The Evolution of the Swamp Rat Drag Racing Car

 1

Built by Don Garlits in his home garage in Tampa, FL. Swamp Rat I would let Don set his first World Record at Brooksville, FL November 10, 1957 at 176.40 MPH and an ET of 8.79 seconds. Don would win his first National Championship in SR I in Great Bend, Kansas, in September of 1958. SR I would go on to have a top speed of 180.00 MPH and an ET of 8.23 seconds during its career.
Built by Don Garlits in his home garage in Tampa, FL. Swamp Rat I would let Don set his first World Record at Brooksville, FL November 10, 1957 at 176.40 MPH and an ET of 8.79 seconds. Don would win his first National Championship in SR I in Great Bend, Kansas, in September of 1958. SR I would go on to have a top speed of 180.00 MPH and an ET of 8.23 seconds during its career.

 2

Driven by Ed Garlits, Don’s brother. Because Don was the original Swamp Rat, all cars driven by Ed were known as Swamp Rat Toos. Ed Garlits was very successful in the gas ranks. He was the Florida State Champion in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961. Ed would win the AHRA Gas Championship in 1961.
Driven by Ed Garlits, Don’s brother. Because Don was the original Swamp Rat, all cars driven by Ed were known as Swamp Rat Toos. Ed Garlits was very successful in the gas ranks. He was the Florida State Champion in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961. Ed would win the AHRA Gas Championship in 1961.

 3

The first aircraft tubing car to come out of Garlits’ Automotive. Big Daddy built the frame for Swamp Rat III, and Connie Swingle began manufacturing them for customers for the whopping sum of $300.00 each. Swingle, who was from Bixby, Oklahoma, put the Swamp Rat III into the record books at Thompson, Ohio at 198.66 MPH and 7.88 seconds ET at Columbia, SC. Then on a fantastic run at Emporia, Virginia, the chute failed, and Swingle hit the pine trees at the end and destroyed the car, breaking several of his ribs in the process.
The first aircraft tubing car to come out of Garlits’ Automotive. Big Daddy built the frame for Swamp Rat III, and Connie Swingle began manufacturing them for customers for the whopping sum of $300.00 each. Swingle, who was from Bixby, Oklahoma, put the Swamp Rat III into the record books at Thompson, Ohio at 198.66 MPH and 7.88 seconds ET at Columbia, SC. Then on a fantastic run at Emporia, Virginia, the chute failed, and Swingle hit the pine trees at the end and destroyed the car, breaking several of his ribs in the process.

 4

Don Garlits built Swamp Rat IV to race at the US Nationals in 1962. Due to the NHRA fuel ban of nitromethane, the car would run on gasoline and be powered by a Dodge 413 CID Max-Wedge. It was at this very event that the nickname “Big Daddy” was first used. Don was runner-upper to Jack Chrisman for the Overall Top Eliminator title.
Don Garlits built Swamp Rat IV to race at the US Nationals in 1962. Due to the NHRA fuel ban of nitromethane, the car would run on gasoline and be powered by a Dodge 413 CID Max-Wedge. It was at this very event that the nickname “Big Daddy” was first used. Don was runner-upper to Jack Chrisman for the Overall Top Eliminator title.

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 5

Connie Swingle and Don Garlits built Swamp Rat 5 in the summer of 1962 as a gas dragster. The new lightweight dragster was to replace the very successful Swamp Rat IV. However, Don received a “Challenge” for his Number 1 spot on the Drag News 1320 list from Vance Hunt. The decision was made to accept the challenge with the new Swamp Rat. Don won the race and then decided that he would leave the little car on fuel for the first time since 1956. The car tended to smoke the tires down the course, so Bruce Crower suggested the installation of a wing over the engine for the NHRA Winternationals. Don Garlits won the race and set the NHRA record, at 186.32 MHP, in the process. Swamp Rat V was the first dragster in drag racing to have a wing for downforce.
Connie Swingle and Don Garlits built Swamp Rat 5 in the summer of 1962 as a gas dragster. The new lightweight dragster was to replace the very successful Swamp Rat IV. However, Don received a “Challenge” for his Number 1 spot on the Drag News 1320 list from Vance Hunt. The decision was made to accept the challenge with the new Swamp Rat. Don won the race and then decided that he would leave the little car on fuel for the first time since 1956. The car tended to smoke the tires down the course, so Bruce Crower suggested the installation of a wing over the engine for the NHRA Winternationals. Don Garlits won the race and set the NHRA record, at 186.32 MHP, in the process. Swamp Rat V was the first dragster in drag racing to have a wing for downforce.

