CHANDLER, Ariz. - Few people in the world of motorsports have been able to say so much, without speaking a word. Don "The Snake" Prudhomme is one of those people. With a certain gleam in his eyes or a twitch of the familiar toothpick, Prudhomme...
CHANDLER, Ariz. - Few people in the world of motorsports have been able to say so much, without speaking a word. Don "The Snake" Prudhomme is one of those people. With a certain gleam in his eyes or a twitch of the familiar toothpick, Prudhomme can say so many things without making a sound.
Throughout his driving career Prudhomme notched 49 NHRA events (35 Funny Car, 14 Top Fuel) and earned four NHRA Funny Car championships. At the end of the 1994 season Prudhomme left the driver's seat, but not the sport of drag racing. He chose loyal crew member Larry Dixon to be the driver of his Top Fuel dragster and the team has had success from the start.
With Dixon at the wheel of the Miller Lite dragster, Prudhomme added two Top Fuel championships to his team owner resume. Dixon has earned 33 victories in 60 final round appearances. Mix in Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. and the two Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Cars, and Prudhomme has earned 96 victories going into the 2004 season.
With two victories in Phoenix, Prudhomme can move one step closer to his milestone 100th career victory as a driver/owner.
Prudhomme Racing will be aiming for twice the photos in winner's circle during the 20th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals presented by Castrol, March 5-7 at Firebird International Raceway. The $1.9 million race is the second of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
After 10 years of being a team owner, Prudhomme said he occasionally dreams about driving again.
"I don't know if it feels like it's been 10 years, but it certainly feels like a long time since I've driven a car," Prudhomme said. "I don't know if I miss it. I used to dream about it a lot and, every so often I still have dreams where I'm driving. I had one dream not long ago and I was driving a dragster and I was in the staging lanes and I was nervous about it. I was kind of nervous towards the end of my career before I quit. In the dream, I got that nervous feeling and Larry was standing there and I said, 'You drive.' Then I woke up. So, the only time I think about driving is in my dreams. I'm having the time of my life right now. I just really, really like what I'm doing and I wouldn't trade it for driving again. It's cool being an owner."
Whether in a Top Fuel dragster or on the starting line watching one of his three cars make a pass down the quarter-mile, Prudhomme said he remains passionate about competition.
"I'm positive it has, but in a different sort of way," Prudhomme said. "When I was driving and tuning, there were certain things I could control. Now, you rely on drivers and crew chiefs and the race teams not making any mistakes and being the very best they can be. So, it's a lot different. I still have a passion for the sport. I want to win."
If there is one thing Prudhomme could ask for - in addition to the 100th victory - he would like to see his Funny Cars become a consistent threat to win races and championships.
"(We want) to try and get our Funny Cars where they belong," Prudhomme said. "It's the same championship team with the dragster, Dixon, (crew chief, Dick) LaHaie, (assistant crew chief) Donnie Bender, all the same guys are together on that team. They've already won two World Series. We're trying to accomplish that with the Funny Cars now. We obviously want the dragster to win a third title, but our goal is to get the Funny Cars turned around."
Johnson said the teams are working hard to ensure the 100th trophy is earned in 2004.
"It's pretty neat that someone could win 100 races in a career as an owner and driver," Johnson said. "It used to be all owner/drivers out here and Snake was one of the first to be an owner after he retired from driving, and now he has three cars. It's great to see that our sport can survive beyond its original founders and that young guys can come out and get the opportunity to race. I want to help get that 100th win and add to his total and my total."