The Summit Racing Retail Super Store in Tallmadge, OH has been open for 10 years.
And for 10 years, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat 32 dragster has greeted customers from its familiar spot suspended above the show floor. Last week, the Summit Racing landmark packed its parachute (OK, it was already packed) and headed west on a 2,346-mile trailer ride to California. A fixture at the store since it opened in 2002, Swamp Rat 32 will take up new residence in the NHRA Museum in Pomona—another fitting place for the legendary machine.
“We were fortunate to have Swamp Rat 32 here on a 10-year program,” said Summit Racing Retail Store Manager Jim Grosso. “It had been in the store since before we even opened the door for the first time, and it’s definitely strange not having it there.”
The wicked-quick dragster made an ultra-slow decent from the Summit Racing store ceiling, taking about 90 minutes to reach the ground. Keller Rigging, located in Tallmadge, OH, used two specially designed tow motors to carefully lower Swamp Rat 32 to the floor, where it provided Grosso and his team with one last enduring memory.
“When we got it to the floor, we found that the right rear tire was flat,” Grosso said. “So Don Garlits himself OK’d us to fix it for him before it made its trip to the museum. How many people can say they got to work on one of Don Garlits’ legendary dragsters?”
As of right now, there are no concrete plans to replace the dragster with another vehicle.
“I hate to lose a piece of history—people would always comment on it and it made a great conversation piece,” Grosso said. “We don’t have anything definite planned for its spot, but hopefully we can get something equally historical.”