If you don’t know who I’m talking about, stop reading.
I had the great honor of meeting a childhood hero of mine tonight a real automotive pioneer and four time NHRA championship winner. American and International Motorsports Hall of Famer, The “Snake” Don Prudhomme.
This is the way it went down.
I walked into our Rotary club meeting in Carlsbad, and three friends were around the “Snake” One of them introduces me and says to Don “Peder’s a pioneer car guy too, he drives an electric mini BMW.” Don’s eyes lights up and he says “No shit, is it here ?" (sorry for swearing) I say “yes it’s out in the parking lot.” “Don says “Can I drive it?” Peder’s eyes light up! I say “No shit! (sorry for swearing) Hell yes you can drive it.”
Don and I go for a 10 minute spin in Mini-E #183 with Don behind the wheel (sorry Mini-E overlords) I’m in the passenger seat with an automotive god driving my Mini-E! He has a little fun with it loves the torque and the instant acceleration, He talks about 100ths of a second and racing . He loves the regen and instant throttle response. He’s smiling ear to ear! He’s hugely impressed. We get back to the Rotary club and the prez is pissed because I drove away with the program.
I could care less. I am in car guy nirvana!
I used to race Hot Wheels with the Snake and Mongoose. I used to build Revelle models with Testers Glue and paints of the Snake and Mongoose. I used to watch drag racing with the Snake and Mongoose. I used to beg my dad to take me to the races to watch the Snake and Mongoose.
Two gear head car guys loving a drive in the Mini-E. Sweeeeeeeet!
We drive by the old location of the Carlsbad Drag Strip (now a business park) off of Palomar airport road where Don used to drag, He pulls a U turn, chirps the tires a bit steps on it until about 70 mph, and we drive back the one mile to the Rotary meeting place on Palomar Airport Road.
He tells me “I’m pushing the envelope of cars.” I know what he means. I tell him "BMW is pushing the envelope and I'm just a driver", he says "So was I "
Don’s top speed was 307 MPH. I’ll settle for 70.
Top question of the night was what was the biggest technical improvement in drag racing?
His answer was safety. He buried a lot of his fellow drivers in the 70s, some right here in Carlsbad. He credited Don "Big Daddy" Garlits with moving the engine from in front of the driver to the rear of the driver as the biggest technical change in drag racing that saved the most lives.
I’m in a dream, It just gets better and better being a Mini-E driver.