Bio Ed Garlits
Ed Garlits entered this world as a “blue” baby which may be the reason he has been successful in the racing world because he learned to be a fighter early on. Ed didn’t get started racing until after he was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1952 but jumped into the competition world that year in a Buick Nail head powered 1932 cut down Ford Roadster. That ride lasted for a short time but wanting to go faster, Ed moved the Buick engine from the roadster and installed it in a C/Gas dragster that he and brother Don put together at Don’s garage in Tampa and christened the “Banana”. The Banana’s first outing was at a little track outside Miami, Florida where it promptly won the Florida State Championship event.
Always looking to go quicker and faster, in 1957 the duo built a new stronger chassis that was dubbed Swamp Rat Too-A that was powered at different times by the Buick, a unblown Chrysler, and unblown small block Chevy and finally a blown Chrysler. This was the first of a long line of Swamp Rat dragsters the brothers competed with. The next chassis they put together was to become Swamp Rat Too-B and while Ed drove it to another Florida State Championship, they believed it was too heavy so it was sold and replaced with Swamp Rat Too-C. In 1961, driving Swamp Rat “C”, Ed won the AHRA National Gas Championship and was just edged out of overall Top Eliminator at the AHRA Green Valley event by Zane Schubert in his Top Fuel Dragster.
About this time Ed had to choose between driving race cars and being married so he chose to sell the car and retired. The man who purchased the car, Bob Hamilton, took the car to the winners circle at the Green Valley event the very next year. During his hiatus from racing in 1959 through 1964, Ed took over running the garage in Tampa so brother Don could continue racing on a full time basis and not have to worry about the ‘shop back home’. Unfortunately, even after quitting his driving career, Ed wound up divorced and while he didn’t resume driving he did jump back into racing as Crew Chief for the Garlits Team in 1974. Ed was Crew Chief for the team through 1978 and the results of their efforts is now a part of drag racing history. In 1992 Ed returned to the racing world again as Clutch Man for brother Don’s Mono-Wing cars and continued his involvement with the team for another three years before retiring from racing again. Mostly as a hobby, Ed now does some repair work for a few of his friends but spends most of his time catching up on fishing.