Sunday, November 7, 2021

Of Legacies and Dragsters

 The items I have for you this week are not actually old, but they represent the greatest drag racing rivalry ever.

They were easily the biggest thing in racing from 1965 to 1970. Don "the Snake" Prudhomme in his earth-shaking Barracuda facing off with Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen in his fire-spitting Duster.

Up until Prudhomme and McEwen, drag racing was a fairly specialized sport, mainly in areas like southern California. What changed all of that was the toy giant Mattel. They sponsored both cars and came out with several generations of Hot Wheels, that I have covered in previous posts. No boy in the early 70s was immune to the excitement of drag racing!

Flash forward about 50 years, I was in Hobby Lobby just looking around. As I was flipping through the slot cars on the pegs, I saw a brilliant red piece of my childhood. It was this:

 Yep, the Mongoose. In slot car form! As far as I know, these cars have never been released as slot cars before. The detail is fantastic and these are much more detailed than anything Mattel put out in the 70s (they have since released some very fine larger scale models). I particularly like the wheels.

Of course, I had to find the Snake! I went to a couple more Hobby Lobbys with no luck. So, I went to the old faithful eBay. I found only one, but it was about as cheap as the Mongoose, so I snatched it up. Here she is:

Now I have both, ready to tear up a slot car drag strip! Here are some more pictures of my wonderful find:

Now the problem. I would love to run these cars, but I also like them in the package. I could buy two more, I suppose, but that seems a bit too frivolous. Knowing my history with these sorts of things, I can almost assure you that in a few months they will be freed from their plastic prisons. 

Until next time, keep searching for treasure (even at Hobby Lobby)!


  1. Wow, this brings back memories! I had a coloring book for “The Snake” and “The Mongoose”, and of course I loved the Hot Wheels tie-in. I’m not even sure I really was aware of anything about Don Prudhomme or Tom McEwen except that they were racers and they had cool nicknames. Was this around the same time that Evel Knievel did his Snake River Canyon stunt? For some reason my brain wants to put them right next to each other.

    I love your slot cars, I always wanted a slot car set when I was a kid, but my parents always said “no”. I’m sure it was partly because they take up a lot of room, and they were probably certain that I would grow tired of the thing in two weeks. Do you have room to set up a slot car setup?? Maybe a ping pong table would be about the right size. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It was around the same time. The Snake and Mongoose were biggest in the late 60's early 70's and Evel jumped the canyon (almost) in 1974. In doing a bit (and I do mean "a bit" of research, I found that Prudhomme and McEwen were best friends to the point of considering each other brothers. They went to Mattel and pitched the idea of the sponsorship, and Mattel agreed. They were experts at marketing and played up the "rivalry" to that advantage. By the way, if you ever wondered who actually won most of the races, it was Prudhomme, The Snake. Somehow, as a kid, I just knew that, lol. Unfortunately McEwen passed away three years ago.
    I have had slot car sets and HO train layouts over the years, but although I have a ton of stuff, I don't have any set up now. Space is a real issue! A while back I was discussing with Chuck how I needed to build a new train layout and I think he said that he would like to do the same. Great minds! LOL
    Thanks for the plug on GDB!

  3. Stu, these are cool. I'm like the Major, I wanted a slot car layout, but Hot Wheels was a good substitute. Pretty sure I still have both of my Snake and Mongoose Hot Wheels. I still mean to pull that box out and see the Boss Hoss Mustang we talked about a while back.


    1. I was pretty spoiled, I guess. I was an only child. Still, that meant that I usually didn't have anybody to race against, lol!
      I'd like to see that Boss Hoss!

  4. Stu, your memory is correct. And I have made exactly zero progress towards my layout goal since our last conversation on the subject.

    I have only the vaguest memories of the Snake and Mongoose rivalry and drag racing in general. My dad watched a lot of races on TV, and I picked up on stuff mostly through osmosis.


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