Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
Words and photos by Bill Kloss
While on vacation in Florida last year, my wife and I made a stop at the Don Garlits Museum in Ocala, FL. Located off of I-75, it’s easy to find and very unassuming. 2 buildings are open to the public, the first one houses the vast drag car collection and the second is the antique and muscle car museum. The cars that Don has collected are pretty much a living history of drag racing. Also in the museum is the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
A nice Florida day in March found us at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala.
Some of the cars to be seen include almost every “Swamp Rat” Don has built. Notable vehicles are Dick Kraft’s “The Bug”, reported to be the first “rail” dragster, the “Mooneyes” dragster, the Mooneyham & Sharp “554” fuel coupe, Ed Roth’s “Yellow Fang” Tommy Ivo’s dual engined Buick digger as well as many other famous race cars.
Some of Don's earliest "Swamp Rats"
A line up of classic front engine dragsters.
There is an “engine room”, with different engines on display as well. A well-stocked gift shop is at the entrance and you might even see Big Daddy on your visit. There are restaurants nearby and as we did, you can tour part of the museum, then go grab a bite to eat, and then return to the museum to finish your visit. This should be on every drag race fan’s “bucket list”. Well worth the $20.00 admission price.
Dick Kraft's "The Bug". a 1927 Model T stripped to the frame rails. It gave rise to calling dragsters "rail jobs".
The "Mooneyes" dragster and the "Moonbeam" Falthead Ford powered sports car behind.
The Mooneyham & Sharp "554" fuel coupe.
TV Tommy Ivo's dual motored Buick dragster.
One of Connie Kalitta's earliest "Bounty Hunter" dragsters.
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