Swamp Rat

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Swamp Rats

Big Daddy Don Garlits built a number of dragsters over the years named Swamp Rat (with their number). This wiki needs collaborators to research and author information on each of the Swamp Rats.

Swamp Rat 1


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat I-A (1956-60):

Although it wasn't his first dragster — he had made a crude, flathead-powered dragster from a '27-T roadster by moving the engine back and hanging a seat out over the rear end — it's the first car to wear the Swamp Rat name, though it was added much later (see Swamp Rat I-B). The car was built on the framerails of a '31 Chevy passenger car that he bought at a junkyard for $35 in 1956; Garlits removed the frame from the body in the junkyard using little more than a large axe, a cold chisel, a ball-peen hammer, and a small assortment of hand tools. He transplanted most of the parts off of the flathead dragster to this car, with the exception of the driver seat, which for SR I was an old B-17 bomber seat. Initially using Ford power, Garlits switched to Chrysler Hemi power and later to high-gear-only. The carbureted version of this car is the one that beat the nay-saying Californians in Houston but got whipped by the West Coasters in Bakersfield, but as soon as "Big" added a blower, it was all over for everyone. Unfortunately, a terrible and nearly fatal fire in Chester, S.C., on June 20, 1959, forced Garlits out of the seat.

Swamp Rat I-B (1960-61):

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This is actually the same car as above but modified in the cockpit area to fit the "green kid," young Art Malone, who took over the driving duties. On his first outing in the car, Malone broke Garlits’ Drag News 1320 speed record. Rival Setto Postoian took out an ad in Drag News calling Garlits a "swamp rat" for putting the young Malone in the car; Garlits thumbed his nose at Postoian by naming the car Swamp Rat, and the rest is history. Malone later quit, and Garlits drove the car until it was retired in 1961. The car went on a show-car circuit; its body was destroyed in a 1966 tornado that hit Tampa, Fla. The car sat for years until it was restored in 1979 to Swamp Rat I-A and made a nostalgic pass at more than 165 mph at the U.S. Nationals that year and in 1988 went 182 mph in Bristol. The car is now in the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat Too

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Swamp Rat Too-A, -B, and -C (1957-61): The first was built in 1958 for Garlits' brother, Ed, who wanted to race like his two-year-older brother, and it seems from the Too designation rather than II that Garlits may not have envisioned that he would have so many cars or that the numbering scheme would define them. From 1957 through 1960, this gas-powered dragster ran a Buick nailhead engine, an unblown Chrysler, an unblown small-block Chevy, and finally a supercharged Chrysler. The second car, B, was built in 1960 using rectangular tubing instead of chrome moly and proved too heavy. The super-lightweight C was the best of the bunch and won Ed the AHRA National Gas championship in 1961. Ed's wife gave him a me-or-racing ultimatum, so he sold the car, which was later destroyed in a crash. All three versions were re-created and are in the museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat III

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat III-A (1960):

Built in 1960, this is the first of many, many cars on which longtime Garlits sidekick Connie Swingle laid his hands. It was Garlits' first tube-frame fueler, and he planned for Swingle to occasionally drive it while he was still wheeling SR I, but "Big" had another nasty fire in SR I, so Swingle took over Garlits' match race dates with SR III. This car went off the end of the track in Emporia, Va., after a 195-mph pass and was destroyed; Swingle suffered three broken ribs. This car was later repaired and is on display in the museum.

Swamp Rat III-B (1961):

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This car was built in less than a week to make an upcoming match, and Garlits and Swingle didn’t have enough 4130 on hand and had to build B out of 1020 mild-steel seamless tubing. The heavy 392 caused the chassis to sag, but it still ran 8.15 in its debut, a new Drag News record. They later strengthened the chassis, but the car flipped during an exhibition run at a dirt track in Reading to promote a race at Maple Grove Raceway. Swingle went 110 down the clay front straightaway, but the car high-sided when he went left in Turn 1 and flipped over the wall, bending the chassis. The car was repaired but later destroyed in a towing accident in late 1961 in which Garlits and Swingle nearly drowned in a muddy ditch. The car was re-created in 2004, made its re-debut at the 2005 California Hot Rod Reunion, and is now in the Garlits museum.

Swamp Rat III-C (1961-62):

Another Swingle rush job, but this one made from 4130, and Swingle again did the driving as Garlits had a lot going on in his burgeoning Garlits Automotive business, including the arrival of a new Max wedge Super Stock Dodge that Garlits would drive. Garlits sold III-C to Paul Vanderly, which incensed Swingle, who quit to work for Vanderly, who crashed the car on his third pass. Swingle took over as driver, but Vanderly couldn’t make money with the car and sold it to Jimmy Duet. The car disappeared after that but was re-created in 1986 for the museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat IV

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat IV-A (1962):

After Garlits drove the Super Stocker for a while, Dodge wanted him to put one of the new 413-cid Max wedge engines in a gas dragster to run in Indy in 1962. He hired Archie Liederbrand to help him build a new 120-inch lightweight car out of inch-and-a-half .035-wall tubing. After Garlits was runner-up in the Indy Top Eliminator final to Jack Chrisman, Swingle returned to the camp and won a big event in Kansas, then Garlits sold the car. As with III-C, the new owner quickly crashed it, and the car was destroyed.

Swamp Rat IV-B (1998):

In 1998, when Garlits re-created IV-A, he replaced the Max wedge engine with a modern-day aluminum wedge and christened it IV-B. It's not clear why it wasn't just called IV-A like the other re-creations — maybe because of the different engine configuration? Garlits has since driven this car as fast as 204 mph on exhibition passes. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat V

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Swamp Rat V-A (1962-63):

The famed winged car that won Top Fuel at the 1963 Winternationals — Garlits' first NHRA national event win — was built in the summer of 1962 but originally was going to be another gas dragster, with Liederbrand scheduled to drive. Garlits got a challenge from Vance Hunt to his No. 1 spot on the Drag News 1320 list and took this car to Texas to race instead. It was light and again featured a 120-inch wheelbase, and Garlits liked how it ran on fuel, but he found that at many strips, it overpowered the track. At the suggestion of Bruce Crower of Crower Cams fame, they added a fiberglass wing over the engine — modeled after an upside-down small-aircraft wing — when Garlits came to California. Frank Wylie from Dodge wanted a Garlits car for a Dodge dealers tour, and because Garlits already wanted a longer-wheelbase car, he gave them V-A. The whereabouts of this car are not known, but the car has been re-created and was most recently seen at the 50th Winternationals.

