"Snake & Mongoo$e" depicts the fierce rivalry between legendary drag racers Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "The Mongoo$e" McEwen, who through the years became close friends and great rivals. Set in the heyday of drag racing and featuring historic footage of races, "Snake & Mongoo$e" brings to life the complex characters and legendary races that defined those exciting times.
When the lights went up at the close of the film, the audience came out exhilarated and inspired.
"It was awesome," Prudhomme said. "What makes me happy is that the drag racing fans liked it. If they like it, I like it."
For McEwen, watching the film brought back memories. "It turned out really nice," McEwen said. "I've been here 50-some times for this race, so there are a lot of memories here in Indianapolis for me, and a lot of friends."
"I was there in Indy when Tom lost his son and I know how emotional Prudhomme was; we all were," said NHRA drag racer John Force, owner of John Force Racing and one of the most dominant figures in drag racing with 133 career victories. "I wasn't 10 minutes into the movie and I believed it - they even looked like them. They really pulled it off; it was just a great job."
Force's daughter, Courtney Force, Funny Car driver for her father's team, John Force Racing, agreed.
"I loved the movie," she said. "I grew up hearing stories about Snake and Mongoo$e, and my dad was out there racing with them. The film was touching, too. I didn't expect some of the parts. It was really amazing."
The Indy premiere kicked off with a red carpet event, in which Hollywood met the racing world, melding glamor with athletic allure, as actors, filmmakers, professional drivers and NHRA members all graced the red carpet.
Indy-born Ashley Hinshaw, who portrays Prudhomme's wife, Lynn Prudhomme, and Richard Blake, who plays McEwen, posed for photos and greeted fans.
"It's very special to be here and I'm excited to be here for the weekend to watch the real thing," Blake said. "What a journey this is. It's history and I'm very proud to be part of it."
Billy Gibbons took time away from ZZ Top's latest tour to support "Snake & Mongoo$e," and attend the premiere with his wife, Gilligan Gibbons, who also appears in the movie.
Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria, who had a cameo in the film and is competing in the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, also appeared on the carpet. In attendance with DeJoria were her husband, Jesse James of West Coast Choppers fame, and her father, John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Paul Mitchell hair care products line and the Patr?n Spirits Company.
Filmmakers at the premiere included "Snake & Mongoo$e" Producer and President of Entertainment Universe Robin Broidy, and her husband, Executive Producer Elliott Broidy. Prudhomme and McEwen served as executive producers and on-set consultants, ensuring the film was as true-to-life as possible.
Parked outside the Regal were the iconic yellow and red haulers and the 'Cuda and Duster Funny Cars Prudhomme and McEwen drove, which will be crossing the auction block at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January 2014.
In a surprise finale, the film delighted the audience with an incredible piece of footage featuring Prudhomme and Force competing in the 1989 Bud Shootout. Prudhomme wins, Force congratulates him and Prudhomme's Funny Car career comes to an end.