“Big Daddy” Don Garlits has been many things in his illustrious life and racing career: a champion, an innovator, a Hall of Famer, a legend. But one thing he hasn’t been is afraid to speak aloud whatever is on his mind, and if history has proven anything, when “Big” talks, you’re wise to listen.
Even at 85 years of age, at a stage in life where many have slowed down and shied themselves from acceptance or understanding of modern technological advancements, Garlits is still innovating, still trying to go where no one before him has gone. And with the same fire that drove him to develop his rear engine dragster and countless other progressions in the sport with his stamp on it, Garlits is pushing forward the electric drag racing movement — because he’s confident that, whether we like it or not, that it’s the future of the sport.
In this scathing interview with Les Mayhew at NitroAmerica, Garlits takes aim at what he believes is the writing on the wall regarding the future of nitromethane-fueled drag racing, firmly of the belief that government regulation will one day render it extinct as we know it. And thusly, the man whose name is virtually synonymous with the 392 and 426 Hemi’s and nitromethane fuel, suggests that electric drag racing — capable of producing only the audible tones of a mobility scooter at the grocery store — is something the sport had better learn to accept.
Garlits has been right during his day more than he’s been wrong, but do you agree with his sentiments that electric drag racing will eventually take over our sport? And will we one day look back at the efforts of he and the many other electric drag racers that came before him as pioneers of a sustainable movement in the sport? No matter your viewpoint, Garlits and Mayhew have certainly opened the door for conversation here.