Industry giant Matco Tools will provide title sponsorship funding to legendary Top Fuel drag racer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits at this weekend's 47th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. "I'd just like to say how happy I am to be returning to the ...
Industry giant Matco Tools will provide title sponsorship funding to legendary Top Fuel drag racer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits at this weekend's 47th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
"I'd just like to say how happy I am to be returning to the U.S. Nationals this year under the sponsorship of Matco Tools," an excited Garlits said. "I don't think we could have a better relationship if it was written in Hollywood.
"This is a Cinderella story -- 'Big Daddy' gets to go 300 mph in the four-second zone, which has been a lifelong goal, and I'll be getting it on at the U.S. Nationals. This is going to be unreal."
Garlits is coming out of a nine-year retirement for the biggest drag racing event of the season intent on running the first four-second, 300-mph pass of his illustrious career, which was cut short when he suffered detached retinas in his eyes in 1992. He is an eight-time winner at the "Big Go" (the Indy race's longtime nickname) including a heroic span of three victories in a row from 1984-86. Garlits' win in 1986 marked his last appearance at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
As announced just days ago on NHRA.com, Garlits will be driving fellow competitor Gary Clapshaw's Top Fuel dragster, which normally carries his "Spirit of Las Vegas" paint scheme. For the U.S. Nationals, the car will be painted black -- per Garlits' preference -- with Matco Tools signage displayed prominently on the sides of the rail and across the front and rear wings.
"We're thrilled to be a part of this endeavor," said Eric Mullenmeister, vice president of sales and motorsports marketing for Matco Tools. "Don Garlits is a legend of this sport, arguably the most well known drag racer of all-time, and we're very happy to associate Matco Tools with his bid to run over 300 mph during a four-second lap. It's been a longtime dream of his to make it happen and it's great for Matco Tools to be a part of what could be a memorable slice of history.
"This seemed like a fun way to further our involvement at the U.S. Nationals. Matco Tools has been around the sport of NHRA drag racing for a long time and we know the significance of this race. We are happy to add another car to the Matco Tools stable and give ourselves one more chance to find the Winner's Circle in Indy."
Garlits' dream of eclipsing the two biggest barriers in the Top Fuel class is very realistic. Clapshaw posted a 4.68 at 312 mph during last year's runner-up finish at the U.S. Nationals in the same dragster Garlits will be driving at this year's race. To date, Garlits career best numbers show a 5.072 at 287.71 mph, which he ran in Shirley Muldowney's car in 1989 at the Texas Motorplex.
"I just spoke to Don and he is wound up about this race," said John Torok, motorsports manager at Matco Tools. "He promised he wouldn't be holding anything back, especially on the top-end interviews. I reminded him that we sponsor Whit Bazemore, who certainly isn't shy about expressing his opinions to the media, and he said that Whit's the only guy who really tells the truth when he's interviewed. Now he says they'll be at least two people telling the truth. It should be fun to watch this develop.
"He's getting a real kick out of him driving the Matco Tools car while Shirley Muldowney will be driving the Mac Tools car. Hopefully, those two will line up opposite one another at some point. I know the fans will love that."
Garlits is extremely pumped-up about a possible showdown with longtime rival Muldowney. "What a classic match-up that would be if it should happen that the Garlits Matco Tools car winds up against the Muldowney Mac Tools car," Garlits said. "We'll have the spectators on their feet from one end of that grandstand to the other. I'll tell ya, I can't wait. I'm looking forward to getting to Indianapolis and getting it on with the new Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster."
Matco Tools currently provides title sponsorship funding to Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Craig Treble. They also are associate-level sponsors of Top Fuel pilots Darrell Russell, Gary Scelzi, and Tony Schumacher, Funny Car pros Bruce Sarver, Chuck Etchells, Jim Epler, and Johnny Gray, and Pro Stock drivers Mark Pawuk, V. Gaines, Mark Osborne, and Darrell Alderman.
Based in Stow, Ohio, Matco Tools has been manufacturing and distributing professional quality hand tools, the "World's Best Built" toolboxes, service equipment, and top-of-the-line shop and diagnostics equipment since 1979. More than 1,400 distributors represent Matco Tools across North America servicing nearly 1 million automotive technicians and mechanics nationwide.