Snake Racing News Item
Prudhomme Discovers Original 1967 Dodge D700 Sox & Martin - Hot Wheels Ramp Truck!

Racing fans, automotive enthusiasts and Mattel "Hot Wheels" collectors for certain, were all abuzz in 2009 when Don "Snake" Prudhomme unveiled his fully-restored, historic 1967 Dodge D700 Hot Wheels Ramp Truck, which has since appeared at such prestigious events as the Barrett-Jackson Auction, SEMA Show and Dana Point Concours d'Elegance.

The restoration of the "ramp truck" was a massive undertaking for Prudhomme but can more accurately be described as a labor of love. The detailed story of Prudhomme’s effort to locate and restore his old transporter, and true piece of auto racing Americana, has been chronicled in several automotive and racing publications, while countless inquiries are made as to the next public viewing of what is now commonly referred to as "Snake's truck".

While the D700 with the yellow 1970 Hot Wheels Plymouth 'Cuda in tow may certainly be considered the showpiece of Prudhomme’s personal collection of some of the most significant vehicles in drag racing history, it will soon be sharing the limelight once again with a friendly rival – the 1967 Dodge D700 Hot Wheels Ramp Truck formerly owned by none other than Tom "Mongoose" McEwen!

The story of Prudhomme's new find begins in 1967 when Plymouth ordered the original manufacture of the truck for NHRA Pro Stock pioneers, Sox & Martin. The Sox & Martin team campaigned the truck with their familiar red, white and blue motive for several years until they eventually sold it to McEwen.

McEwen then had the truck modified from Sox & Martin's original specs to fit the needs of his nitro funny car, essentially copying the features that existed on Prudhomme's already completed transporter.

By the mid-1970s and when the Hot Wheels' program came to an end, many professional drag racing teams made the transition from open ramp trucks to luxurious, enclosed transporters. Just as Prudhomme had done, McEwen sold his ramp truck to a local racer in Southern California and that is where the truck remained for the next 40-plus years.

Curious of its whereabouts, Prudhomme began to make casual inquiries regarding the location of "Mongoose's ramp truck." Coincidentally, while attending the 2010 L.A. Roadster Show in Pomona, Snake was approached by Don Lowery, a former Winston West Stock Car racer, whom had purchased the truck from McEwen decades earlier. Lowery produced photographs and documentation to show he was the owner at one time, before selling the truck to a gentleman named George Gielesh in Arizona. With Lowery's help, Prudhomme contacted Gielesh and learned that the truck was currently located in Riverside, CA where it had been "retired" for the past 15 years.

After some negotiation, Prudhomme made the short drive north from his San Diego-area home to Riverside (with a flatbed truck trailing behind him just in case) to inspect the truck and determine if he wanted to purchase it and thus make the commitment to restoring it to its original glory. While the truck itself was not in the greatest condition when Prudhomme found it, it was a small, credit-card sized piece of tinwork that sealed the deal. Nestled securely in the glove box was the original vehicle identification "Certicard" from Chrysler Corporation as issued to "Sox – Martin, Burlington, N.C., April 17, 1967."

The truck was loaded up and brought back to Prudhomme's Vista, CA race shop where restoration efforts are already underway. As was the case with his own ramp truck, Prudhomme expects the restoration project to take 18-24 months.

Once completed, Prudhomme envisions the Mongoose Ramp Truck to be painted in the familiar orange livery similar to McEwen's 1970 Plymouth Duster which raced against Prudhomme's yellow 'Cuda in countless match races over 40 years ago. Already owning a Mongoose Duster show car, Prudhomme plans to repaint that funny car to the same orange color to complete the matching set.

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