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Big Daddy, Big, Swamp Rat, Large Father, King of the Dragsters, Tampa Dan, or even Dan Garbage (the misspelling of the name Don as Dan was intentional among the critics), call him what you will but there is no debating that Don Garlits is the most recognized and accomplished drag racer of all time. There will never be another like him. He’s so good in fact, that many of those drag racers who called him the more unflattering names back in the late 1950s grew to respect him and pretty much wised up to the fact he was always Number One for good reason.
Also, Don was never afraid to challenge the stubborn NHRA bureaucracy whenever the need arose. In his many published books, he’s very candid about these many showdowns – which could have ended the career of a less passionate racer. Don wasn’t scared to speak his mind and always put his money where his mouth was. Go to garlits.com to grab copies of Don’s written works and see for yourself.
Last month (MoparMax May 2011) we scratched the tip of the iceberg that is the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida. Let’s continue our tour and also take a peek at some stuff folks usually don’t get to see unless you work there. And be sure to take a good look at the pictures of Don’s 2009 LC22R Drag Pak Challenger. You’ll see it run at select NHRA events this year. Yep, Don’s still very active driving the Challenger doorslammer, as well as performing exhibition passes in some of his restored dragsters at nostalgia events. Long live Big Daddy!