Don Garlits' Swamp Rat 38

Don Garlits' Swamp Rat 38

slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
edited November 2018 in NHRA
New car, new thread!

It’s electric: ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits builds new dragster
Garlits plans to soon test his new Swamp Rat 38 electric racer, which has been specially designed for a shot at the elusive 200 mph quarter mile record for electric dragsters.

By Andy Fillmore / Correspondent Oct 15, 2018 at 2:01 AM

At 86, the King of the Dragsters is still going full throttle.

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits may no longer strap himself into a nitro fueled drag car and rocket down the quarter mile in three-plus seconds but he plans to soon test his new, in-house built, Swamp Rat 38 electric racer, which has been specially designed for another shot at the elusive 200 mph quarter-mile record for electric dragsters.

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Garlits piloted Swamp Rat 37, an earlier version of an electric dragster, in April 2014 and ran 185.6 mph at 7.274 seconds in a quarter mile. He never was really pleased with the progress and now has built Swamp Rat 38, which is about half the weight of No. 37 and has revisions to the electric drive set up. He looked over the electric dragster project recently in the garage adjacent to his Museum of Drag Racing, at the intersection of Interstate 75 and County Road 484 south of Ocala, with his grandson Rod Garlits, comptroller of the museum, and master machinist, museum restoration specialist and shop foreman Chris Bumpus.

Garlits and Bumpus worked together on the design of the new dragster. Garlits, with his usual enthusiasm for anything related to racing, pointed out the changes from Swamp Rat 37 to SR 38. “SR 38 is all new. We analyzed SR 37 and realized it was set up for a 10,000 horsepower engine and we needed a platform for 1,000 foot pounds of torque electric motor.” He said Swamp Rat 38 is about 500 pounds lighter and called the lighter, tubular frame car a “skeeter.” Bumpus’ fabrication work on the car includes the metal skin.

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The dragster uses one motor and a chain driver, using Harley-Davidson chains, and a fast change primary drive gear for quick adjustments. Garlits said all the work has been done at the museum garage, which includes a fully outfitted machine shop.

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Swamp Rat 38 is the latest version in the line of record setting race cars.

Swamp Rat 1, which is on display in the museum, has a sign that states the car was built in 1956 and was used to set Garlits’ first world record in Brooksville in 1957 and a championship in Kansas in 1958. He is currently also building a recreation of that racer in the museum shop.

Garlits, a Tampa area native, has lived in Marion County and operated the museum complex, which also houses a separate Antique Car Museum, for 35 years. The most recent addition, Don’s Garage, contains many of his famous Chrysler Hemi engines used during his drag racing career.

A biography of Garlits on www. garlits.com states his drag racing career spanned more than 40 years. In 2001, he drove a top fuel dragster in a 4.27 second quarter-mile time at 303 mph at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. In 2002, he pulled Swamp Rat 34 out of the museum and ran the quarter mile at the NHRA Nationals in a “career best” 4.76 seconds and 318.54 mph. The biography lists 17 World Champion titles, eight U.S. Nationals Championships and says that Swamp Rat 30 is on display in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

After checking on Swamp Rat 38 on a recent day, Garlits paused at his office before he entered the museum to greet visitors. He took a plastic trophy, with a small round base and a goddess holding a wreath, from a shelf. “I wouldn’t take $10,000 for that trophy,” he said as he placed it on his desk. The trophy, about as tall as a soda can, marked “Lake Wales, 1953” is his first drag race trophy. He got the award when he stopped with his wife, Pat, to run in a quarter-mile race held by a group called the Track Twirlers in March 1953. Garlits entered his stock flathead engine powered 1950 Ford and covered the quarter mile in 19 seconds.

Article:
https://www.ocala.com/news/20181015/its-electric-big-daddy-don-garlits-builds-new-dragster

SR37 and the beginnings of SR38:
http://forum.competitionplus.com/showthread.php?t=11358

What will you be doin' at 86?
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Comments

  • TwostepTwostep Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    That guy is simply incredible. No other way to put it. And if the hurricanes will ever leave Florida alone, towards the top of my bucket list is getting to visit his museum.
  • RVT1000RVT1000 Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Twostep wrote: »
    That guy is simply incredible. No other way to put it. And if the hurricanes will ever leave Florida alone, towards the top of my bucket list is getting to visit his museum.

    I was lucky enough to go back in the 90's, I was on a work trip and had some free time.

    As soon as I got there I ask if "Big" was around and was told I had just missed him.

