FYI WIRZ: Fast Snake and Mongoose Rivalry Snares Epic Movie Time

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIAugust 12, 2013

A California parking lot set for the movie Snake and Mongoose: Credit: Snake and Mongoose movie
A California parking lot set for the movie Snake and Mongoose: Credit: Snake and Mongoose movie

A potent Snake and Mongoose movie is about to strike the big screen.

If your mind just envisioned a dangerous, hooded Cobra fighting an agile critter that resembles a weasel, then snake and mongoose may have a vivid meaning for you.

If your mind conjured up two dragsters from the 60s blasting down a Southern California drag stripboth sponsored by Hot Wheelsthen you'll be pleased to know that vivid motorsports history will soon be debuting in your neighborhood theater.

If you are an avid movie-goer with no particular preference for snakes, furry creatures or legendary drag racers, then you're still likely to be intrigued by a compelling story about to hit a big screen near you.

Even if you thought the title, Snake and Mongoose, was about city gang wars, it's safe to say a strong, entertaining story that's not about urban strife is coming your way.

This is a movie about real-life drag racing icons Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen, but it's way more too.

It's a story within itself.

This reporter was privileged to conduct phone interviews with producer Robin Broidy, screenplay-writer Alan Paradise, NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps and drag racing icon Tom “Mongoose” McEwen to bring an inside take on the production of this energetic Snake and Mongoose movie.

The creation of one motion picture requires immense effort and commitment.

The screenplay took nine months to write. The movie was two years in the making with two months of intense shooting.

Producer Broidy had never been to a drag race and was not seeking a story about side-by-side motor competition. She was looking for a compelling script, one that would be successful after production.

“It had to have a great story,” Broidy said. “Producers need great stories. I read the script not expecting very much, but low and behold there was an amazing story thereabout tension, rivalry and being there for one another.”

Paradise was writing a book on Prudhomme and McEwen at the request of Mattel Inc. for Hot Wheels when he realized the unique power of their whole story.

“Take out the compelling parts of their personal lives, the racing alone is very compelling,” Paradise said. “But when you added in their friendship, their personal triumphs and tragedies and how that all inter-played, it was a really compelling story.”

Capps is a seasoned NHRA Funny Car driver who drove nine years for Prudhomme when he owned an NHRA team. Capps has done many commercials for his sponsor NAPA and is familiar with film production. He also performed a character role in the Snake and Mongoose movie.

“Drag race fans are going to love it,” Capps said. “No matter what. There's going to be a lot of people who are not even racing fans that are going to love this story. A lot of things happen in this story.'

“Mongoose” McEwen is an NHRA icon and pioneer racer, who paved the way for sponsorships in motorsports.

“In the early days we were working and racing on weekends,” McEwen said. “There wasn't any money involved in it. I always thought there was some way to get sponsors involved. I had an idea to go to Mattel Toy because they had just come out with the Hot Wheel cars.”

Broidy and her company Entertainment Universein association with Rhino Films with NHRAput considerable effort to bring back those early days to a fresh screen.

“We transformed the archival footage we got from the NHRA back to 16 millimeter print so I could transfer them to digital,” Broidy said. "'Up Red' them, as they say and color-correct them. Now they are the most beautiful racing films anyone has seen in 30 years.”

Paradise got the ball rolling with his writing endeavors.

“To write the script was fulfilling,” he said. “I watched these guys in their heyday race in Southern California. It's almost like you have a job, but you don't have a job.”

Actors Jesse Williams, Richard Blake, Ashley Hinshaw and Kim Shaw brought talent and diligence to the set. Paradise was impressed that they were attracted to the script from the beginning.

“They read the script and wanted to do the movie because the script was cool,” he said.

Paradise was also impressed with Prudhomme and McEwen being on the set and offering constant advice to the actors on how it was then.

“They watched it play out,” He said. “Like having two snakes and two mongooses at the same time.”

McEwen enjoyed the experience and the reality of the movie-making process.

“I never had one made about me before, so it's quite an honor,” he said. “It was a fun project, but it's a lot of work.”

Broidy understands the work it takes to bring any movie project from start to finish.

“I named my company Entertainment Universe,” she said. “It has a mission. The mission is to bring fun and inspiring stories to families. I want this movie, and all movies I do, to pull and tug on the heart stringsteach a good message about working hard.”

It will be interesting to see how this movie plays out in flicker-world. Drag racing fans, especially those who grew up in the muscle-car era, will love this film and likely flock to it. Especially after some of their friends and family go to the movie and rave about it.

But among the legions of movie-goers, word may get out that this movie grabs in many ways. It may draw many sports fans who never experienced the eruption of 10,000 horse power from precision engines in stands about 40-plus feet away.

That's why it got produced. It may be why the producers will be pleasantly surprised.

Snake and Mongoose won't be hissing at all, but it could hit the big screen with an impact that lingers beyond erupting engines and gear-head passion.

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.