'Big Daddy' Don Garlits to Return to NHRA Drag Racing - Engine Builder Magazine

‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits to Return to NHRA Drag Racing

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits is making a comeback to NHRA competition for
the first time since 2003, driving his Dodge Challenger Drag Pak by
Mopar into the heat of NHRA Stock eliminations at the Mac Tools U.S.
Nationals on Labor Day weekend. His historic first run in the Drag Pak
will be on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in A/Stock Automatic qualifying at
O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. The full U.S. Nationals event is
scheduled to begin Sept. 2 with final eliminations on Monday, Sept. 7.

Garlits hung up his helmet after Top Fuel qualifying at the U.S.
Nationals exactly six years ago in 2003. He last ran a stock class car
in 1963 when he competed in a 1963 Dodge Max Wedge drag package car
carrying “Garlits Dodge” graphics. His new Dodge Challenger Drag Pak by
Mopar has the same lettering emblazoned on its sides, along with the
same Mopar graphics from his historic run last year alongside “Miss
Mighty Mopar” Judy Lilly in Drag Pak prototypes at the Mopar Mile-High
NHRA Nationals.  

“I like my Dodge Challenger Drag Pak much better than a dragster,” said
Garlits, referring to the current way Top Fuel dragsters are
campaigned. “It takes 25 people to get a dragster to the line these
days. All I have to do with the Dodge Challenger is turn the key and
take it there. When the light turns green I have a 10-second ride —
which is almost three times what I used to get — and I even have time
to look at the tach and shift gears.”

“Big Daddy’s” 2009 Dodge Challenger is the first Drag Pak by Mopar ever
made. He took delivery at the Performance Racing Industry show in
December 2008, receiving the keys along with a certificate of
authenticity from Mopar. Garlits put the Drag Pak by Mopar through test
and exhibition runs at the World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova
Dragway Park in Cordova, IL, last weekend.

Garlits retired for the first time in 1987, but returned for one race
at Atlanta in 1992 and made a 300-mph run at the U.S. Nationals in
Indianapolis in 2001. He then ran a limited schedule of four NHRA
National events each year in 2002 and 2003 before he stepped out of Top
Fuel at the request of his wife, Pat. “I didn’t want to come home and
find my clothes all over the front yard,” he said at the time he
acquired his new Dodge Challenger, explaining that he had the
home-front green light to run a doorslammer in competition, referring
to his Drag Pak car.

Garlits Statistics

• 17 World Championship Titles and 144 National event wins

• Voted #1 Drag Racer for the past 50 years by the NHRA in 2001

• Won the prestigious U.S. Nationals eight times

Car Craft Magazine Top Fuel Driver of the Year: 1969-’70, 1972-’73, 1975-’78 and 1986

Car Craft Magazine “Man of the Year”: 1969, 1971-’73

• American Hot Rod Association “Fuel Driver of the Year”: 1971-’74

The Mopar Brand: Authentic Motor Parts and Accessories for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge

When Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928, the need for a dedicated parts
manufacturer, supplier and distribution system to support the growing
enterprise led to the formation of the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation
(CMPC) in 1929.

Mopar — a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts — was
trademarked for a line of antifreeze products in 1937. It also was
widely used as a moniker for the CMPC.

The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s — the muscle car era. The
Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth “package cars”
equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of
“special parts” for super stock drag racers and developed its racing
parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and
handling for both road and racing use.

In addition to its proud muscle-car heritage, Mopar established a solid
reputation as a one-stop shop for proven, quality-tested, reliable and
original parts. Just this year, in 2009, Mopar has introduced more than
200 new parts and accessories.

“Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered by the same team
that creates all of our factory-authorized vehicle specifications for
Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles,” said Pietro Gorlier, president and
CEO, Mopar Service, Parts & Customer Care, Chrysler Group LLC. “At
Mopar, we offer more than 280,000 parts and accessories for customers
who want to customize and refresh their rides.”

Today, Mopar is responsible for the distribution of authentic Mopar
replacement parts, components and accessories for Chrysler, Jeep and
Dodge vehicles sold in more than 90 countries. To assure quality,
reliability and durability, all Mopar parts and accessories are
designed in strict adherence to Chrysler engineering standards.

For additional information about Mopar, log on to www.mopar.com or www.moparspeed.com. Photo courtesy of NHRA

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