Swamp Rat V-B (1963):

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The newer version of Swamp Rat V was built in March 1963 and had a 140-inch wheelbase and started life with a wing. The wing struts collapsed on a run at Island Dragway, so Garlits removed it and didn’t have another winged car until he added one to Swamp Rat 14, the first rear-engine car, in 1971. Garlits drove this car extensively in 1963 and used parts of it for Swamp Rat VI-A. The car was later re-created for the museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat VI

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat VI-B (1964-65): Krumholtz actually had this "swoopy-tail" car on the jig at Garlits’ shop and couldn’t wait, taking VI-A instead, so this became the famous VI-B, one of Garlits' most successful entries. The car, which went to England as part of the 1964 NHRA tour and made the famous 200-mph pass at Island Dragway in August 1964, won the 1964 Nationals, set the national speed record at the 1965 Winternationals, and gave Garlits what he called one of his greatest wins, at the 1965 March Meet, when he finally conquered Bakersfield. At that race, Garlits won Saturday's 64-car show, meaning that he would sit out Sunday and race the winner of Sunday's 32-car field, but Garlits instead jumped into Marvin Schwartz's Garlits-built "shop car" — the Garlits Chassis Special — for Sunday’s first round so that Schwartz could watch the car run and try to diagnose a tuning problem, but Garlits won that round and stayed in the car and beat Sunday's field, too. With no way to race two cars at the same time, Schwartz got back into his car and lost to Garlits for overall honors. Garlits had a buyer lined up for the car, but, in his last scheduled race in the car, it suffered a chute failure at Island and flipped in the shutdown area, severely damaging the car. Needless to say, the sale was off. Garlits stowed it for years behind his shop before restoring it in 1986. The car spent time in the NHRA Motorsports Museum before returning to Florida and was on display at this year's Gatornationals. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat VII


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat VII-A (1963-64):

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Built in late 1963 and first run in early 1964 by Swingle, who took the car on tour while Garlits was driving SR VI. The car did not have the swoopy tail section of VI-A and -B because Swingle didn’t want the weight of the one-piece fiberglass tail section. The front end of the car was heavily damaged in a crash at U.S. 30, so Swingle took the engine and drivetrain and left the crumbled remains where they lay. A fan sawed off the cockpit for a groovy keepsake and years later approached Garlits and offered to give it back. In 2005, he rebuilt the car using the original cockpit. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat VII-B (1964):

Garlits insisted that the replacement dragster have the tail section because it was very popular among those ordering chassis from Garlits — top racers such as Malone, Bobby Langley, Ron Colson, and Vance Hunt — but this car was quickly sold to Richie Bandell and Krumholtz, who also bought SR VI-A. Swingle got mad that Garlits had sold the car from underneath him (again) and quit (again). Bandell renamed SR VII-B El Kabong, and its location is unknown. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat VIII

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat VIII (1965): Swingle was back in the camp (again) and helped build this car and was supposed to drive it. The car was initially fitted with a torsion-bar rear suspension built by Crower. Swingle ran at the 1965 March Meet, but when Chrysler told Garlits that it wanted a fuel dragster with its new 426 Hemi in it, he took off the rear suspension, relettered it as a Wynn's Jammer, and took it on a tour that was, in Garlits' words, "the worst year of my career." Garlits had moved his shop to Detroit that winter and had no place to test as he did year-round in Florida, and his performance suffered. The car performed so poorly that Garlits lengthened the chassis and rechristened it Swamp Rat X, removing Swamp Rat VIII from the face of Earth with the stroke of a paintbrush. Swamp Rat VIII has since been re-created and is often used as a cackle car. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat IX

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat IX (1965-66): Dubbed "the roadster Dart," it's the first non-dragster Swamp Rat but not the first Garlits Dart. The first was a rear-engine '65 piece, built in 1964 by Swingle and Garlits and fitted with the engine from SR VIII. Don Garlits' Dart, as it was called, made just one pass before the throttle hung open on Garlits at Golden Triangle Dragstrip and — in an eerie precursor to what would happen to Garlits years later at Lions — the transmission exploded, cutting the car in half. Garlits then inherited a similar car from Dick Branstner and Jay Howell and hired Emery Cook to drive it, and it, too, met a quick end, backflipping at U.S. 30. Garlits, ever eager to please Dodge, didn’t give up on the idea and, with Wylie's approval, draped a fiberglass Dart body over Schwartz's Swamp Rat VI copycat dragster chassis after shortening the wheelbase from 150 to 120 inches. They cut off the top, and Cook basically sat where the trunk was supposed to be. The car was fast and drew scorn from the other fledgling Funny Car competitors whose cars were not tube-framed; they saw it as nothing more than a cloaked dragster (which it was), so the car was forced into an altered class, where it was not competitive. The following year, NHRA allowed tube-frame Funny Car chassis. The car still ran more than 200 mph in St. Petersburg, Fla., earning the duo headlines in the drag rags. The car was retired after 1966 and sat behind Garlits' Seffner, Fla., shop for years before being restored in 1983. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat X

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat X (1966-67): This is, as mentioned, the extended remix version of Swamp Rat VIII, and to further change the car's ill luck, Garlits had George Cerny paint it red and black while he was in California. However, 1966 still was a miserable year for him as he learned what the 426 wanted after years of running the 392 (way more timing, as it turned out). He used the same car, albeit with a different red and black paint scheme, in 1967 because he was too busy building a new house to build a new car. The car finally gave out during the 1967 Springnationals in Bristol when the frame broke and couldn't be repaired, so Garlits and team headed south to start construction on SR XI end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat XI

