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Great Moments: Auto Racing



In 1986, Don Garlits was already considered the greatest driver in NHRA history. In Friday qualifying at the SummerNationals at Raceway Park, he added to his legend by running the fastest time in history, 5.34 seconds, in his streamlined Swamp Rat XXX. The next day, Garlits attempted to better this mark with slightly different—but even more thrilling—results. As the 54-year-old Garlits started down the quarter mile, air got under his front wheels and within moments the front airfoil began acting as a sail, lifting the vehicle to a perpendicular position. The Swamp Rat blew completely over, but landed safely with the nose pointing toward the start line. Garlits calmy piloted the car to the edge of the track, got out, and waved to the cheering crowd that he was a-ok.




JForceThere was nothing amusing about the Funny Car duel between John Force and Joe Amato in 1998 at Raceway Park. Force became the first top fuel driver to break the 320 mph barrier with a qualifying run of 323.35 mph. Not to be outdone, Amato blew down the quarter mile at 323.50 during the second round of eliminations. The crowd would have gone home happy at that point, but Force had a surprise in the finals. He crossed the line at 323.90 mph to reclaim the national speed record.


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