Iconic Drag Racer Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen, passed away on June 10. He was 81.
While McEwen enjoyed a 35-year career in the NHRA dirving both Funny Car and Top Fuel dragsters, he was less known for his win record (he won a total of only 5 national events) but was best remembered for elevating the image and sponsorsphip of the sport via his now famous match races with Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. In fact, McEwan chose his “The Mongoose” moniker specifically as a challenge to Prudomme.
According to the NHRA, “Through his long association with Prudhomme, a friendship that survived their racing careers and sometimes bitter rivalries, McEwen helped blaze the trail toward the sponsored drag racing team. Their Mattel sponsorship, which gave way to “Snake” and “Mongoose” Hot Wheels toys, and backing from big names like Coca-Cola and Carefree sugarless gum were of major significance, but McEwen was a drag racer first.”
McEwen was an inductee into both the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
“We are all saddened to learn the news of Mongoose’s passing,” said NHRA President Glen Cromwell. He was truly one of the most brilliant pioneers of NHRA Championship Drag Racing and continued to support the sport through a number of initiatives including our current NHRA Legends Tour in which he played an instrumental role. Everyone at NHRA will miss him deeply. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with the McEwen family at this difficult time.”