Back in 1964, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits piloted an ICE dragster past 200 MPH in the 1/4-mile, thus becoming the first to ever do so.

"In one smoky run down the dragstrip on August 2, 1964, a young “Big Daddy” Don Garlits became the first drag racer to officially exceed 200mph in the timed ¼ mile. Garlits supercharged Top Fuel slingshot eclipsed the hallowed ¼ mile of asphalt at Island Dragway, NJ in 7.78 seconds with a high speed mark of 201.34 mph. The 200 mph barrier was forever broken."

Final Checks Before The Run

Final Checks Before The Run

Today, Don Garlits has done it again.


  • First full 1/4 mile run for Big Daddy in the Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries BEV digger is in the books; a gentle 10.90 at 129 shakedown.
  • 8.74 seconds at 151 miles per hour
  • Blown 800 amp fuses
  • 7.53 seconds at 178.42 MPH (*Electric vehicle record)
  • 7.26 seconds at 184.01 MPH (*Electric vehicle record)

That's how the day of "testing" played out.  Though 200 MPH was not achieved, Garlits was satisfied with the results:

"Conceived as a day of private testing, the event became one for the history books. It was also a day of significant progress and great learning for the team. The “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” will continue and was invigorated by the long-awaited and much-anticipated test. Garlits told observers that the car was a lot of fun, sat firmly, had a solid hit and, and pulled very hard. As for the Quest itself, Big Daddy summed it up, “We didn’t get the 200 but we set a new record. Our 200 is coming up next!"

However, this time around the achievement comes not from liquid fuel powering an engine, but from electrons powering an electric motor to the tune of 1,500 kilowatts / 2,000 HP

Yes, that's right, "Big Daddy" drove a pure electric dragster down the 1/4-mile, clocking a time of 7.26 seconds and posting a speed of 184.01 MPH.

That's a record and indeed it marks the first time ever that a pure electric dragster hit that MPH in the 1/4 mile.

Props to the legendary Garlits and his supporting crew.

Garlits Draws a Crowd - Image via Tim Meehan

Garlits Draws a Crowd - Image via Tim Meehan

For more on the SR-37 Quest EV dragster piloted by Garlits, click here.

The 200 MPH EV Dragster - Image via Tim Meehan

The 200 MPH EV Dragster - Image via Tim Meehan

Hat tip to Tim Meehan!!!

Full press release below:


“Big Daddy” Don Garlits and the SR-37 “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” Dragster Team traveled to the historic ¼ mile dragstrip at Bradenton Motorsports Park, FL yesterday, April 30, 2014, to shake out the ultimate battery-electric (BEV) digger. This was the first full run test for Garlits and team. It was also the first opportunity since SEMA-2013 for the public to see the gleaming SR-37 after the team spent the past several months completing and installing the 2014 powerplant of Lawless Industries 6-pack of GE Motors, Manzanita Micro “Zilla” Controllers, and HighTech Systems LLC lithium polymer (LiPo) battery packs.

Under a muggy cloud cover and with a mid-week crowd near a thousand, Big Daddy and the team proved the SR-37 EV concept and much of the on-board hardware with eight hard launches and six solid runs in their Quest for history.

With 1500 kilowatts of LiPo battery power on tap, Big Daddy was working with more than enough horsepower (2000+) to entertain the crowd. Garlits and SR-37 ignited the Goodyear Eagle Racing slicks with the first burnout of the fully-completed dragster. Spectators, many of them diehard fuel fans, were taken aback by the thunderous linear laydown of EV energy and football field long plume of tire smoke.

A first run with a gentle power setting of 30% yielded a 10.90 at 129mph. Garlits backed that with a run at 50% power for a much improved pass through the traps at 8.75 and 151.

Mid-day run attempts at full power resulted in some circuit-hold issues at full load amps, truly a new lexicon for fans of Big Daddy. Circuits stabilized, the team sent Garlits back to the line for an afternoon drive.

Big Daddy hit SR-37 hard on the 5th run and set a new EV ¼ mile drag racing record with a shot of 7.53 at a dramatically increased 178.42 mph. 60’ launches at full power setting were near the one second mark! The day was getting long but, still energized, Big Daddy took it to the blocks and backed the record run with yet another; a 7.26 at 184.01, nudging closer yet to magic 200 mph goal mark. Big Daddy and SR-37 "broke out' with some sanctioning bodies limiting their exhibition ET vehicle rules to quicker than a 7.50,

Garlits and SR-37 hit the sandbox on the final run with a late chute deployment. Garlits was safe and SR-37 incurred only modest damage to the underside. SR-37 creator and co-owner Mike Gerry was satisfied with the results. The former NHRA crew chief stated, “The team will do a teardown like any other dragster and check the motors, drivetrain, and safety equipment. We all learned a lot! I think we’ll tinker with the gearing and be looking for more power control to the motors so that we have full current delivery. We hope we can turn it around soon for another test and record attempt. We should get 200 next time out and I think we can break into the sixes.”

