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'Big Daddy' Don Garlits


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#1 buddyt

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 00:26

To me it was like Phil Hill and Dan Gurney qualifying for the US GP at Indy this year...Don "Big Daddy" Garlits age 69, and Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney..(a lady) age not asked..qualified for the US nationals at indy this weekend. Both went out in the first round but each had run 300+MPH at under 5 seconds..Chris "the flying greek" Karminness age mid 70s didnt make the cut... Yes a drag race is just going in a straight line..but when things go wrong above 300 MPH they go bad in a hurry..and man do they ever shake the earth when they launch.:)

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#2 rdrcr

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 00:46

I've never been a big fan of Drag Racing but that sure sounds like a pretty special event. The former stars of the past giving one more go. I think that Shirley Has been active in The Federal Mogul (sp?) series not long ago... Big Daddy Don has been doing T.V. and I don't know the last time sat behind the wheel... Karminness, 70 and still has the courage to get in one of those things...

But they have their place in the history of hot rodding and drag racing in this country and we are a whole lot better off for it.

Did they have their cars (or who ever sponsored them) painted in their familiar livery of old?

The crowd must have gone nuts to see the three of them participate. Were there any others?

#3 buddyt

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 00:55

Big Daddys was not one of his swamp rat cars that he builds but one owned by another driver....but painted very black like all of Garlis's cars...Yes Shirleys car was still painted PINK....:up:

#4 Psychoman

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 01:21

rdrcr:
Big Daddy Don has been doing T.V. and I don't know the last time sat behind the wheel...


Don pointed out after the run that he had been officially retired since 1987 :eek: Truly amazing feat there :cool:

#5 Don Capps

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 01:24

Outstanding!! Three absolutely Great People you mentioned!! While many here may not know much or care about drag racing -- it is something pretty awesome. Along with Motor Sport, Autosport, Road & Track, Competition Press, NSSN, SCG, and many other magazines I read growing up, among them was Hot Rod, America Rodding, and many others.....

I is great to know that Big Daddy, Cha Cha, and the Flying Greek can still go nose to nose with folks. I, for one, am impressed.

:up: :up: :up:

#6 FordPrefect

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 11:44




Here's the link for NHRA Top Fuel photos at Indy


Prior to his qualifying run of 4.720 at 303.37 mph (488kph) the quickest Don had ever run was a 5.05 at 287 mph (461 kph).

Garlits made this historic run in qualifying running up against another old time compeditor Chris "the Golden Greek" Karamesines. After this run which qualified him in 15th. position the crowd gave him a standing ovation, well deserved.

Shirley ended up qualifying in 12th. position with a 4.647 at 320.20 mph (515 kph). Karamesines could only manage a 4.841 @ 301.81 (485 kph) and could not get into this tough 16 car field.

Both drivers lost in round one, Shirley deep staged and due to machanical reasons the car got too deep resulting in a red light, Don lost traction and went up in smoke, with his opponent doing the same it turned into a pedaling contest, Don's lack of experience with the modern cars may have contriuted to this loss.
Again, another standing ovation.

I've got to say I was very, very proud of the man, NHRA and him have not always seen eye to eye over the years, it was nice to see him back. I was amazed that he qualified at all in such a strong field.

Don indicated he will race again, probably at Pomona. He intends to bring Swamp Rat 34, it has a mono strut on the back like the end of an airplane rather than the traditional tubes holding up the rear wing.

this will give you a better idea


Many thanks also to Gary Clapshaw, Don was having trouble getting his older car certified in time to meet NHRA's current rules and Gary came forward and offered the use of his car.

Not only was the car painted in Garlit's black but so was the transporter ...class :)

Don will be using Gary's engines in his car for the rest of the season.

A great weekend for man who simply has too many accomplishments for me to list.


and speaking of the "other" Don. Mr. Capps, later today I'll post the pics I took of Garlits back in '68(?).



thanks to buddyt for bringing up such a great O/T topic.

FP

#7 Darren Galpin

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 11:49

Sometime back in the late 1980's/early 1990s, I remember watching Joe Amato wiping out his dragster in a barrel roll. What has become of him?

#8 Joe Fan

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 12:13

Darren, Joe has retired. If I remember correctly, he retired after last year and he is the all-time event winner in the NHRA Top Fuel category (which he had been for some time before his retirement).

I am not a huge fan of Drag Racing but I still follow it from time to time and go to events whenever I can. I took my wife and daugther to the night qualifying at Heartland Park, Topeka last year and they loved it. It is a spectacle of its own just to see the fire (unspent fuel) shooting of the header pipes and then to hear a very loud "Wooooaaaaak" as they rocket down the track. Every time you get a big:D on your face. :up:

If you haven't been to a NHRA night qualifying session and you are able to, you are really missing something.

