StiffSpeed Exotic Cars

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Don Garlits "Big Daddy"

Donald Glenn "Don" Garlits (born January 14, 1932, Tampa, Florida) 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. Lemmons, 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".
This design is notably safer as it puts most of the fuel processing and rotating or reciprocating parts of the dragster behind the driver. The driver is placed in "clear air" and a catastrophic failure, explosion or fire cannot immediately engulf the driver.

Garlits was an early promoter of a full-body, fire-resistant suit - complete with socks and gloves. He was the first drag racer to officially surpass 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, 260, and 270 miles per hour; and he was also the first to top 200 in the 1/8 mile. (Note that all official NHRA records require a "back-up" run to verify the newer, higher level of performance.) He has been inducted in numerous halls of fame and has won numerous awards during his career.


  • In 2004 he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
  • In 1997, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
  • He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1989 as the sole representative of drag racing.
  • On the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000, Don Garlits was ranked No.1.
  • In 1987, Garlits' record-breaking 270 m.p.h. car, "Swamp Rat XXX" was inducted into, and enshrined at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
  • In 2008, he was inducted into the inaugural hall of fame class at Gateway International Raceway.
  • In 2008, ESPN ranked him 23rd on their top drivers of all-time

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