(Words and Photos by Joe Grippo) I guess it was early February, on a freezing afternoon and I was just going through my day working and minding my own business and my wife Stacey turns to me says. “We should go to Florida.” I said, “You don’t have to tell me twice. Where should we go?” Her reply was, “How about the Baby Gators?” I was in immediately. After some quick discussion and planning, we had booked a VRBO, a rental F150, and plane tickets. Fast forward a few weeks and there we were in sunny Jacksonville, Florida and soon heading south towards Ocala.
If you don’t know what the attraction to Ocala is, you may be on the wrong website. Ocala is the home of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. This place is a must for even the most casual fan of the 1320, it’s the Louvre for gearheads, the MOMA for the quarter mile. If you have never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Big Daddy’s cars dominate the collection but a true cross-section can be found, from Top Fuelers to Pro Stockers and other oddities of the strip. The cars are front and center but Don Garlits is known as the Swamp Rat, but he could also be called the Pack Rat. Don has amassed an incredible array of drag racing memorabilia and artifacts and it is all on display. The Museum of Drag Racing consists of a few buildings and multiple rooms within, one building houses Don’s extensive early Ford collection, a bit of a departure from the nitro-burning monsters on display in the main building but are off the scale cool, nonetheless.
Dig into the galleries, and be sure to get down there yourself, it’s worth the trip.
Stay tuned for more vacation photos from our whirlwind automotive tour of the Sunshine State.
WAHAT A COLLECTION DRAGSTERS JUST WISH IT WAS CLOSER TO WEST MICHIGAN
Ed Crane had the best story about Garlits’ museum. How he loaned a dragster for display, and when he got it back, both sets of wheels and tires were replaced and miraculously, Big “found” the correct wheels and tires for one of his Swamp Rat restorations…;)