Garlits Named IHRA Nitro Jam Grand Marshal

Don Garlits will be inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame in November. (IHRA photo)
Don Garlits will be the grand marshal for the for IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at Grand Bend. (IHRA photo)
Don Garlits will be the grand marshal for the for IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at Grand Bend. (IHRA photo)

NORWALK, Ohio – “Big Daddy” Don Garlits has been named Grand Marshal for the upcoming IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, set for June 20-22 at the Grand Bend Motorplex in Ontario, Canada.

Garlits, 82, who won four world championships with the IHRA in the early 70s and has been named to numerous lists as one of drag racing’s all-time greats, will greet the crowd, sign autographs and have one of his legendary Swamp Rat dragsters on display all during the 14th annual IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals weekend. The festivities will coincide with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Hemi as Mopar and the IHRA present one of the biggest IHRA events ever held at the Grand Bend Motorplex.

The annual IHRA event at the Motorplex will feature competition in seven professional classes and nearly a dozen sportsman categories as the IHRA celebrates all things speed and power at the 14th annual Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals.

“I have been involved with Chrysler since 1961, so I have a long history with Chrysler and I love their products. It will be an honor to represent them at the IHRA event in Grand Bend,” said Garlits, winner of 144 national events during his illustrious career. “I am really looking forward to the trip to Canada. It has been a long time since I have been up there and I think it will be a great event and a great time for everyone involved.”

During a career that spanned nearly four decades, Garlits broke nearly every barrier drag racing presented. He was the first to top speeds of 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, 260 and 270 in a dragster and went on to collect 17 championships across the three major hot rod associations, 144 national event wins and a record eight U.S. Nationals victories.

With the IHRA, Garlits collected four world championships and more than two dozen national event victories in the 1970s.

“I loved racing with the IHRA. They were always really good to me,” Garlits said.

“Larry Carrier was always one of my favorite guys. In fact, the largest contract I ever signed in drag racing was signed with the IHRA and Larry when I inked a contract worth $100,000. It was a great time with a lot of memorie