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat XI (1967): Built in just 72 hours by Garlits, on-again/off-again crewmember and car builder Bob Taffe, and Jim Marrone, this 190-inch car would star in one of Garlits' signature moments, the shaving of his beard after winning the Nationals later that year. The car, which lacked any front bodywork, debuted with a match race win over Roland Leong's Hawaiian in Muncie, Ind., and Garlits was hungry for an NHRA victory. He hadn’t won an NHRA national event since the 1964 Nationals, and while many of his peers were routinely running in the sixes, he had been kept out of that zone by the poor performance of Swamp Rat X, leading many to call Garlits "washed up" at age 35. They should have known better. Despite qualifying just 23rd, the loan of a set of new M&H tires from eventual final-round opponent James Warren had Garlits solidly in the 7.0s. After a 7.01 in the semi's, Garlits cranked out the memorable 6.77 in the final (just a hundredth off of Tom McEwen's 6.76 low e.t.), and the rest is history. Incredibly, the car didn’t stay in Garlits’ garage long: He sold it to Carl Schiefer of Schiefer Manufacturing as a display car. Schiefer later sold it to Sunbeam, and it actually ended up in Hollywood at the Cars of the Stars Museum. When the museum closed, they called Garlits to see if he wanted the car back. What do you think he said? end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 12


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 12-A (1968):

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Garlits wanted a shorter car to work better on West Coast strips, so SR 12-A (note the switch to Arabic numerals) was built with a wheelbase of just 137 inches. The car ran at the 1968 Winternationals but not well, so Garlits sold it to some Sportsman racers, who later crashed it. Garlits built them another car, taking the wrecked 12-A back as part of the fee. He held on to it until 1987, when it got a new front half, but it still was not displayed. In 2007, Chrysler asked Garlits to put one of its new 392 Hemis in his cars, and he chose 12-A. The car got a new nosepiece by Jim Hunnewell]] — Garlits' common help in all of the Swamp Rat restorations — to cover the same bare frame that XI had, as well as fresh lettering. This hybrid car made its debut at the California Hot Rod Reunion, appeared at the SEMA Show, was featured in a Mopar commercial, and is the one that Garlits cackled at the recent Gatornationals.

Swamp Rat 12-B (1968-69):

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Making a 180-degree turn in philosophy, at 215 inches, SR 12-B was longer than even XI. It was one of the first cars to receive a 240-mph time slip (albeit on Alton's somewhat sketchy timers) and won the Springnationals and the Nationals, then capped the season by winning the championship of the three-race PDA series in California. The car began life, like XI and 12-A, with bare tubing from the engine forward, but by year's end, it was enclosed in Tom Hanna bodywork and enjoyed sponsorship from TV comedians the Smothers Brothers. Garlits broke his leg in a motorcycle wreck that winter, and that combined with the departure of Taffe, who went back to work in the family business, caused Garlits to keep 12-B in action for 1969. Swingle had returned to the camp (again) and brought with him a "nice young man" (Garlits' words) from Bixby, Okla., Thomas "T.C." Lemons, whose name would come to be written into history alongside Garlits' for years to come. They campaigned this car heavily, but the frame became tired after a year and a half on the road and broke several times. The car sat in the Garlits shop for a year before Wynn's called and asked for a show car to take to Europe. In 1983, Garlits asked Wynn's to track down the old gal, and it was found in a warehouse in Holland in sad shape. It had been painted gold and the headers of the dummy engine outfitted with lights that illuminated (along with a tape-recorded vroooom) when someone pushed the gas pedal. It was beat to heck from all of the people who had been allowed to sit in it; it took some doing, but the car was fully restored and is in Garlits' museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat XIII

Swamp Rat 13

From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 13 (1969-70): Built in a hurry by Garlits and Lemons (Swingle was fishing, much to Garlits' disdain) in hopes of making the 1969 NHRA Springnationals in Dallas. They match raced the car everywhere and anywhere, including in Amarillo, Texas, where a shutdown-area bump tore Garlits' bladder, causing a near-fatal case of uremic poisoning, but the worst was still to come for the unlucky 13. Garlits had begun experimenting with Leonard Abbott’s two-speed transmission in late 1969 but found that its 1950 Ford internals wouldn’t hold up to the power of a nitro mill, so Garlits made his own out of parts from a Chrysler 727 Torqueflite, dubbing it the Garlitsdrive. The transmission worked well and won him several races at year's end but exploded on the starting line March 8, 1970, in the final of the AHRA Grand American opener at Lions Dragstrip, severing half of his right foot. While he was recuperating in the hospital and scheming about his soon-to-be revolutionary rear-engine dragster, Garlits sold SR 13 to Lemons, who hired Swingle to drive it. Garlits went to Bristol for the AHRA Springnationals that year to watch Swingle and Lemons run, but they couldn’t get the car into the show. Garlits, against the wishes of (and promises to) his wife, jumped in the car and put it in the field. He then was hired by Lemons to drive the car for 40 percent of the take, the only time that Garlits ever drove for someone else (and in his own ex-car, to boot!). At year's end, Lemons sold the car to Art Malone, who ran it for a time then resold it. Garlits spied the car a few years later being campaigned in the Sportsman ranks with small-block Chevy power, bought it back, and restored it. end of story written by Phil Burgess


On March 8, 1970, at Lions Drag Strip, Garlits was driving Swamp Rat XIII, also called the Wynnscharger, a slingshot rail, when the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. The two-speed transmission Garlits was developing exploded and took a piece out of his right foot, while the car broke in half in front of the cockpit; he was out for the remainder of the season. In an interview by Florida Trend, Garlits said this of the incident: "In 1970, the transmission exploded in my dragster on the final run, and it cut my foot off and cut the car in two. That’s when I drew up plans for what I thought would be a championship rear-engine car. I would go out to the shop in Seffner on my wheelchair, saw stuff out on the band saw and make the parts."

