Nitromethane fueled the funny car battles on the drag strips of the 1970s, and Mattel's marketing money made the sport burn brightly and also changed the face of all sports marketing for good. The rivalry between Don Prudhomme ("Snake") and Tom McEwen ("Mongoose") began in the 1960s and grew more intense as funny cars became wilder and wilder. Now it's being chronicled by the film Snake & Mongoose, which is completing post-production now.
Alan Paradise worked on a TV project back in 2005 commemorating the Mattel sponsorship when Tom McEwen suggested the story could be book-worthy. From there, compelling stories and historical photos convinced Paradise that the story would play well on film.
The spectacle of modern sports owes a debt to Mattel funneling money into both drivers' teams, and the tightly tied-in effort generated some of the hottest Hot Wheels toys ever. The yellow Snake Plymouth Barracuda and red Mongoose Duster ran races over and over again in suburban houses all over the nation with the Mongoose and Snake Drag Race Set, complete with a pair of loops and parachutes.
The film is a small, scrappy effort compared to Hollywood blockbusters. Production is finished, and it had the benefit of Don Prudhomme offering advice such as "he ought to give him the finger" to make sure the quarter-mile action is authentic. The cast is star-studded, with Jesse Williams, Richard Blake, Noah Wyle, and none other than Ian Ziering as engine builder Keith Black. "Snake & Mongoose" is one of several racing-themed films coming soon, another reason for moviegoing motorsports fans to rejoice.