A Snake’s literary strike

Besides his status of being one of the very best racers ever to assault the quarter-mile, which landed him near the pinnacle of the National Hot Rod Association’s list of its 50 greatest all-time competitors, Don Prudhomme is a complex, thoughtful human being, more so than most people might associate with a person so deeply wrapped in motorsports. For many years, I helped Don put together his column on drag racing for Hemmings Muscle Machines, and came to appreciate the fact that he’s a very serious student of auto racing in all its forms. I mean, the guy traveled to Brazil to visit the grave of Ayrton Senna, and he loves IndyCar. It’s always cool when someone of the Snake’s stature gets to tell his own story, in his own words. It would have been easy to produce an autobiography of Don that simply recounted his early hot-rod days, his ascension as a drag racer, and his legacy in the sport. This newly released book certainly accomplishes all that. But not every such biography puts you inside what it was like to grow up surrounded by cars, in a place that was absolutely nuts about cars, when you were a little bit different from everyone you knew and weren’t quite sure how to handle that. I’m pleased to say that this book accomplishes that, as well.

Don “The Snake” Prudhomme: My Life Beyond the 1320, co-written by motoring journalist Elana Scherr, covers 192 hardcover pages, rich with family illustrated, that will tell you more about this icon of drag racing than even he probably anticipated. Unlike some other such volumes, which devolve into a repetitious recitation of dates and statistics, this book is a highly personal, deeply introspective recounting of the subject’s career. I know this guy, and I can verify that his co-author did a wonderful job of preserving Don’s literary voice in the narrative, which is so essential to a successful autobiography. I’ll leave the biographical details for your own reading. But it’s touching, and utterly timely, that Don discussed what it was like to grow up with a mixed-race heritage at a time when few people understood it and fewer still accepted it. I assure you, this book will not disappoint you. You can find the book here for $42.95 from CarTech Inc., with the first 200 copies autographed by Don. And if by chance you miss out on one of those copies, fret not: Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California – when the Vipe once prowled the streets as a member of the Road Kings car club with his mentor, Tommy Ivo – will be hosting both authors for a signing on November 14th, with signed copies available through the store’s website.

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