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Swamp Rat XIV

Difference between 13 (Sling Shot) and 14 (rear engined)
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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 14 (1970-71): If ever there was a truly legendary car among Garlits' many legendary cars, it's this one: not the first rear-engine car ever built, but certainly the first successful one, and a car that changed the face of modern Top Fuel racing. Built in late 1970, the car almost never made it to its legendary 1971 Winternationals victory party. Had there been a guardwall at Tampa Dragway where the car veered sharply off track several times before Garlits got the steering ratio right or had the tumbling engine out of the John Collins-driven Atlas Tools Funny Car rolled an inch or two left or right as it bounded over the cockpit of the car in the shutdown area at Lions Dragstrip in early 1971, I might be telling a different story. It took three months of testing to get the car right and set the stage for history in Pomona, and even then, no one wanted to run alongside the car at Lions, where Garlits took runner-up honors, and when he won Pomona and the Bakersfield March Meet, the handwriting was on the wall. A month later, Garlits added a rear wing to the car (his first wing since Swamp Rat V-A in 1963). This car also was part of the drag racing moment that Garlits told me he most regrets: engaging Steve Carbone in a burndown in the Nationals final, in which a superheated engine made too much power and Garlits smoked the tires. Garlits sold the car to Carl Casper for a show car with the stipulation that it never be raced. Garlits traded Casper a new car in 1983 to get SR 14 back. It was housed at the NHRA Museum for a decade before ending up back at Garlits' Swamp Rat shrine in Florida. end of story written by Phil Burgess


This is an article copied from Bangshift

There are few if any other singular race cars on the planet, in any form of racing that were the catalyst for as much change as Don Gartlits’ Swamp Rat 14, his first rear-engine dragster.

On March 8, 1970 at Lions Drag Strip, Don Garlits suffered a horrific transmission failure in his front-engine dragster. The explosion resulted in a partial amputation of his foot and shrapnel nearly severing the arm of a woman in the stands. It also wounded a young boy.

One must remember, though, that Garlits had suffered through horrible fires, wrecks, and other badness in his career, but this time it was different. This was a permanent, disfiguring, potentially disabling injury. Something had to be done. While in his hospital bed watching episodes of Star Trek with Tom “Mongoose” McEwen, Garlits formulated his plan for a rear-engine car that would be competitive, quick, and most importantly, safe.

While recovering and considering the project, Garlits actually climbed back into his freshly repaired front-motor car in Bristol, Tennessee, only a scant three months after his accident. He was still not cleared to drive by medical people but with doubts lingering in his own mind about his future in drag racing, he saddled up and promptly went low ET of the meet.

Had it not been for one of the most horrifying wrecks ever caught on film at the 1970 US Nationals, Garlits may well have shelved the whole idea. Having lost to Jim Nicoll in the semi-finals of that race, Garlits watched with interest as Nicoll raced Don Prudhomme in the final. At the traps and at full song, the clutch in Nicoll’s car exploded, rip-sawing the chassis in half just in front of the drivers’ area and sending the front of the car on an eerie track next to Prudhomme’s slowing machine. Meanwhile, Nicoll was flipping like a bowling ball and most everyone suspected he was dead. That’s the way those things tended to end. Shockingly, he lived. Having seen that, Garlits left the track with the stated purpose of bringing out a rear-engine car.

Upon arriving backing Florida, Garlits sat down with his trusted cadre of advisors, TC Lemons and Connie Swingle. Swingle suggested maintaining the then-standard wheelbase of 215 inches, Garlits decided on the driving position being reclined and very low in the car. By the winter they were making test laps and running into a problem that had vexed constructors of rear-engine cars to this point: they were unsteerable at speed. No matter how light the touch, the car would veer wildly from side to side.

Finally Garlits let Swingle know of this problem, and without hesitation, Swingle suggested slowing the steering from the normal front-motor ratio of 6:1 to a far slower 10:1 ratio. That was the ticket.

In December of 1970, Garlits dragged the new car to Orlando and promptly laid down a monster 6.80 lap and secured the track record. Mystery solved.

Garlits was quoted as saying of the event, “We drove back to Tampa that afternoon and if anyone had been with us they would have thought we were drunk. After the long hard hours of work, the success of that last run had put us all on a natural high. Swingle kept saying, ‘Gar, you’re gonna kill ‘em,’ and TC just smiled and said ‘Wait till them Californians see what the ‘Okies’ built. Myself, I was just plain happy and very excited. I knew I would be racing a lot longer now and the fear of sitting behind a fire-breathing, nitro-burning Dodge Hemi was ‘behind’ me. In fact, all my troubles were behind me.”

The boys took the car out to California a couple weeks ahead of the Winternationals to sort out any last-minute bugs. The results of the tune-up races were two final-round appearances and two final-round losses (To the same guy! Gary Cochran can forever tell his grandkids that he whipped Garlits two weeks in a row, a rare claim indeed) which Garlits blamed on himself as being a bit gun shy. He was reliving the accident in his brain every time he mashed the pedal.

The two races got him comfortable and when he rolled into Pomona he was well equipped to kick ass. And he did, winning the race in relatively easy fashion. The guys who snickered when they rolled through the gate were now examining the car and making plans for their own. They needed to. The rear-engine car was so successful that the last NHRA National event win for a slingshot dragster happened in 1972 at the NHRA Grandnational in Canada with Art Marshall at the helm of the digger.

As the LA Times famously wrote after Pomona, Garlits’ car had turned the collective group of slingshots into, “a million dollar junk pile.”

It’s kind of an accepted deal that if you’re a drag racing geek, slingshots are supposed to be your “favorite” type of rail. Well, I’m not buying it.

