Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, four-time NHRA Funny Car champion and drag racing legend, is best known for his performance in the Funny Car field – but he’s also got serious experience with desert racing on Mexico’s Baja peninsula.
In 1968, Prudhomme took a Porsche-powered buggy built by Tony Nancy and owned by Steve McQueenentered to the famous Mexican 1000 Baja race. Just prior to the race, McQueen had a movie-related time conflict, so Nancy had contacted Prudhomme in hopes that he’d serve as co-driver. The two had met before through their respective careers in drag racing. Unfortunately, despite the high skill levels of both men, they didn’t achieve the performance for which they’d hoped.
“In 1968, we burned it up,” says Prudhomme. “Never even made it onto the dirt, which I’m embarrassed to tell you. Haven’t been back since.”
Half a century later, Prudhomme will return to Baja competition in the 2018 Mexican 1000 – and he’s out for redemption. This race will mark the “Snake’s” first competitive driving appearance since 1994, at which time he retired from the NHRA tour after having won 49 National Events in the Funny Car and Top Fuel divisions. He can boast another 63 NHRA tour victories as a team owner.
He’ll be driving a 2018 Polaris RZR 1000 prepped by P.J. Jones of PJ’s Performance in Mesa, Ariz., and will race in the Stock Turbo UTV class.
“This thing can move out,” says Prudhomme. “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.”
The Mexican 1000 is a five-day off-road rally run by the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) to celebrate off-road racing history and vintage off-road machinery. Cars, buggies, trucks, and motorcycles from all eras of Baja racing can participate in various classes. The race starts April 20 in Ensenda, Baja, Mexico, and ends April 26 in San Jose del Cabo, Baja, Mexico.
For more information about the NORRA Mexican 1000, go to www.norra.com