Don Garlits, 87, Sets Another Speed Record in Electric Dragster

Not that this should surprise anyone, but 87-year-old “Big Daddy” Don Garlits broke another drag-racing speed record this weekend, reaching 189.03 miles per hour in his Swamp Rat 38 electric dragster at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida.

While Garlits and his crew were hoping to hit 200 mph, the drag-racing legend had good things to say about his run—especially after learning the car was running underpowered due to two dead battery cells.

“We set a new record…and we had a good day,” Garlits told the Palm Beach Post. “We’re happy with that.”

About those dead battery cells…

“It’s the same concept as running a V8 on seven cylinders,” said grandson and race team member Rodney Garlits to the Post.

Sounds like they’re going to go back to the shop, tighten a few screws, and come back to finish what they started.

“It’ll take a few weeks to get everything squared away. And then we’ll be back,” Don Garlits said.

Ageless, this man. We’re in awe, and can’t wait to see what’s next.

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  1. Bravo Don! You have been one of my heroes since I was a teenager.

  2. John Hughes says:

    Congratulations Don as you are a true drag racer through and through now let’s see you go 200 mph

  3. WTG, Big. Kick ass and take names!

  4. The man now and back in the day ! Congratulations

  5. I no doubt you would break a record Don,.
    When you walk down a drag strip you set a record, you and the Greek.
    Your museum is awesome!

  6. Rick Wallace says:

    You are teh man, you know why? God is with you , and you give Him the Glory for all you do, Thats why. God speed Big Daddy. I love you and you will always be my role model.I spent only 5 hours at your museum and could spend 5 days if I was allowed. God bless you and yours

  7. Mike thomas says:

    Congrats Mr garlits
    Wish I could have seen it
    I will be at museum on the 10 if August
    Hope to see the car
    I got to sit in your car back in 1972 at orange county raceway in California
    Been a fan for a long time

  8. Mike thomas says:

    I use to work for art Christmas back in the 80’s in his car shop

  9. GO BIG DADDY GO!!!!
    I may Don Garlits year’s ago at the Gatornationals,Gainesville;Florida.The man was always a hero to me.
    At 87 year’s old and still running that’s a True Motorhead!

  10. Paul Milazzo says:

    Met you in Bakersfield at Ernie Hashims shop many moons ago during the March Meet.
    Glad your still cooking.

  11. Ahhh the memories… Thanks for still looking forward. You made us, East coast proud. Love your place in Central FLA. Hope you can tie that next attempt to an event we all can come watch.

  12. Bill O’Brien says:

    FANNNTASTIC! I had the honor of having my picture taken with you the two different times at your museum and watching you race over many decades . Glad that you are still doing what you love …. congratulations!!
    Bill O’Brien

  13. Carl Tschopp says:

    WAY TO GO!! I had no doubt you could do this.

  14. Carl Tschopp says:

    WAY TO GO!! Had no doubt you could do it!!

  15. I remember the hot days out at Masters field. I was running a SS Dodge 426. But I always loved to see you go down the track. Go fast, go green.

  16. Keith Byrd says:

    Wow that’s awesome I was a kid and got to see you and Shirley race at Alamo Dragway. The first time ever seeing a Top Fuel run I can still remember the tingling in my body as y’all passed by . Glad to see you are still doing what you love.

  17. Anthony montanaro says:

    Been to the museum twice love all the hemis going back in November

  18. William Lewis says:

    Keep those records coming big daddy,Got to keep these young kids on your toes hope next time you get to 200 mph

  19. Ray Norris says:

    Nice Electric car run! I’ve been talking about building a team to test e dragsters and e funny cars for the last four NHRA seasons.

    If Don Garlits, Don Schumacher, Don Prudhomme, Connie Kalita, John Force, Mama Torrence or any other NHRA race team is interested in starting an e drag race team to kick off a new era in racing, I’ve got a few revolutionary ideas for first time parts sponsors. I have interested test pilots in retired NHRA Top Fuel professional driver, Gary Southern, his son, Chris Southern, and his grandson, Thomas Southern and Derek Lamb, son of Roger and Betty of Lamb Components. We all have Glendora, California NHRA hometown ties and want to be firsts to race in sanctioned events inevitably coming too the NHRA.

    Interested sponsors may contact Ray Norris at or call 909-767-7975 to declare your financial backing.

  20. Vern Jeske says:

    No surprise that the man who has done so much for the sport is still in the game!

