Gainesville names grandstand for “Big Daddy” Don Garlits
NHRA Dedicates Section Of Grandstand At Gainesville Raceway In Honor Of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- NHRA legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits was honored Sunday during pre-race ceremonies at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals as NHRA President Tom Compton announced that the TEC grandstands at Gainesville Raceway have been dedicated in honor of Garlits.
It is the second time in as many races during NHRA’s 60th Anniversary celebration that a section of grandstand at an NHRA-owned and operated facility has been named for one of the sport’s legends. In February at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, a section of grandstand at fabled Auto Club Raceway at Pomona was named for Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, a four-time NHRA Funny Car world champion. It’s only the second time in NHRA’s history that a grandstand has been named at a NHRA owned and operated facility.
The “Big Daddy” Don Garlits Grandstand is located on the South/Pit side of the historic Florida dragstrip.
“We are proud to dedicate a section of the grandstands at Gainesville Raceway to honor “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, one of the greatest drivers in NHRA history,” Compton said. “This will ensure his lifetime of achievements in NHRA championship drag racing will always be remembered by our fans when they attend the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals.”
Here we have one of the major drag racing facilities on the entire planet
Garlits, a native of Ocala, Fla., who was named the No. 1 drag racer in NHRA history in 2001 during the NHRA’s 50th anniversary celebration, was surprised by the honor.
“I look at this place and it just boggles my mind because I remember when they built it and we had the Turkey Trot drags here and we never dreamed it would ever be anything like this,” said Garlits, a four-time winner of the Gatornationals, his last coming at the Swamp in 1986. “Here we have one of the major drag racing facilities on the entire planet and it is an honor to have it here in Florida.”
Garlits raced to three NHRA Top Fuel world championship titles and claimed 35 victories during his storied career behind the wheel of his famed Swamp Rat dragsters and was not only a great driver, but was also known as one of the sport’s greatest tuners and innovators. He developed and built the first rear-engine Top Fuel dragster in 1971.