Don “The Wavemaker” Prieto is unique to the sport in that he is a racer (owner and driver), a journalist, a historian, and a catalyst between the sport and some of the OEM companies. Don started his journey into the world of cars in 1953 when he bought a 1933 Ford Cabriolet which he promptly began modifying. Next came a 1939 Ford coupe with a flathead for power that lasted through his Air Force days when it was replaced with a modified 1949 Olds convertible.
In 1960 he partnered up with a couple of local New Orleans buddies on a Chrysler powered dragster. In 1963 Don moved to California and went to work for Mickey Thompson as a machinist where he was exposed to an ongoing group of local drag racers. In 1963 he was partnered with Don Madden in an AA/Fuel Dragster followed by sharing ownership with other racers including Don Yates and Clark Cagle.
His first move into the world of journalism was in 1966 when he became the Managing Editor of Drag Racing Magazine. With this platform, Don was able to help push the racing facilities into providing better restrooms and food by generating a series of articles about how bad some of the facilities were. He was also able to help expose some of the local Southern Californian racers to a much broader group of fans. In 1968 Don moved to Petersen Publishing as an editor on Hot Rod Industry News and continued to help expose the sport to a larger readership and promote the manufacturer’s products better.
In 1971 the Chairman of SEMA, Vic Edelbrock, was impressed with Don’s activities enough to hire him as Director of Communications for the association. With his contacts at the magazines, the car builders, the power of Petersen Publishing, and SEMA Don was part of an elite team. This team put together a Show and Tell Car Show in Los Angeles, CA in 1973. This show helped change the image of hot rodding and drag racing in the eyes of the general public and a lot of public officials.
In 1975 he relocated to Washington DC to lobby the US Congress on behalf of the hi-performance and custom industry.
Don opened his own public relations business, The Prietive Group, in 1984 where he soon became a catalyst between OEM manufacturers like Lexus, Honda, BMW, Jaguar, Landrover, and Rolls to name a few. His public relations also extended to Performance Automotive Magazine editors and hot rodders in general. This business is still going strong today.
In his spare time, he penned a bestselling book called “Hot Rod Chronicle”. His current writings can be seen in the prestigious Rodder’s Journal.
Today Don is still active in the sport, he can be found driving around in either his awesome Lexus engine powered ’32 Ford Roadster or his ’56 Chevy Nomad “tow car”. The need for the Nomad is because Don owns and cackles Frank Cannon’s Hustler VI AA/Fuel Dragster and Tommy Ivo’s original injected Buick powered dragster.