It’s been a while since we last spoke of Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, but the man is a living legend. At 87, he could be living on all he has already done, but Garlits is into EVs. And he just broke the EV dragster record on July 20 in the quarter-mile by reaching 189.04 mph at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida.
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It is worth mentioning the previous record was also his, at 185.6 mph. And we are only speaking about EV dragsters, the most interesting for us for obvious reasons. Garlits is considered as the father of drag racing.
After losing part of his foot in an accident in 1970, he perfected Top Fuell dragsters by placing the driver ahead of most mechanical components. And he was the first man to break the 170 mph, 180 mph, 200 mph, 240 mph, 250 mph, and 270 mph barriers in the quarter-mile. He is also the first pilot ever to reach 200 mph in just ⅛ mile.
Garlits goal is now to get to that same speed, but in the quarter-mile and with an EV dragster, so you may imagine he is a little frustrated even after having almost got there. Check what he had to say on the text below:
Friends and Fans,
Well we didn’t make the 200 MPH goal, as planned, but the test session was very successful! We made four very good runs, 160, 174, 183, and the final, 189.04 MPH, all without incident! During the process, we set new National Electric Drag Racing Association, World Records for Electric Dragsters, speed, 189.04 MPH, and Elapsed Time, 7,235 Seconds. Also, we gathered a tremendous amount of information about Swamp Rat 38 and Electric Dragsters in general!
I now know a lot more about this particular car concerning the wings, tire pressures and weight transfer.
However we had some battery issues and the 189.04 MPH was in fact set with two dead cells in the batteries!
When these cells were replaced, the car left the starting line like a rocket and was on another record-breaking run. But as the case is, with all new experimental equipment, the drive hub on the right rear wheel failed, allowing the left tire to spin, I felt the acceleration fall off and lifted off the go pedal immediately, aborting the run. Repairs could not be made at the strip, so we broke camp and headed home, to make the necessary repairs.
SR-38 is one great car, it turned 189 MPH with two dead battery cells, it will go over 200 MPH and very soon!
Instead of speaking about dead cylinders, we will soon speak about dead battery cells, just like Garlits now does. With a full functioning battery pack and the lessons learned, we expect the legend to achieve a new record very soon. Probably before he turns 90!
The pilot seized the opportunity to make a touching homage to his late wife, Patricia Bieger Garlits, with a sticker on the Swamp Rat 38, his EV dragster. It is a way to have her with him when he collects another amazing mark in his more than victorious career.