Garlits, whose racing history includes 17 drag-racing world championships, took the dragster out to the Florida raceway a few weeks back. His team, which includes High Tech Systems LLC and Lawless Industries, has been working on the dragster for two years and took it on a half-dozen quarter-mile runs, topping out at 184 miles per hour in the process. The car's lithium-polymer battery pack delivers peak power of 1,500 kilowatts, or more than 2,000 horsepower, and Garlits says he'll be able to tweak the gearing enough to get an extra 16 miles per hour or so out of it.
The 82-year-old Garlits did a quarter-mile run in 7.26 seconds on that recent racing day in Florida. Which is impressive until you realize that the man broke the 200-mile-per-hour mark in a more conventional dragster a half-century ago. Time sure flies when you're having fun. Check out the press release from the Garlits team below.
"Big Daddy" Don Garlits and the "Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries" team will return to beautiful Bradenton Motorsports Park on 6.8.2014 for the second test of "Swamp Rat 37". Buoyed by the successful first test in April, and Big Daddy's very popular guest appearance at the 2014 Electric Drive Transportation Association conference in Indy, the group will retake the familiar sticky Bradenton starting line in an effort to break through the hallowed 200 MPH barrier,
The highly respected Garlits still has the master's touch for tuning his race cars. After the first test, Big Daddy quickly noted, "We learned a lot and are already making the necessary changes to the vehicle back at the Museum shop. We're putting a 3.5 rear gear into the car and going 1.45 on the B&J tranny. This is the option we'll go with for the next attempt." While Mr. Garlits and grandson Rodney tune the drivetrain, Lawless Industries will tear down and inspect the GE motors and replace motor drive integration components. HighTech Systems LLC will cycle the batteries, upgrade safety features, and improve charging turnaround even further. A data acquisition package is being planned as well.
Mr. Garlits has also learned how to get the most out of testing this unique EV digger. Recalling the 5th run shut-off in the Bradenton right lane, "I just drove from the finish line back to the starting line and ran again since I hadn't deployed the chute! Try to imagine this happening in Top Fuel!"
Bradenton owner Alan Chervitz adds his appreciation for the special characteristic of SR-37 and the potential of the EV dragster platform, "We are extremely pleased and proud to participate in the research and development of this vehicle for Mr. Garlits and to provide a home track for the testing efforts. Our facility has been home to a lot of drag racing R&D over the years. We work very hard to be prepared for the challenges of concept testing and are confident that we will be fully prepared for the return of Swamp Rat 37 and the Quest team."
Big Daddy is confident as well - and succinct - on the prospects for the next test, "We anticipate the 200 MPH barrier will be broken on June 8."
Please check facebook.com/questfor200mphonbatteries and twitter.com/questfor200 for updates on this exciting EV technology project.
About the "Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries" Dragster:
The Quest Dragster is designed and constructed to be the first battery-electric dragster to exceed 200 mph on a ¼ mile drag strip. The goal is to accomplish this speed mark in 2014 with the legendary "Big Daddy" Don Garlits. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Garlits' historic first official 200 mph pass in 1964. The dragster will be powered by a 1500 kilowatt array of lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries producing an equivalent horsepower rating of over 2000 HP. The Quest dragster already set 1/4 mile speed and ET marks of 184.01 mph at 7.25 seconds.
The Quest for 200 MPH on Batteries dragster was built by Brad Hadman, created by Mike Gerry, art direction by Kenny Youngblood, car and logo graphics by Eric Reyes, print graphics by Tommy Naccarato, LiPo batteries by HighTech Systems LLC, and GE motors by Lawless Industries.
About "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, chassis builder Brad Hadman, and Quest Dragster creator Mike Gerry:
"Big Daddy" Don Garlits of Ocala, FL is considered the father of professional drag racing. He began racing in 1950 and scored his first major victory in 1955. His first NHRA National event came in Top Fuel at the 1963 Winternationals in Pomona, California. His legendary career includes 17 World Championships; 10 AHRA, 4 IHRA, 3 NHRA as well as 8 NHRA US Nationals Top Fuel final victories. A true American icon; his Swamp Rat XXX dragster is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
Chassis builder Brad Hadman of Tacoma, WA has been constructing dragster chassis for nearly 40 years. Brad is widely regarded as the industry leader in modern dragster chassis design and fabrication. Brad Hadman has produced more Top Fuel Championship cars than any other chassis builder worldwide; 59 and counting. Brad's customer list reads like a "who's-who" of drag racing history.
Mike Gerry of Las Vegas, NV created the Quest EV Dragster project. In 2001 Mike produced a custom battery-electric dragster to herald drag racing legend Darrell Gwynn's return to the US Nationals. Mike fabricated the battery dragsters for and promoted the 2011 Darrell Gwynn vs. Don Garlits "Match Races for a Cause" in support of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation and Don Garlits Museum of Drag racing.
About the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing:
The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing Inc. is a tourist complex in Ocala, FL. It enshrines the history of Don Garlits and his hand-built black "Swamp Rat" dragsters. Car exhibits are combined with period memorabilia, Big Daddy's numerous racing awards, as well as extensive presentations of the history of the sport of drag racing. The Museum includes a gift shop selling a large selection of Garlits- and drag racing-related books, clothing, models, and videos. http://www.garlits.com/
About Bradenton Motorsports Park:
The Bradenton Motorsports Park facility, built in 1974, is known as the winter professional drag racing test strip. This premiere IHRA drag race facility, home of the Snowbird Nationals, is renowned for its record-breaking track surface and beautiful nearby Gulf beaches www.bradentonmotorsports.com
About Lawless Industries:
Lawless Industries specializes in high efficiency electric drive systems for vehicles of all types as well as the design and manufacture of parade float chassis for internationally prominent theme parks and parade events. Lawless has been the industry leader in specialized float-motion chassis design for over 20 years. Owner Shawn Lawless has adapted their knowledge of EV power drives to the very specialized world of high performance and custom battery-electric vehicles, developing the record-setting Lawless Electric Rocket drag bike and numerous other designs. Lawless-powered vehicles have appeared on episodes of American Chopper and Top Gear. http://www.paradefloats.com/
About HighTech Systems LLC:
HighTech Systems LLC of Colorado has been engineering and fabricating EV battery systems for well over a decade. Stepping from carbon-fuel electronic/emissions systems engineer to the truly high tech world of EV racing, HTS principal Derek Barger has developed high performance battery power systems for such racing teams as Drayson, Harley Davidson, Eric Buell, Chip Yates, and Earnhardt Ganassi. He has also engineered power systems for the record setting battery-electric drag racing vehicles of the KillaCycle, the KilleJoule LSR Streamliner, and the Lawless Electric Rocket among many others. HTS also manufactures EV battery-specific test stand and welding equipment. http://hightechsystemsllc.com/