too-much-going-on-at-the-same-time dilemma. What is it? Making time to take in a movie. Or two when time luxuriously allows.

It’s a commitment. And one we’d never trade in for the world. It’s a simple way to carve out time together, just us two.

The latest movie titles embarrassingly escape us, and it’s no use trying to remember the numerous TV commercials for the latest crop of movies. So we head online to see what’s playing locally. Out of the handful that we barely recognize, the lone standout falls into the car movies category. I think you know the one: where today’s generation of fast and famous film cars share top billing alongside current Hollywood heavies (all of whom surely must derive some form or level of inspiration from Steve McQueen.) Fast cars, all furiously zooming around, driven by hot actors and pretty actresses, all engaging in tons of car-racing action and adrenaline-pumping rescues, fueled by a nonstop thumping soundtrack . . . and a heavy sigh from me and the hubby.

Not necessarily our style of film, but it’s how we now quell the craving for car movies. Truthfully, our style leans more toward the car movies (and their famous film cars which are now icons) from decades ago. Give us those car movies with Steve McQueen tearing around the streets of San Francisco, or Gene Hackman using the streets of New York as a high-speed obstacle course for four wheels, or, heck, even Lightning McQueen re-paving the streets of Radiator Springs for that matter, and we’ll be there with our bucket of popcorn in hand. Certain car movies are the greatest!

Famous film cars themselves will always have our attention, too. Surely, you can picture them as well. In the cool department, there’s no mistaking that 1968 moss-green 390 V8 Ford Mustang GT that has Steve McQueen written all over it. In the campy department, nothing can take the place of that late-1950s Cadillac stretch ambulance conversion that was vital in helping keep ghosts and their slimy green ectoplasm in check. And who says famous film cars have to be limited to cars? With another nod to Steve McQueen, there’s no forgetting the TT Special 650 Triumph motorcycle he used in that classic WWII escape scene.Steve McQueen

What about you? Which car movies starring your favorite and famous film cars rank as your go-to choices? Maybe it was that first R-rated movie you saw. Or that memorable drive-in movie that truly had you engrossed in what was happening on screen. There’s a story behind them all. Whether it involved Steve McQueen or any of those famous film cars, share it! Start confessing in our Comments section down below.

 

Editor’s note: As you pine for Steve McQueen and the classic car films of yore, visit Advance Auto Parts for to maintain a cinema-quality car of your own. Mustang photo courtesy of The Mustang Source.