Don Garlits Long and Storied Career

When we heard that legendary drag racer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits was coming to our hometown to play a VIP gig at the Iola Old Car Show, we decided to drop by his location to see what was exciting.  We got the biggest kick out of his “trick trailer” that serves double duty as a museum telling the story of his life.

Garlits used the trailer to haul his Wynn’s Carger Mopar dragster from Florida to Wisconsin, but once the car was situated out front for autograph and photo taking sessions, the trailer became his archives.

Spectators were able to enter it and view a wonderful collection of photos – including many historical 8×10 black and white shots that traced his career from new-kid-on-the-block to king of the hill.  It is well known that Garlits appreciates history (he runs a car museum at home in Ocala, Fla.) and his photos prove it.

Looking at Garlits’ photos made us wonder how many other racers and car collectors use photos to decorate their car hauling trailers.  When you think about it, the use of photos is a great idea.  You can have enlargements of your cars and race wins made for just a couple of bucks and they will add interest to any trailer.  Garlits had the walls of the trailer plastered with photos from one end to the other.

The photos were not framed (which would add to the cost and possibly make for a lot of rattling as the rig moves down the road).  Instead, the prints were mounted on a common black background and notes about what each photo showed were written in long hand with white ink.  Many photos were from the early 1960s, when Garlits also raced Mopar powered dragsters and Mopar cars.

Photos like these make a car hauling trailer more interesting.  If you don’t want to eat up as much sidewall space as Garlits does with the photos in his trailer, you can put a line of photos all around the top of the trailer sidewalls or you can mount them on the front wall or even the back of the rear door(s) or ramp door… Remember, if you have a ramp door, the car is going to be rolling over the photos, so protect them with plastic or Plexiglas or by clear coating them decoupage style.

About John Gunnell 143 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

2 Comments on Don Garlits Long and Storied Career

  1. Sharon’s husband Jon here.
    I saw Don Garlits at Kingdon Drag Strip in Lodi, CA on his first West
    Coast tour, I think it was 1958.

  2. I used to see you with all the GREAT ones, I Just want to THANK you for some GREAT Memories from my Youth, You are GREAT. GOD BLESS YOU.

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