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Legends Of The Sport Big Daddy Don Garlits
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Born January 14,1932 in Tampa, Florida and simply known as "Big Daddy", Don Garlits is a true Legend and innovator in the sport of Drag Racing. The West Coast racers also referred to him as "Swamp Rat" in the early days because he was from Florida. Don began his racing career in 1950 and it has spanned 60 plus years, today he is 79 years old and still going strong.

The name "Swamp Rat" is what "Big Daddy" called all of his dragsters, he would just put a different number on the end of it when he built a new car. In 1956 he built "Swamp Rat" 1 and said it is his favorite car of all time because it made him what he is today.

Up to this point all Dragsters were front engine cars, meaning the engine was in front of the driver. In 1970 a catastrophic event would change that. Always the innovator Garlits was experimenting with a two-speed transmission in Swamp Rat XIII, the transmission blew-up taking part of his right foot with it. He was forced to miss the rest of the season!

When the next season rolled around Garlits debuted a new Car,"Swamp Rat" XIV, "Big Daddy" had built a rear engine dragster so all the moving parts, transmission, clutch & pressure plate, and engine would be behind him. There were plenty skeptics, but "Big Daddy" proved them wrong, the car performed flawlessly and has become the main configuration in Dragsters today.

Garlits finished his Top Fuel career with 144 National Event Wins, Won the U.S. Nationals Eight times and won 17 World Championships. He has been voted the #1 Drag Racer for the past 50 years and has been inducted into numerous Drag Racing Hall of Fame's. His "Swamp Rat' XXX was so unique they placed it in the Smithsonian Institute! Don has worked many years on his Drag Racing Museum in Ocala, Florida which houses just about every type care that has ever gone down a race track. Classics, Gasser's, Factory Experimentals, Funny Cars and Dragsters.

You would think that a person who has accomplished everything he set out to do would retire and take life easier, but this not your ordinary person. You guessed it, Don is still racing, Chrysler Corporation is still sponsoring Mr.Garlits and has for 40 years. Today at age 79 Don is driving one of the new Dodge Challenger Drag Pack cars with a Hemi engine that he took possession of in 2009 and I might add that he is running a pretty full schedule. Hard working dedicated people like "Big Daddy" Don Garlits are what has made the Sport of Drag Racing what it is today, he is truly a "Legend of the Sport".


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