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‘The Snake” Heading Back To Baja

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 18 2018

Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme is returning to his roots.


Drag racing legend Don “The Snake” Prudhomme is recognized for his performances behind the wheel of a nitro-burning Funny Car. But the four-time NHRA world champion also has a long-ago history with desert racing on the Baja Peninsula.

In 1968, Prudhomme entered the Mexican 1000 Baja event in a Porsche-powered buggy built by racing innovator Tony Nancy and owned by actor/racer Steve McQueen. Shortly before the race, McQueen had to withdraw because of a movie conflict, so Nancy reached out to Prudhomme to fill the seat as co-driver. Prudhomme and Nancy had crossed paths during their successful drag racing careers.

Fifty years later, Prudhomme will return to Baja competition this month in the latest edition of the famed desert endurance test.

The Mexican 1000 is a five-day, off-road rally run by the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) as a celebration of off-road racing history and vintage off-road machinery. Cars, buggies, trucks, and motorcycles from all eras of Baja racing are eligible to participate in a variety of classes. The race will begin Friday, April 20, in Ensenda, Baja, Mexico, and end Thursday, April 26, in San Jose del Cabo, Baja, Mexico.

Prudhomme will drive a 2018 Polaris RZR 1000 prepped by P.J. Jones of PJ’s Performance in Mesa, Ariz., and compete in the Stock Turbo UTV class.

“This thing can move out,” said Prudhomme, who has secured sponsorship from Jegs High Performance Mail Order. “If we’d had this in 1968, we would have finished the race. We’re gonna do it right for the NORRA race this year.

“In 1968, we burned it up. Never even made it onto the dirt, which I’m embarrassed to tell you. Haven’t been back since.”

The 2018 Mexican 1000 will be the Prudhomme’s first competitive driving appearance since 1994, when he retired from the NHRA tour having won 49 national events in the Funny Car and Top Fuel divisions.  Later, as a Top Fuel team-owner, he added another 63 NHRA tour victories.

Ranked No. 3 on the National Hot Rod Association’s list of “Top 50 Drivers,” Prudhomme helped define the sport of drag racing for more than four decades. When he stopped driving at the conclusion of the 1994 season, he had recorded four consecutive NHRA Funny Car championships (1975-78) and was the then-winningest nitro fuel racer in NHRA history with 49 victories (14 in Top Fuel, 35 in Funny Car).

His resume includes seven wins in the prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. He also recorded the first five-second Funny Car run, a 5.98 at the 1975 NHRA World Finals. His 5.63-second clocking at the 1982 U.S. Nationals, nearly two-tenths of a second quicker than anything before, is considered among the greatest Funny Car passes in history.

PJ Jones is the founder/operator of the company bearing his name. The son of racing legend and Indy 500 & Baja 1000 winner Parnelli Jones, PJ Jones has driven Sprint Cars and Indy cars, NASCAR and various classes in the Baja 1000. PJ’s Performance specializes in performance suspensions and components for UTVs.


| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 18 2018
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