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