  21. That’s awesome. My dad used to take me to Lion’s Drag Strip back in the 70s. We run S/P in Walla Walla, Wa.

  22. Eddyth Patterson Montoto says:

    Remember him from North Tampa back in the 50’s hung with some of the neighbor hood boys Patterson, Albritton , Miller & others . be told how they were allowed to take the fuel injector from my aunt & uncle 57 Chevy for Garlits to use in a car . Don’t know the story well ,I was only 9 or 10 . But he was a hero to those boys from North Tampa ! Congratulations Don Garlits !

  23. Bill Honn says:

    Mr Garlits U Are THE KING OF THE DRAGSTRIP. i watch you race on sat wide world of sports. Racing eddie hill or later johm force. You are the reason i got into cars and drag racing. I salute you sir and at 87 you arw still awesome and pushing bounderies. An electric dragster going 189.03 mph. Theyve got electric dirt bikes out running 250cc gas powered bikes. Electric bit slower in turns but are flat ass fast in straightaways. So why cant an electric dragster go 200+. Skies the limit. Your a national tresure like willie nelson. Enjoy sir

  24. David Loftin says:

    I believe you can do it if anyone can. I would love to see you run an exhibition run at a national event

  25. Joseph Smith says:

    Hi Don I have been following you since the late 50’s.I first saw you at Motor City Dragway near Detroit. Also visited with you at Indy in 2018. You have made great contributions to Drag Racing and NHRA,Thank You Joseph Smith Port Huron,Mich.
    Good Luck in achieving 200 MPH with your E Dragster

  26. Dana I Capels says:

    He has always been our hero!

  27. I introduced you to my son many years ago and he has never forgotton that day.

  28. Denny F Dahle says:

    A true racing God . One day a new holiday will be on the calendar . ” Big Daddy ” Don Garlits Birthday !

  29. Way to go Big Daddy.
    My Dad and the owner of the Longhorn BBQ in Spokane ue to host you and your family in the 70s and 80s. Fun time walking the pits and hanging with you all. DAD ALWAY WANTED TO GO TO YOUR HOUSE BUT NEVER MADE IT. I guess I’ll have to go to your museums instead for him unless your offer to your place is still open to me? Yeah right Lol. GOD Bless and as always Godspeed

  30. Wade Zhearn says:

    The Best of the Best. Go B I G Daddy!

  31. Wade Hearn says:

    The Best of the Best. Go B I G Daddy!

  32. Wade Hearn says:

    The Best of the Best, Go Big Daddy!

  33. Bill Ritz says:

    Always enjoy news on Big Daddy. Any car shows planned for the grounds of the museum this fall or winter ?

  34. Looking forward to seeing you again in N.J. – VIC

  35. Fred Hoehn says:

    Congratulations, Big Daddy!!!

  36. That’s why they call you BIG!!

  37. Samuel Watson says:

    We knew he was up to this and glad he did it. Congratulations Big Daddy Don Garlits!!!

  38. Susie O'Ryan says:

    Since his early days racing rails in Bakersfield and around California with the engines in front of the driverI have been an avid drag racing fan. Lyons Drag Strip and Pomona were my favorites…along with Shirley and Don Purdhomme.
    And yes his Museum is awesome.

  39. Still at it after all these years!! When I met him he was chasing 200 in the fuel dragster!! Be safe!!

  40. Pingback: Texas Motor Speedway Bans EV Race Cars Over Fire Concerns

  41. Joe Walker says:

    You are truly a dragging hero. Take your time someday.

  42. Brian Beaver says:

    You have always been a inspiration Mr.Garlit ever since I met you at your camp in Hogvally.

  43. Kerry Mulford says:

    I have been a huge fan for many years, I have met you several times at the drag strip and at your museum in Ocala.
    You have always been my hero, and always will be. Thanks for your many contributions to drag racing, past, present and future. I have no doubts that you will make the 200 MPH mark in your electric dragster. God bless and Godspeed.
    Thanks for just being “Big Daddy” Don Garlits !!!!!!

  44. Denny wilkening says:

    Met you at Indy in the early 60s at the grand nationals great guy.

  45. Don Garlits, a living legend. One of the greatest drag racers of all time!. I MET YOU AT BEE LINE deagesy in.arizona in the 70’s. Very nice man. I also visited your museum in Ocala around 6 years ago. Thank you for being the greatest!!!

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