This time when he chose a race car to restore from the many he’s owned and driven, Prudhomme picked the front-engine Shelby Super Snake that he drove in 1968 and ’69 (he also drove it in 1967 before the Shelby sponsorship as the Baney-Prudhomme dragster).
Shelby brought sponsorship to what had been called the Baney-Prudhomme dragster in 1967 and Prudhomme drove what then became the Shelby Super Snake during the 1968-69 seasons. With it he won races across the country. The team was the winningest team in the nation at that time. The car also won “Best Engineered” at both Bakersfield and at the Winternationals.
“Man, you should’ve seen the flames comin’ up outta this thing,” he said when we visited his shop recently, his hand reaching way up over his head as he stood next to the car. “Imagine sittin’ in there, way down there, and these towering columns of fire are blastin’ out of each pipe on both sides. Man.”
So Prudhomme set about getting it re-restored. But that took a longer time than he was used to. Don Long, the original builder, did the chassis. “Wild” Bill Carter painted the body.
“He’s in a walker, a f****** walker, and he insists on doing the painting himself,” said Prudhomme of Carter. “He does a few swipes, moves the walker, does a few more swipes…”
Ed Pink did the engine.
“Ed worked on it for at least a year and a half,” Prudhomme said. “My patience is not that great. I’m used to four f****** seconds.”
The process was very thorough. “(Ed Pink Racing general manager) Frank (Honsowetz) said, ‘Well, we had to do special rollers, special this and special that.’ I said, ‘Frank, all I want to do is a burnout.”
But the result is a beautiful engine, one which could probably do a whole season of racing just as it sits in the restored car.
“This thing is a f****** Rolex watch,” Prudhomme said of the engine. “I told him, ‘All I want to do is a burnout’ and he built a f****** Rolex watch.”