Drag Racing icon Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme inducted into Bristol Dragway's Legends of Thunder Valley
Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, one of the most successful drag racers in history, was inducted today into the prestigious Legends of Thunder Valley by Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway President Jerry Caldwell.
Prudhomme, who drove the famed U.S. Army Funny Car during the height of his reign as one of the most dominating drag racers to ever speed down the quarter-mile, joins such names as Speedway Motorsports executive chairman Bruton Smith, NHRA Founder Wally Parks, Top Fuel legend Don Garlits, Funny Car champ John Force and NHRA team owner Don Schumacher, among others, in the exclusive Hall of Fame at historic Bristol Dragway.
“Don accomplished so much at Bristol Dragway over the years and has been such an icon in the world of drag racing and we are so honored to have him here at Thunder Valley as our special guest this weekend,” said Caldwell. “His records and achievements are incredible, and if ‘cool factor’ was an official stat he would be the undisputed world-wide leader in that category and that’s why we are all in awe of him. We are thrilled and very proud to induct him today into the Legends of Thunder Valley.”
Prudhomme, 81, from San Fernando Valley, Calif., won four NHRA Funny Car world championship titles as a driver and earned 49 victories during his days in the cockpit of nitro-fueled Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters. His extremely popular Mattel Hot Wheels sponsored Funny Cars in the 1970s and storybook rivalry with Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, took drag racing into the mainstream.
As an NHRA team owner in the late 1990s and early 2000s he earned two more world championships and 55 victories. As a team owner at Bristol Dragway, Prudhomme’s drivers captured two NHRA victories, including one by Miller Lite Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon (2002) and one by Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Ron Capps (2001).
Prudhomme was very successful at Bristol Dragway in the 1960s and ‘70s, where he raced to one victory in six final round appearances and broke one of the speed barriers in Funny Car when he posted a jaw-dropping speed of 266.27 mph at the Tennessee track in 1985. That amazing performance was faster than the Top Fuel speed record at the time.
“This is such an honor, I have always loved Bristol Dragway and I came here to race for the first time as a kid basically,” Prudhomme said. “I want to thank everyone here at the track for this and I look forward to having my name up there among all those legends for many years to come, long after I’m gone.”
His 1967 Spring Nationals Top Fuel victory against “Sneaky” Pete Robinson at Bristol Dragway was his third career NHRA victory and one that Prudhomme says was an important win in the early days of his career.
“That win in 1967 really stands out to me because that’s the one that really launched my career and put me on the map,” Prudhomme said. “Bristol has always been a place that when you win it’s a big deal and after that win I started getting noticed and recognized all across the country.”
Prudhomme is one of an exclusive list of drivers who have competed at legendary Bristol Dragway in all three of the top drag racing sanctioning bodies, including the NHRA, IHRA and AHRA.
LEGENDS OF THUNDER VALLEY
2022 – Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Funny Car/Top Fuel
2021 – Scotty Cannon, Pro Mod / Funny Car
2019 – Ted Jones, promoter / drag racing visionary
2018 – Mark Oswald, Funny Car / Top Fuel
2017 – Doug Herbert, Top Fuel
2016 – John Force, Funny Car
2015 – Carl Moore, Bristol Dragway founder and Connie Kalitta, NHRA pioneer
2014 – Don Schumacher, NHRA team owner / Funny Car pioneer
2013 – Warren Johnson, Pro Stock
2012 – Gene Fulton, Engine Builder
2011 – Jeff Byrd, Bristol President and GM / RJ Reynolds marketing
2010 – Shirl Greer, Funny Car
2009 – Dale Pulde, Funny Car
2008 – Ronnie Sox & Buddy Martin, Pro Stock
2007 – Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports / Bristol Dragway owner
Wally Parks, NHRA founder
Don Garlits, Top Fuel
Larry Carrier, Bristol Dragway founder
Rickie Smith, Pro Stock / Pro Mod