The Famous Garlits “Blow Over”

Updated: Feb 9

Don Garlits ran the quickest elapsed time in Top Fuel history at the 1986 HRA Summer Nationals. He recorded an impressive 5.343 during Friday’s qualifying race. A day later, July 12th, he attempted to back up the record but unfortunately didn’t quite make it.

Garlits’ Swamp Rat XXX went into a wheelstand that he couldn’t recover from. They made a complete 180 on the rear tires, lost the wing but still had the engine running. The dragster started heading back towards the starting line. Thankfully, Garlits was ok and had the presence of mind to hit the kill switch and bring the dragster to a safe stop.

In Garlits’ words, "The car went up on the rear wheels, flipped over onto the wing stand, knocked the wing off, skidded down the track on the wing stand, turned around, did a 180, came down on its side going backwards, bounced up, hit on its wheels, and, because of the impact, I floorboarded the engine while bracing myself. The car shot forward back towards the starting line and I shut it off: Spectacular!"

Luckily Gatlits wasn’t knocked out! This could’ve been a very violent crash with a top fuel dragster hurtling back towards the grandstands and starting line.

Here is a clip from that unforgettable day!

~Blanton Payne

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