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I met Big Daddy Don Garlits today


Well-Known Member
Local time
11:52 PM
May 28, 2013
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Colorado Springs
I went to the Mega Mopar Series at Thunder Mountain. (Bandimere Speedway, Denver) He was there signing posters. He was a nice guy although his hearing was gone. He even came out of his tent so we could have a picture together. There was a special drawing where you could race "Big Daddy." They had two specially prepared SRT Challengers. If you name was drawn you go could head to head down the quarter mile.

There was a swap meet, a car show and drag races all day. About the fastest I saw anyone go was 11.20, remember this is at 5000 feet. I didn't find anything I had to have except some model car kits. I missed out on an AM radio for $25. When I came back it was gone. Rows and rows of every kind of Mopar you can think of. Hellcats in every color. I know I'm biased but I like the 3rd gen Chargers the best.
Big is a man of the people - nice guy. If you ever have the chance to go to his museum, be sure to do it. We went the Monday after the Gatornationals one year and he was there walking around visiting with people. He's surely there at that time every year as he wouldn't be traveling that weekend with the race down the road from his place. Lots of great stuff to see in the museum. Along with all of the great cars, there are all kinds of Hemis on display, cutaways, complete blown fuel Hemis, even some of the huge old time trophies he has. You can just imagine all of the cool stuff he must have in the buildings no one gets to see.

Sounds like a great event you went to.
Buy his book if you go to the museum and ask the person at the counter if Big Daddy is around to sign it. Did this and got to hang out while he broke in a flat head.
I met him at one of the first York US30 reunions and he is great with everyone. Then the next day he was at Beaver Springs with one of his "Swamp Rats".

He's been working on his electric dragster the last few years and doing quite well. Look him up on YouTube.

He's definitely an icon and the biggest contributer to the racing industry by far. Who would think he would still be at it at 85 yrs old.
Came down from Canada to the Winter Nats, in Pomona, in 2012. Big Daddy was there, under a small shelter signing autographs. When I went to meet him, he shook my hand, signed my copy of "Don Garlits and His Cars" & stepped out for a picture with me - one of my life's highlights! A true gentleman - and, yeah, he was pretty much deaf then too!
I guess there wasn't a lot of attention given to hearing protection back then. Being around that all the time would surely erode your hearing.
I met him in the late 1980s. We were on Christmas leave in Florida, and stopped by the museum in Ocala. Our daughter was three, and she wandered off from my wife and I, and we started running around looking for her. The gal at the entrance said she was with Big Daddy, and we went back to the entrance to the shop and there was our little girl sitting at a table with Garlits and they were eating some of those Danish butter cookies that come in a tin. :) She was having a ball.

He showed us around, and what struck me was he had dozens of Hemi blocks and heads back there. They were found to have tiny internal cracks that wouldn't allow them to be used for racing but would make great street engines. Cost... $1,000 for a block and heads. :)