    I still have the T-shirt!
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    I just wish he'd hurry up and do it before someone beats him to it. In other interviews he's said he has competition for this record.
  • mossybackmossyback Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Yes, 4 other teams
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Top EV Racing is getting close to completion. Video posted in March and head developer Michael Fragomeni said testing to begin March or summer 2019

    Video:
    https://youtu.be/F1UDforSoTE

    Exclusive superconductor magnetic drive motor producing 5,000 hp for 30 seconds

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    http://www.topevracing.com/
  • GolfRacerGolfRacer Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Twostep wrote: »
    That guy is simply incredible. No other way to put it. And if the hurricanes will ever leave Florida alone, towards the top of my bucket list is getting to visit his museum.

    True statement. Big is a true American icon of more than speed...he defines the word "driven." Certainly "Big Daddy" has become a term used as an adjective in many sports and areas of life....the "Big Daddy of"......

    And all he's been through with injuries at 86 he is just incredibly impressive and we are blessed to have him.

    Spoke with him again at Indy this year and bought his updated book - other than hard of hearing he is a stud.
  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator
    edited October 2018
    500 lbs light?? Wow, I wonder how the managed that? Must have a pretty good budget.
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Yvonne* wrote: »
    500 lbs light?? Wow, I wonder how the managed that? Must have a pretty good budget.

    I believe better batteries and a smaller motor are partly responsible for that. It's a shame Elon wouldn't toss him a bone or two.
  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator
    edited October 2018
    HEMI_guy wrote: »
    I believe better batteries and a smaller motor are partly responsible for that. It's a shame Elon wouldn't toss him a bone or two.

    Okay, that makes sense. You never know, Elon may have offered. There would be drawbacks though. He doesn't strike me as a silent partner.
  • Roger GatesRoger Gates Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    HEMI_guy wrote: »
    I believe better batteries and a smaller motor are partly responsible for that. It's a shame Elon wouldn't toss him a bone or two.

    The AGM battery on my Motorcycle weighed 16 lbs. The lithium ion replacement weighs 2 1/2. With that many batteries you could save a lot of weight. Problem is charge time is not very fast so it would be necessary to have spare plug in units and they are NOT giving those things away. Garlits also mentioned that the new chassis is a whole lot lighter because you don't need a T/F tag on that thing. If these things catch on you may see a lot of titanium and carbon fiber parts as well as new ideas in the drive train to really get the weight down. You definitely don't need a 300" W.B. car to go 200 mph.
  • Dennis MDennis M Junior Member
    edited October 2018
    I'm having trouble taking that T/EV car seriously. Looks like a standard T/F rail, perfect for 330+, not so good for 200.

    And the rear wing?

    Just reeks of "all show no go"...but time will tell. Can't wait to see the progress on Big's ride.
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Dennis M wrote: »
    I'm having trouble taking that T/EV car seriously. Looks like a standard T/F rail, perfect for 330+, not so good for 200.

    And the rear wing?

    Just reeks of "all show no go"...but time will tell. Can't wait to see the progress on Big's ride.

    Well they're claiming they have 5,000 hp. T/A dragsters have just north of 3,000 and run 270+. According to an online 1/4 mile hp calculator, 5,000 hp, with a 2,200 pound car should run 4.43 @ 305 mph.
  • oldraceroldracer Member
    edited October 2018
    HEMI_guy wrote: »
    Well they're claiming they have 5,000 hp. T/A dragsters have just north of 3,000 and run 270+. According to an online 1/4 mile hp calculator, 5,000 hp, with a 2,200 pound car should run 4.43 @ 305 mph.

    Sound numbers and actually 200 mph at that kind of power isn't much of a goal. Like any type of race car it's a factor of how much power and how much weight. Electric motors,especially the brushless variety, have some very unique characteristics like 200% to 300% torque at zero speed and are therefore very dependant on the controller (drive) that is used. Size of conductors and heat management will likely be some of the major hurdles. Battery technology will help reduce weight and consequently improve performance while lessening the heat load on the systems. Good fun.
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    oldracer wrote: »
    Size of conductors and heat management will likely be some of the major hurdles.
    Michael Fragomeni mentioned in the video that the car will be cryogenically cooled.

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    btw, glad both are bringing back the nose!

    http://forum.competitionplus.com/showthread.php?t=9875

    (reminds me that I need to update the thread some day again)
  • oldraceroldracer Member
    edited October 2018
    took a moment to watch the video, these guy's are cool, uh cold!! They are taking what industry is doing to a whole new level. Expensive way to cool things but like anything someone will fiqure it out. Same as the battery deal, amazing progress made to date.
  • rognelson77rognelson77 Member
    edited October 2018
    . If these things catch on you may see a lot of titanium and carbon fiber parts as well as new ideas in the drive train to really get the weight down..