#9 mmoore97

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 12:18

Amato is still involved as a car owner in Top Fuel with driver Darrell Russell. Amato got out after years of chronic eye and neck problems caused by massive G-loads from these beasts.

Another cool thing that happened at this race was a pass down the strip made by Darrell Gwynn. Gwynn made the solo pass in a "electric" dragster that was built by his friends and family to celebrate his upcoming 40th birthday. This was Darrell's first trip down the dragstrip in around 11 years after a massive accident at Santa Pod left him paralyzed and a partial amputee. Below is the article link from the NHRA.

http://www.nhra.com/...ust/083105.html

Mark

#10 AyePirate

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 20:24

What was the source of the rift between Big Daddy
and the NHRA? I haven't followed drag racing closely since
I was a kid (my dad ran a Stock Class car),
so I really don't have any idea of what has been going on
at the drags besides Force breaking Bob Glidden's wins record.
A while back I was browsing motorsport
books at the B&N and I saw some sort of
official NHRA 50th Anniversary book, I figured I would
take a trip down memory lane. The book was shocking.
Aside from a mention in a graph of the speed progression
of top fuelers, there was no mention of Garlits within its
pages. It completely ignored the man. It was as if the man
who invented the practical rear engined dragster did not
exist. Kind of like seeing a baseball history book that
omits Babe Ruth, shameful. I know that back in the day Garlits
would, much to the NHRA's chagrin, run IHRA events.
Payback perhaps?

So what happened? Some sort of falling out with
the Parks family?

#11 FordPrefect

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 23:03

A lot of the friction goes way back, in '72 The Professional Racers Association was formed with Garlits as it's president. One of the main issues weas the low purses being paid out although the drivers did have other concerns.

What got NHRA upset, IMHO was the fact that the PRA held a competing race at the same time as the Indy Nationals.

http://www.northernt...om/press72.html has a series of articles about those times.

I also was amazed that "Big' was left out of the NHRA book, I don't believe for a second that it was a mistake.

I'm hoping that the current "reunion" between Don and the NHRA will continue, everybody wins.

#12 AyePirate

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Posted 04 September 2001 - 23:08

Thanks for the link, good to have the memory jogged

#13 FordPrefect

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Posted 05 September 2001 - 22:48

well better late than never, I was supposed to do this yesterday but...... life got in the way :)

OK, this is the story, Garlits was having a bad time trying to break into the six second zone, a lot of others were doing it but he just couldn't manage it. So he decided to stop shaving until he ran in the sixes.

We were down for the Indy Nations at Clermont Indiana camping at the drive-in theatre across from the track entrance. To make a long story short Don won the race and broke into the six second zone, the place ( and me) went wild. I hung around to watch the celebrations, the shave and the awards. The photos, bad as they are, tell the story.

My favourite photo is the one with Don being pushed back to the start with both of his daughters in the car with him, special moment for most of us.

By the time I got back to camp everyone else had taken down the tent and packed the cars. Time well spent :)

the photos can be found HERE

Ford

#14 buddyt

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 00:49

Thanks for the pics...they bring back a few lost brain cells to life ...I remember one of Big Daddys competiors, when finding out Garlits was growing a beard untill he won again said " hell, he will be able to use it as a tow rope by then". Those front engine slingshots (dragsters) were wild..bicycle tires on the front and the driver sat with his legs between the clutch, trans and rear end. It took two big ones to sit there.......:eek:

#15 TNSFH

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 11:19

Thanks for sharing the pics FP. :up:

#16 AyePirate

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 22:31

God, what a blast from the past. I remember he held on to
that damned truck for years. When everyone had moved on
to using fancy transporters, Big kept the same black truck
w/a camper and a matress in the back that towed a basic
white trailer. I'm pretty sure he operated this way throughout
the 70's , maybe into the 80's. If something didn't make the
car faster, he didn't see the point of spending money on it.
:cool:

Thanks FordPrefect

#17 AyePirate

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Posted 06 September 2001 - 22:52

God, what a blast from the past. I remember he held on to
that damned truck for years. When everyone had moved on
to using fancy transporters, Big kept the same black truck
w/a camper and a matress in the back that towed a basic
white trailer. I'm pretty sure he operated this way throughout
the 70's , maybe into the 80's. If something didn't make the
car faster, he didn't see the point of spending money on it.
:cool:

Thanks FordPrefect