One of the pioneers of drag racing, world-famous top-fuel drag
racer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, is shown in this vintage photo
racing at US131 Motorsports Park, only a few miles from the
Gilmore Car Museum. While one of Garlits’ “Swamp Rat” drag
cars have been immortalized at the Smithsonian Institute in
Washington, DC, visitors to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory
Corners, MI this season will have the rare opportunity to view
Garlits’ “Swamp Rat 16” on display.
The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Mich., will open a new exhibit covering the fascinating history of drag racing for the 2009 season which begins May 1. Museum staff secured milestone drag cars from a number of private collectors located throughout the country to create this year’s exhibit, “History – A Quarter Mile at a Time.”
The all-new exhibit features vehicles from some of the most iconic names in drag racing history, including “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Gas Ronda, John Force and "The Michigan Madman” E. J. Potter, just to name a few. Assembled together will be Funny Cars, Rails, Pro Stock, Gassers, Drag Bikes, and many more drag cars from all eras.
The cars and drag bikes for this special exhibit have come from as far away as Texas, Florida, and Nebraska, and from the Museum’s own backyard: former NHRA World Champion and Kalamazoo resident Jerry Arnold has lent his 1932 Austin Bantam Competition Eliminator for the exhibit.
And, just in case the cars and associated memorabilia doesn’t get your imagination revved up, the Museum has added a multi-sensory element, never before utilized in a museum setting, which will immerse the visitor into the drag race experience.
Drag racing—a truly American phenomena—grew following World War II from illegal street racing to the organized sport it is today with races taking place on commercial drag-strips. The race, however, has remained the same: two vehicles, side-by-side, make a quarter-mile dash from a standing start with one goal—the fastest acceleration. To put that into prospective, modern Top Fuel Dragsters can reach speeds over 300 mph in accelerations faster than you were able to finish reading this sentence.
Drag racing is the one motorsport where the amateur can take their daily driver to the track, don a helmet, buckle in, and compete among the highly specialized professional teams.
Premium sponsors for the special exhibit include Engine Pro, Hastings Piston Rings, Mahle Clevite and Fel Pro.
The Gilmore Car Museum’s 43rd season begins on May 1, 2009 and remains open daily from of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. on weekends), through October 31. Located in the heart of west Michigan, the Museum is midway between Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Battle Creek, on M-43 and Hickory Road.
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