Tag Archives: AZ

Snake and Mongoo$e – Movie Review

Finally got the chance to see “Snake and Mongoo$e” movie this weekend.  If you love drag racing and appreciate the history and our past this will be a great movie to see.  Unfortunately it is only at limited locations for now, so you’ll have to check the website for any local theaters in your area showing this film.  The producers actually have keyed in on sites that host NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) races, figuring they would have a built-in audience at those locations.

SEMA Preview

I saw a clip of this film while at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association) show last year in Las Vegas, Nevada and it already looked interesting then.  If you follow NHRA coverage, they have pushed it heavily since this year’s National’s.  John Force Racing even had his cars decaled with the movie for the National’s to help promote it.  Here are links to our previous coverage, and an interview with the writer and co-executive producer Alan Paradise.

Snake and Mongoo$e

I absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed the film.  It tells the beginning of Don “the Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen when drag racing was something done on the weekends and you had a day job Monday-Friday.  Prudhomme was a car painter/body man at his dad’s shop and McEwen worked for Douglas Aircraft.

Hot Wheels

The story tells how McEwen and Prudhomme ended up being sponsored by Hot Wheels.  This was the first non-automotive sponsorship in motor racing and led the way for corporate America sponsoring motor racing.  Hot Wheels sponsored them for $100,000.  That wouldn’t buy much in today’s competitive races!  Hot Wheels and Mattel always has had close relationships with Detroit and the car manufacturers.  In fact at the GM display at SEMA last year, a substantial part of the floor space was a mockup of the orange tracks used by the Hot Wheels.  And Chevy even offered a limited production Hot Wheels Camaro available to the public.

2 blue Camaros
Blue Camaros at SEMA 2012

Blue Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels
GM Display at SEMA Show

The film does a good job blending archival film in with the new stuff.  Had to laugh seeing a much younger Keith Jackson doing a spot for Wide World of Sports.  Remember when you had to wait weeks to see a short taped episode of your favorite sporting event (interspersed with cliff diving from Acapulco)?  A lot of the current action looks like it was shot at Famoso Raceway.

Authentic

Plenty of actual drag cars are in the background.  Plus even the houses in the scenes have that period authentic look that only Hollywood can achieve.  The race sequences are real archival footage to help add that authentic, realistic touch.

As with any historical film, you already know the ending.  But people still went to see “Lincoln” right?  The film starts with a spot from the 1978 Nationals and then sweeps back to the beginning of the Snake and Mongoo$e story.  I sense this was a labor of love for the filmmakers and hope it is a money maker for them.  The only drawback I can see is that if you aren’t into drag racing, the storyline might not be as compelling.  Hearing Prudhomme talk about crewing for Tommy Ivo and driving for Roland DeLong, might not be as relevant if you don’t know the backgrounds of these characters.  Don’t want to spoil the ending for those of you who might not know the story, but there are a few emotional spots towards the end and a few good life lessons to ponder.

When I see the Nike swoosh on NFL practice uniforms, listen to football broadcast from ATT Dallas Stadium and see ads on the NBA basketball court, it is amazing to realize this all might have stemmed from Hot Wheels first successfully sponsoring the Snake and Mongoo$e.

Cars and Haulers selling at Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ January, 2014

The actual restored drag cars and the matching iconic haulers will be sold by Don Prudhomme by Barrett-Jackson at the Scottsdale, Arizona auction in January 2014.  They are scheduled to be present for the Las Vegas auction this weekend so you are apt to see a glimpse of them on the television coverage this weekend.

Some pictures/artwork courtesy of “Snake and Mongoo$e – the Movie”

 

 

 

 

Snake and Mongoo$e with screenwriter Alan Paradise

If you are an avid drag race fan or into the historical vintage racing stuff, you’ll enjoy watching the upcoming movie, Snake and Mongoo$e.  It will be coming to theaters in limited release after the NHRA’s US Nationals being held this Labor Day Weekend.  In a clever marketing ploy, it is first being released in markets where the NHRA hosts drag racing.  It even had some special preview showings during Hot August Nights and the Woodward Cruise, according to screenwriter and co-producer Alan Paradise.  We had first covered this movie this month.

Snake and Mongoo$e Movie Poster
Snake and Mongoo$e Movie Poster

Drag Racing with Mattel’s Hot Wheel Sponsorship

Some of you may recall when Don “the Snake” Prudhome and Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen barnstormed the country with their drag racing grudge matches.  Their profiles blossomed when Mattel’s Hot Wheels sponsored the racers, crafting a set of drag racing themed models.  This is generally regarded as the first non-automotive related sponsorship of an automobile racing event.  Guess you can trace the naming of stadiums, sponsorship of pro team press conferences and ads at courtside of basketball games, all to Mattel and this duo.

The movie offers a trip back to 1970 when these two raced their cars; Prudhome drove a yellow Plymouth ‘Cuda  while McEwen piloted the red Dodge Duster.  They used color matching car haulers that kept the cars exposed and visible as they crisscrossed the highways.  Now these restored race cars are again barnstorming the country to promote the movie before they are scheduled to be sold in January, 2014 at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Alan Paradise – Screen writer of Snake and Mongoo$e

We had the chance for an interview with the screenwriter Alan Paradise recently, who offered some behind the scenes insights to this movie.  Turns out that Paradise is a prolific writer and has authored a variety of car themed books and worked on numerous car magazines over the years.  You’ve probably read his words while working for Buckaroo Publications, Truckin’ and Sport Compact Car. As a filmmaker, he developed over 100 video profiles of NASCAR racers and tracks.

The inspiration for the movie

Paradise was first approached by Mattel in 2005 seeking his help in producing a documentary on the then 35th anniversary of the drag racing partnership.  The documentary “Once Upon A Wheel” was the result and was used initially for Mattel functions and eventually Tom McEwen acquired the rights to the film and even still sells it today.

