Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen Dies
The longtime Quarter Horse owner and breeder was 81.
June 12, 2018
Edited press release.
Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, one of the greatest and most colorful National Hot Rod Association drivers of all-time, and an avid Quarter Horse owner and breeder for many decades, died on June 10. He was 81.
A member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and many more, Since 1991, McEwen raced Quarter Horses who made more than 250 starts and won more than 35 races. All of his Quarter Horse had "Mongoose" as part of their names, and they raced under his popular red, white and blue stars and stripes silks. Most of his starters were trained by Dennis Givens.
McEwen’s stable included stakes runners Mongoose First, Special Mongoose, Charming Mongoose Bug, Mongoose Separatist, Mongoose Hawkette, and Special Mongoose Bug. His best horse was his homebred filly Mongoose Jet Eye, the winner of the 2003 Town Policy Handicap and the sport's champion aged horse in '04. McEwen sold Mongoose Jet Eye as part of a private transaction in the summer of 2003. The daughter of Mr Eye Opener would eventually become a multiple Grade 1 winner and a world record holder.
McEwen had other stakes winners. Mongoosecharminghawk won the 2010 California Breeders Debutante Stakes, while Special Mongoose won the PCQHRA Breeders Derby and Independence Day Handicap in 1997. His homebreds Mongoose Hawkette and Mongoose Separatist finished 1-2 in the 2006 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes. Always the showman, McEwen had his fillies enter the winner’s circle together for a memorable winning snapshot.
McEwen was also part of the sport’s biggest race for older horses, the Grade 1 Champion of Champions, with his multiple stakes winner Mongoose First in 1993. The First Down Dash gelding missed the board on that night, but he had the honor of sharing the starting gate in the Champion of Champions with AQHA World Champions Refrigerator and Down With Debt and champion Rare Form.
Many of the horses that McEwen raced traced back to his foundation broodmare Charmin Effort, a blue hen producer that he acquired from Dan and Jolene Urschel. Charming Effort’s daughter, Mongoose Effort, is the dam of the champion Mongoose Jet Eye.
McEwen was nicknamed “The Mongoose” in 1964, as part of a campaign to reel rival driver Don "The Snake" Prudhomme into a high-exposure match race. Through his long association with Prudhomme, a friendship that survived their racing careers and sometimes bitter rivalry, McEwen helped blaze the trail toward the sponsored drag racing team. Their Mattel sponsorship gave way to "Snake" and "Mongoose" Hot Wheels toys. Coca Cola and Careless sugar free gum were also sponsors.
With a reputation of being one of the most colorful figures in NHRA, McEwen won five NHRA national events during his 35-plus-year career that included time in Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters. McEwen enjoyed one of his biggest moments in 1978 with his U.S. Nationals Funny Car victory over Prudhomme. He also won the prestigious Big Bud Shootout in 1984 and won Top Fuel at the 1991 Summernationals to become one of a short list of drivers to have won in both nitro classes.
As a star driver on the automobile track, and as a wonderful owner and breeder on the horse track, McEwen will be long remembered at Los Alamitos Race Course for his love of everything that raced fast.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.