My absolute favorite cars are the very early rear-engine cars like Garlits’. They are spindly and low and look like long go-karts with blown Hemi motors. Just the sight of a rear-engine car idling gives me the shivers. They heave and jiggle and bounce around like they’re made of wet spaghetti and I love it.

That’s the story of Swamp Rat 14 in a nutshell. Garlits would churn out a bunch of improved designs on this theme and his Swap Rat 22 would become the first car to 250 mph in the quarter mile and set ET records that weren’t touched for years.

Yeah, this piece of iron qualifies as historic. end of Bangshift article


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Swamp Rat 15


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 15 (1971): Built as backup in case the rear-engine car didn’t work, this is the last slingshot that "Big Daddy" and company built. Garlits' wife, Pat, aghast at seeing another front-engine car under construction, told him in no uncertain terms that he had better get rid of it. The car was taken to California inside the same trailer as the rear-engine car and sold to Goodyear as a display car. The car stayed on the show circuit for several years before being heavily damaged in transport and offered to Garlits. Lemons and Garlits fixed 'er up and loaned it to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and most recently to Summit Racing, which had the car hanging from the ceiling of its showroom in McDonough, Ga. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 16

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Built in the fall of 1971, this car benefited from the knowledge gained from SR 14 and from other Garlits rear-engine customers such as McEwen, Chris Karamesines, and Jim Walther. The car actually debuted with a runner-up at the 1971 AHRA World Finals in Fremont, Calif., and won the 1972 Gatornationals, Garlits' first triumph at his home-state race, an event he would win four times, and the IHRA Winternationals. This car also famously was photographed on the deck of the aircraft carrier Lexington for a U.S. Navy promotional poster and was retired at the end of the season. It, too, went on display in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and made a few other stops before coming home to the museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 17

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 17 (1972-73): One of Garlits' most notable yet unsuccessful Swamp Rats, the Wynn's Liner was a bold attempt that failed pretty badly. Inspired by the Jocko Johnson-built streamliner run by Jim "Jazzy" Nelson in the late 1950s, Johnson's second go-round with the concept was met with open arms by the aero-infatuated Garlits. Johnson built the mold at his shop in California and transported it to Florida to start building the actual body, but progress was waylaid, according to Garlits, by Johnson's persistent marijuana use. The body was finally completed and placed atop a 180-inch rear-engine dragster chassis, but neither Butch Maas, Don Cook, nor Garlits himself could overcome the 'liner's spooky handling. It was later determined that the car was beginning to fly at half-track, picking all four wheels off the ground. Garlits had had enough and sold the car as a roller to Florida-based rocket-car racers Russell Mendez and Ramon Alvarez, who planned to put a rocket motor into it (the duo famously also had purchased and campaigned "Capt. Jack" McClure's rocket go-kart), but before that could happen, Mendez was killed in their Free Spirit rocket dragster at the 1975 Gatornationals. Garlits got the car back in 1984 and restored it. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 18


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 18 (1972): While constructing the chassis for the Wynn's Liner, Garlits built a second 180-inch wheelbase so that he could get used to driving a shorter-wheelbase car in anticipation of the Liner being the next big thing. Shorty, as the car was dubbed, never handled well (despite a monstrous, dinner-table-sized front wing) and didn't win any races, and Garlits later sold it to a pair of Pennsylvania-based racers, who ran it for several years. In the late 1980s, Garlits came across an ad for the car in National DRAGSTER and bought it back and with Hunnewell restored it in 2007. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 19

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 19 (1973-74): Despite the woes of the Wynn's Liner and Shorty, business was booming for Garlits' chassis shop, so he hired Gary Werner to join the chassis business, which angered Swingle, who quit (again …). Garlits and Werner finished up 19, a car that Garlits dubbed Killer, with good reason. The car ran 5.95 and vaulted Garlits into the Cragar Five-Second Club as its fourth member July 7, 1973, in Portland, Ore., and, when equipped in late 1973 with a new aluminum Milodon block (a 125-pound weight savings), broke both ends of the NHRA national record en route to winning the NHRA Supernationals at Southern California's Ontario Motor Speedway with a clocking of 5.78, 247.25. With chassis business still outweighing hours in the day, Garlits opted to return SR 19 to battle in 1974, and the car exactly duplicated its NHRA record pass at the season-opening AHRA Winternationals at Beeline Dragway in Phoenix. The car was sold at the end of 1974 to Australian racer Graham Withers and, after being cut into shippable pieces, flown Down Under aboard a Qantas 747. Garlits and family made a vacation out of it, planning to show Withers the ropes during a six-race series of exhibitions, but only one of the races came to fruition. Garlits tracked down Withers in the late 1980s and bought the car back. After again being cut down to size, it was sent via sea to Florida, where it was reassembled and put into the museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 20


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor Swamp Rat 20-A (1974): Oddly, this isn't even a Garlits car, and it never was raced. Built by fellow Floridian Glen Blakely, whose cars were near clones of the Garlits-built cars, Garlits bought it to fulfill a late-1974 request from Bill Harrah of the famed Reno, Nev., museum, who wanted a Swamp Rat in his display. Garlits had the car bodied and, with Harrah's approval, painted like a Swamp Rat. The car has been on display since.

