Million Dollar Babies: Barrett-Jackson Highlights

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Four of drag racing’s most iconic vehicles are now owned by one of stock car racing’s most iconic owners.

The Mongoo$e and Snake forever changed the face of motorsports with their groundbreaking Mattel Hot Wheels deal, which ran from 1970 through ’73. The two haulers and race cars carrying the original Hot Wheels banner disappeared in the ensuing years. After retiring from racing, Don Prudhomme doggedly hunted down and painstakingly restored both Hot Wheels haulers and his yellow Hot Wheels ’Cuda. As Snake toiled away, Mongoo$e decided to meticulously recreate his Hot Wheels Duster, which Prudhomme eventually purchased.

The better-than-new haulers with race cars strapped to their backs sat proudly in Snake’s Vista, California, facility, making rare and wildly received appearances until Snake and Mongoo$e, The Movie began production. Though the actors may strongly disagree, the real stars of the movie were those Hot Wheels race cars, and especially the haulers. Now once again, they were on the road traveling throughout the nation, much to the delight of all who viewed them.

With Snake and Mongoo$e, The Movie reigniting the fascination and passion for these historic race vehicles, Snake made an agonizing decision: It was time to part ways with his “babies.” Arrangements were made for all four vehicles to be sold as one unit at the prestigious Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale, Arizona, auction this past January. It was a very big bite for one bidder to take, money- and size-wise.

The king of automotive auctions, Craig Jackson and his team, aggressively promoted the Hot Wheels vehicles throughout the last four months of 2013, and come the nationally televised big event, they were once again the stars of the show. In addition to the vehicles, the two who made them famous—Mongoo$e and Snake—were also in attendance. Throughout the week-long auction, the duo spent hours in autograph sessions, making more than 3,000 fans very happy.

If your only experience with this event is through TV, you have no idea what a huge “happening” it is. Covering several enclosed acres of vehicles and all things automotive, Mongoo$e describes it as “a swap meet for millionaires.” The auction’s also a mecca for celebrities from the racing world and Hollywood. The forty-third edition saw 1,400 vehicles sold for a record 113 million dollars.

Friday night the haulers and race cars were moved from their prime indoor location in preparation for their Saturday sale. Following another autograph session, Snake fired up the ’Cuda, thrilling the throng of fans. Tension built throughout the course of the day. There were several big money bidders from outside the U.S. showing interest, stoking fears the Hot Wheels racers might be spirited away, never to be seen again. The haulers were too heavy to be run across the auction block, so in an incredible bit of showmanship, the ’Cuda was going to be fired up outside and Snake would drive it on stage!

The actual bidding war was scheduled to begin as the live, televised portion of the event drew to a close—the grand finale. A cadre of security guards cleared a wide path, Snake saddled up and with the nitro Hemi roaring, charged onto the stage…and the crowd went wild! Without a doubt, this was the most spectacular entrance in the history of Barrett-Jackson. Once the bidding began, the money quickly rocketed. When the smoke cleared, NASCAR legend Rick Hendricks ponied up a cool million dollars, taking these four iconic race vehicles to a good home in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The singular event that brought these Hot Wheels vehicles back to the nation’s attention was Snake and Mongoo$e, The Movie. Even while the movie was still in theaters across the country, people were clamoring for copies of the film. We’re pleased to announce that this is coming to pass.

The movie will be released by Anchor Bay Films for digital download on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, and On Demand across select cable providers March 4, and on Blu-ray/DVD April 8. So, race fans, grab ’em before they fly off the shelves.

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’Goo$e and Snake were featured in autograph sessions throughout the auction. Both were suffering from terminal writer’s cramp before it was all over.

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With the camera rolling, Snake warms up the ’Cuda prior to Saturday’s Big Show.

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Wherever Snake and ’Goo$e went, reporters followed. This is in the tented area where the cars are staged prior to being brought onto the auction block.

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The ’Cuda’s Hemi on max cackle, Snake rounds the bend on his way to center stage.

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Dave Strickler’s Old Reliable Super Stock ’67 Z28 Camaro: $253,000.

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Warren Johnson’s ’87 Oldsmobile Firenza Pro Stock: $35,000.

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Smith & Gainer’s ’70 SS454 Chevelle Super Stock convertible: $71,000.

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Buddy Martin, the last remaining member of the fabled Ronnie Sox, and engine whiz Jake King, was the center of much attention. Their ’68 factory Super Stock Barracuda brought 198,000.

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The Roy Saboury-built World’s Fastest Street Legal Car, ’63 split-window ’Vette 6.75 E.T. 209 mph: $198,000.

Text by Pete Ward and Photos by Jim White and Pete Ward

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