Conceived as a day of private testing, the event became one for the history books. It was also a day of significant progress and great learning for the team. The “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” will continue and was invigorated by the long-awaited and much-anticipated test. Garlits told observers that the car was a lot of fun, sat firmly, had a solid hit and, and pulled very hard. As for the Quest itself, Big Daddy summed it up, “We didn’t get the 200 but we set a new record. Our 200 is coming up next!

Please check and for updates on this exciting EV technology project.

About the “Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries” Dragster:

The Quest Dragster is designed and constructed to be the first battery-electric dragster to exceed 200 mph on a ¼ mile drag strip. The goal is to accomplish this speed mark in 2014 with the legendary “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Garlits’ historic first official 200 mph pass in 1964. The dragster will be powered by a 1500 kilowatt array of lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries producing an equivalent horsepower rating of over 2000 HP. The Quest dragster has already been launch-tested by “Big Daddy” Don Garlits with early versions of the LiPo battery-power packs and electric motor/controller systems.

The Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries dragster was built by Brad Hadman, created by Mike Gerry, art direction by Kenny Youngblood, car and logo graphics by Eric Reyes, print graphics by Tommy Naccarato, LiPo batteries by HighTech Systems LLC, and GE motors by Lawless Industries.

About co-owners “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, chassis builder Brad Hadman, and Quest Dragster creator Mike Gerry:

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits of Ocala, FL is considered the father of professional drag racing. He began racing in 1950 and scored his first major victory in 1955. His first NHRA National event came in Top Fuel at the 1963 Winternationals in Pomona, California. His legendary career includes 17 World Championships; 10 AHRA, 4 IHRA, 3 NHRA as well as 8 NHRA US Nationals Top Fuel final victories. A true American icon; his Swamp Rat XXX dragster is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Chassis builder Brad Hadman of Tacoma, WA has been constructing dragster chassis for nearly 40 years. Brad is widely regarded as the industry leader in modern dragster chassis design and fabrication. Brad Hadman has produced more Top Fuel Championship cars than any other chassis builder worldwide; 59 and counting. Brad’s customer list reads like a “who’s-who” of drag racing history.

Mike Gerry of Las Vegas, NV created the Quest BEV Dragster project. In 2001 Mike produced a custom battery-electric dragster to herald drag racing legend Darrell Gwynn's return to the US Nationals. Mike fabricated the battery dragsters for and promoted the 2011 Darrell Gwynn vs. Don Garlits "Match Races for a Cause” in support of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation and Don Garlits Museum of Drag racing.

About the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing:

The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing Inc. is a tourist complex in Ocala, FL. It enshrines the history of Don Garlits and his hand-built black “Swamp Rat” dragsters. Car exhibits are combined with period memorabilia, Big Daddy’s numerous racing awards, as well as extensive presentations of the history of the sport of drag racing. The Museum includes a gift shop selling a large selection of Garlits- and drag racing-related books, clothing, models, and videos.

About Bradenton Motorsports Park:

The Bradenton Motorsports Park facility built in 1974 is known as the winter professional drag racing test strip. This premiere IHRA drag race facility, home of the Snowbird Nationals, is renowned for its record-breaking track surface and beautiful nearby Gulf beaches

About HighTech Systems LLC:

HighTech Systems LLC of Colorado has been engineering and fabricating EV battery systems for well over a decade. Stepping from carbon-fuel electronic/emissions systems engineer to the truly high tech world of EV racing, HTS principal Derek Barger has developed high performance battery power systems for such racing teams as Drayson, Harley Davidson, Eric Buell, Chip Yates, and Earnhardt Ganassi. He has also engineered power systems for the record setting battery-electric drag racing vehicles of the KillaCycle, the KilleJoule LSR Streamliner, and the Lawless Electric Rocket among many others. HTS also manufactures EV battery-specific test stand and welding equipment.

About Lawless Industries:

Lawless Industries specializes in high efficiency electric drive systems for vehicles of all types as well as the design and manufacture of parade float chassis for internationally prominent theme parks and parade events. Lawless has been the industry leader in specialized float-motion chassis design for over 20 years. Owner Shawn Lawless has adapted their knowledge of EV power drives to the very specialized world of high performance and custom battery-electric vehicles, developing the record-setting Lawless Electric Rocket drag bike and numerous other designs. Lawless-powered vehicles have appeared on episodes of American Chopper and Top Gear.

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