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Don Garlits

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The name “Big Daddy” Don Garlits is synonymous with Drag Racing. In fact, Garlits has been dubbed the “King of the Dragsters,” and could be considered the patriarch of Top Fuel Drag Racing. Don’s high school sweetheart is his wife Pat, however, his first love is the automobile, and his passion is winning. His Swamp Rat series of 34 hand fabricated black racecars carried him to 144 national event wins.

Added to his marvelous racing accomplishments is a Florida tourist complex called Garlits Auto Museums in Ocala, FL. The Drag Racing Museum and Classic Car Collection, 17 World Championship Titles, and numerous racing milestones are all reality because Don first saw them as worthwhile dreams. Garlits’ distinct ability to conceptualize his dreams has allowed him to be master over the end result.

“Big Daddy’s” living legacy and racecar design innovations are so significant that his record breaking Swamp Rat XXX is enshrined in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Don Garlits began racing in 1950 and scored his first major victory in 1955. His first NHRA National event win came in Top Fuel at the 1963 Winternationals in Pomona, CA.

Don has won the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals a record 8 times. His four decades of Drag Racing have filled the pages of seven books. Although this list is not exhaustive, the facts below provide a good overview of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ colorful racing career.

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