Big Daddy Don Garlits hit the drag strip last week in his battery-powered Swamp Rat 37 electric dragster, going a (unofficially at least) record-breaking 184 MPH in the quarter-mile. That makes his quiet electric dragster the quickest on the planet, but he fell just short of his 200 MPH goal. That just gives him something to aim for later this year.
Garlits was the first man to ever break 200 MPH in the standing quarter-mile (among many other speed records), and the 82-year old shows no signs of slowing down. Using seven GE motors churning out a combined 1,500 kW, or about 2,000 horsepower, Garlits wanted to be the first person to break 200 MPH in a four-wheeled battery-electric vehicle in the span of just 1,320 feet.
Not everything went smoothly the Swamp Rat, including the failure of the chute to deploy on the final run, though Garlits himself managed to patch the electric dragster back up after a few issues cropped up. Garlits would end his day would with a top speed of 184.01 MPH, running down the quarter-mile in just 7.26 seconds. That’s an amazing run for the first time out, and Garlits owes much of that success to the likes of Lawless Industries and High Tech Systems LLC, which helped design and build the electric dragster.
Unfortunately, Garlits was unable to repeat his run, which is necessary to set an official record. So while unofficially, Garlits is now the quickest EV in the quarter-mile, officially, the official NEDRA record went to someone else this weekend.
While he may not have hit his goal of 200 MPH, Garlits has helped propel electric drag racing forward in a big way, He’s showing the world going green doesn’t mean going slow. Hopefully Big Daddy can help convert more doubters to the way of the EV, one way or another. Electric vehicles are becoming a force to reckon with at drag strips the world over.
My hat is off to one of the world’s fastest grandfathers for his efforts to promote sustainable motorsports.