Prudhomme in his dragster before a run in 1992
April 6, 1941|
San Fernando, California
|Retired||1994 (as racer), 2010 (as owner)|
|Years active||1970s to 1994 (driver) 1970s-2010 as Owner|
|Best finish||1st (4 times) in 1975-1978|
|2000||International Motorsports Hall of Fame|
In 1962, Prudhomme was a partner in the Greer-Black-Prudhomme fuel digger, which earned the best win record in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) history, before switching to Funny Car. He would win the NHRA FC championship four times in his thirty five year career. He earned the nickname "The Snake" in high school. He was the first Funny Car driver to exceed 250 mph (400 km/h).
In 1965, he faced Hot Wheels teammate Tom McEwen at the Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drag Races, held at Riverside Raceway, "one of the most significant drag racing events" of that era; ultimately, Top Fuel Eliminator (TFE) went to Jim Warren.
He raced a Shelby Super Snake in the 1968 and 1969 seasons, powered by a Ford engine instead of the ubiquitous Chrysler Hemi. When Ford discontinued the program, Prudhomme went into the "Snake and Mongoo$e" phase of his career.
Prudhomme was known for his yellow 1970 Plymouth Barracuda in which he match raced Tom McEwen in his red 1970 Plymouth Duster, named Mongoose. Both drivers gained wider public attention from Mattel's "Hot Wheels" toy versions of the cars, released in 1970. Hot Wheels celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2005 with a two-day event.
He retired in 1994 to manage his own racing team. With driver Larry Dixon, Prudhomme's team won the Top Fuel[clarification needed] championship in 2002 and 2003. In 2009, Dixon signed to drive the Al-Anabi Top Fuel Dragster, and Spencer Massey took over Prudhomme's car. At the end of the 2009 racing season, sponsorship went away and Prudhomme retired from active racing.
Prudhomme's accomplishments in racing are featured in the 2013 movie Snake and Mongoose which features the rivalry between "The Snake" and Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen. The film also discusses how both drivers brought drag racing into mainstream with the Mattel Hot Wheels sponsorship. The movie was inspired by the book Snake vs. Mongoose: How a Rivalry Changed Drag Racing Forever, written by Tom Madigan.
Don Prudhomme's early career is documented in the book, Six Seconds to Glory by Hal Higdon. The book covers the 1973 Nationals held in Indianapolis, a race in which Prudhomme was battling for his first Funny Car season title.
- In 2000, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1991.
- On the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers 1951-2000, Don Prudhomme was ranked #3.