Swamp Rat 20-B (1975-80): Built by Garlits and Cook and targeted as Garlits' 1975 car for the upcoming season, it was purchased by fellow Top Fuel racer Richard Holcomb, who made Garlits an offer he couldn’t refuse ("He had more money than dirt!" exclaimed Garlits). Holcomb later sold it to Malone, who ran it through the 1980 Gatornationals. Malone later had the car on display at DeSoto Memorial Speedway, which he owned, then stored it for several years before Garlits came looking for the car and had it restored. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 21

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 21 (1975): Believe it or not, kids, Funny Car legend "Jungle Jim" Liberman once wanted to drive in Top Fuel, so, naturally, he went to Garlits for a chassis. In the fall of 1974, Garlits and Gary Werner built what has become known as "the Jungle car" for Liberman to campaign in 1975, but Liberman quickly found out that track promoters wanted the Funny Car wild man and not the dragster guy, so he canceled his order. Richard Holcomb had just bought Swamp Rat 20-B from beneath Garlits before he could ever drive it, so Garlits, needing a car, took Liberman's. Because the car was built to accommodate the bigger Liberman, it didn’t fit Garlits very well, so extra seat padding was added. The car won the 1975 Winternationals — after Don Ewald famously crossed the centerline in round one against an up-in-smoke Garlits — but was retired at midseason. The car was sold in 1976 to England's Santa Pod Raceway, and Garlits set the British speed record in the car the next year at 232 mph; in gratitude for his appearance, the track gave him the car back for his newly created museum. end of NHRA story end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 22

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 22 (1975): The car that succeeded SR 21 would go into the record books in a "big" way and stay there for years: This is the car in which Garlits brought the class to its knees with a 5.63-second clocking at the World Finals, a record that stood for more than six years. Built by Garlits, “T.C.” Lemons, and Don Cook on a 240-inch wheelbase, the car was lightweight and fast from the first go. By year's end, Garlits was locked in a tight points battle with Gary Beck that grew ugly off the racetrack, too, because both were reportedly under contract to attend every IHRA national event. The NHRA Fallnationals in Seattle happened to be on the same weekend as the IHRA World Finals, and Beck opted to run the Seattle event to boost his NHRA bid. Lawsuits were threatened but never came to fruition, and the duo entered the NHRA World Finals at Ontario Motor Speedway with Beck holding a 400-point lead. Knowing Ontario's reputation for quick runs and realizing that he'd probably need national record points to pass Beck, Garlits came well-prepared. He had hoarded oversize Goodyear slicks, built a new engine, and even lengthened the chassis by 10 inches, and it all paid off with that monstrous 5.63 that helped him win the event and the championship and was attached to the sport's first official 250-mph run. The historic car was retired at year's end and has never left Garlits' possession other than for occasional displays; it was hauled out of mothballs to run at — and win — the 1977 Gatornationals. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 23


From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 23 (1976-77): This is another oddball in the series because it was not from the Garlits factory. Werner had left the chassis operation, so Garlits commissioned Glen Blakely (who had built SR 20-A, aka the Harrah's car) to build "Big Daddy's" next car, which won the IHRA championship with Ron Barrow as crew chief. Garlits was steamed with NHRA about the Beck issue and took a $100,000 contract from IHRA President Larry Carrier to not only run all 10 IHRA events, but also not to run any NHRA events. In late 1976, this car was switched from Keith Black power to Donovan 417, then set low e.t. of the 1977 NHRA Winternationals, where it also was runner-up. Garlits was runner-up in Bakersfield, too, but was going through Donovan parts like water and had to pull out SR 22 to win in Gainesville. The car ended up on display at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., for a decade and most recently was sent to George Schreiber's museum near Branson, Mo. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 24

Sr24.jpg

From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 24 (1977-79): Purpose-built by Garlits and Cook in mid-1977 to accommodate the Donovan engine, this car began life as a two-piece bolt-together chassis — ostensibly to aid in maintenance — but the car broke in the trailer after the first test session, so it became a one-piece car. Wynn's and Garlits had parted company — Garlits says that it was so that it could sponsor Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen — and the U.S. Navy stepped in with a $50,000 sponsorship. For only the third or fourth time, Garlits painted his race car something other than black, spraying this one blue and white at the request of the Navy, but Garlits' last-minute addition of a cross to the cowl, accompanied by the words "God is Love," scotched the deal after Garlits refused to remove it. For the first time in years, Garlits’ car ran lettered only with his name. Herb Parks had come onboard as the new crew chief, replacing Barrow, who went to drive for Neil Mahr, and Lemons, who retired. Parks, like Lemons before him, would become Garlits' longtime sidekick and be there for many of Garlits' great moments. They opened the season with low e.t. at the NHRA Winternationals, won the IHRA Winternationals and the NHRA Gatornationals, and later in the year converted the car to run the KB block again. This car got two new back halves and a 24-inch extension during its rough-and-tumble two seasons and now rests peacefully in the Garlits museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 25

Sr25.jpg

From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 25 (1980): "The car that never should have been built," Garlits exclaimed of this thick-nosed car, an attempt at ground effects that he says went bad from the start when he hired Lester Guillory to build it but saw little progress. He didn't know it at the time that he took the partially completed car home to Florida in a huff to complete it himself, but Guillory was dying of kidney failure. Garlits and Parks finished the car — sans any aero trickery — and had Larry Sikora skin it. Garlits had Mello Yello signed up to sponsor him in 1980, but when asked not to put the cross on the car as he had on SR 24, Garlits again refused to bow to sponsor pressure, which again cost him the deal. The cross stayed, the sponsorship left. Fortunately for Garlits, Larry Woods of Kendall — then a relatively minor ($6,000) sponsor — seized the moment and offered to sponsor Garlits for $75,000, and he could keep the cross. This began "Big Daddy's" long association with the motor-oil company, and he was happy to paint the company’s name in foot-high letters on his car's flanks. The car — dubbed Godzilla by Garlits and Parks — was too stiff and failed to qualify in its debut in Pomona, and Garlits was too ashamed to face the fans Sunday and pulled out. He and Parks took a saw to parts of the frame but went a bit overboard, causing it to sag. Garlits went to a hardware store and bought some turnbuckles and a roll of eighth-inch stainless-steel cable, which they strung from front to back and tightened until they liked what they saw. The car thus became known affectionately to them as the Kendall Kable Kar. The car still never ran well and was retired early to the museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 26