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 6

Built in 1964, it was the first Garlits car to have a “Swoopy Tail,” and SR VI would accomplish several things. On Aug. 1, 1964 in Great Meadows, NJ, it set the official NHRA record of 201 MPH with a 7.78 sec. ET. In September 1964, the car would win the prestigious NHRA Nationals. September through October 1964, Swamp Rat VI would compete on the U.S Drag Team in the British Drag Festival, winning the event and setting a new British land speed Record of 197.00 MPH. Swamp Rat VI was successful in the top fuel ranks until the chute failed and causing a bad crash. During it’s time, Swamp Rat VI would have a top speed of 206.42 MPH and an ET of 7.76 seconds.
Built in 1964, it was the first Garlits car to have a “Swoopy Tail,” and SR VI would accomplish several things. On Aug. 1, 1964 in Great Meadows, NJ, it set the official NHRA record of 201 MPH with a 7.78 sec. ET. In September 1964, the car would win the prestigious NHRA Nationals. September through October 1964, Swamp Rat VI would compete on the U.S Drag Team in the British Drag Festival, winning the event and setting a new British land speed Record of 197.00 MPH. Swamp Rat VI was successful in the top fuel ranks until the chute failed and causing a bad crash. During it’s time, Swamp Rat VI would have a top speed of 206.42 MPH and an ET of 7.76 seconds.

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Big Daddy Don Garlits performs a burnout before  breaking  the standing record for the electric dragster of 156.00 mph with ET of  7.95 with a new record time of 184.01 ET 7.25 on April 30, 2014 at Bradenton Motosports Park in Bradenton Florida. Lisa Crigar Photography

The Evolution of the Swamp Rat Drag Racing Car

 1

Built by Don Garlits in his home garage in Tampa, FL. Swamp Rat I would let Don set his first World Record at Brooksville, FL November 10, 1957 at 176.40 MPH and an ET of 8.79 seconds. Don would win his first National Championship in SR I in Great Bend, Kansas, in September of 1958. SR I would go on to have a top speed of 180.00 MPH and an ET of 8.23 seconds during its career.
Built by Don Garlits in his home garage in Tampa, FL. Swamp Rat I would let Don set his first World Record at Brooksville, FL November 10, 1957 at 176.40 MPH and an ET of 8.79 seconds. Don would win his first National Championship in SR I in Great Bend, Kansas, in September of 1958. SR I would go on to have a top speed of 180.00 MPH and an ET of 8.23 seconds during its career.

 2

Driven by Ed Garlits, Don’s brother. Because Don was the original Swamp Rat, all cars driven by Ed were known as Swamp Rat Toos. Ed Garlits was very successful in the gas ranks. He was the Florida State Champion in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961. Ed would win the AHRA Gas Championship in 1961.
Driven by Ed Garlits, Don’s brother. Because Don was the original Swamp Rat, all cars driven by Ed were known as Swamp Rat Toos. Ed Garlits was very successful in the gas ranks. He was the Florida State Champion in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961. Ed would win the AHRA Gas Championship in 1961.

