OCALA, Fla. – Donna Garlits, the daughter of Don Garlits, was honored in Dauphin, Pa., on Nov. 10 at Bruce Larson’s USA-1 DragFest Presented by Drag Racing List gathering.
“I have chosen to honor Donna for her tireless efforts to preserve, promote and perpetuate the heritage of drag racing as the General Manager/Chief Financial Officer of her father’s Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Fla., for several years,” said Dauphin resident Larson, the host of the annual event.
“While Donna was not a racer, she grew up in the Golden Age of the sport and witnessed the high and low moments of her father’s career, and of his contemporaries. She worked diligently to elevate the Museum to become a major attraction in Ocala and central Florida. Additionally, she brought the affiliated International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and its annual induction banquet to greater prominence, and made it one of the most important drag racing off-track events of every year.”
“I think it is great that Bruce Larson has chosen to honor Donna this year,” said Don Garlits. “Donna put in quite a few years of service to the benefit of both the Drag Racing Museum and the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.”
Donna Garlits’ influence has stretched across international boundaries.
“She created a bridge between the drag racing community of the United Kingdom and Europe,” said Stu Bradbury, chairman of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
“The BDRHoF inducted Don into the Hall of Fame in 2014 for his overall contributions to the sport, and in helping launch it here in the UK and in Europe. Donna was very interested in what we were doing, and invited representatives from the BDRHoF to the IDRHoF gala in 2015, which introduced legendary racers and the media to each other. This triggered trans-Atlantic delegations to each organization’s induction galas since then.
“In appreciation of Donna’s continued promotion and support of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame, in 2016 Donna was awarded Honorary International Overseas Ambassador status in recognition of her work and support of the BDRHoF.”
Donna Garlits retired from the day-to-day management of the Museum in 2017, but still retains the title of Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2011, she returned to Florida from her home in Virginia to manage the operations of the Museum, which had been taking away from the time her father wanted to spend with Pat during her long-term illness, as well as restoring his old race cars, meeting his fans and racing contemporaries, plus the restoration of a growing fleet of historic Ford cars – particularly those from pre-World War II. The Ford collection became a part of the museum, and Donna Garlits helped make it an important part of the overall Museum’s presentation.