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 26 (1980-84): Godzilla's replacement was ready by October, but Garlits wasn't, opting to sit out the 1981 NHRA season in protest of several rule changes, most notably the self-starting and mandatory reverser rules. Swamp Rat 26 was "lean and light" — Garlits forsook paint for black anodized panels with stick-on lettering — and with the power that Garlits and Parks had learned to make to get the porky Godzilla car down the track, they seemed to be ahead of the game. The car was completed in time to run the Florida Winter Series events, but Parks quit that winter after the tough 1980 season, and Garlits won just two AHRA events in 1981. Shirley Muldowney beat him for the AHRA championship to boot, no doubt one of Garlits' career-worst years on the AHRA trail that he so regularly dominated. Garlits ran infrequently in the next three seasons, and Swamp Rat 26 might have just gone quietly into retirement as a disappointment had old pal Art Malone not called Garlits in the summer of 1984 and offered to fund a run at the 1984 Indy title. Malone got Garlits new parts, and they coaxed Parks out of retirement, and despite an aging car and a team of "dinosaurs" (Garlits' word), they won the race, completing a storybook comeback straight out of Hollywood. Garlits went on to also win a big eight-car Top Fuel show at Firebird Int'l Raceway and the NHRA World Finals — "Big Daddy" was back! end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 27

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 27 (1982): Although he wasn’t attending many national events, Garlits was still running some match races and still trying to innovate, and few of his ideas were wilder than this one, the infamous Garlits sidewinder. Chuck and Mike Sage, who owned a gear manufacturing company in Ohio that built gear sets for tractor pullers and other applications, had dabbled with a sidewinder Top Alcohol Dragster and approached Garlits about a fuel car. Garlits liked the idea of a car that wouldn’t torque to one side on the launch, so he had the Sage brothers build the chassis in their shop to accommodate the transverse-mounted Hemi, which connected to the rear end through a complex set of gears. The gears proved to be a true weak link initially, but once they built a beefy-enough unit, the problem became the severe power loss sucked up by the gear set, which Garlits estimated to be about 21 percent, compared to 7 percent in a conventional setup. Garlits handed the car back to Mike Sage, who continued to experiment with the configuration on alcohol but with little success, and Sage eventually brought the car back to Garlits to display in the museum.

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Swamp Rat 28A

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 28-A (1983): Garlits was about five years too soon in the return to high-gear-only in Top Fuel, and the clutches weren't there to help him control such a setup; however, he still had some success in that configuration with this car, which, like the sidewinder, had weight-saving anodized blue body panels. The car was built short — just 220 inches, and, without a transmission to get in the way, the engine was set way back — and with superthin tubing, again to save weight. Severe tire shake damaged the chassis in just its second outing, forcing Garlits to sideline the car.

Inspired by the T-85 jet turbine helicopter engine that former drag racer Craig Arfons was using in tractor pulling, Garlits backhalved 28-A to accommodate a turbine, which was legal in AHRA Top Fuel competition at the time (NHRA had outlawed the use of nonautomotive engines in 1961). The car weighed less than 1,000 pounds, and with 2,100 horsepower on tap, it seemed to be a winning recipe, but the duo found the right gearing to be elusive as the engine lacked torque and demanded to be run at high rpm. Even worse, the engine was too quiet for Top Fuel, and the fans hated it, even after Arfons and Garlits rigged a flame-throwing afterburner to the engine. Garlits used the car for another promotional poster for the Navy, taking it aboard the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (as he had done with Swamp Rat 16 to Lexington in 1972). The car also is in the Garlits museum. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 29

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 29 (1985): Buoyed by his success at the end of 1984 with aging Swamp Rat 26, Garlits built a new Rat for an assault on the 1985 NHRA world championship. Parks was back in the fold permanently, and together they built this car, which enjoyed backing from Super Shops and In-N-Out Burger. The car crashed on one of its first runs, in a January match race against old nemesis Beck at Firebird Int'l Raceway, when the wing struts buckled but was repaired at Johnny West's local shop and made its official debut at the NHRA Winternationals to kick off what indeed would be a championship season, Garlits' first on the NHRA tour since 1975. The car was fronthalved upon its return to Florida and won six NHRA races and set the new national speed record at 268 mph, fueling Garlits' desire to be the first to eclipse 270 mph. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat XXX

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat XXX (1986-87): In the pantheon of famous Garlits cars — iconic machines such as Swamp Rat I, Swamp Rat V, Swamp Rat VI-B, and Swamp Rat 22 — this cockpit-canopied streamliner may well be at the top of the pyramid. Garlits says that the inspiration for the car's covered nose came from watching dragsters race through the post-oildown remnants of oil absorber and noting that the rotating front tires were kicking up the rice-hull ash 30 feet in front of the car, something that the Funny Cars didn't do. Garlits had Mike Magiera fabricate the nosepiece and constructed front "tires" out of 13-inch aluminum discs wrapped with industrial fan belts to fit beneath it. The belts would exit the wheels after almost every run, but that didn’t stop the “Rat Under Glass” from running 272.56 mph in the car's winning debut in Gainesville in 1986. Garlits later abandoned those wheels to run small-airplane tires that worked well but, ironically, took flight in his famous July 12 blowover wheelstand at the NHRA Summernationals. Garlits says that he was held up an extra minute on the starting line while Parks tried to stop a small fuel leak and that the combination of more heat in the engine and less fuel in the tank contributed to the backflip. The car was badly damaged (who could forget Garlits' classic TV interview, when he told Steve Evans that the car couldn’t run anymore at that race? "Even I'm not that crazy," he said in a good-natured nod to those who still viewed him as a bit unconventional, on and off the track) and had to be backhalved in the Florida shop to complete the season, which ended again with Garlits atop the points standings. Swamp Rat XXX also ran about half of the 1987 campaign and then famously became part of a display at the Smithsonian Institution the following year. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 31

