Given time to reflect upon his 40 years in drag racing and the impact he's had in the sport, Don Prudhomme smiles and says he's proud of his accomplishments. He should be. The man nicknamed "The Snake" for his quick starting-line...
Given time to reflect upon his 40 years in drag racing and the impact he's had in the sport, Don Prudhomme smiles and says he's proud of his accomplishments.
He should be.
The man nicknamed "The Snake" for his quick starting-line reactions became one of the most recognized National Hot Rod Association drivers of his, or any, era. He won NHRA races in four different decades, won the NHRA's first four Winston Series Funny Car championships, set numerous records and had 49 career victories when he retired from driving in 1994.
Those feats left an indelible record in drag racing and earned Prudhomme a place in history. If the those credentials aren't enough, Prudhomme is being inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega, Ala., on April 13. He's part of an impressive list of motorsports stars entering the Hall - Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Craig Breedlove, Nelson Piquet and the late Ayrton Senna are the others.
"It's certainly an honor to be included in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame," said Prudhomme, who joins previously inducted NHRA founder Wally Parks in the IMHOF. "I think the really cool part is that these guys are all my heroes. I'm in great company. I know Mario and A.J. real well and I've known and admired Breedlove for years. The last time I saw Piquet as quite a while ago. He was in a wheelchair at our drag race in Indianapolis. And I was a huge Senna fan.
"I'm real proud of this, proud of my accomplishments, and proud that I hung in there through thick and thin," Prudhomme continued. "I think that's what the awards are all about . . . guys who went the extra mile, or went a little deeper in the turn, or let it hang out a little bit more at the drag strip. It makes me feel pretty good to be hanging out with this kind of group."
Since retiring from active competition, Prudhomme has fielded race teams for his two proteges, Larry Dixon, who drives his Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster, and Ron Capps, driver of his U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car. Between them, Dixon (8) and Capps (7) have given Prudhomme 15 wins as a car owner. "When an honor like this comes along, it makes you feel good about yourself and what you've accomplished in drag racing," said Prudhomme, whose race shop is in Vista, Calif. "This is a way to be recognized for what we contributed to our form of racing.
"I never really thought about these kind of awards. To me, it's kind of tough to explain to people that I still feel like I'm racing. I don't feel like I've slowed down and stopped to smell the roses. I'm still on the gas."
Emphasizing the point, Prudhomme noted that he, Dixon and Capps would be leaving for Houston early the morning after the induction ceremonies. The NHRA's O'Reilly Nationals race is scheduled April 14-16 at Houston Raceway Park.