Don Garlits

Racing Driver
Born Jan 14, 1932

Donald Glenn "Don" Garlits is considered the father of drag racing. He is known as "Big Daddy" to drag racing fans around the world. Always a pioneer in the field of drag-racing, he, with the help of T.C. Lemons, relating at least in part to the loss of a portion of his foot in a drag racing accident, perfected the rear-engine "top fuel dragster design".… Read More

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1932 Birth Born in 1932.


1954 22 Years Old In the early days of drag racing, post-World War II Central and Western United States military aircraft pilot training fields had become available for alternate uses, including auto racing. Don Garlits first drag race car was built under an oak tree at his home in North Tampa in 1954. … Read More
1959 27 Years Old In 1959, Garlits traveled to Bakersfield, California for the US Fuel and Gas Championships, later to be named the "March Meet", to show that the times he was setting were as legitimate as those set by the west coast racers. … Read More


1964 32 Years Old In 1964, after winning the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Garlits traveled to England, with Tommy Ivo, Tony Nancy, Dante Duce and other racers, to participate in the first International Drag Festival, a six-event series that did much to promote the sport of drag racing in the UK.
1970 38 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1970, Garlits was driving Swamp Rat XIII, also called the Wynnscharger, a front-engined slingshot rail, when the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. … Read More
1971 39 Years Old 1 More Event
He returned to Pomona in 1971 with Swamp Rat XIV, a brand new mid-engined, front-cockpit rail, also dubbed the "Swamp Rat I-R" by Hot Rod Magazine in the article introducing it to their readers.


1987 55 Years Old 1 More Event
On October 20, 1987, his Top Fuel dragster, Swamp Rat XXX, the sport's only successful streamlined Top Fuel Dragster, was enshrined in National Museum of American History, a branch of The Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC. … Read More
1988 56 Years Old He announced for four seasons, from 1988 through the end of 1991.
1991 59 Years Old In December 1991 Garlits came out of retirement to race in the Snowbird Nationals, but his comeback was to be short lived. "Big Daddy" retired again before the end of the 1992 season due to a separated retina, a product of the 4g deceleration produced by a Top Fuel Dragster's braking parachutes.


1998 66 Years Old Garlits resumed his career briefly in 1998, and again in 2003.
2003 71 Years Old 1 More Event
His last qualifying race was in May 2003 at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 23rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac in Atlanta, Georgia. … Read More
2008 76 Years Old He supported the Republican candidacy of Ron Paul for President in 2008.
2009 77 Years Old In September 2009, Garlits returned to the quarter mile, racing a specially prepared 2009 Dodge Challenger in the stock eliminator class at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN. … Read More
2014 82 Years Old In May 2014 at age 82, Garlits set a 184 mph speed record in an EV dragster, a battery-powered electric vehicle that does not burn fuel.
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