Gainesville: Don Garlits named Grand Marshal

Drag Racing Legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits Named Grand Marshal of 2008 ACDelco Gatornationals Grand Blanc, Mich., March 5, 2008 -- Throughout its history as title sponsor of NHRA national events in Las Vegas, NV and Gainesville, FL, automotive...

Drag Racing Legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits Named Grand Marshal of 2008 ACDelco Gatornationals

Grand Blanc, Mich., March 5, 2008 -- Throughout its history as title sponsor of NHRA national events in Las Vegas, NV and Gainesville, FL, automotive parts leader ACDelco has distinguished itself by appointing dignitaries whose presence adds to the race's excitement. This tradition continued today with the announcement that legendary drag racer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits will be the Grand Marshal of this year's ACDelco Gatornationals, the third race on the 2008 POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule.

"ACDelco is keenly aware of the Gatornationals' significance in the motorsports community, and, as its title sponsor, we feel a responsibility to add to its legacy," said Paul Johnson, General Director of the Global Independent Aftermarket for ACDelco. "Therefore, when considering candidates for Grand Marshal of this year's event, we looked for someone commensurate with this race's long and storied history, the ultimate Pro Who Knows.

"Naturally, the name at the very top of our list was one synonymous not only with this great race, but with the sport of drag racing, Florida's own Don Garlits. Although he competed under the banner of an alternate manufacturer, in the true spirit of ACDelco's 'all makes, all models' philosophy, we are honored to have "Big Daddy" join us as the Grand Marshal of this year's ACDelco Gatornationals."

Named as the No. 1 Drag Racer during the NHRA's 50th Anniversary celebration in 2001, Garlits' innumerable contributions both on and off the track laid the foundation for what is now known as the POWERade Drag Racing Series. Driving the legendary "Swamp Rat" Top Fuel dragsters, Florida native Garlits earned 35 national event wins and three NHRA world championships. Of even greater importance, however, are his many technological innovations, highlighted by the development of the rear-engined dragster that has become the standard of the sport.

Today, "Big Daddy" continues his stewardship of the sport through the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, FL. Located just 40 miles from Gainesville Raceway, this highly popular attraction features an impressive collection of nearly 175 antique, collectable and specialty race cars, as well an numerous artifacts which chronicle the history of drag racing. In addition, it houses the International Drag Racing Hall Fame, whose annual induction ceremony coincides with the Gatornationals race weekend.

"I want to thank ACDelco for naming me the Grand Marshal of this year's ACDelco Gatornationals," said Garlits. "From their long-time support of Kurt and Warren Johnson to their title sponsorships in Gainesville and Las Vegas, they have been a big part of the continued growth of our sport. It will be both a pleasure and an honor to represent them at this year's event."

-credit: jgk

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Don Garlits , John Paul