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 31 (1987): The follow-up streamliner, built by Garlits and Mark Buchanan, debuted at the NHRA event in [[]]Brainerd in August 1987 but didn't live long. The next weekend, at an AHRA event in Spokane, Wash., with a new Magiera-built triple-element wing on the back, the front end again soared skyward and over. Unlike the Englishtown blowover, in which Garlits had serendipitously landed back on all four wheels, Swamp Rat 31 tumbled hard upon return to terra firma and was pretty much destroyed. Garlits didn’t fare much better, suffering a crushed vertebra and several broken ribs. The car was beyond repair but went on display as-was for several years in a World of Wheels display before being returned to Garlits' museum, where it sits in its post-wreck condition. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 32

Sr32.jpg

From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 32 (1992): Garlits didn’t race for years after the Spokane wreck, immersing himself in his museum as well as television work for Diamond P, though he did memorably test-drive Muldowney's car in Dallas in 1989 when he was working with her team as a consultant (something none of us thought we'd ever see!). Garlits became interested again in 1991 and commissioned Murf McKinney to design a new car that again would break the Top Fuel mold that he dubbed the NFR (In the book, he says that stood for "No Funny Rules," which is the cleaned-up version of what the F really stood for). As proposed, the car would be a three-wheeler with a single front wheel that also sported a rudder so that the car would be steerable with the front end off the ground. To combat the growing issue of rear-wing-strut failure, the duo opted for a single center-mount post, sheathed in aerodynamics, which Garlits dubbed the “monowing." In the interest of being able to compete with the car (i.e., having a car that was within the rules), the single front tire and planned movable wing were abandoned, but the monowing stayed and finally was blessed by NHRA. The car, like its predecessors, had a cockpit canopy and small front tires but no nosepiece. It debuted at the NHRA Atlanta race in 1992 and didn't qualify, and, worse yet, Garlits had suffered a detached retina in his right eye in a two-parachute stop during testing and had to leave the cockpit again. Former Funny Car driver Bruce Larson took over the driving duties for the rest of the year and ran as fast as 299 mph with the car. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 33

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From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 33 (1988): Another SR anomaly, this car, dubbed the Saltliner, was never intended for the dragstrip but for the Bonneville Salt Flats and a record attempt against the FX/GS mark. Built by Jim Schuman in his Blue Engineering shop in downtown Lincoln, Neb., guided by project manager Rich Venza, and powered by a supercharged flathead engine, the car easily carried Garlits — who, remarkably in his amazing career, had never been to the Salt Flats — to membership in the famed 200-mph Club and a new record of 217.947 mph in August 1988. Although the team planned later to put a 300-cid Chrysler Hemi in the car for other record attempts, that never happened, and Venza ran the car a few more times in its current configuration before giving the car to Garlits to display at the museum. It's not clear why this 1988 car is labeled 33 when it actually ran more than three years before 32, but perhaps the project had been on the board that long. Garlits doesn’t say. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 34

Sr34.jpg

From story written by Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Swamp Rat 34 (1993-94, 2002-03): The final car in the long and famous line of Swamp Rats again was built by McKinney and incorporated all of the knowledge gained from SR 33, which included lowering the cockpit for better airflow to the injector. Larson drove the car again for two seasons but had no luck on the NHRA trail. At the end of the 1994 season, Garlits loaned the car to former Funny Car and fuel altered pilot Richard Langson (but sold him the equipment to run it … spare parts, tools, and transporter) and served as his crew chief in 1995, albeit with little success again. Langson returned the car to Garlits, who put it in storage. In 1999, after surgery to his eyes, Garlits was given the green light to return to the cockpit and drove one of Paul Smith's cars in a Florida match race against Muldowney Dec. 31, 1999, to ring in the new millennium.

Garlits thought that his résumé still was lacking one thing — a four-second, 300-mph time slip — so he pulled SR 34 out of storage and with a collection of old friends, including Tim and Rick Bucher, the sons of the late Top Fuel racer Jim Bucher, began preparing the car to run at the 2001 U.S. Nationals during NHRA's 50th Anniversary season. As the car was nearing completion, Garlits was informed by NHRA that the 8-year-old car did not meet safety specifications and outlined the necessary changes. With time running short, the list was too long and complex, and the project ground to an abrupt and heart-wrenching halt. The story didn’t end there, though: Gary Clapshaw loaned Garlits his car, which carried "Big Daddy" to a satisfying 4.72 at 303.37 mph, which qualified him for the show. He lost in round one to Mike Dunn, but the battle already had been won.

Garlits brought the car up to spec and competed at the 2002 Gatornationals and U.S. Nationals, and even old pal Lemons was part of the crew. Garlits ran a career-best speed of 318.54 mph but was bumped out of the show in the final session, the only time that he had ever failed to qualify at the Big Go. Garlits upped his speed mark to 323.04 at the 2003 Gatornationals and, with backing from Summit Racing Equipment, competed in Atlanta, Columbus, and Indy, where he again missed the field despite a 4.77 e.t. Garlits and Summit had planned to carry their effort into 2004, but at the insistence of his wife, Pat, he retired. end of story written by Phil Burgess


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Swamp Rat 35

Drag Pak #1 was given to Big Daddy

2009 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak #1 From Auto Blog "Big Daddy's" 2009 Dodge Challenger is the first Drag Pak by Mopar ever made. He took delivery at the Performance Racing Industry show in December 2008, receiving the keys along with a certificate of authenticity from Mopar. Garlits put the Drag Pak by Mopar through test and exhibition runs at the World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova Dragway Park in Cordova, Ill., last weekend.

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Swamp Rat 36

Swamp Rat 36 is a black 2011 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak with a Viper V-10 engine, Chevy Powerglide 2-speed transmission, and Ford 9" rear end.

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Swamp Rat 37

Swamp Rat 37

In May 2014 at age 82, Garlits set a 184 mph speed record with Swamp Rat 37, a 2,000 hp battery-powered EV dragster.

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Swamp Rat 38

Swamp Rat

In July 2019 at age 87, he set a new quarter-mile record of 189.03 mph with Swamp Rat 38, a 1,500 lb dragster with a battery-powered 800 hp electric motor.

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