While collaborating on the documentary, McEwen suggested that Paradise could make the story of Snake and Mongoose into a book.  That started Paradise off on a trek involving hundreds of hours of research and interviews with some of drag racing’s legends including John Force, Tommy Ivo and Roland DeLong.

The more Paradise worked on the project, the more he was convinced that the story needed to be told on the big screen as a movie; and encouraged by his wife, that was the route he pursued.  He linked up with Stephen Nemeth of Rhino Films and he started working on a script.  It took Paradise seven months to write his first draft and then another 3 months for a re-write, plus another 2 months on final tweaks and changes.

Paradise submitted his script to the Hollywood powers late on a Friday, thinking that he could relax over the weekend before hearing back from the producers at the earliest on Monday.  Instead on Sunday, he was in deep discussions with the movie folks who had loved the script and read it right away.

As they sought out financial backing for the film, some distributors were concerned that the story would not have much attraction in the foreign markets.  This seems ironic since drag racing is truly an international sport with strong interest across the globe.  So the movie folks opted to go the independent route.

Archival Footage

During the movie making process, the producers had access to some archival footage from NHRA and were even offered scenes from private collectors.  Several vintage racers can also be seen in the movie including the Greer Black Prudhome dragster.  The movie was able to use numerous scenes after colorizing and cleaning up these films.  So when you see races, you know they are the real deal.

Drag racing scenes

And for the real deal during the race scenes, obviously the movie actors couldn’t be behind the wheel.  Taking the place of Richard Blake who portrayed Tom McEwen was Trevor Larkin, the son of famed drag racer Tommy Larkin.  And guess who drove for Don Prudhome’s character?  Yep, Don Prudhome piloted the drag car himself instead of actor Jesse Williams.

The actual filming of this epic took seven weeks and then came months of post-production work.  A short snippet was shown at the 2012 SEMA show in Las Vegas and it looked terrific.  Can’t wait to finally see the full length feature.  Once you see it, leave us a note.

 

 

 

 

 

ICA Auction head sentenced to 3+ years in prison

On Friday August 16, 2013 Stanley Torgerson the head of International Classic Auctions (ICA) was sentenced in Maricopa County (AZ) Superior Court to 3.25 years in prison.  Torgerson previously pled guilty to three counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices and theft.  He also will serve seven years of probation and will be required to pay restitution of up to $1.5 million in restitution to his victims.

Torgerson was originally indicted on 101 counts of fraud, theft and illegal control of an enterprise.  ICA started in 1989 with Torgerson and was known in Arizona for hosting two classic car auctions in Gilbert, Arizona at his headquarters.  The firm held auctions on Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s weekends.

Where did the ICA money go?

So what happened?  His car sellers complained that the proceeds from their cars weren’t delivered to them.  Typically auction houses have the owners sign the titles and then transfer the title to the final buyer after the money is paid.  Generally the auction houses take their cut of commissions and fees and then pass on the proceeds to the seller.  Most contracts (written by the auction houses) give the firms up to 21 days to make the final transfer of funds.

When ICA started to have problems they stopped having their Arizona auctions.  Silver Auctions stepped in and had a Spring Auction in Fort McDowell, AZ this year.

So the auction house, without any escrows in place, has large sums of monies in their hands and some lag time before they need to dispose of it.  And when the economy started to tank, some buyers were slow in making good on their winning bids.  In fact some slippery souls have been known to flip the car to a third buyer before they were required to even pay the first original seller.

Buyer beware

So for those thinking of using an auction house to sell your classic car, remember what happened to ICA.  Read your contract, understand your terms and make sure your auctioneer is reputable.  Ironically ICA’s website is still up and running today!

Interior driver seat

Green Day’s Mike Dirnt offered his 56 Ford Panel Truck at Silver Auction’s Arizona in the Spring

The bass player for Green Day, Mike Dirnt, was recently offering up for sale his 56 Ford Panel Truck.  It was for sale March 15-16, 2013 at the Silver Auction held in Fort McDowell,AZ (Phoenix metro area).  It drew some interest but never approached the actual reserve (the required minimum bid needed to buy it).  It might have been a deal if the bidding reached $60,000 or so.  Instead it went back on the trailer.

Here is some background on the build from Custom Classic Truck’s June 2012 issue.  http://www.customclassictrucks.com/featuredvehicles/1206cct_1956_ford_panel/viewall.html   My understanding is he invested $160,000+ in the restoration.

Seems that Dirnt bought this panel when a struggling band member and after they hit it big, he had the truck restored to how it was when he first bought it.  It was funny to hear the auctioneer explain who Green Day was to this “mature” set of buyers.  They probably never heard American Idiot.  Not sure why he decided to sell it, but I’m sure another place and time it’ll sell.  The panel is nicely done but a bit of a plain jane.  A little pin striping

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NHRA at Phoenix, AZ – End of an era or a new begining?

Drag racing
Erica Enders-Stevens NHRA Pro Stock driver

This weekend marked the 29th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) meet at Phoenix’s Firebird Raceway.  But is it the end?  The dragstrip is on leased land owned by the Gila River Indian Community and was once out in the middle of nowhere on the southeast edge of the Phoenix area.  The 30 year lease expires at the end of March, 2013 and while the president of NHRA is optimistic, one can only hope that a new management team can keep NHRA coming back in 2014.

Phoenix is blessed with not only being the site of all four major sports – baseball, football, basketball and hockey – but also hosts two NASACR races and the Arizona Nationals for the NHRA.

Hopefully we’ll see NHRA back for more action like Erica Enders-Stevens’ win this past week.  What do you think?