EASTER 1976 : GARLITS AND THE FIRST ‘5’
There have been so many great weekends in Santa Pod’s history, but none to top Easter 1976. The reason? Don Garlits, the greatest drag racer ever, returned to Britain for Santa Pod’s 10th anniversary celebration after heading the 1964 all-star tour.
The Daily Mail gave him back-page prominence and the venue was packed to overspill, with spectators’ cars parked nose-to-tail more than two miles back through Podington village. Yet Garlits’ Swamp Rat 21 dragster, far from home, was blighted by mechanical problems throughout qualifying and wound up facing Britain’s quickest entrant, Peter Crane, in the first round.
Garlits went too early and was disqualified, while Crane’s Stormbringer stormed to the first fivesecond elapsed time clocked outside America. Clive Skilton was the eventual race winner.
Garlits returned in July 1977 with less fanfare and a fitter car and routed the opposition.