Snake & Mongoo$e
An Interview with the Movie’s Producer, Robin Broidy
by NDW Editor-in-Chief Connell R. Miller
Big-screen movies about drag racing have been rare over the years, with a big void since the 1970s brought us Funny Car Summer and Wheels of Fire along with Heart Like a Wheel in the ‘80s. Finally, there is a new one that has hit like a green light final at Indy! The much ballyhooed Snake & Mongoo$e opened in theaters around the country late last year where it garnered “two-thumbs-up” from everyone who saw it.
For those who have lived in their garage and away from press releases, movie reviews, social media and the like, the film captures that period in the 1960s when Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen captured drag racing fans everywhere with the advent of their “Snake” and “Mongoose” monikers, the mega-deal with Mattel and their race cars. It also gives us an insight into the ups-and-downs both experienced during that period with the perfect amount of “human interest” tossed into the mix. Never heavy-handed or sappy, you will walk away knowing a lot more of the time, the cars, crews and drivers, as well as the relationship between these two great nitro pilots.
As a fan of Nostalgia Drag World and our efforts to capture through stories and photographs the “golden age” of drag racing along with the current nostalgia movement, Robin Broidy, the movie’s producer contacted us for an interview. We, of course, were more than happy to comply…..
On the set with Richard Blake, Jesse Williams, Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen
CRM: First of all, Robin, we here at Nostalgia Drag World are excited for you and the reception your movie has been getting, not only from the drag racing enthusiasts but the general public as well. How and when did the story of the Snake and Mongoo$e come to your attention and how did it develop from there?
RB: A friend and fellow producer, Stephen Nemeth knew I was looking for an interesting project to produce and he’d been developing the script with automotive Journalist Alan Paradise for a while. He brought it to me and I knew from the pitch that my husband would like it, but it had to have heart and be funny and entertaining for me to work on it for three years. When I read the script I knew it was something my husband and I would both love to work on.
CRM: Was it difficult to convince backers to finance a film about two drag racers from an earlier time? Were there any negatives about our sport or fear of a lesser audience appeal than what NASCAR and its big selling movies such as (the über silly) Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby or Days of Thunder produced at the box office?
RB: It was difficult to find backers outside of the racing world. We also knew that drag racing and the NHRA was not as big as NASCAR but we felt that we had found a niche that could be easily reached on the internet and who would appreciate a film that was the opposite of Talladega Nights – something that showed tremendous respect for the drivers and crews as well as the fans of the sport.
CRM: What was the reaction by those in our racing fraternity who were called on as consultants, drivers, and car and equipment owners for the production? Any particularly humorous stories or problems involving “our” guys?
RB: The reaction from the racing community was unbelievably good. Of course, the fact that Don (“the Snake”) Prudhomme and Tom (“the Mongoose”) McEwen were Co-Executive Producers on the film and were on the set almost every day was an incredible asset to us. We also had Roland Leong, the owner of “The Hawaiian” which won Indy with Don driving in 1965 and Bob Brandt, Don’s crew chief for many years as technical consultants and they were very helpful. I had the most fun watching Jesse Williams and Don Prudhomme interact because Jesse truly looked like the young Prudhomme. I loved watching Roland talk to the actor playing him, Leonardo Nam, and I was always moved when I saw Richard Blake and Tom McEwen together. The level of understanding and respect between the two of them was incredible. article continued on next page
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