Fifty years ago today, a guy they used to call The Floridian, set off down the 1/4 mile strip at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey. When he tripped the finish lights, Don Garlits became the first man to hit 200 MPH in the quarter. Fifty years ago! 201.34 MPH in Swamp Rat VI.
That record was not without controversy however, as Chris “The Greek” Karamesines, reportedly topped out at 204.54 in Illinois on April 4, 1960.
Garlits was and remains no stranger to breaking records, having been the first to break 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, and 270. Now, at 84 years young, Garlits is working to be the first to break 200 in an electric dragster.
YouTuber James Amos posted this rare video of Garlits’ record setting run in ’64.
That car now sits, along with most of the other Swamp Rats, in the Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum in Ocala, Florida. The museum is a must visit for an car enthusiast, even if you aren’t a specific drag racing fan. There is much more to see than just drag cars. You can read more about my recent visit to the museum here.