1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose and Snake Drag Race Set

Drag racing in the 1960s was very much a fledgling sport.  It was a tough way to make a living.  Prize money was a pittance. Drivers could look forward to $100 plus free parts and oil if they won it all on any given day.  Consequently, living conditions were bare bones.

One way to draw in the crowds was to highlight match races and generate rivalries that people wanted to see.  Nicknames were also common in this era so Don Prudhomme earned the handle “Snake” because of his cobra-quick launches off the starting line.   Ed Donovan, a drag racing pioneer, thought it would be a good idea to name Tom McEwen, “the Mongoose”.  This set up Mongoose vs Snake matchmaking and people paid attention.

As the 60’s wore on,”the two racers realized that a colorful rivalry based on their racing nicknames was very popular with fans, especially the young fans.”1

Bearing this in mind, Tom McEwen approached Mattel and negotiated a unique deal that moved drag racing from barnstorming to a multimillion dollar profession.

Mattel became drag racing’s first sponsor outside of the automobile industry.  And they did it both right and big time.  The Mongoose & Snake rivalry rose to a new level on the drag circuit and Hot Wheels fans were treated to the 1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.

This set comes with 32 feet of orange track, 12 joiners, 1 universal clamp, 1 start gate, 1 finish gate, 2 dare-devil loop bases, 2 ‘chute traps and 4 parachutes.

The main highlight of this set is the 1:64 scale replica of Don Prudhomme’s yellow 1970 Plymouth Barracuda funny car and Tom McEwen’s red 1970 Plymouth Duster funny car.  To showcase this set for you I am going to race four 1994 reissues of these 1970 Mattel funny cars.

2 Snakes and 2 Mongooses in their 1994 blister paks.

Like the 1970 original, this 1994 reissue opens up like a real funny car. Too cool!

The instructions.

Page 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Page 2. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Page 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

This is the layout.

At the start…a blue Plymouth Duster “Mongoose” and a yellow Plymouth Barracuda “Snake”.

And…they’re off!

Into the loops.

Flat out down the straightaway.

Checkered flag.

Poppin’ the ‘chutes.

Rolling to a stop.

Here’s my YouTube video of some Mongoose vs Snake matchmaking races.

So there you have it.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.  Probably the most famous Hot Wheels set ever produced.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Box art – back

Box art – back. Close Up.

Box art – back. Close up of message.

Box art – side

Box art – side. Close up.

Box art – side

Box art – end

1970 toy catalogue. Courtesy eBay.

From 1970 Hot Wheels Racing World magazine. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

From 1970 Hot Wheels Racing World magazine. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

Original 1970 Mongoose and Snake cars in blister paks. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

Original 1970 buttons. Courtesy eBay.

Hot Wheels “Wide World of Racing” Poster featuring the Snake & Mongoose. Courtesy eBay.

Mongoose & Snake poster. Courtesy www.toycarcollector.com.

1970 magazine ad. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section.  Mattel's Hot Wheels ad for the Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.  July 19, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel’s Hot Wheels ad for the Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set. July 19, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Reissues of Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Sets have been frequent over the years. Here’s the “Classics” version. Courtesy eBay.

The UK version, from 1971, was quite different. A Match Maker & Big Belter to launch the cars, no loops, and narrow chute traps for a better dual lane fit. Courtesy eBay.

Sides and back of the UK Mongoose & Snake version. Courtesy eBay.

1. Snake vs Mongoose: How a rivalry changed drag racing forever.  By Tom Madigan.

1970 Hot Wheels Drag ‘Chute Stunt Set

The introduction of Hot Wheels was a revolution in diecast toy cars.  Any track that had a start and a finish to it, inevitably saw the Hot Wheels cars fly through the end and onto the floor.  By 1970 the time had come to try slowing these cars down.  Real world funny cars and dragsters use parachutes.  Why not Hot Wheels?

In keeping with NHRA-style competition, all of the 1970 sets that come with ‘chutes are for racing…except one.  That one is for showcasing Hot Wheels bravado…the Drag ‘Chute Stunt Set.  It’s basically the 1968 Stunt Action Set with a parachute apparatus.

Track components include 16 feet of orange track, 4 joiners, 1 dare-devil loop base, 2 jump ramps, 1 universal clamp, 1 ‘chute trap, and 2 drag ‘chutes.

Here are the instructions.

Instructions – front page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – back page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

As you can see by the instructions, the parachute hides in a parachute trap.  The parachute is attached to a small metal harness that sits on top of the trap.  When a Hot Wheels car goes over the trap, it’s front bumper contacts the metal harness and drags the harness along with it.  The parachute then pops out of the trap and slows the Hot Wheels car by catching air and then dragging along the track.

The layout.

Today’s stunt cars.

L to R: 1967 Camaro, 1968 COPO Camaro, 1968 Mercury Cougar.

Here’s the start.

Heading for the dare-devil loop.

Round the dare-devil loop.

Jumping through air.

Hitting the trap and popping the ‘chute.

Rolling to a stop.

Here’s my YouTube channel video of the Drag ‘Chute Stunt Set in action.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Drag ‘Chute Stunt Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Toy Fair Catalogue. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

Box art work – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Set components on display. Courtesy eBay.