IHRA: “Big Daddy” Don Garlits to headline World Series


By Steven Cole Smith

Don “Big Daddy” Garlits will serve as this year’s grand marshal for the 2016 World Series of Drag Racing Presented By Sunoco and the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau slated for August 26 and 27 at Memphis International Raceway.

Garlits, dubbed “King of the Dragsters,” is the patriarch of Top Fuel Drag Racing. His Swamp Rat series of 34 hand fabricated black race cars carried him to 144 national event wins. “Big Daddy’s” living legacy and race car design innovations are so significant that his record breaking Swamp Rat XXX is enshrined in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Garlits began racing in 1950 and scored his first major victory in 1955. His first national event win came in Top Fuel at the 1963 Winter Nationals in Pomona, California. He won the U.S. nationals a record eight times. Garlits was the first drag racer to officially surpass the 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, and 270 miles per hour marks in the quarter mile; he was also the first to top 200 in the eighth-mile. In May 2014 at age 82, Garlits set a 184 mph speed record in an electric dragster.

The World Series of Drag Racing is the world’s longest continually running drag racing event and holds the record for the largest single-day purse in the sport. The event is being brought to the Memphis International Raceway for the first time with support from Sunoco and the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. To purchase tickets, call 800-745-3000.

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