Sunday 7th May 1967
Don Prudhomme, driving a modified Ford, became the first dragster to run the quarter mile in less than seven seconds when he reached 226 mph at the National Hot Rod Association World Series in Carlsbad, California. Prudhomme first appeared on the national hot rod scene by dominating the March Meet at Bakersfield, in his home state of California. So quick was he off the starting line that he earned the nickname “The Snake.” Don started his career as a custom car painter, a trade that he gave up because of the success of his hot-rodding hobby. However, he never lost the touch for marketing and flair that he cultivated as a car painter, and he has long since been credited with infusing drag racing with entrepreneurial genius. His friendly rivalry with Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen drew widespread media attention and attracted new sponsorship for his sport. Winning his first NHRA title at the 1965 Winter Nationals, Prudhomme started a run of six Top Fuel titles. He switched to Funny Car racing in 1973 and went on to win four consecutive NHRA titles in that class. Prudhomme returned to Top Fuel racing at the end of his career and weathered a series of terrifying accidents before he regained his customary position at the top of the table of NHRA rankings. Don “The Snake” Prudhomme may not be a household name, but to anyone who’s ever imagined going from 0 to 250 mph in a few seconds, he’s legendary.