Tomorrow may seem like just another weekday, but for one drag racing legend, it’s the start of a new beginning. “Big Daddy” Don Garlits plans on returning to NHRA drag racing for the first time in nearly six years by entering the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Although Garlits built a name for himself piloting Top Fuel dragsters to 17 world championship titles and 144 national event wins, his latest ride — a Dodge Challenger Drag Pack — means he’ll be running within the NHRA’s Stock class. Still, Big Daddy doesn’t seem to miss his old nitromethane monsters all that much.
“I like my Challenger much better than a dragster,” he said. “It takes 25 people to get a dragster to the line these days. All I have to do with the Challenger is turn the key and take it there. When the light turns green, I have a ten-second ride — which is almost three times what I used to get — and I even have time to look at the tach and shift gears.”
Better yet, the Challenger’s eligibility in the Stock class allows Big Daddy to return to racing without incurring the wrath of his wife, who insisted he abandon the Top Fuel class in 2003. “I didn’t want to come home and find my clothes all over the front yard,” Garlits said.
Garlits’ Challenger is the first Drag Pack model to be built by Chrysler. Announced last summer, the Drag Pack strips all non-essentials from the muscle car, and comes equipped with your choice of three crate motors (a 5.7-liter, 5.9-liter, and a 6.1-liter V-8 are available) and a number of heavy-duty go-fast parts built explicitly for the strip.