The Car That Would Be Kite: Don Garlits Spills The Beans On Swamp Rat 17 And Its Star-Crossed History


The Car That Would Be Kite: Don Garlits Spills The Beans On Swamp Rat 17 And Its Star-Crossed History

If you are going to make an omelette, you have to break a couple of eggs, right? Such is the nature of being an innovator and leader in motorsports technology. Don Garlits knows all about that life because he’s lived it for (now) 91 years.

It takes some guts and great reporting skills to have the want or need to ask Big Daddy about one of the most infamous failed experiments in his long history of awesome innovation, Swamp Rat 17 but the NHRA’s Phil Burgess packs both. This was the car which was built short and built to fit a streamliner body as designed by Jocko Johnson, an “out there” Californian who believed in aerodynamics, free living, and pushing the boundaries of performance at the drag strip. He didn’t believe in a lot of the normal scientific testing process, though.

In this story, Garlits tells the whole history of the car, why it was no good, how it was no good, and how he regrets none of his experience and what it brought to him in both knowledge and cool additions to the museum. This is a really awesome piece of history.

NHRA.com: Don Garlits tells the wild story of Swamp Rat 17 – The Jocko ‘Liner¬†


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3 thoughts on “The Car That Would Be Kite: Don Garlits Spills The Beans On Swamp Rat 17 And Its Star-Crossed History

  1. Clarence Sifton

    I have been to the museum numerous times and all the cars have a story. The one I have always wondered about was the ‘air car’. Instead of a supercharger there is a long cylinder of compressed air mounted between the frame rails of the slingshot dragster. I think the compressed air applied to the engine manifold would provide the make-up air for the run.

    My next question would be, how much air in cubic feet does a Hemi Chrysler use on a typical run under power down the dragstrip?

    I’d love to hear that story!

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