Group Of Six Heads Into Motorsports Hall Of Fame

Share:
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Drag racing great Don Prudhomme likes to express himself through his pets.

He once had a nasty Australian shepherd that reminded him enough of A.J. Foyt that he named it after the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. And when he got a sleek golden retriever, it was obvious to Prudhomme that the dog should be named after the late Formula One great Ayrton Senna.

"I named that shepherd A.J. because he was such a mean fellow," Prudhomme said. "I told A.J. about it once and I think he wanted to punch me.

"And Ayrton Senna to me was unbelievable, so when this golden came along ... ."

There's no telling if either of those drivers ever considered naming anything "Snake" - Prudhomme's nickname for his quick strike off the starting line - but he doesn't care. Naming his pets after two of his favorite racers was just his way of honoring them.

Now, he'll be honored along with them.

Prudhomme, who won four consecutive NHRA Funny Car championships in the 1970s, is being inducted this week into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame with Foyt and Senna.

Joining them in the Class of 2000 are Mario Andretti, Craig Breedlove and Nelson Piquet. Andretti and Foyt were selected by an Associated Press panel as the greatest drivers of the 20th century.

"Man for man, this class probably has won more major events in different forms of motorsports than any other class," former Hall director Don Naman said when the selections were announced last fall. "Each is a legend, not only in their own area of focus, but also worldwide."

Prudhomme has a special feel about his induction.

"But I don't really feel like I am in the same league as those guys," he said. "I'm sure a lot of other people do, but I mean that's a pretty stout group."

Indeed it is.

  • Andretti won four Indy car titles and a Formula One championship, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. He had 109 career wins on major racing circuits and was a three-time Driver of the Year.

  • Foyt, who started his career racing wheel-to-wheel with Andretti in Indy cars, also won seven Champ Car titles, the Daytona 500 and six other NASCAR races.

  • Senna won three Formula One championships and 41 career races. He also had 65 poles and dominated the F1 circuit from 1988 until he was killed during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

  • Piquet, who like Senna passed on playing soccer in their native Brazil, also won three F1 championships. He had 23 career wins and 24 poles.

  • Breedlove became the first man to reach speeds of 400, 500 and 600 mph. His run of 600.601 in 1965 was the World Land Speed Record for 22 years.

    And then there's Prudhomme. Although not the most recognized name in the group, he won 389 of 589 rounds of competition - a winning percentage of 66.

    During a 32-year racing career, he won 49 events and titles in the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes. He's also recognized for winning races in four different decades and ranks fourth on the NHRA's career victories list.

    But one of the true highlights of his career will be joining Andretti and the others in the Hall.

    He remembers attending a race in 1967, when Andretti crashed and was burned on his face. Prudhomme was wandering through the pits that day when he saw Andretti.

    "I was this punk kid, a nobody walking in the garage area just standing outside his ropes," Prudhomme remembered. "And Andretti was in there on the phone and he saw me and gave me this nudge to come in.

    "That was a big deal to me - the little things like that you can't forget."


  • Related Topics:

    IZOD Indy Car Series, 2000

    Race Center

    Auto Club 500

    @ Auto Club Speedway
    Saturday, October 19, 2013
    TV Start:
    NBCSN

    Recent Photos

  • © 2016 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites