Don Garlits Back Racing with Mopar

Don Garlits’ Bad Drag Pack Challenger

Story Submitted by John C. Hill or MoparMagic
Don Garlits to compete in 2009!

Don Garlits has planned a comeback to drag racing for 2009, his 60th anniversary competing on the nation’s drag strips. Is he going to run a new Top Fuel car? The answer is no. Neither his doctor nor his wife will ever let him run an NHRA competitive Top Fuel car again. After countless thousands of parachute stops at the end of 300mph runs, the retinas in Don’s eyes had become detached. Further racing of this type could have caused permanent blindness.

So, what is Don going to run this year? Well, as a long time Mopar representative, Mopar stepped up and has allowed Don to purchase the first Dodge Challenger equipped with the Drag Pak. For those of you thinking a factory backed “Drag Pak” was a dream, it ain’t! Based on the 6.1L equipped hot rod SRT8, the drag pak Challenger will be eligible to run in NHRA’s Super Stock, Stock, and Comp Eliminator.

Garlits will run his Drag Pak Challenger in NHRA Division 2, but right now, it is uncertain which class. Don’s excited to challenge some of the nations best sportsman drivers and is looking forward to tuming a car like this to become competitive against other muscle cars and specialty drag race vehicles.

Garlits ran the first promotional vehicle at Bandimere Speedway near Denver and recorded an 11.24 quarter mile which is quick considering Bandimere’s mile high track. At sea level tracks in Division 2, the car could dip into the 10′s right out of the box! Garlits also plans to attend and run at the U.S. Nationals this year to commemorate his 60th year in active drag racing.

I for one will follow this story very closely in the Division 2 race results pages of National Dragster. Can Garlits work his old magic? First, I will admit that I am a big Don Garlits fan. But, there will be a huge difference between running the unlimited class of Top Fuel versus the very restrictive class rules of Super Stock, Stock and Comp Eliminator. In Top Fuel, tuning knowledge is king and the almighty dollar can bring absolute victory. Garlits was fantastic at tuning and driving, but he didn’t always have the almighty dollar. It was his tuning skill and driving that made him stand out, so much so, that his Top Fueler is the ONLY drag race vehicle of any type enshrined at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

What really interests me is how well Garlits will do against the Southern Divisional racers who have raced their cars day in and day out for decades. Its going to be a tall order and it will be the ultimate test of Garlits as a tuner and driver. I mean, can a man in his mid-70′s still pull off .000 reaction times when needed? Can he win races without “bombing his index” or “breaking out”? After all this is class racing not Top Fuel! I’ll keep you posted as I find results from the races.