Ed Garlits Has Died: NHRA Southeastern Division Hall of Famer, National Event Winner, and Big Daddy’s Brother

Ed Garlits Has Died: NHRA Southeastern Division Hall of Famer, National Event Winner, and Big Daddy’s Brother

There was more than one racer in the Garlits family. Ed Garlits, the younger brother of “Big Daddy” Don Garlits has passed away after a long battle with illness. Ed Garlits was a fearsome competitor on the drag strip for many years and and built an impressive career resume for himself as well. Ed is in the NHRA Southeastern Division Hall of Fame, the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, he won top gas at the 1961 AHRA World Finals beating Lefty Mudersbach’s twin engine dragster with his single plant rail. He then went on to nearly beat a top fuel car for the Top Eliminator honors at the race. Shortly after that event Ed sold his car and decided to focus his life on his wife and that meant getting off the road.

This was a fortuitous thing for Don Garlits though as his brother would be a vital part of his success for many years. Ed’s racing career did not stop in 1961, instead after a brief hiatus, he was back at it but he raced locally and within a day or two drive from the Tampa area that the family called home. He was a terror on the tracks of the Southeast while his brother was going nationwide. When Don Garlits opened his “High Performance World” Ed took the helm and ran the business when Big Daddy was traveling. When Don needed a crew chief during his reign of terror in the 1970s  guess who he tapped on the shoulder? His brother Ed. They had great success together. Ed again tired of the road and went back to Florida for a quiet retirement from the sport.

When Don made another come back in the 1990s and needed an ace clutch guy, Ed was there once again to be part of the family legacy. Finally after this stint, Ed Garlits retired and concentrated on fishing poles more than drag racing. We could go on for a very long time about Ed’s career in drag racing. Tens of thousands of aspiring drag racers would give a limb to have what Ed Garlits achieved. Of course many of those accomplishments were dwarfed by what his brother did, but it was not a sticking point between the two men.

So many times when a sibling becomes a rival, stories get sad. It never happened with these two and when their forces were combined as they so often were, the two men were a fearsome duo.

Godspeed, Ed Garlits.

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34 thoughts on “Ed Garlits Has Died: NHRA Southeastern Division Hall of Famer, National Event Winner, and Big Daddy’s Brother

    1. Daryl Slaughter

      Very sorry to hear this my prayers are with your family. The Garlits family are special and God loving family.
      The Garlits are the ones I followed all my live.
      You see I love Drag Racing.
      I was just planning a trip just before this Corona thing starter to Florida to seeThe Museum and hopefully get to see the Garlits.
      God Bless all and hope to see you soon
      Daryl Slaughter
      From Illinois
      Remember Alton Drag Way 200mph
      And the Big Swimming Pool

      1. Perry Duff

        So Sorry To Hear The Lost Of Your Brother Drag Racing Star Ed GarlistThat has Give the Drag Race world so much. My Heart fill condesent

    1. Ed Hoffman III

      Sorry to hear of your brother,Ed’s passing condolences and prayers to the Garlits’ family. He crossed the finish line to Glory. We love Big and family.

  1. Randy Wineinger

    With deepest heartfelt sympathies to you and your Family. May GOD bless and keep you.

      1. Brian Fusilier

        Sorry for the loss of you\’re family always in our hearts thank you for a lifetime of memories

  2. Jimmy rayWray

    Jimmy Wray. Sorry for your loss Don.
    Really cool that not only were you guys racing pals but also brothers.
    Prayers be with your entire family.

  3. Robert lopez


  4. William R Goodman

    Sorry to here this Don. Pray for your familys an you at a time of loss. Thank you for all the years you gave me advise it served me well.

  5. Wilton Mewbourn

    Ed and Don are two of the few people that have reached the very top and did not let that success change who they were. Ed Garlits will always be a wholesome gentleman in my eyes. You are not alone in your loss. May God bless and keep you.
    We were ALL blessed to have known Ed.

  6. Andrew Mathis

    ✝️R.I.✌ Sir Ed, U WILL NEVER B FORGOTTEN,(I didn\’t know Sir Don had a brother)!!!!!!!!!! GOD BLESS U Sir Ed, Sir Don, And Family, My Thoughts AndPRAYERS R WITH U ALL!!!!!!!!!! ✝️❤✌

  7. Fredrick Gendall

    To a super guy and friend that helped me number of times with clutch adjustments you will never be forgotten . R I P . Fast Freddy .

  8. Kevin Dillon

    So sorry to hear about your brother Ed I can remember you two together, you guys will always be unforgotten heros . Rip and bless you and your family . Thank you for the memories .

  9. Jim Niedziela

    To the KING of THE 1/4 miles , sorry to hear of your brothers passing, my prayers go out to his and your families. God Bless you and God watch over you all

  10. Chuck Papenfus

    You have my deepest sympathy don. Thank you for all your advice over the past 40 years. Only when i seen you at Norwalk. And the time my father argued with you over a lincoln flathead. And you proved him wrong. Im sure dad wont forget that day. Best wishes we all love you.
    Charles Papenfus

  11. Jim N Gibson

    Even though Ed has passed on, his legacy shall last forever. My condolences to the family and may Ed run the big drag strip inn the sky, setting heavenly speed records. Our prayers are with you, RIP Mr. Ed

  12. Sam Murray

    My condolences Don to both Garlit\’s families. Thanks for the memories on and off the track!

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