AMAZING! Video From The Day That Don Garlits Broke 200mph At Island Dragway – August 2, 1964

AMAZING! Video From The Day That Don Garlits Broke 200mph At Island Dragway – August 2, 1964

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!


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9 thoughts on “AMAZING! Video From The Day That Don Garlits Broke 200mph At Island Dragway – August 2, 1964

  1. >>>>head

    Island is ~ 45 minutes from me. One beautiful thing from the video is the Dragway looks almost identical today, if fact the only difference I can see in the tower is the paint is now white not yellow. If you like ‘old school’ this is the track

    1. Gary Smrtic

      Agreed. When I was a young teenager, my Dad used to talk the cops into letting him take me into the pits so we could race. He’d tell them I would stay in the car. In fact, he always made me stay real close to the car, so I never got to wander around Island like I did any track in the country other than N.J.!
      Today, Bowling Green, KY. is also a track that is a genuine throwback to the ’60’s, and I love it! You should come on out here for the Hot Rod Reunion sometime…

  2. Tom Campanelli

    Island Dragway holds fond memories for me. At age 14 I got my mom to drive my cousin & I there for our first drag race. It is also where I made my first pass on a race track. Just past the end of the shutdown area are railroad tracks. It was not uncommon to have fuelers or funnies shut off while we waited for a frieght train to rumble by.

  3. Steve Illes

    Yes Island is back up and running and this weekend Don Garlits will be at the track for the 50th anniversary run. Friday night he will make a victory lap, how awesome is that!!!! Island also has a web site check them out.

  4. James lee

    I met Don Garlits & talk to him in Colorado 1980 at the drag races.Real nice guy.By the way,he’s a short guy.I was looking for big daddy Garlits in the pit,when i went up to this guy sitting on a chair.I ask him where can I find Don Garlits.He said,”I am him”So I shook his hand & talked to him for about 30 min.I grew up watching him.

  5. jerry z

    I raced at Island on and off for almost 30 yrs. Yes the wall along the road looks the same but a little more weather beaten!

    The track has such a short shut off area, can’t believe Garlits ran 200 MPH!

    Won a few times there too.

  6. Rob

    Don Garlits did bring Swamp Rat 6B ( yes that same car in vid) to Island for the 50th Ann of him breaking 200 this weekend . Stands were packed all 3 days. He drove 6B for a lap Friday and Saturday. Signed autographs and talked with spectators and racers alike. Big Daddy is a class act!

    Island is still owned and operated in the family. The Grand Daughter is running it now with great results!

    Diesel shows/ import days/ bracket program/ grudge matches.
    or look em up on FB

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