    Not going to catch on, No noise! Formula 1 had to change engine design as fans complained new electric turbo engines were too quiet.

    Did you ever watch formula E, electric indycars, sound like 1/24th slot cars.

    There is a place, but one of the coolest things about nitro, methanol and nitrous is flames and noise.

    Scott palmer warming up motor in pits. blips throttle and nobody notices in electric car.
  • oldraceroldracer Member
    edited October 2018
    Not going to catch on, No noise! Formula 1 had to change engine design as fans complained new electric turbo engines were too quiet.

    Did you ever watch formula E, electric indycars, sound like 1/24th slot cars.

    There is a place, but one of the coolest things about nitro, methanol and nitrous is flames and noise.

    Scott palmer warming up motor in pits. blips throttle and nobody notices in electric car.

    As far as spectator apeal,you are right. This deal is all about technology and it's impact on our future. In today's world a top fuel car has all the technology of a Model T, not much going on there. Thankfully they are loud and blow up.
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Not going to catch on, No noise! Formula 1 had to change engine design as fans complained new electric turbo engines were too quiet.

    Did you ever watch formula E, electric indycars, sound like 1/24th slot cars.

    There is a place, but one of the coolest things about nitro, methanol and nitrous is flames and noise.

    Scott palmer warming up motor in pits. blips throttle and nobody notices in electric car.

    Not all racing is about entertaining the masses.
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Isn't Palmer the only one to blip the throttle? When he goes... it goes.

    Even burnouts are almost becoming smokeless, much less if they even make it past the tree.

    Besides this endeavor is about pioneering and engineering, not creating a new circus sideshow, although who knows in 20 years. After all, 20 years ago, who would a thought we would have Formula E and autonomous cars on the road. Tesla wasn't born yet either.
  • RVT1000RVT1000 Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    HEMI_guy wrote: »
    Not all racing is about entertaining the masses.

    I'm struggling to come up with any form of racing without spectators.

    I've been working in electronics for a long time now and maybe that's why I'm not so enamored with the tech side of this.

    I don't know if it will catch on or not but I'm not interested in watching electric cars race.
  • a21studa21stud Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    RVT1000 wrote: »
    I'm struggling to come up with any form of racing without spectators.

    I've been working in electronics for a long time now and maybe that's why I'm not so enamored with the tech side of this.

    I don't know if it will catch on or not but I'm not interested in watching electric cars race.

    Bracket Racing, go cart racing, apparently the current IHRA program plus many (but not all) of the Lucas Oil Series events. Only relatives and close friends make up the crowd.

    Course you may not have Tinnitus from being around
    so much nitrous or nitro like many of us do.
  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator
    edited October 2018
    Is that reflector-type pieces on the side of the car or an actual LED digital screen? Just curious...
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Digital screen. Is that cool or what!
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Swamp Rat 38, newest electric dragster, is coming along. It is now constructed and almost ready to make its first run down the strip.
    The body panels should be completed by later this week. We will post photographs when the body panels are placed on it.
    Don hopes the newest version will get him to his goal of 200 MPH!

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  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Sweet! But I think je could get by with 12" tires. Less rotating mass. I know of one T/D that's run 5.90's @ 230+ on them. But then again, the instant max torque electric motors produce may require the bigger tire.

    Gotta wonder if the plywood box is for mock-up or if it's to isolate the batteries from the chassis.
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    "Big Daddy" Don Garlits plans to test his new Electric Dragster, Swamp Rat 38 tomorrow afternoon( November 16, 2018) in the museum driveway!
    Stay tuned for a time.......

    Don Garlits builds a new Electric Dragster, Swamp Ray 38. After 4 years of testing with SR-37 and reaching a World Record of 185.60 MPH in 7.25 Seconds, Garlits has decided it will take a lighter Swamp Rat to reach the magic 200 MPH!
    The new Swamp Rat will weigh in at least 800 pounds lighter than the old car. Built entirely in the Garlits facility by Chris Bumpus under the direction of Big Daddy himself, the new car resembles one of Garlits’ earlier Swamp Rats. Garlits said, “Why do I need a chassis that harnesses 10,000 when I only have a thousand horsepower? Testing will begin this coming Friday!

    For immediate release
    Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
    Ocala, Florida 34473

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    Love how he's keeping the signature cross on top.
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    OK. Now get it to the track!
  • shaketown daveshaketown dave Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    whats with the pingel sticker on there?i been runnin pingel gas petcocks for many years
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    whats with the pingel sticker on there?i been runnin pingel gas petcocks for many years

    Not sure. Maybe this - http://pingelcnc.com/about-us/

    I do know he's running a drag bike chain and sprockets on the car.

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