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Drag rac­ing for more than just glory in 1964.

Nitrometha­ne re­turned to the NHRA in 1964, and with it a new prize: Top Fuel Elim­i­na­tor at the Na­tion­als at In­di­anapo­lis Race­way Park. As the event’s AA/FD win­ner (at 7.77 sec­onds), Don Gar­l­its got a free pass into the fi­nal eliminatio­ns. He would face Jack Williams, who beat Bobby Vod­nick in the first round of Top Fuel eliminatio­ns but then only had to make a solo pass in the sec­ond round be­cause so many rac­ers in the class blew their en­gines in the first.

Dick Wells’ telling of “The Big Go ’64” in HOT ROD, Nov. 1964, called the elim­i­na­tor “a fan­tas­tic duel which paired the na­tion’s finest. It was a wire-to-wire bat­tle, so close that only the elec­tronic judges could de­cide a win­ner.” Gar­l­its “swept through the traps” at 7.67 sec­onds, set­ting low elapsed time of the meet, with Williams close be­hind at 7.93.

A very happy Big Daddy is seen here post-elim­i­na­tor, pos­ing be­tween Miss Na­tion­als Jan­ice Lu­cas and NHRA’S Wally Parks. He’s sur­rounded by the fruits of his long week­end’s la­bor, which Wells tal­lied: “For win­ning the 1964 ti­tle, Gar­l­its re­ceived a 1965 Ford Mus­tang from the Au­to­lite Divi­sion of Ford Mo­tor Com­pany; a 195-piece Crafts­man tool set from Sears, Roe­buck and Com­pany; spe­cial tool awards from the P.A. Sturte­vant Com­pany; a set of Fire­stone ‘500’ tires; and a bun­dle of other mer­chan­dise awards, plus more than $500 in cash.” —DREW HARDIN


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