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Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen Tribute In Indy

Just a few short weeks ago, the drag racing world lost a true legend and ambassador when Tom “Mongoose” McEwen passed away at the age of 81. With one of McEwen’s career-defining moments coming at the US Nationals, it was only fitting the icon be honored during the 64th running of The Big Go.

McEwen wasn’t known for so much for racking up huge numbers of wins on the track, although he is listed among the greatest drivers in NHRA history. The only way one can earn such an honor without tallying a great number of wins is by being known for wrangling unruly hotrods and making the most out of a bad situation, and that’s truly where McEwen shined. Anybody who knows anything about drag racing in the 60’s and 70’s knows that era found the sport rapidly evolving and morphing from a primitive, grassroots sport to the precise, calculated chaos we all know as modern drag racing. This meant teams had to change combinations often, leaving the driver to learn how the new setup was going to behave on track.

As you might imagine, trying to tame a snarling beast of an engine wrapped in a new chassis could lead to some hairy situations, but McEwen was one of the best when it came to finessing his machines down the track on the edge of control, even if he didn’t find his way to the winner’s circle quite as often as other legends of the day.

After stepping away from driving, ‘Goose, as many called him, stayed close to the sport, serving as an adviser and consultant for many up and coming racers to help the learn the ropes of the sport. While many know him as a great driver, where McEwen truly excelled and brought the greatest contribution to the sport was his marketing prowess. He and Don Prudhomme became household names for years while playing out their “Snake and Mongoose” rivalry on tracks from coast to coast. While Prudhomme would prove far more successful on the track as far as win totals, you’ll rarely hear his name mentioned without McEwen’s being dropped as well, proving that he clearly marketed himself very well.

Tom will be missed by many, and you can see that in this touching tribute from the NHRA that was shared during this weekend’s US Nationals event.


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