The Demon and "Big Daddy" Don Garlits
February 11, 2018 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I have driven past that museum about a hundred times. Just secured a promise that we'll go this year.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:46 PM on February 11

Glad to see that an idol of my youth is still around and active. Lost track of him after rail jobs moved the engine behind the driver.
posted by Modest House at 5:36 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

This was great. I texted the article to my dad, who promptly name-checked the Swamp Rat cars, and reminded me that he had Big Daddy’s autograph on the cover of a 1963 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.
posted by Sokka shot first at 5:38 PM on February 11

I had this fairly wild offroad go-kart as a kid, which had individual brake controls for sliding around on wet grass. It was scary enough for me as it was.

At some point the engine blew, and we sold it to someone who replaced the engine with something WAY too powerful and then started to modify basically everything to make it work out. As my dad tells it, Don Garlits was impressed/amused and gave the guy a drag chute for it.
posted by Foosnark at 6:07 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

The bit about the person questioning if exposure to nitro methane racing fuel made him "funny in the head" followed by " to be fair, at the time he was rubbing a leather thong he had attached animal teeth to for good luck" was the best!
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:19 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

In case anyone is wondering about that famous planetary gear explosion that resulted in Garlits creating the rear-engine dragster, it exploded as he left the starting line.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:11 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

> Sokka shot first:
"This was great. I texted the article to my dad, who promptly name-checked the Swamp Rat cars, and reminded me that he had Big Daddy’s autograph on the cover of a 1963 issue of Hot Rod Magazine."

Which of course, WOULD be yours, if you knew anything about it suddenly going missing...
posted by Samizdata at 8:32 PM on February 11

Pretty cool to see the oldest, saltiest, most hardcore drag racer ever down for taking the sport electric. He's right about those noise abatement deals - Sears Point has some of the strictest noise abatement rules out there for one or two families, all of which moved there after the race track was founded.
posted by Punkey at 12:11 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Loved this article! A friend of mine in high school saw him race in the late 70s and managed to snag an autographed piston. I wonder where it is now. Count me among those looking forward to electric dragsters. With all that toque available instantly, they could be really fast. As fast as that Demon is, the fastest Tesla Model S is faster from 0-60. I wonder what a properly set up Tesla would do against a Demon in the 1/4 mile.
posted by TedW at 6:13 AM on February 12

I went to the museum on a trip to Florida with my dad and brother in law this past December. Dad was like a kid in a candy store, he loved watching Don Garlits growing up.

In case anyone wants a peek inside, here's the pictures I took that day. It's nothing like going there though.
posted by deezil at 6:58 AM on February 12

Even though I should properly have no memory of drag racing meets' radio announcements from the late '60s/early '70s, I do the BEST SoCal radio announcer's screamy-shouty voice for "SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! The very fastest NHRA sanctioned drag racing! Ground pounding top fuel dragsters! Wheel-standing nitro funny cars! Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme versus Tom 'The Mongoose' McEwen! 'Big Daddy' Don Garlits and The Swamp Rat! Art Arfons and his jet-powered Green Monster! Shirley 'Cha Cha' Muldowney and Connie Kalitta in their 'Bounty Hunter and Bounty Huntress' Ford Mustang funny cars! Don Glidden and his door-slammer Pro Stock Pinto! Meet Linda 'Golden Shifter' Vaughn at the Hurst booth! SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!"
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:14 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

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