Drag Racing Week: Wheels of Fire (1972)

Image Courtesy of Vectezzy.

Not to be confused (and it is) with the Wheels on Fire drag-doc made in Australia, this U.S. documentary focuses on the lives of five major drag racers of the era: Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme (Snake & Mongoose), Shirley Muldowney (Heart Like a Wheel), Richard Tharp and Billy Meyer, as they are each followed through a complete drag racing season. Yep. This is reality TV before Robert Kardashian had his first kid (I think; too lazy to check K-Dash B-Days), the very same kids who unleashed the ubiquitously-hated broadcasting format.

Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen were gods to us kids in the ’70s. When the ABC Wild World of Sports held one of Prudhomme and McEwen’s drag or funny car races on a Saturday afternoon, the neighborhood streets cleared and everyone sat in front of the TV. The Snake and Mongoose were matched pnly by Richard Petty and Evel Knievel. They were the “Muhammad Ali” of racing. Everyone loved them.

As with the oft-confused Wheels on Fire, there’s no online streams of this lost, classic drag racing film. It was on You Tube in several parts, but was removed. Only this 10:00 minute clip is available, which we’re posting in lieu of an official trailer (and don’t be surprised if this clip also vanishes to grey screen). The now out-of-print DVDs are available in the online marketplace from time to time (and, as you can see, it’s impossible to find a decent theatrical one-sheet). The NHRA web platform and their upper-tier cable channel rerun it from time to time.

We featured this film as part of our “Drive-In Friday” tribute to drag racing documentaries.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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