 3

The first aircraft tubing car to come out of Garlits’ Automotive. Big Daddy built the frame for Swamp Rat III, and Connie Swingle began manufacturing them for customers for the whopping sum of $300.00 each. Swingle, who was from Bixby, Oklahoma, put the Swamp Rat III into the record books at Thompson, Ohio at 198.66 MPH and 7.88 seconds ET at Columbia, SC. Then on a fantastic run at Emporia, Virginia, the chute failed, and Swingle hit the pine trees at the end and destroyed the car, breaking several of his ribs in the process.
The first aircraft tubing car to come out of Garlits’ Automotive. Big Daddy built the frame for Swamp Rat III, and Connie Swingle began manufacturing them for customers for the whopping sum of $300.00 each. Swingle, who was from Bixby, Oklahoma, put the Swamp Rat III into the record books at Thompson, Ohio at 198.66 MPH and 7.88 seconds ET at Columbia, SC. Then on a fantastic run at Emporia, Virginia, the chute failed, and Swingle hit the pine trees at the end and destroyed the car, breaking several of his ribs in the process.

 4

Don Garlits built Swamp Rat IV to race at the US Nationals in 1962. Due to the NHRA fuel ban of nitromethane, the car would run on gasoline and be powered by a Dodge 413 CID Max-Wedge. It was at this very event that the nickname “Big Daddy” was first used. Don was runner-upper to Jack Chrisman for the Overall Top Eliminator title.
Don Garlits built Swamp Rat IV to race at the US Nationals in 1962. Due to the NHRA fuel ban of nitromethane, the car would run on gasoline and be powered by a Dodge 413 CID Max-Wedge. It was at this very event that the nickname “Big Daddy” was first used. Don was runner-upper to Jack Chrisman for the Overall Top Eliminator title.

 5

Connie Swingle and Don Garlits built Swamp Rat 5 in the summer of 1962 as a gas dragster. The new lightweight dragster was to replace the very successful Swamp Rat IV. However, Don received a “Challenge” for his Number 1 spot on the Drag News 1320 list from Vance Hunt. The decision was made to accept the challenge with the new Swamp Rat. Don won the race and then decided that he would leave the little car on fuel for the first time since 1956. The car tended to smoke the tires down the course, so Bruce Crower suggested the installation of a wing over the engine for the NHRA Winternationals. Don Garlits won the race and set the NHRA record, at 186.32 MHP, in the process. Swamp Rat V was the first dragster in drag racing to have a wing for downforce.
Connie Swingle and Don Garlits built Swamp Rat 5 in the summer of 1962 as a gas dragster. The new lightweight dragster was to replace the very successful Swamp Rat IV. However, Don received a “Challenge” for his Number 1 spot on the Drag News 1320 list from Vance Hunt. The decision was made to accept the challenge with the new Swamp Rat. Don won the race and then decided that he would leave the little car on fuel for the first time since 1956. The car tended to smoke the tires down the course, so Bruce Crower suggested the installation of a wing over the engine for the NHRA Winternationals. Don Garlits won the race and set the NHRA record, at 186.32 MHP, in the process. Swamp Rat V was the first dragster in drag racing to have a wing for downforce.

 6

Built in 1964, it was the first Garlits car to have a “Swoopy Tail,” and SR VI would accomplish several things. On Aug. 1, 1964 in Great Meadows, NJ, it set the official NHRA record of 201 MPH with a 7.78 sec. ET. In September 1964, the car would win the prestigious NHRA Nationals. September through October 1964, Swamp Rat VI would compete on the U.S Drag Team in the British Drag Festival, winning the event and setting a new British land speed Record of 197.00 MPH. Swamp Rat VI was successful in the top fuel ranks until the chute failed and causing a bad crash. During it’s time, Swamp Rat VI would have a top speed of 206.42 MPH and an ET of 7.76 seconds.
Built in 1964, it was the first Garlits car to have a “Swoopy Tail,” and SR VI would accomplish several things. On Aug. 1, 1964 in Great Meadows, NJ, it set the official NHRA record of 201 MPH with a 7.78 sec. ET. In September 1964, the car would win the prestigious NHRA Nationals. September through October 1964, Swamp Rat VI would compete on the U.S Drag Team in the British Drag Festival, winning the event and setting a new British land speed Record of 197.00 MPH. Swamp Rat VI was successful in the top fuel ranks until the chute failed and causing a bad crash. During it’s time, Swamp Rat VI would have a top speed of 206.42 MPH and an ET of 7.76 seconds.

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SR-37-scaled-landscape

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