Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 23, 2013

Legendary 'Big Daddy' Garlits to visit Cruise

Somerset —

Go, Big Daddy! Go!
Or, you can go to Somernites Cruise this weekend in downtown Somerset to see “Big Daddy” yourself — that is, Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, a living legend on the drag racing circuit.
Considered by many to be the “father” of the drag racing sport, the 81-year-old 17-time world champion Garlits was the first to set numerous speed marks in the quarter-mile, and is an internationally-known name.
“He’s still very active,” said Cruise team member Mark Hansford. “He gets out to shows, makes appearances. He’s world famous. ... He’s one of those guys like John McEnroe in tennis. No matter where you are, if you hear the name, you know who they’re talking about.”
Garlits will only be participating in the May Somernites Cruise event on Saturday. He’ll be signing autographs at the “Show and Shine” display of classic cars downtown. He’ll also be appearing at the seventh-annual Don Marshall Mania event Saturday at Don Marshall Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram at light no. 10 on South U.S. 27.
It’s the second time for Garlits at Somernites Cruise — his first was in 2011 — and he enjoyed his first time in Somerset so much that he spoke to a friends associated with the Cruise wanting to come back, according to Hansford. It promises to be a fan-friendly visit.
“It doesn’t matter what you own; if you want him to sign it, he’ll sign it,” said Hansford. “He’s pretty open. Last time he was here, guys were bringing in parts off their car. Some guys brought in the sun visor off their old Chrysler. He’s wanting to sell some stuff too.”
Garlits’ appearance ties in with the familiar May theme, “Mopar Mania,” featuring Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth products — that’s what Garlits always drove, noted Hansford. 

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