(image courtesy of NHRA)

Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, one of the NHRA’s all-time greatest drivers and most colorful personalities, passed away on June 10.

He was 81.

McEwen began racing in 1953 and eventually rose through the ranks to pilot gas and fuel dragsters in the early 1960s. In September 1964, McEwen became “the Mongoose” after he defeated Don “the Snake” Prudhomme at the famed Lions Dragstrip. The win sparked a rivalry between McEwen and Prudhomme — and a friendship that would last beyond their retirements. Their legendary battles even inspired a sponsorship from toy-maker Mattel that led to “Snake” and “Mongoose” Hot Wheels.

On the track, McEwen earned five national event wins, including the 1978 U.S. Nationals. He is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and was ranked #16 on NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers list in 2001. More recently, McEwen was a regular presence at races and had a big hand in the creation of the NHRA Legends Tour.

Our condolences are with the family of Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen.

For more on “the Mongoose,” read the NHRA’s story.

Share this Article
Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.