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Don Garlits

Donald Glenn “Don” Garlits (born January 14, 1932, Tampa, Florida) is considered the father of drag racing. He is known as “Big Daddy” to drag racing fans around the world. Always a pioneer in the field of drag-racing, he, with the help of T.C. Lemons, relating at least in part to the loss of a portion of his foot in a drag racing accident, perfected the rear-engine “top fuel dragster design”. This design is notably safer as it puts most of the fuel processing and rotating or reciprocating parts of the dragster behind the driver. The driver is placed in “clear air” in front of nearly all mechanical components, thus remaining capable of activating a variety of safety equipment in the event of catastrophic mechanical failures or fire. Garlits was an early promoter of a full-body, fire-resistant suit – complete with socks and gloves, often branded as Nomex. 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 1/8 mile. Note that all official NHRA records require a “back-up” (speed and elapsed time within 1% of the record) run during the course of the particular event where the record was set to verify the newer, higher level of performance. He has been inducted in numerous halls of fame and has won numerous awards during his career.

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