Don Garlits Top-fuel Dragster Swamp Rat XXX

Description
Swamp Rat XXX is a drag racing car of the top-fuel class, designed, built and raced by Don Garlits of Ocala, Florida. Garlits, better known as "Big Daddy," is one of the pioneers of drag racing, which is a test of acceleration on quarter-mile tracks. He began racing in 1950 in modified stock cars at Zephyr Hills, Fla., not far from his home in Tampa, shifting to drag racing in 1959. Over a 30-year career, he was one of the most innovative builders in the sport.
Swamp Rat XXX won the National Hot Rod Association championship in 1986 with a quarter-mile speed of 272.55 miles an hour. It crashed at a race in Spokane, Washington, and, along with Garlits, retired from active competition.
The vehicle displays the state of drag racing art in the 1980s: a very long wheelbase, small front wheels to minimize aerodynamic drag, engine in the rear, and a wing for added aerodynamic down force. The engine placement puts most of the vehicle's weight on the rear or driving wheels and behind the driver for safety reasons in case of an engine blow-up.
The car is covered with emblems, chiefly of sponsoring corporations. It carries a Christian cross and the words "God is Love," reflecting Garlits' experience in 1959 when, after an accident, his system could not handle pain-killing drugs. In severe pain, he cried out, "Lord help me," and his pain ceased.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
dragster
date made
1985-1986
user
Garlits, Donald G.
maker
Garlits, Donald G.
Place Made
United States: Florida
ID Number
1987.0889.01
catalog number
1987.0889.01
accession number
1987.0889
subject
Religion
Sports & Leisure
Popular Entertainment
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Don Garlits, Inc.

Visitor Comments

11/14/2012 11:54:53 AM
Frank
I think it's wonderful that you have included not only drag racing, which may fall by the wayside with alternate fuels being explored, but also the one person I believe was the corner stone in top fuel. Big Daddy, in my book, is the godfather of the sport.
7/19/2013 10:39:33 AM
Cas
Don IS the man. A little rough around the edges, but the man is a legend because he goes after what he wants. Terrific-if-brief interview with him on an online video series called Done In 60 Seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb639v9kqdY&feature=player_embedded LOVE that he's sitting in his racecar for the interview!
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