50 years ago tomorrow, Don Garlits made the first recognized 200mph drag racing pass in NHRA history. The debate will rage forever as to whether or not The Greek did it earlier in Illinois, but what I can tell you as fact is that on August 2, 1964 Don Garlits recorded a terminal speed of 201.34 mph during a match race against the Frantic Four team at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey. I never knew that there was video of the event actually taking place, including footage of the ancient Chrondek clocks displaying the time and speed (which were then hand transferred onto a time slip) until right now. I’m left speechless by this latest release by Jim Amos and his Bee-On Video company because it is one of the great moments in the sport’s history and we’ve just watched it in living color. If the video is from the day of the race and actually shows the run, wow.
A few things to talk about here, outside of the obvious. First is the team that Garlits is racing, The Frantic Four (Weekly, Rivero, Fox, and Holding). These were west coast guys who traveled the country and were among the strongest runners of their day. They were every bit the match for Garlits with a car capable of running right down in the 7.70s where he was at. They were also flirting with the 200mph zone as many others were as well. The Frantic Four often found themselves matched up with the big names of the day because they were right there with ’em.
Next is the race track. Island Dragway looked to be on the outs a couple of years ago when the track closed and seemed to be doomed forever. Not the case. Back open and under new management, Island is doing well and hopefully celebrating the 50th anniversary of this great racing accomplishment. Not long before 1964, people had claimed that reaching 200 was impossible. Note the layout and the awesome jug handles on either side of the track that allow the dragsters to swing out and cross over. THIS IS SOOOO AWESOME. Sorry, I got excited there.
That’s all I have….watch this video. It looks like living history!
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE ONE OF DRAG RACING’S MOST FAMOUS, IMPORTANT, AND CELEBRATED MOMENTS EVER AND IT HAPPENED 50 YEARS AGO TOMORROW!